Today I left home without bringing my wallet – something I only realized when I was lining up to pay for my lunch. Fortunately, it was before I had received my food so it wasn’t really a problem. I had to go home to get my wallet and I wasn’t far from home. But then a thought occurred to me – this wouldn’t be a problem if I had some sort of mobile payment system on my phone. But even if I did, the restaurant I was at didn’t support mobile payment. It’s already hard enough to find lower-end places that accept credit cards. I think by the time this country has support for virtual wallets nationwide, we would have eyeball or wrist implant wallets.

One one hand, I see why businesses don’t support virtual wallets – there aren’t enough users. However, without any businesses supporting them, people are unlikely to bother signing up for them. It’s a chicken and egg situation. Another issue present is – which wallet does a business choose to support? It’s not like Visa/MasterCard where you’ll find support for either one everywhere. There are so many digital wallet systems available, it’s hard to pick one over the other. Would it be feasible to support all of them? I’m not sure about the paperwork, but I would assume it would be a nightmare to settle it at the end of every month/week/quarter.

On the other, digital wallet support would make it so much easier for consumers to spend money. Instead of lining up at ATMs to withdraw money, people can wave around their phones to pay for stuff when they have no cash on them. People won’t have to worry about getting robbed anymore (everybody has their phone protected these days right?) since they won’t have their cash on them. When you make paying such a simple process, people can spend more money impulsively.

But there’s no telling how long virtual wallets will last, and if it’s going to be the main form of payment (the world of tech moves so quickly – these systems could easily collapse and be replaced by something more efficient any time). But it would be nice to enjoy them in the meantime. Like how Touch and Go is being used by almost every car park today, I’d love to see a greater adoption of convenient technologies.

The Fool

She was waiting for him to get out of his car. When he did they locked eyes. He smiled at her and she returned it. I’ve been waiting for you, her eyes seemed to say.

However her gaze immediately averted when he walked into the restaurant – as though she knew they were doing something wrong. He was here.

“I can’t talk to you.”

That’s all he needed to hear.

“I’m leaving-”

Please, don’t.”

He saw the desperation in her eyes. After a second which seemed like an eternity he made up his mind. He was done playing the fool; he walked out of the restaurant without saying goodbye. She held back a tear as he drove away.

Writing Prompt from Reddit: I give you the punctuation, you write the story.

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.

Scheduled TV Shows

If there’s one appliance at home I use less than the fridge at home, it’s the television in my living room. If I watch a TV show these days, it’s mostly on my tablet or my laptop. Either streamed or torrented. Why? Because I don’t like scheduling my day around a show. Unless something is live or I’m going to a cinema to watch a film, I like to decide when and where I consume content. But life wasn’t always that way.

Back then we had to wait up to catch movies on terrestrial TV because there wouldn’t be any reruns. If a movie was showing too late, we’d have to record it and catch it the following day. Thankfully the VCRs we had could fast forward. I remember having to pause recording during adverts back then if we wanted to record something seamless. It was quite a fun activity to do. You’d have to remember to pause and unpause during commercial breaks (also, why does paid TV still have ads? we pay for it after all). This skill translated to my Walkman days when I used to rip songs off the air. I had to make sure I started and stopped recording before the DJ came back on.

Did you remember catching test cards on TV?

One thing that I’ve learned while working in the content division of a TV network is that programming schedules matter a lot. TV channels will be running shows 24 hours a day, but not everybody is sitting in front of the TV all day long. You need to run your best programs when they’re sitting in front of it. The rest of the day you can put your not-so-hot shows on because nobody watches them. This is why we have terms like prime time. Also, with slightly better than average movies like Peter Rabbit succeeding at the Box Office, it shows us that timing makes a difference.

Despite the existence of video on demand, I don’t think regular TV channels will ever die out. It’s so easy to just turn on the TV, flip to a channel and just watch whatever’s on. There’s no need to think about what you want to watch (a problem I face sometimes). There are a few benefits to this system. Occasionally you’ll tune into a movie that’s showing the best part and hook you in until the end. It could have been a movie that you were likely to skip due to it not being the kind of show you enjoy or a movie with a slow start. It’s also great for older people and younger kids who don’t really know how to search for content. They can literally tune in and tune out.

Maybe in the future, VOD services will have certain channels that autoplay shows tuned to your preferences and every now and then they’ll play something that they think you might like. We need to give them more of our personal data first. Trust me, it’s worth it.

The latest season of Silicon Valley has been great by the way. I’m looking forward to see how Jared’s character progresses as COO of Pied Piper. His monologue about the analogy to horse manure was so good.

Random Ramblings

George, what happened to your daily posts? You were supposed to blog 5 times a week! You’re slipping man! That’s what I tell myself. I’m pretty sure nobody noticed that I only posted 4 times last week (so this week I gotta do 6). Anyway, what can I say? Work is picking up so I’ve been spending a lot more time doing that instead of writing random blog posts for myself to read. I recently discovered that I don’t have to work at the office if I feel like working elsewhere, so I’ve been making use of that privilege.

I tried working at a co-working space the other day. It seemed more like a regular cafe than anything, so it didn’t really make a difference (I was expecting some sort of increase in concentration and efficiency). There were a lot of kids just hanging out there to study or watch videos on their laptops/tablets so it didn’t really have a working vibe to it. To be fair, it was probably the cheapest co-working space I checked out so it probably wasn’t a good judge of what it should be like. I’ll be exploring other places in the future.

Thinking of ideas for the next big IP is a daunting task. It’s already hard enough to create interesting stories and characters, but when you throw in conditions like marketability, target audiences and commercial value, it gets even harder. You want to serve an audience something they want. But it has to be something new. But if you think about it – almost everything good that can be done has already been done. So you try to create something that doesn’t already exist and has potential. Then you think – is there a reason why nobody has been doing it in the first place? Maybe it has been tested internally and doesn’t work. So you’re left scratching your head wondering if you should continue down that path. Is it better to be derivative or original? If you do something that’s so far out left field, would people get it?

These are questions I ask myself while I try to work out what I want to make. It has to be something I believe in. Because I know that I won’t be able to give my all working for something I don’t believe in. Which is probably why I’d be a terrible salesman for most products and services.

I’ve been watching a lot of Pewdiepie on YouTube. He’s probably one of the most entertaining YouTubers out there right now. I guess there’s a reason why he remains as the most subbed channel on the platform, with nobody coming close. I used to think, why the hell would anybody watch reaction videos? Then I got sucked into the world of H3H3 and YouTube drama and found it all very interesting. Sure, they have no educational value and are really a big waste of time, but sometimes all you wanna do is tune out before you go to bed and these videos are a great way to do so. Also it doesn’t hurt that I find them extremely funny and entertaining.

Sometimes I feel like I’m burnt out from blogging too often. But then on the other hand, I think it’s just an excuse and I’m just not being disciplined enough to keep writing. Writing is good for me. It’s typing (which is fun), therapeutic, and a great way to practice putting words down.

My projects for this year:
– develop my first game
– record a new EP
– edit Animal Bus and turn it into a comic

It’s almost May and I’m not even close to finishing any of those things. Damn, time flies.

Beard Diary #01

Didn’t really know what to write about today so I thought I’d just put some sort of update about my adventure in beard growing. On the 3rd of April, I received my shipment of Minoxidil. I’ve been applying it daily for about 2 weeks now and I’m not sure if it’s working yet. I’m definitely feeling its effects – dry skin (I actually get dandruff when I scratch my beard haha) and my face bloated up a bit initially. After a few days, I decided that I’d cut down my intake from 2ml/day to 1ml/day for my body to get acclimatized to it. Next week I’ll probably go back to 2ml/day again.

As for the hair on my face, there’s nothing significant but I’m definitely seeing the growth of some new hairs on spots where there wasn’t any hair previously. Literally less than 20 new hairs, so it’s going to take a lot more time to grow. Hopefully I have hairs waiting to come out in the spots that matter.

Due to the nature of the chemical, it is important to make sure your hands are clean after you’re done applying it on your face. I guess it’s so that you don’t accidentally apply it on other parts of your body or on other people if you touch them. Imagine giving some girl you dislike a beard (haha).

I guess this is a pretty pointless update, but I thought it would be nice for me to have some dates down and a reference point that I can look back on in the future. It’s still too early to tell if it’s going to work or not, but I’m hopeful. In other news, I think I’m going to grow out my hair again. There are no rules on how I need to look like for my job, yay for flexibility.

The Perfect Crime

“Two years and not a word. I wondered if they even realized it was gone. Was my fake that good? I went into my garage, unlocked the trap door to my basement and descended the steps into it. I switched on the lights. There, in the middle of the room, was the prized Mona Lisa, resting on an easel for no one but my own eyes to see. I had pulled off the perfect crime, but there was nobody I could tell about it, or I would have been caught and sent to jail.”

“Alright, show and tell is over. It’s time for your meds,” said Francis off to the side of the podium. I stepped away from the lectern, normally reserved for bingo nights, and felt two steady arms guide me back to my seat. Though my eyesight was failing, I could see the same (old) faces, smiling at me, breaking the silence with frail clapping.

“Oceans Ninety Nine! Tell us another story!” I heard from the back of the room.
“This is only the hundredth time I’ve heard it!”

“Bah! These patronizing kids,” I thought to myself as I sipped the water through a straw placed in front of me. “They’ll never know the truth if it hit them in the face!”

Writing Prompt from Reddit: You have been striving for years to commit the elusive “Perfect Crime” for the fame of it. You steal the Mona Lisa and replace it with a fake. You leave a taunting note and wait for the panic when it is discovered. But, 2 years later, no one has noticed.

Pertinent Layers

After using my 40% keyboard for two-and-a-half months, I’ve managed to map out a layer that works for me. While most of you are probably wondering, why did I bother with such a small keyboard in the first place? I already have a standard sized keyboard on my laptop.

Well, when you’re spending so much time in front of the computer, wouldn’t you want to type on something that feels good? I know I do. The laptop keyboards if definitely sufficient, but it’s not great. Lack of travel, feedback and programmability. And of course, most importantly, a e s t h e t i c s.

The 40% board is great for traveling – I can’t leave my keyboard at work, so having something light and portable is important for me. It may not seem that much smaller than a 60% keyboard but when you have a tiny backpack like me, every cubic centimeter saved is important (gotta pack more bags of drugs in there).

For non-mechanical keyboard enthusiasts out there, you’re probably wondering how on earth someone could possibly use such a tiny input device. Well, after experimenting with many different layouts on the Vortex Core, I’ve come up with something that works for me and the work I do. It’s nothing fancy, but with it I can easily type characters like ‘ and / which weren’t mapped to the non-function layer by default. I’ve also mapped control, alt and windows to the HHKB layout (I’ve gotten so used to it) and moved escape to a function layer so tab is next to Q. I’d love to do a lot more, but I’m limited by the current functionality of the board.

I still miss the number row when entering passwords, but I’m dealing with it. I even put the number row key caps on my keyboard to help me out in that department. Eventually I will have them all memorized. After using this layout for a while, I’ve come to realize that I could even do away with 3 of the keys on the keyboard, which would make something like the Pearl usable for me (damn, those sexy blockers) – something I would have never dreamed of before using a 40% keyboard.

Anyway, here is a diagram of the layout that I currently use. Feel free to use it or offer any suggestions if you think that you can make it better! I didn’t put down the Shift + Fn1 layers since those can’t be changed (they symbols are mapped from !@#$%^&*() on Ctrl to L respectively).

I can’t wait for Vortex to make the Core completely customizable, I already have plans for how I want to tweak this board even more in the future.

Touch Typing

Over the weekend, I was looking up for some tips to improve my touch typing skills and I learned something I can’t believe I had never thought of before: keep your index fingers on the home keys (F and J on a QWERTY keyboard) if you’re using your pinkies to hit keys like escape, backspace, control, tab or shift – this will allow you to quickly return to the home row and reset your fingers in the correct typing position. It was something so simple yet effective. This prompted me to scour the net for more tips that I could use. Turns out, there aren’t many tips available online that I didn’t already know. Unless there’s a hidden cache of advice hidden available somewhere on the internet, the only other thing I’ve managed to takeaway is that practice is everything.

Like playing the guitar or a video game, typing is very much all about muscle memory. Think about words you type very often: your own name, words like you, me, them, they, the – I’m pretty sure most of you can touch type them without any effort. However, if I were to give you a word like adscititious, it would probably take you a moment to type it out. But if you keep typing the word over and over again, you’ll be able to type it quickly. Basically, you have to practice typing until you are at the stage where you’re typing words instead of letters. It’s like being so familiar with a guitar chord that you can press it without having to look at the fretboard, or pulling off key combinations to execute a special move for your video game character.

While I don’t think I’ll consistently surpass 100 wpm anytime soon (I type fast enough for my current job anyway), it’s something I hope to achieve naturally in the long run – once I’ve typed the most common English words enough times to make them all muscle memory. But for those of you who are interested in learning how to touch type, here are some helpful sites.

Keybr– a site that helps you memorize where each letter is on your keyboard and analyzes which keys you’re struggling with.
10fastfingers – a great site for practicing the most common English words
Type Racer – a popular online typing game where you race against other people by typing out a passage of text quickly and accurately

Mini Movie Reviews

Remember when this blog was all about Movie Reviews? I remember.

Anyway, watched a few movies recently and thought I’d say my piece about them. There will probably be spoilers, so just skip this post if you haven’t seen A Quiet Place, Ready Player One, Pacific Rim: Uprising and Peter Rabbit.

A Quiet Place

It’s been a while since my last horror movie (I tend to avoid them like the plague) but this one was pretty good. The movie made great use of sound. It reminded me a lot of Dead Silence – the scenes which were the scariest were the quietest ones. Overall, it was an enjoyable movie even though there were moments I had to watch with fingers covering my ears (horror movies are so much more tolerable when they’re muted).

I didn’t like the young girl as a character. She felt too obnoxious to me. Like Joffrey in Game of Thrones. It was hard to root for her. However, she wasn’t annoying enough to ruin the movie for me.

The story was interesting, though I was constantly reminded of the Walking Dead during a lot of the shots. Also, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched if the monsters were replaced with zombies instead. I thought the movie ended well, and it was a good self-contained story (though I wouldn’t be bothered if it had an over-the-top exaggerated sequel – maybe something that bridged it with Edge of Tomorrow lol).

Rating: 3/3 echolocating aliens

Ready Player One

As someone who was a big fan of the book and looking forward to the movie, it was kind of a let down. I mean, I understood why they had to cut out certain aspects of the book and change some challenges in order to make it fit into one movie – but that didn’t make it any less disappointing. The people I watched the film with didn’t read the book and enjoyed it way more than me, so I’d advise to skip the book until you’ve seen it. It’s definitely not a bad movie, the visuals were top-notch and pretty much how I imagined the world would look like but the were way too much for my liking. Would rewatch if I had a memory wipe and forgot how the book played out. Check out these articles if you’d like to know some of the changes that were made for the film.

Rating: 3/6 challenges that were removed and replaced

Pacific Rim: Uprising

I went in the cinema expecting to be let down because of how much I disliked the first movie. It ended up being a lot better than I ever thought it could be. While my friends, who were fans of the first one, weren’t happy with this film, I thought it was one of the better sci-fi films I’ve seen recently (not sure because it was good or other movies have been terrible). The pacing of the movie was great – there were barely any lulls in the action and I enjoyed the acting of the characters (minus the chemistry between Boyega and Eastwood – that felt a little forced). They definitely could have picked a better character to be the villain in this movie, but I’m happy how the movie sets up for a Jaeger invasion if they ever make a sequel. Maybe it was my low expectations for the movie, but I’d easily recommend it over the original. Fun, brainless, robot vs. aliens action, with a crew that could fit in an Alien(R) High School sitcom (why isn’t this a thing yet?).

Rating: 3/5 friends disappointed in the film

Peter Rabbit

This movie was a marketing dream come true: perfect release date around school holidays and Easter, its target audience, and tie-in with Harrod’s set it up to be one of the most successful movies this year. While the movie itself isn’t anything to shout about, I thought it was interesting that they aged up the main character to make it slightly edgier than the story books it was based on. The live-action and CGI mix was done pretty well though I’m pretty sure when we look back on the film in 10 years it’ll probably look outdated. I’m not anticipating a sequel but wouldn’t be opposed to it if there was another one in the future.

Rating: 3/5 blackberries thrown onto the faces of offended critics