Handling Fees

So, the other day I received a letter from the customs department, telling me that I had a package with them and I needed to pay taxes for it before I could get it. Initially I responded to their letter, saying I was okay with Pos Malaysia handling it for me like they had in the past. All I would have to do was head to the local post office, pay them and collect my item. However, days went by and I didn’t get a call or email telling me to collect my package. I figured something was wrong, so I gave the customs department a call.

At this point it had almost been a week since I had told them to go ahead with Pos Malaysia as my handler, so imagine my surprise when I learned that the package was still at the customs office in KLIA. I decided, fuck it – I’ll go pick up the package myself. I get to save on the RM50 handling fees, and bring it home with me on the same day.

It’s been a while since my last drive to KLiA, and man that place is far as balls. Driving there was close to an hour, with tolls on the MEX highway. The hot weather didn’t make it any more pleasant. At least when I go there, parking was free and there was plenty of it.

That made me think there weren’t many people that day. I was wrong. The waiting area was packed. It was going to be a long day.

There were many steps involved in the whole process, here’s what I did:

  1. You sign in by showing your customs letter and giving your identity card to the guards at the entrance. They hand you a pass and tell you to enter the building and look for counter 1.
  2. At counter 1, you pass them the letter – they head to the back, dig out your package and pass it to you. They then tell you to proceed to counter 2.
  3. At counter 2, one of the staff will ask you to open up the package and you have to tell them how much it costs (show them an official receipt).
  4. They will then fill up some paperwork and ask you to bring it to counter 3, while you leave your parcel at counter 2.
  5. So on you head to counter 3, and pass your documents to the person behind the glass. They tell you to wait, so this part depends on on how many people were there before you.
  6. After a while, they’ll call your name and give you back the documents, which you have to bring to counter 2. At counter 2, you pass the documents to them, and they ask you to wait again. I’m not sure what goes on at this stage, but the end result is them giving you a document which states how much you have to pay for the item.
  7. You then head back to counter 3 and pass the documents to the person behind the glass. You wait again, until your name is called. You then go to the counter to pay the fee. You collect the documents and head back to counter 2.
  8. At counter 2, they verify that you’ve made the purchase, then give you the green light to leave with your parcel.
  9. You head to the guard house to return the pass and to collect your identity card again.
  10. Get in your car and drive home.

The above process took me about 3 hours at the customs office alone. So if you factor in the traveling time, that was about 5 hours of my day gone. Just like that. A huge fucking waste of time.

I probably should have paid the RM50 handling fees in the first place, but I guess now I know for sure. Also, they were being lazy and my parcel hadn’t moved in days. So I felt compelled to do something about it.

TL;DR, is it worth paying handling fees? If you have an afternoon to spare, and you live close by to the customs office, sure. If not, just give Pos Malaysia the handling fees, it’s worth not going through the hassle.

Breaking a Streak/Gig #118

No, this blog isn’t dead. Just been busy doing writing for work so I haven’t been keen on writing recently. But this is the first time in a while I haven’t done a weekly blog post.

Last week I wrote a post about how to bring a dog overseas, but I’ll only publish that when I’ve successfully completed it. Yes, I am going to be bringing Snuggles with me to the US – or at least, I’ll be attempting to. Now I’m just waiting for the documentation process to be completed. Once I get them, everything should be smooth sailing. Hopefully.

Not that I want to get rid of my dog. I’ll miss her dearly. But I think she’d have a better life in the US with my sister. Provided everything goes smoothly, and that she copes with the flight. I think there should be an option for pet owners to fly in the cargo section of the plane so they can keep them company throughout the long journey. I wonder why airlines haven’t implemented that yet. I’m pretty sure many passengers would choose that option if it was possible.

One thing I had to do during the whole ordeal of finding out how to get Snuggles to the US was make a lot of phone calls. Which brings me to the topic of hotlines. I’ve had something stuck at Malaysian customs since last Thursday, and was told to get in touch with them about clearing the item. So I did – or at least I tried to. I called many times, no answer, left a message, nobody called me back, sent multiple emails – no reply except for a generic message this morning that requested for the same exact information that I had already sent to them in my initial emails. Do they have bots working at the offices? I’m not sure. My previous dealing with the customs office was straightforward and quick. This time has been terrible. It feels like I’ve been cursed to make stupid phone calls in 2019. Anyway, don’t want to rant anymore about it, onto something more positive:

I’m playing a show at a new venue this week, should be real fun. Come drop by for some cool tunes and beer. I’ll be playing a long ass set (30 mins) compared to my usual 3-song sets at open mics. Details below:

Open Mic by Lockerroom [Facebook Page]

Time: 8 PM – 10:30 PM
Date: 31st January 2019
Venue: Lockerroom, DC Mall [Google Maps]

The lineup hasn’t been finalized yet but I’ll be playing at 9pm. Hope to see you guys there!

Not giving up on ortho just yet

When I got my Planck late last year, I ended up putting it aside most of the time due to my difficulty with using the ortholinear layout. I felt kinda bad about neglecting it so over the past two weeks I’ve been forcing myself to use the keyboard exclusively when working outside, and what a difference it’s been. I can actually type at decent speeds right now, and even though the bottom row is still a challenge to me, I think I can actually get used to it (I’m up to 76wpm now). Good thing humans are adaptable creatures.

The main issue I face with this board was with QMK. I’m happy that the people working on it have been keeping it updated, and they’ve been very responsive on reddit and discord. Big shout out to them. For people who want to stick with the default layout, this won’t be an issue since you don’t need to mess around with keymaps and setting up build environments.

In terms of build quality, you get what you pay for. I do have two screws that seem to unscrew themselves from time to time, I’m not sure why, but I’ll have to implement a fix in the future.

For my layout, I haven’t changed much since my initial setup but yesterday I remapped it to be closer to my other 40% keyboards because I find myself going to the same hotkeys on this board, so I’ve got another retraining step to do. Having an arrow cluster is quite useful – when paired with the function key, I get a very intuitive page up/down, home/end key cluster.

I have also replaced my BOX Royals with Gateron Greens because I find them more enjoyable to type on. BOX Royals do sound real nice in this case though. I’m still using the KBDFans XDA set I designed. May or may not replace them in the future, depending on how much I want to invest in the Planck. I’ll probably be on the lookout for a nicer case.

Maybe I need a few more months with it, but I honestly don’t feel the benefits this keyboard has over my other 40% keyboards. 40% keyboards are already tiny, I have no issues hitting every key from the home row regardless of the stagger – the ortholinear layout only confuses my muscle memory. The best thing about the keyboard is its portability. It’s the lightest keyboard I currently own and I really enjoy traveling with it in my backpack.

Happy New Year, Gig #117

One year ago, I started the journey to clean my room, and one year later – I’m not done. But that’s okay. It’s something I’ll have to eventually get around to, if not my room will turn into a location for a new season of Hoarders. What makes cleaning up your room such a difficult thing to do? I guess I’m just lazy. And I don’t feel like it’s worth enough of my time. I’d rather spend it doing fun stuff and goofing around. Crazy huh?

Writing about it now makes me feel like I need to change my attitude towards having a clutter-free room. There are many cases for having a clean room, and nothing against it. There is no reason why you should have a messy room. I guess it’s more the part of me who likes to hold on to old, useless trash instead of giving it up.

I’ve got tons of stuff in boxes, untouched since the day I moved in to my current home. I haven’t looked at them for the past 10(?) years – there’s no reason to think that I would look at them in the next 10 years. Time for them to go. Stuff for other people to make use of, or even the trash. There’s really no reason for me to hold onto so many things.

Clean room means a healthier environment, which is great. Less stress – since you don’t come home to a messy room, you won’t have to worry about having to pick things up. It also means more storage for me to keep other things in the future. Having a clean room is a benefit, so I shall keep that in mind as I continue clearing out stuff this week.

Happy New Year to everybody, maybe I’ll spend more time updating this blog this year. Once a week feels a bit too little. We’ll see.

In other news, I’ve got my first gig of the year happening this Thursday – at where else, but the KL Journal Poolside Open Mic? Feel free to drop by for some cool tunes and cool beer.

Poolside Open Mic #71 ft. Ash [Facebook Event Page]

Time: 8 PM – 10:30 PM
Date: 10th January 2019
Venue: KL Journal Hotel [Google Maps]

The Poolside Open Mic is our 3rd longest running open mic night which happens every Thursday evening right on TOP of The KL Journal! Each installation features one of our finest musicians, with this one featuring…

***ASH***

Armed with just a guitar and her soothing voice, and her eclectic blend of soul, RnB and bossa nova, Ash is a KL-based singer-songwriter who has just begun her journey into the performing arts. Often spotted at indie haunts such as The Bee, The KL Journal, Merdekarya and PLOY, she uses the stage to sing stories of her personal experiences with a subtle mix of melancholy and sensuality complimented with her delicate guitar playing style. With a decent repertoire of originals and covers under her belt so far, expect to see more of her in the near future as her journey has just begun.

Follow her: https://www.instagram.com/ashneese/

***OPEN MIC***

#1 2storeyheart
#2 Sia Nicholas
#3 Wasif Hyder
#4 Raymond
#5 Adz King
#6 Juan
#7 Nero
#8 Amr Mohsen

To sign up for the open mic, email us@openmicmalaysia.org 😀

~

Open Mic Malaysia is the brainchild of Shaneil Devaser, frontman of The Endleaves. Established in 2012 and currently operating in the Klang Valley, Kota Kinabalu and Johor Bahru, Open Mic Malaysia aims to create sustainable avenues for bedroom musicians, singer-songwriters and professional musicians to share their music and experiences with each other and the public, over evenings of wholesome indie goodness. In partnership with other like-minded musicians from across the country, Open Mic Malaysia aims to… Make Malaysia Great (for indie music) Again.

No Rat Glue for the New Year

Earlier today, I received an email from Lazada Philippines telling me that my order of a hair straightener, rat trap, and rat glue was being processed. Hmm. Very strange, I thought to myself – considering that I had no need for any of those items and the fact that I don’t shop on Lazada Philippines. The email was legit, so I knew it wasn’t some sort of phishing attempt. But it was sent to an email address that I don’t use for Lazada.

Curious, I decided to log in to the account (using the forgot password option). Funnily, the email address wasn’t even verified to begin with. I had to verify it in order to reset the password. Fine, I thought – I verified my email address and reset the password.

After logging in, I noticed there was another order that I wasn’t informed about via email: a ladies bag. I checked out the profile attached to the account – there was a name, address and phone number of a lady living in the Philippines. I guess she has a rat problem and likes to keep her hair straight.

Anyway, I did the only reasonable thing I could think of: cancel the orders she made. Unfortunately two of the four orders were already shipped out so I could only cancel the other two (rat glue and handbag).

Why do people use email addresses that don’t belong to them? On a side note, Lazada – why do you let people make purchases without verifying their email addresses? I’m not going to do anything else with the Lazada account and all the personal information I have but someone else with malicious intent would probably have a field day with all this stuff. Hopefully that lady learns a lesson about using other people’s email addresses to order stuff online.

Imagine if it was some live-saving medication that I cancelled (assuming I was unaware of how important the order of medication was), and the recipient died because they didn’t get it. Would I be considered a murderer? Or would the judge say, “all this could have been avoided if the recipient had used their own email address. It’s not that hard to get an email address. Also, it is free. There is no excuse not to have an email address of your own.”

Lady – here’s to hoping rats continue plaguing you until you realize your order of rat glue has been cancelled. And that you don’t have a bag for going out to celebrate the new year. Please use your own email address next time.

An Ear Full of Wax

Last Friday, I woke up in the morning with my right ear muted. I had no idea what caused it – I only know that there was something wrong with it. Sound was really soft in that ear. I initially thought that it would go away after a few hours, but nothing changed. In the afternoon, I visited a doctor who had a look inside my ear and told me that it was blocked with wax. Strange. Especially since my left ear was clear, and I had been cleaning both the same way ever since I was young (using cotton buds).

He recommended that I visit the pharmacy to pick up some drugs to soften the ear wax in the ear so that it can be washed out. I listened to his advice, so on Friday night, the whole of Saturday and Sunday, I kept using the ear wax softener. Unfortunately, it didn’t help. There were occasions when yawning would bring temporary relief to my right ear, but a few seconds later, it was back to being muted.

I was getting really annoyed by it, so when Monday came around and it wasn’t any better than it was on Friday, I decided to pay an ENT doctor a visit. He plopped me down onto a chair after I explained the situation, and he turned on a monitor in front of me. First he stuck this microscope into my left ear to see if it was fine – it was. Perfectly clean. No traces of wax stuck inside my ear hole. At this point, I was thinking to myself – what if there was nothing in my right ear hole and it was just damaged? Would I have to spend the rest of my life being deaf in one ear?

Boy, was I relieved when he plugged the camera into my right ear to show me what he suspected it would be. And boy, was it disgusting. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the inside of your own ears before – for me, it was an eye-opening experience. I wouldn’t recommend you google it but I won’t stop you if you want to.

The doctor told me that my right ear hole was clogged, so he used a tiny vacuum to suck the wax out of my ear. It didn’t hurt, but man the sound was loud, and the feeling of the vacuum pulling the wax off the walls of the ear hole felt very uncomfortable.

After the whole ordeal was over (I think it took less than five minutes – shorter than the amount of time I had to wait to register at the front desk), it wasn’t clear that my hearing was back to normal. I had been so used to the muted right ear for the past three days that I think my brain just ignored whatever sound that was picked up by my right ear.

What a way to end the year (with another visit to the hospital). Heh. Since that day, I’ve decided to change my ear cleaning methods – no more cotton buds for me. Using your towel to wipe the outside of your ears after showering is good enough, apparently. So that’s what I’ll be doing from now on. Hopefully I’ll never have to experience a blocked ear again.

WordPress 5.0, Year Recap, Gig #116

Since WordPress recently upgraded to version 5.0 I thought I’d give the new editor a shot and I’m pretty impressed. It’s one of the best looking WYSIWYG editors I’ve used in a while. Previously, I had been typing out my blog posts using the text only editor and they replaced it with this one by default. While I’m not too ambitious when it comes to the layout of my blog posts (let’s be honest, it’s just text, the rare photograph, and more text) so I don’t think I’ll be doing anything fancy now but who knows – maybe I’ll be a bit more creative in the future.

We’re 11 days into December – the best month of the year (just because), and we’re getting close to the end of the year. Not that it matters. Let’s see how I did this year in terms of achieving my goals.

From my post I wrote in January:

What I intend to do this year:
– finish my first game
– record songs that incorporate keyboards in some way
– play more sports
– learn to play a Dance Gavin Dance song

The End of a Season

I didn’t finish my first game. However, I did take steps towards it: I’ve planned out my first game on paper. Now all I need to do is execute it. So, fail.

I didn’t record any songs that incorporate keyboards but I did record songs that used virtual drums and electric guitar – something that I didn’t do before. I guess I still failed, since the whole point of recording something with a keyboard meant that I had to learn a new instrument.

Play more sports – I did pick up cycling after getting a bicycle about a month ago (I guess I could write a post about it) but it’s not really considered a sport. I did try playing more CS:GO, does esport count? Nah, I failed in that aspect.

I didn’t manage to learn a Dance Gavin Dance song but I did write a DGD-inspired song and I learned the intro riff to Cocky by Tilian. I guess I failed that too.

Woot, a 100% on failure. Can’t say I didn’t try.

What did I do that’s worth talking about this year then?

I started a new job in a new industry, doing new things. That’s pretty rad I think. I’m also glad that I’m fitting in and able to deliver my work. Sure, it’s something that every working adult is expected to do but I’m happy that I found a job that fits me like a glove.

I got back into gigging after a hiatus last year, and I’ve been consistently playing at least one show a month. It’s great to be back – I missed the stage.

I started work on my first comic. It’s been a slow and gradual process, but Animal Bus is finally seeing the light of day. Over the past few months I’ve been drawing pages of the comic and while I’m nowhere close to launch (I intend to finish about 5 chapters before putting it online so I have a buffer for the next chapter), I’m happy with the progress I’m making.

I did manage to write a few new songs this year, am close to finishing another one and have enough material to record a second EP.  Whether or not I’ll do it is left to be decided, but I’ll be playing them at my shows.

I’ve managed to finish a few games from my Steam library – a huge feat considering the amount of time I spent playing Dota 2. I also attended the KL Major, which was great because Virtus Pro won. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend TI 2019 in China. That would be awesome.

I tried and failed growing a beard, but at least now I don’t have to wonder anymore about the effects of Minoxidil on my face.

What’s in store for 2019? I don’t even know myself. Probably the same goals, just that this time I’ll put more effort into carrying them out. We’ll see. In the meantime, do drop by the Poolside Open mic on Thursday for some chill beer and tunes.

Poolside Open Mic #68 ft. Armand Tanzarian [Facebook Event Page]

Time: 8 PM – 10:30 PM
Date: 13th December 2018
Venue: KL Journal Hotel [Google Maps]


The Poolside Open Mic is our 3rd longest running open mic night which happens every Thursday evening right on TOP of The KL Journal! Each installation features one of our finest musicians, with this one featuring…

***ARMAND TANZARIAN***

After a haitus as a failed international man of mystery, the busiest man on stage Armand Tanzarian returns with new and old songs. Using a guitar, a loop pedal and occasional woodwinds to build an epic wall of sound, Armand Tanzarian creates soundscapes and stories that wrap around the listener like a warm hug, and transport the listener to some place faraway.

Follow him: https://www.instagram.com/armandtanzarianmusic/

***OPEN MIC***

#* Rafiq & Izat
#1 Wasif Hyder
#2 Rachel Schlossman
#3 RUFUS
#4 2storeyheart
#5 Fathee
#6 Amr Mohsen

To sign up for the open mic, email us@openmicmalaysia.org 😀

~

Open Mic Malaysia is the brainchild of Shaneil Devaser, frontman of The Endleaves. Established in 2012 and currently operating in the Klang Valley, Kota Kinabalu and Johor Bahru, Open Mic Malaysia aims to create sustainable avenues for bedroom musicians, singer-songwriters and professional musicians to share their music and experiences with each other and the public, over evenings of wholesome indie goodness. In partnership with other like-minded musicians from across the country, Open Mic Malaysia aims to… Make Malaysia Great (for indie music) Again.

One Week on Ortho

So, I finally received my Planck keyboard and I’ve been using them on and off for over a week so I thought I’d write a quick post about it just because I haven’t written anything this week.

For those of you who don’t know, the Planck is a 40% ortholinear keyboard – which means the keys aren’t staggered like a regular keyboard (look at how A is slightly to the right of Q, Z is slightly to the right of A and so on), the keys are lined up in a grid instead. This is supposedly better in terms of ergonomics, but since I haven’t had any issues typing on staggered layouts all these years, I don’t really feel the difference. However, this grid layout introduces a new problem for me (which I assume will go away with time) – muscle memory.

Maybe I’m just a slow learner but I’m having a lot of trouble adapting to the Planck layout. I find myself hitting the wrong keys even if I look at the keyboard to type just because my hands automatically reach out to hit the keys when I have a word to type. It gets annoying when you have to use backspace multiple times while writing a single sentence. Because of this issue, I find myself not using the Planck as much as I’d like to. Other than that, I have no qualms about the keyboard. Initially I had some trouble remapping the keys due to a problem with the QMK configurator site, but since that has been sorted out, everything is fine and dandy, the way I like it.

In terms of build quality – you get what you pay for. I bought the EOTW (easy on the wallet) version of the board because I wanted to try out the layout, and for how cheap it was, I thought it was worth it. The EOTW plates are gorgeous, and so is the PCB. Definitely one of the nicest looking PCBs I’ve seen for a keyboard. The form factor is great – I love how light and tiny it is, though it might feel a little fragile due to the lack of a case (which can be easily solved by spending more money).

Overall – at least based on my short experience with the Planck, I think ortho is not for me. That being said – for people who have issues using staggered layouts, this could be a viable option for a more ergonomic keyboard. At this point in time, I see no benefits to relearning how I type so I don’t think I’ll be an ortho user in the future. That being said, I’m still going to continue using it over the next few months. If my typing doesn’t improve on it, I’ll just turn it into a giant macropad or try to flip it.

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.

7 months and done

Last Sunday was a momentous date for me because of two things: I finally understood the feeling of rooting for a team and watching them win a tournament (all the other times I’ve felt like I’ve always cursed the team I supported by watching them). Virtus fucking Pro won the KL Major and I couldn’t be happier for them. FIrst Valve-sanctioned major of the season, and my favorite team ever since they put on a hero pool clinic at The Summit 7. That tournament turned me into a fan of the team. Anyway, I don’t want to bore anyone with the specifics, but they put on a great show and I hope to see them continue winning in the coming months. The best part about the event was probably walking around in a Virtus Pro hoodie because everyone at the venue seemed to be a Secret fan (there was a Malaysian player in their squad) – I enjoyed those salty tears.

Secondly – I’ve finally finished my Minoxidil course. All six bottles. It took me seven months, but I’m finally done with having to apply liquid on my face twice a day. Feels good not to be burdened by a regiment anymore. On the downside, I see no significant improvement to the state of my beard. I guess you just can’t make hair grow when there were no hair follicles to begin with. Where do I go from here? Well, at least I know Minoxidil doesn’t work for me and my next course of action would be hair transplants so… yeah, I’m not that bothered or desperate enough – looks like I’ll just have to live my life with a patchy, unimpressive beard. Oh well. On the bright side, it is more facial hair than some of my friends can grow.

Seven months ago, I also purchased my first Topre keyboard. The HHKB Pro 2 is still one of my favorite boards to type on. The sound, tactility, and layout – all amazing. I have yet to come across a better typing experience. Recently there have been rumors about an upcoming HHKB Pro 3, so I’m looking forward to that. Assuming there are significant changes to warranty an upgrade. My wish list? MX-compatible stems, built-in programmability. They could keep everything else the way it is and I’d be happy. I know people would like stuff like USB C (I’m not looking forward to having to buy more cables to replace the ones I currently own), heavier domes (an option would be nice, I’m not sure if I’d enjoy something heavier but I would definitely try them out), metal casing (I am honestly a fan of the keyboard’s plastic case – its sound signature and weight would be very different if it wasn’t made from plastic), and Bluetooth (a fine option as long as it’s optional).

In recent keyboard news, my Planck has finally arrived (after a long-ass wait) and I’m personally not the biggest fan of it. I’ll definitely have to spend more time typing on it. I know it’s not a popular opinion but at the moment, I feel that learning to type using an ortholinear board seems way more trouble than it’s worth. It seems very likely that I’ll be turning it into a giant macropad or selling it off. Will give it a thorough chance before I do that.