Transitioning: Tablet Life

I’m amazed at how far technology has come. I remember when I first got my iPad, I was struggling to do anything remotely productive on it. Sure, I was trying to type on the on-screen keyboard, but the fact that I couldn’t have multiple windows open, use decent copy/paste functions and cloud storage made it such a hassle to use. This was back in a time when transferring documents meant connecting my iPad to a computer and dragging files out from it. I decided not to ever use it for productivity and it turned into my gaming/video streaming device.

Fast forward about 8 years now, and I find myself using a tablet to do my work and holy shit, the experience is amazing. So much has changed since then. “Why am I not working on a laptop?” you ask. My laptop is currently at a service center for repairs (one of the USB ports isn’t functioning properly) so I needed another computer to work with (for when I’m outside or in the office). I decided to pick up an Android tablet (Galaxy Tab A10.5) as my backup computer – since I could use it to replace my dying Android tablet at home anyway. After spending the past 24 hours with it as my working machine – I think it could replace my work laptop instead.

I don’t want to spend paragraphs gushing about the device, so I’ll just summarize my thoughts on the device. The kind of work I do doesn’t require a very powerful device: a lot of word processing, the occasional spreadsheet or presentation, checking and responding to emails and research on the internet.

Why the tablet works for me:

  • Having multiple windows open on the tablet’s display is a breeze to do (you can have split screen apps and/or floating windows), with no noticeable slowdown or lag. I can easily have multiple documents open to work with at the same time.
  • I can easily plug in any of my keyboards to the tablet (via a USB A to USB C converter) to use with the tablet, and a lot of shortcut keys remain. Even better if your keyboard has mouse move commands as that lets you have an onscreen mouse so you never have to touch the tablet display if you don’t want to.
  • Long battery life – according to what I read, I think it should last 15 hours – which is plenty of time. Longer than a regular work day for me which means I don’t have to worry about charging it as long as I charge it to full before I leave the house.
  • Because Android/Google is awesome, I have all my Drive files easily accessible to me without having to do any additional settings. I just log in to Google and I’ve got everything I need.
  • The 10.5” display is more than sufficient for my tasks, and when I’m not working, it doubles up as a great video player.
  • All the apps that I use run smoothly on this machine. Don’t think I’ll be gaming with it anytime soon, but I doubt it’ll be a problem if I ever decide to game on it in the future.
  • It’s friggin light. Having to carry it around in my backpack feels wonderful compared to the laptop I was lugging around previously.

What sucks:

  • WhatsApp for some reason doesn’t allow you to run the app on multiple devices with the same phone number. I have to resort to using WhatsApp web on the tablet. It’s not the end of the world, but I don’t see why I need to rely on such workarounds – it’s 2018, everyone has multiple devices. Please implement support for it. Then again, this isn’t the tablet’s fault but I thought I’d bring it up anyway since I use WhatsApp a lot for work.
  • The screen is a fingerprint magnet – but it is only noticeable when it is off, so not really a big deal.

That ended up being longer than I thought. I’ve only spent 24 hours with this tablet, so this piece is only a first impression, I’m sure I’ll find additional things to say about it in the future. If anyone has any experience with the transition or has recommendations about must-have apps or tricks I need to know, feel free to chime in!

Two Bottles Left

It’s been five months since I started my Minoxidil journey, and I’m down to my last two bottles (I ordered a pack of six). Unfortunately, my beard growth hasn’t been as spectacular as I had hoped. In fact, it’s been miserable – it feels like the chemicals didn’t make a difference. I just don’t have any extra hair follicles where I want my beard to grow. However, it’s supposed to take at least six months for it to happen – so I’ve got at least one more month of applying that chemical on my face before I can officially conclude that this experiment was a failure, and I wasted money purchasing the six bottles of Minoxidil.

Other side effects I’ve noticed from using it – I now have a flaky chin – which is essentially dandruff on the opposite side of your head (LUL). I’ve been using moisturizing cream and washing my face with a moisturizing wash to alleviate the problem, but I guess it’s not going to go away until I stop using Minoxidil. I think my face also gets bloated when I use it, which gives me sleepy looking eyes and a fat face for the first few hours of the day and night (I apply 1 ml of it on my face twice a day). I also feel extra tired in the mornings, but I’m not sure if it’s due to the drug or my lack of sleep.

Fortunately I haven’t had anything serious like chest pains or difficulty breathing. My heartbeat is pretty fast – but it’s only something I noticed when I started wearing a smart watch. I’m not sure if it’s always been that high, and if it is – I don’t know if it’s because of the coffee or cigarettes I consume. Maybe it’s a combination of all three. Haha.

I have also gained some weight over the past few months, though I think it’s likely due to my eating habits more than anything else. I have been trying out a lot of new places over the past few months.

I wish I had good news to report to everyone but unfortunately I don’t. Then again, maybe it’s going to take one more month. I’ll be using up the remaining two bottles before I come to a definite conclusion. Fingers crossed for some magic to happen!

Gig #112 & #113

I’m officially ending my brief hiatus this week! It’s actually been 8 months since my last gig. Not much to say other than I’ve got some new tunes prepared – hope to see you guys at the shows! <3

The Grind 22 Open Mic #42 [Facebook Event Page]
Date: 19th September 2018
Time: 8-10pm
Venue: Grind 22, Bangsar [Google Maps]

It’s a long road when you’re on your own – thankfully, rough tides are made smoother when we’re together at Grind 22. (That first bit was a Rambo reference.) 💪🏻

Join us for coffee, music, poetry and whatever else comes your way. It’s an unexpected treat every time. ☕️💬🎶⚡️🎙

We start at 8PM and end at 10PM on the dot. Sign up by dropping us a line at us@openmicmalaysia.org!

1 • Zariq Syafiq
2 • Uncle Cocco
3 • Zhana + Syazman
4 • Hee Ian
5 • 2storeyheart
6 • Fathee

~

Open Mic Malaysia is the brainchild of Shaneil Devaser, frontman of The Endleaves. Established in 2012 and currently operating in Sabah, the Klang Valley and Penang, 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 Ian Tai of The Propositions, Jaime Gunter of Volatile and Boy Sunny of Meteor Crates, Open Mic Malaysia aims to… Make Malaysia Great (for indie music) Again.


The Poolside Open Mic #56 ft. Kien Lim [Facebook Event Page]
Date: 20th September 2018
Time: 8-10.30pm
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…

***KIEN LIM***

Kien Lim is a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, born in Brighton, United Kingdom, and residing in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. He likes words, loud guitars, and big drums.He released an EP entitled “The Red Room” in 2015 and gigs either as a solo artist or as a duo featuring electric guitar, drums, and voice.

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

***OPEN MIC***

#1 Zhana
#2 2storeyheart
#3 Hongman
#4 Ariff Jazzmi
#5 Helloluqman
#6 Hafizul & Yaaziq

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 Sabah, the Klang Valley and Penang, 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 Ian Tai of The Propositions, Jaime Gunter of Volatile and Boy Sunny of Meteor Crates, Open Mic Malaysia aims to… Make Malaysia Great (for indie music) Again.

Destination: Gwangju

It’s been a while since I’ve traveled for work. It has been almost a year since I’ve stopped doing back-to-back traveling. This change of pace is welcome. Anyway, today’s flight was good. Didn’t end up landing five-years later, like the TV show Manifest. Am here to attend the Gwangju ACE Fair which begins tomorrow morning. In case you’re wondering, I’m not in Seoul – nowhere near, in fact. Not that it really matters since I won’t have much time to do touristy stuff. Also, I’ve never been to South Korea before, so I have nothing to compare this place with anyway. For what it’s worth, we seem to be in a very seedy/happening part of town. Tons of massage parlors, gambling dens and motels in the vicinity. On the plus side, there are tons of bars and restaurants around as well.

I didn’t manage to sleep for long on the plane today, so I watched a few movies. It didn’t help that the lady next to me kept flicking her long dreadlocks on my arm and went past the arm rest, invading my personal space. Also, she kept looking at photos of herself on her tablet. I have no idea why. Upon loading the movie selection list, I realized how much I took MAS for granted. Korea Air has such a limited selection of movies. Also, their captains make way too many announcements. I managed to watch: The Commuter (I was let down by the middle-end 5/10), Life of the Party (couldn’t even finish the film, 2/10), Fahrenheit 451 (interesting concept, though I thought it could have been executed better, 6/10 – will probably have to read the book or wiki it), Dude’s Manual (honestly, it’s not a very good film, but the actresses were gorgeous so I kept watching 4/10). Maybe on the flight back I’ll spend it sleeping instead.

I had a terrible omelet on the plane for breakfast but that was made up by the delicious spicy beef soup meal I had after landing. Had spicy pork for dinner and that was good too. Looking forward to more meals in Korea! Coffee wasn’t impressive – it’s very light and watered down compared to how I like it. The weather today was pretty good – neither hot nor cold. Just the way I like it. According to the forecast, it’s going to be raining over the next few days, so I’m not looking forward to that.

Anyway, I’ve only spent half a day here, so I haven’t got much else to say for now. If you’re interested in the random photos I take, you can follow me on Instagram. Oh, this post was written on my Tokyo 60 – Box Navy switches are so damn loud, but man, they feel so good. This is definitely a board I won’t be bringing to work unless I replace the switches.

Shower Slippers are Aptly Named

So, over the weekend I decided to replace my 10-year-old+ flip-flops. No idea why it took me so long, but the soles of the footwear were coming off and they were already ugly as hell. I figured Saturday would have been a good time as any to get a new pair. Off I went to Mid Valley, braving the crowds and going from shop to shop, looking for a pair of nice flip-flops.

I don’t think I was very picky when it came to choosing my footwear, but there were a few criteria I had to meet:
– not hideous
– cheap enough to leave outside of my apartment (we’ve had a history of stolen flip-flops left on our welcome mat)
– no strap in between the big toe and the rest of the toes (I hate the feeling of something in between my toes)

That was it. Surprisingly, it was quite difficult finding something that matched my criteria without breaking the bank or in my size. It all came down to a pair of Nike flip-flops I found in Sports Direct. Other close contenders were some pricier Birkenstocks and Skechers footwear which I didn’t really feel like shelling out that much for.

Seeing how the Nikes were cheaper than Birkenstocks or Skechers and they felt comfortable enough, I decided to go with them. So, this is where I managed to ignore two warning signs: the flip-flops had a label on them “Kawa Shower“. I said to myself – what are the differences between shower slippers and regular flip-flops anyway? I always thought people wore regular flip-flops into bathrooms (but I have no idea why they did it – I guess it’s for people who don’t shower at home and the floor of the bathrooms they use are filthy? Like in public places? Beats me.)

Second warning sign: there were holes in the soles of the flip-flops – I didn’t think they mattered at all, beyond being able to drain away any sweat from my feet – which was a plus point in my mind. And in the event of rain, flip-flops weren’t going to protect my feet anyway.

After paying for them, I immediately put them on and threw away my old flip-flops. They were textured and a little grippy, but they were comfortable enough for me to walk around in them. Soon I forgot I was even wearing new flip-flops. All was good. I was happy about my purchase.

Fast forward to today, when I had to use a public restroom. I walked into a stall that had water all over the floor and without thinking, I took a step towards the toilet bowl. Immediately, I felt the filthy public toilet floor water rise up through the holes of my soles to the bottom of my feet. It was then I realized my mistake.

Right after I exited the toilet, I bought myself a new pair of flip-flops from Miniso (only RM28, and they fit real well). I’m just glad the combined cost of the flip-flops didn’t exceed the Birkenstocks or Skechers but now I have a pair of flip-flops that I’ve only worn for a day and will probably never wear again – at least not to places where I’m expected to get my feet wet. I guess I now own a pair of holiday flip-flops.

Andvari

Maybe it wasn’t as wonderful as he thought it was in the first place. After all, memories always seemed brighter than he remembered. Was he even remembering them correctly?

He paused, took another drag on his cigarette. What if it was already falling apart in the first place? All it needed was a catalyst to give it a slight push. To make it all happen.

The problem is, he didn’t know. All he could do was speculate. From behind rose-tinted glasses, all he saw was a loving and wonderful story that took place over two years of his life.

Was this the way things were supposed to pan out? Nobody could give him an answer. The funny thing about the future is, it hasn’t been written until it happens. Sure, you can guess at what happens – but there’s no way to tell until it comes to pass.

It’s the same dilemma as thinking that you can go back to the past to change what happens in the future. How do you know what you do will make a difference? Who’s to say that you won’t end up in a situation that’s worst than the present? Short of drastic measures like murdering somebody (then again, you’d probably end up in prison instead of being celebrated a hero) – changing the past could drastically alter the outcome of your present life.

Life isn’t linear. If something happened differently in the past, chances are you’d be sent down a completely different road in the future. Think of all the little choices you made that seemed so small back then – not opening your mouth to say hello to your current best friend, deciding to stay at home instead of going out drinking, changing flight dates because it conflicted with another date, not dressing up or looking your best on your first date. Anything and everything would change the way life played out.

Sure, you mess up at times. Looking back, it’s hard to accept some of the worst mistakes you’ve ever made in life – but there’s no going back and changing things. You’ve made your move, now deal with the consequences. The most you can do is to continue living and not let history repeat itself. It sucks, it hurts, but hey – you live and you learn. At least you’ll still have those memories. Right?

He put out his cigarette, shut his journal, packed his things and put his backpack on. He entered a date into the time machine and stepped in. The door shut itself after him.

Hidden in his alcove, the watching tortoise shed a tear. Goodbye, it whispered into the darkness.

Curated Feeds

It’s been a while since the introduction of in popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. While I’ve always been a huge proponent of UI updates and redesigns, I was initially upset. I liked viewing stuff chronologically – it was something I was used to. However, after a while, I stopped bothering with trying to get my updates sorted chronologically, and just accepted that the algorithm knew what it was doing. So far, it’s been alright. I hardly check out updates in order anymore, since the more relevant posts do pop up on top.

But after a while, I discovered that I kept seeing posts about things I was interested in (let’s not forget the ads as well) – it was no longer showing me random stuff that I used to encounter. It has turned my feeds a little stale. Sure, it’s great to know that what I want to know is readily available – but what about all the things I never knew I wanted? It’s all buried under this circlejerk/echo chamber of a news feed. Don’t get me wrong – I like the fact that after months of me filtering my feed, Facebook now doesn’t show me things I don’t care about – but I now miss out on stuff that I might care about because I don’t know about them.

If I want to discover something new – I have to intentionally look for it – a harrowing task when I don’t know what I’m looking for in the first place. Imagine missing out on something revolutionary and life-changing because it wasn’t on your radar in the first place? You now have to rely on people you see to hopefully keep you abreast of whatever that is. I haven’t gone back to browsing my news feed chronologically (Facebook still offers the option but Twitter and Instragram removed the option unless you were viewing individual pages) – it was just something I realized not too long ago.

These days I get most of my updates from Reddit, fortunately I don’t think they have algorithms to tailor your front page according to your profile – you just get highly rated stuff from subreddits you’re subscribed to. Hopefully in the future we’ll get options to see the news however we like it – chronologically or curated. I think having the option is always a good thing. Imagine getting your email in a curated order, with no way to switch it back – that would be such an annoying feature.

The International 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to experience The International properly, and boy have I missed it. For those of you who aren’t already aware, I’m a huge fan of Dota 2. I’ve been vocal about it, writing about the topic in the past. Nothing in-depth of course, mainly because I don’t have the skill or knowledge to do so, and because it’ll mean nothing to most of you guys.

The International is something I have been looking forward to every year for the past 6 years now. Ever since I got hooked onto Dota 2 around its second year, I have been using up a whole stretch of leaves just to catch the matches live. Then I started working in Big Bad Wolf, and that wasn’t a possibility anymore since I would be out of the country during the same time every year (Bangkok) for our sales. Now that I’ve left that job and am no longer working super-long days, it’s nice being able to catch the matches live again. There’s something about watching an event unfold live that makes it so much better than watching replays, highlights and reading reports.

The story lines this year are good – we’ve got a lot of underdog tales, extremely competitive teams, a brand new venue, and all sorts of other antics that r/dota2 memelords will appreciate. I’m a VP fan this year but am also rooting for Liquid, Mineski and Winstrike to do well. I still rock VP’s hoodie when it gets cold – the orange and black is also a great combo (here’s to hoping they revert after TI8). Day one is over and day two starts in a few hours. Can’t wait to experience the remaining week of top-tier dota (and hopefully replicate some plays in my pub games lul). One day, when the stars align, and if Dota is still around, I hope to attend TI in person. I can only imagine how much fun it would be.

If you’re interested in catching the action, The International 2018 will be streamed on Twitch and Steam.TV.

Life with a Smartwatch

Excuse the potato shot

For most of my life, I haven’t been one to wear a watch. I don’t know why, but for some reason I always felt like it was a big hassle just to put it on every morning. In fact, I stopped wearing watches for such a long time that having one on my wrist felt unnatural and I would constantly leave the house without putting it on. However, that has changed over the past two months. At the end of June, I got myself my very first smart watch, and now it’s something that I miss whenever I walk out of the house without wearing it.

I avoided the smartwatch craze for a while because the idea of having to charge your watch every night seemed unappealing to me. I mean, who wants to do that right? Since then, smartwatch battery life has improved and you can go for a couple of days before having to charge it (at least with the higher end ones). I decided to get one after reading rave reviews about this entry-level watch from Ticwatch – the Ticwatch E/Express. It had a reasonable price tag (RM 699 on Lazada), ran on Android Wear, and looked pretty nice. Since I had no experiences with smartwatch prior to this one, I thought the cost wasn’t too high to give it a shot.

Setting it up was pretty straightforward – install Android Wear on your phone, sync it up with the watch and you’re good to go. Look around for some watch face apps if you’re unhappy with your current theme and download it to your watch. I’m currently running a modified version of this Adventure Time Watchmaker theme and I think it’s pretty rad. I had some issues getting data to work when not on wifi, but after troubleshooting via the official forums and Reddit I did a system reset and it has been working fine ever since.

Since I’ve been using the watch for about two months, I thought I could give some of my opinions on it, for those of you interested in getting one for yourself.

  • My watch has about 33 hours of battery life based on my usage – it’s not great, but it’s not bad either. It definitely has enough juice to power through a full day (even with heavy usage) but if you don’t charge it, it’ll die in the middle of the following day unless you decide to charge it at some point before that. It’s definitely not 48+ hours as advertised (or I have a defective model – I’m not sure what the case is).
  • The fitness features are useless for me. It was fun to play around with the heart rate monitor or check how many steps you’ve walked initially, but as time went on, I stopped using those features. I’m sure if I lived a more active lifestyle, they would be really useful. As it stands, I had no use for them. The reminders every hour to get out of my seat to walk around let me know it’s time for a cigarette.
  • Phone notifications without pulling out your phone – very useful. Responding to messages without using the canned responses: not so great. Writing text by tracing letters out on your watch is too cumbersome to be useful. Especially if you have a long reply. Responding with your voice is a step better – it works well, however the times when I have to use my voice instead of typing them out on my phone’s keyboard are very limited. When you’re in public, you don’t want to be speaking replies out loud – not to mention, sometimes it’s just too noisy as well. When you’re in a meeting and looking at messages on your phone instead of your watch, you’re definitely not in a place to be responding with your voice.
  • My favorite feature so far – making reminders or phone calls with my voice. Now that’s a feature I can get behind. Especially if you have a headset on, you can do those things without pulling your phone out of your pocket. Great when your hands are full or when you’re on the move.
  • Using it as a navigation device is pretty nifty as well. It’s definitely better than walking around with your phone in front of you. The screen’s display is also bright enough to be used outdoors during the day.
  • The watch is pretty much more of a notification responder than a full-blown mobile device. I understand its limitations due to the hardware and software, but I think this will improve in the coming years. In the future, it’ll probably be good enough to replace your smartphone by itself.
  • The performance of the watch definitely leaves a lot to be desired. Especially when you don’t leave it in always-on mode – it takes a couple of seconds to wake up. While it may not seem like a long time, it does add up over time – especially if you’re like me and forget the time very often. To solve this issue, I just leave my watch on always-on mode and have a dim display for the idle mode.
  • I like the fact that you can change the display to pretty much anything you fancy – assuming there are themes available or you’re savvy enough to create something on your own.
  • I’ve gotten used to charging an extra device every night. It’s not a huge hassle, but the watch’s proprietary magnetic charger might be a pain point in the future if it ever stops working. I think having a regular micro USB port would have been a better idea.

Those are my thoughts on my smartwatch so far – I know a lot of people have more uses for it than me (i.e. controlling presentation slides) so depending on your usage habits, it may or not be more useful. I’ve only had two months with it so my opinion might change in the future. It’s something that’s nice to have, but definitely something you can live without.

One Column Short

Yesterday I received my newest keyboard – another 40% board – the Daisy. I immediately flashed my preferred layout on it, put some temporary keycaps on and started typing away. Lo and behold, I kept making mistakes. I was thinking to myself, what is wrong with me? Was it the clicky switches that affected me?

I spent a few minutes on an empty notepad document and analyzed my typing mistakes. They were very consistent: I was typing U instead of I, K instead of L, M instead of N, comma instead of full stop. It was then I understood what was wrong: it was the missing column on my keyboard.

Prior to this, my only experience with 40% boards was the Vortex Core which had an additional column of keys compared to the Daisy. Since it was the only 40% board that I’ve spent the past few months mastering, my muscle memory was already tuned to it. Who would’ve thought one column (which consists of 3 keys) would make such a big difference?

For reference, here is my Vortex Core layout:

Here is my Daisy layout:

I was so used to typing on the Core which was one column short compared to a 60% board, but the position of the home row fingers (ASDF HJKL;) was still the same so it wasn’t much of a challenge. With the Daisy, it was a different ballgame. Because I was missing the ; key, my pinky had to rest on Enter – something I had never done before in my life. Enter was always a key or two away from where my pinky rested, not under it. When using the Core, I located where to rest my pinky by finding the enter, and moving one key to the left.

I guess my mind still thought I was typing on the same board and caused me to make the same consistent mistakes. Since recognizing the problem, I have corrected my hand placement and am almost back to full speed with minor mistakes. I guess even the slightest changes can have a significant impact when you’re so used to doing something one way. And I thought I was done with learning pains. Can’t wait to see what it’s like to type on a Planck!

Not gonna have proper keycaps to fill this board for a while, so I threw on my old DSA keycaps in the meantime. For those of you interested in my Daisy layout, you can find it here.