Kind Souls

Don’t have a point to these stories, I just wanted to write about two kind souls I encountered this week.

One: Prepare to Eat

The owner of Afiz Bistro. I paid the mamak a visit this afternoon while waiting for my car to be serviced. While ordering a limau ais and a maggi goreng, I checked my wallet for cash. I only had RM3, so I asked him if he accepted digital cash. He told me no, so I canceled my food order and asked only for the drink.

He served me my drink and went back about his business. A few minutes later, he surprised me with a plate of maggi goreng. I was puzzled, and he told me, “just take it. You can come back next time and pay me back or you can choose to never return.”

I think the man pitied me and thought I was making an excuse for not having any cash on me. Anyway, I thanked him for the noodles. After finishing my meal, I paid him RM2 for the limau ais and told him that I’ll be back again to repay him for the noodles. He smiled and said okay. What a nice man. I set myself a reminder so I won’t forget.

Google Assistant is handy

Two: Supporter of the GNG Stream

Last night, while I was streaming some Dota 2 games, a random viewer decided to send me 75 stars. Out of the blue. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary, I was playing my crappy low MMR games as usual. I pull off any fantastic plays. My mic wasn’t even working properly (I had accidentally launched Audacity, which took over my audio input so it couldn’t be sent to OBS). I lost both of my games last night.

This person I didn’t know, dropped by, saw my stream and somehow thought I was deserving of his $0.75. Dude donated the stars and left without saying a word. Maybe he misclicked (the more I think about it, the more likely this seems). Maybe he was drunk. Whatever it is, I’ve got $0.75 in my Facebook account.

Since I’ve officially made money from streaming, can I call myself professional now?

Clown Feet

It’s been a while since I’ve had to wear shoes. Working from home for the past two years and rarely going into the office meant that my shower slippers were what I wore 99% of the time.

A few weeks ago, I put my shoes on because I had to visit the office. All seemed fine until midday when the soles of my shoes started falling apart. I had to hobble back to my car with half the class of the Mentos lady.

I figured, old shoes, untouched for a long time, they’re expected to deteriorate.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, I put on the nice dress shoes I hadn’t worn in years. The soles literally crumbled as I stepped out of my house onto the welcome mat. What the fuck was going on?

I looked it up. Basically, shoes are designed to crumble so they don’t clog up landfills when they have been disposed of. It’s called Hydrolysis. The materials in your shoes are broken down by water and this process is accelerated when they are kept in places where moisture can’t escape (like in a regular shoe cupboard). The solution to this is simple though it sounds counterproductive: wear your shoes frequently so they can dry out.

With two pairs destroyed in this manner (and one more falling apart, though I think it can be saved with shoe glue, will be bringing that to the cobbler), I decided to shop for new shoes.

My requirements were simple: footwear suitable for formal and casual occasions (so I can wear them more frequently), brown in color, and within my budget of RM500. I didn’t want to spend over a thousand bucks on something that is meant to be replaced.

Which led me to the most unfruitful shopping trip of my life. It wasn’t that I couldn’t find shoes that matched what I wanted – far from it, I’m not that picky. There were many pairs I could see myself wearing if only they came in the correct size.

I walked into almost every shoe shop in Mid Valley and Gardens (Aldo, Clarks, Isetan, Aeon, Metrojaya, Tomaz, Bata, Pedro) – none of them stocked shoes that fit my feet. Geox and Ecco were out of my budget but looking at online stores, it doesn’t seem like they have larger sizes either.

For context – I wear a range of sizes, from UK 11 to 13. Even though size 11 shoes are the correct length, they usually aren’t wide enough to be comfortable for me. I have to buy larger sizes to accommodate my extra-wide feet. This width isn’t standard across all brands and types, hence the variation in my shoe sizes.

Initially, I thought it was a budget thing – maybe cheaper brands don’t have so many sizes, nope. After talking to everyone at the different stores, they don’t stock shoes for people my size. Even Zeve Shoes, a store which a few friends recommended, told me they don’t stock larger sizes anymore – nobody bought them. They recommended I get custom-made shoes instead. How crazy is that?

For feet lovers

I thought, maybe it was an offline store issue. They have limited inventory space, so they can’t keep every single size in stock. Would you believe me if I said Zalora has the same issue?

I filtered men’s shoes > formal > brown > size 12 UK. I got a whole bunch of shoes, but almost every shoe I clicked on was out of stock for UK 12. The only brand that had shoes that size was called Kings Collection (3 out of 27 listings) and I had never heard of them before.

After some deliberation, I decided, fuck it, pulled the trigger, and purchased a pair. I never buy shoes online because of my need to try them out (also, I find the process of returning goods such a hassle) but seeing how I don’t have many options, I might as well go through it once. Let’s hope they fit properly first try.

If I can’t walk into one of Kuala Lumpur’s largest malls to pick up a pair of shoes that fit, something’s very wrong with this country – or me. Am I the only person with clown feet in Malaysia? How do other people deal with this?

Farewell Doiffee

Back in 2014

I’ve never frequented a place long enough for me to see it open, shut down, reopen, switch owners, and then close for good – until l discovered Doiffee. It was a tiny cafe in my neighborhood, run by a husband, wife, and their sons.

I remember my first visit – I was there with my sister and my nephew. I had my first taste of the shop’s signature beans, a cup of hot long black coffee. It became my go-to taste for years to come. From that night onwards, every cafe I visited led me to compare their long black against Doiffee’s. Doiffee always won.

It was the perfect blend of bitterness and thickness and perfectly priced. Since it was cheaper than coffee at western cafes everywhere, tasted better, and was a few minutes away from home, I had no reason to go anywhere else. I have yet to discover a cafe that uses the same beans.


Coffee and cigarettes

I spent many nights there after work, on weekends, and on public holidays. They used to open till 10 PM on weekdays and midnight on weekends. It was quiet, they had fast internet and plenty of seats. Perfect conditions to work or chill on my laptop. I’d even go there to read.

They were rarely closed. If I wasn’t anywhere else, I’d be at Doiffee, on my laptop while I sipped coffee and smoked cigarettes. Occasionally I’d order beers or food but I was mainly there for the coffee.

Unfortunately, times got tough for the cafe. Over the years they started losing customers. It wasn’t common for me to be one of their only customers for the whole day. I’m not sure why, perhaps it was all the other new places opening up in the neighborhood, or the location of the venue. I didn’t care that much. As long as they served the coffee I enjoyed, everything was alright. However, one customer does not keep a business afloat.

Then the pandemic hit. Doiffee had to close its doors. They tried doing deliveries for a bit but it wasn’t sustainable. I couldn’t visit the cafe for a long time. Many months passed without any change. Then one day, when I was in the area, I saw the shutters opened for the first time and wandered in. I met the new manager of the place and he told me that the previous owner had sold off the business. He was the new person in charge. They were making some renovations before they reopened it in a few weeks.

I was ecstatic. Doiffee was coming back! And it did. I resumed my trips to the cafe again, as soon as possible but one important thing had changed – they weren’t using the same beans anymore. Despite the fancy new food menu, their coffee was no longer the same. But that didn’t stop me from returning.

I spoke to one of the staff about the beans and he said I wasn’t the only one who noticed the different beans. I wasn’t the only customer who had brought it up. Eventually, he convinced the manager to switch back to the old signature beans. All was good in the world again.

At this point, traffic to the cafe was decent but it was still nowhere close to what it was in its heyday. Their closing time was now 6 PM but it was better than not being open at all. Things weren’t looking promising.

A few months after the reopening, the new owner pivoted the business. They were no longer interested in cafes and turned it into a Chinese restaurant. They renovated the place, gave it a new name, and changed the staff. That was the end of Doiffee. Though the food there was decent, it was no longer a place to get coffee or to sit and work at. The business was much better for them, but I no longer had a reason to work there.

I’m not sure what happened but a few months later, the Chinese restaurant closed down and turned into a western food place.


One day I’ll find a replacement

Since then I have found another haunt to frequent but I doubt anywhere will be able to replace Doiffee for me. The number of hours I’ve spent there – writing, working, finishing online courses, reading, performing, and chilling with friends – have made it a significant part of my life.

Although I wish it was still around for me to enjoy, a part of me is glad it’s gone. Like a dying animal put to rest – it no longer has to suffer. Would it be right to equate it to your favorite TV show canceled early? Or ending before it dragged on and turned into a mess?

I guess that’s how life is. Everything has an expiry date, we’re merely not privy to that info most of the time. That limited lifespan teaches you to appreciate them before they’re gone. You never know when your favorite cafe (or pet/person/place/thing etc) is going to disappear. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Writing for the Masses; a 40% Keyboard FAQ

ABQ

Based on analytics, the majority of visitors come to my blog looking at my mechanical keyboard posts. Even though they are many years old at this point, my UT47.2, Tofu HHKB vs Tokyo 60 and 1UP Keyboards HHKB reviews still bring the most traffic to this blog. It’s crazy, are there not enough reviews of those keyboards on the internet? Who knows. The funny thing is, I don’t get comments on those posts so I’m not sure if people find them helpful.

This means if I wanted to increase the number of viewers to my blog, I should write more about keyboards. However, my involvement in the hobby has slowly waned over the years. It’s not that I’m done with the hobby – my tastes/interests have been honed to the point where I’m only interested in 40% keyboards. Since it’s not the most popular segment of an already niche hobby, there’s not much to keep up with (which I’m thankful for – it’s been a blessing for my wallet and time).

UT47.2

That being said, I could spend a lot of time talking about how much I love using 40% keyboards. Would it be boring or irrelevant for most readers? Probably but I would be writing about something I care about. I’m not claiming to be the authority on all things 40% but as an enthusiast for the past four years, I know enough to provide intelligent answers.

I reached out to my friends, compiled some questions about 40% keyboards and will answer them in this post.

Daisy HHKB

Where are your numbers? I could never use such a thing!

How do you remember where your capital letters are? It’s really the same thing. But instead of pressing shift, you use a different button. If you think of it that way, you’re halfway there to using a 40%.

In fact, most people have already been using 40% keyboards for a while – think of the keyboard on your smartphone. Almost all the symbols are hidden behind a layer key. It’s the same thing here, with the only difference being you’re typing on a much smaller keyboard.

Equinox

Is there any other point of 40% other than portability? Why do you inconvenience yourself by using such a small keyboard?

The main reason I got myself a small keyboard was to make travelling with one easier. I used to lug around my full-sized to work before I got into smaller form factors. Bringing such a large device around was a hassle, especially when working out of cafes that had tiny desks. I knew I needed something smaller.

Small keyboards give you the joy of typing on mechanical switches without taking up too much space (on your table or in your bag). That’s my main reason for using a 40%. After getting used to the layout, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It no longer became an inconvenience.

Being able to hit every key I needed without stretching was a game-changer for me. I enjoyed it so much that my 75% at home has a 40% layout mapped out to its keys. I only use the redundant keys when typing with one hand.

Kumo

Should I use a 40% keyboard?

I don’t think everyone needs to use a 40% keyboard but if the opportunity presents itself, I’d recommend trying it out. There’s no harm if you discover it’s not for you. But if you do give it a shot, don’t give up after a day or two. It’s not something you ‘get’ right away and will require some effort. Use it daily for a few weeks before you make up your mind.

If you’re content with what you have and don’t need to downsize your keyboard because you don’t travel much/work away from your desk or you’re happy with your laptop’s keyboard, there’s no reason to try a new form factor unless you’re feeling curious or adventurous. Or you like its aesthetics.

Planck

Do people just instinctively know where to press for what keys and layers etc, after a while of using them? Or is there an easier way to remember for beginners? Like a layout chart or something?

For me, it wasn’t instinctive. I had to learn the hard way. Fortunately, my first 40% keyboard, the Vortex Core had side printed keycaps that helped with the transition. For the first few days, I kept looking at the keyboard to make sure I was hitting the right keys. However, that didn’t last long. Once I started remapping the default layout, the keycaps didn’t match them anymore, so I had to rely on my memory. I also saved images of my layout on my desktop.

I used a Vortex Core in the beginning which eased the transition – but couldn’t rely on the keycaps after a while when I started mapping my own layout. Completely ditched them in the end but I did rely on screenshots/images of the layout I saved on my desktop. I used the same technique for some of the keyboards I got after the Core, but after a few months, I didn’t need them anymore (all my 40% keyboards have very similar keymaps).

Prime E

What are the 2 space bars for?

I use left for space and right for activating a layer. When first moving to 40% keyboards, I paid attention to which thumb I used for the space bar and learnt that I always hit with the left one. This was an easy decision for me to make.

Having a function key for the right bar is something I picked up from using the Core. Since it felt natural to use, I haven’t bothered changing it. I know some people bind it to backspace or enter, and that’s the magic of QMK (or programmable keyboards), you can make it whatever you want it to be.

Ristretto

This wraps up the first part of my 40% FAQ. I’ve got more posts lined up on the topic – questions from a hobbyist perspective and an explanation of my 40% keymap, stay tuned!

Music for Writing

When I think of habits, the first thing that comes to mind is bad. Bad habits. But then I realized, not all habits have to be bad. What is a habit?

According to Google:

noun

1. a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

“he has an annoying habit of interrupting me”

While most habits can be considered neutral, the obvious ones aren’t. Smoking, biting your nails, forcing yourself to vomit after each meal can be objectively classified as bad. Eliminating such habits should improve your life.

I’ve written in the past about conditioning myself to work with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. The coffee isn’t harmful (though it gets pricey in the long run) but the cigarette probably is. However, I get work done more efficiently. Does the good cancel the bad?

Imagine if I cut out the bad habits, I’d be able to churn out work without relying on caffeine and nicotine. I’d save money and have healthier lungs while being extremely productive all the time! No way that could work, right? Life is all about balance and without the bad, there can’t be good. I’m a mere human being trying to live a balanced life.

What started as a way to keep me up when covering events in a different time zone turned into a key aspect of my daily routine. What started as a form of amusement while sloshed in nightclubs is why my insurance premium costs a little more. 

We’re two-hundred words in on a post titled “Music for Writing”, George. When are you going to approach the topic? Now, I guess.

It began when I was thinking of what to write about on my blog. I had just finished my coffee and cigarette for the evening. I put on a random playlist from my “writing music” folder and stared at the blank page in front of me.

What is “writing music”? For me, it consists of relaxing music with no or minimal vocals. When I listen to music that I know the words to, I can’t help but sing along (it might be a disease), which distracts me from writing. By listening to music with no words, it’s literally impossible for me to sing along so I don’t get distracted. Therefore I have many playlists of such songs. I was going to share about that.

While still staring at the blank page, I noticed my legs shaking to the music playing in my ears. Which got me thinking about habits and thus, a new post was born. This was more interesting than what I initially planned anyway. The joys of freestyle writing.

Here’s a poem I wrote for #NPRPoetry last year which you might have missed:

it starts with a spark
a parting of lips
I hold you close
and draw you in
my heart beats faster
I feel dizzy
for that brief moment
time stops
everything is okay
I exhale
and do it all over again

It has been over a decade since I started inhaling cancer sticks and consuming coffee. Here’s to many more years of productivity!

Tardiness

“Do you ever wonder about the tardiness of people? You know when you’re in traffic, and you see another car on the emergency lane, skipping lights, and putting everyone’s lives in danger – do you ever wonder why?” asked Captain Prompt.

“I do sometimes. Maybe they’ve got somewhere to go, somewhere to be, and they’re willing to risk their lives because it is that important.”

“But sometimes they might just be assholes who don’t give a shit about everyone around them.”

“Yes, that too. Like Ronny.”

“What about him?”

“He comes in late for his shift sometimes, and you know, since I’m a guard, I can’t really leave my post til he’s here, so I have to wait for him. That makes me late to pick up my kids, and I have to get an earful from their teacher and then from my wife when I get home.”

The security guard of the theater continued, “I know! I’ve brought this up with Ronny many times and at first, he became more punctual. But after a few weeks, he slipped into his routine again. The manager can’t let him go because it’s not late enough according to the rules, but it’s a pain in the ass for me!”

“I feel you,” replied Captain Prompt. “I’m doing the same thing right now. Waiting for our dear villains to show up.”

“What are you going to do to them? Do you need my assistance? I can help you out while it’s still my shift.”

“That depends on when they will show up.”

“Shoot, looks like you’ll have to work with Ronny, I should be gone by then.”

Captain Prompt stood at the entrance of the theater and looked around for something to do. “Guess, I’ll just grab myself some coffee and catch up on my tweets.”

“It’s going to be a while, the Grand Wizard hasn’t even arrived yet.”

“I’ll be waiting.”


Writing Prompt from Reddit: [MP] Rather than “just in the nick of time”, the hero shows up 4 hours early, and awkward smalltalk ensues

Raging Inside Me

“All memory of your existence will be wiped from reality. You will die, and no one will mourn.”

“And that is how I would like it to be.”

“No, wait – then why would this be your punishment? That doesn’t make sense – you’re not supposed to get what you want!”

“Well, it’s too late now, I’m here and you have to obliterate me.”

“No, there must be a mistake…”

“I assure you, it isn’t. Now, erase me.”

God looked me in my eyes – I had him in a bind. He couldn’t break his own rules or the universe including himself would cease to exist. I had already set my plans in motion, this was the final step. Too bad I wouldn’t be around to indulge in the aftermath.

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.


Writing Prompt from Reddit: [DP] “All memory of your existence will be wiped from reality. You will die, and no one will mourn.”

“Bullshit, you fucking miss me,” there I said it. I’ll talk to you in a few months

Another December, another post about how little I’ve accomplished this year, how little I’ve written on this blog and bla bla bla. Oh wait. It doesn’t have to be. I like breaking tradition or acting out of the norm. I like doing whatever I feel like.

That’s how I thought I would start this post and as I put those words down, I realized it was a lot of padding for what would be essentially nothing. A collection of my thoughts translated into sentences for viewers to read. Which doesn’t mean it’s futile. Not everything needs a grander purpose. If everything had meaning, nothing would. Right?

2021 has been an interesting year. Spending most of it within the confines of the walls I call home. Waking up in my office (very different from my Inspidea days) was something I hadn’t done since I was in Ubergizmo. Moving from my bed to desk didn’t involve getting dressed or enduring a commute – an experience that not many people shared with me pre-pandemic. Now, other people know what it’s like.

That’s not to say it was something I truly enjoyed. I had left the work from home routine to rejoin the “regular” workforce in 2015 for a reason. The pandemic sent me back in time. Fortunately, restrictions have loosened a bit and I’ve been able to work outside. Despite it being a mental thing, I enjoy the distinction between my bedroom and workplace. I used to revel in the fact that being in my room meant I had no reason to think of work at all.

I guess this living-in-the-office mindset has contributed a lot to how I’ve been feeling about work. Knowing that I’m capable of writing at any hour of the day to cover breaking news has led me to work way past my office hours. Sure, I didn’t have to – nobody was holding a gun to my head, but if the opportunity is there and news is all about serving the freshest content, why wouldn’t I do it?

On the other hand, I have also spent a lot of time indulging myself in things I enjoy. Gaming, watching shows, playing music, and so on. I probably do the former too much, to compensate for my working routine. As a result, I’m sacrificing sleep. Not the wisest of choices (in the long run), so that’s something I’ll hope to rectify in the near future.

In terms of productivity, I finished Animal Bus, which was a huge achievement for me. It was an ambitious project that took up more time than I liked but I was happy that I made it through. I’ve also been hosting a weekly podcast for over a year. It started off quite easy to do, became routine, and I’ll admit a bit difficult to power through for a bit. But once I realized it was only about an hour of my day each week, it wasn’t so hard anymore. Last week, we took a break for the first time in a long time. I didn’t want to treat my audience to another poorly executed, unrehearsed, live performance 😂.

I thought I would spend some time getting back into game making or learning a new skill but the burnout is real. A new year isn’t going to change anything (for real, it’s just a calendar reset, there’s nothing significant about that. However, research has shown that these resets are great starting points for humans to try out a new behavior, it’s a psychological thing). I’ve relaxed enough since my last creative project, so I guess it’s time to do something about it.

There are still some fun goals I want to complete – playing the Dark Souls series (I’m on 2 right now, 50% complete), reading Berserk (only a few more volumes until the finale 😢), watching Adventure Time (5 more seasons to go), and some other low priority stuff (more games, books, and shows). If the world permits, it would be great to continue playing at open mics. Performing online isn’t the same. Properly recording my songs should also be a thing. I’ve been linking people the same 2010 EP for years now and it’s about time I share tracks that were written over a decade ago. Also, I should make use of all the recording equipment I invested in.

This blog also needs a new banner – I don’t even own the two keyboards featured on it anymore. Fun fact, people keep finding this blog through my Tokyo 60/Tofu HHKB post that I wrote ages ago. Another two keyboards I don’t own anymore. I guess there is demand for keyboard content, so I could explore writing about that more. I’m not sure what I’d write about though. Feel free to give some suggestions.

My streaming hobby hasn’t taken off, but that’s okay. I have two regular viewers (you know who you are, Good News Gang) I am thankful for. The other day I played Dota 2 with some viewers. That was fun, they carried my ass. Maybe I should pick up Tagalog to increase my demographic.

This has been one of the longest pieces I’ve written (not for work) in a while. It feels good to know I still have the ability to spew out bullshit. Hope this was enjoyable for you to read. I’ll come back to this in a few years just to see how far I’ve come.

Happy new year everybody, happy birthday to COVID-19 in a couple of weeks.

A Week+ on Monterey

For over a week, I’ve been using a newly purchased MacBook Air (2020) as my daily driver for work. I bought a new laptop after giving my previous one, an ASUS Zenbook, to my sister since her current/old one was dying.

When I was shopping for a new laptop, I had a few requirements in mind. It had to be powerful enough for my work (because laggy computers are bad), lightweight (I intended to bring it everywhere), have good battery life (nobody likes lugging around chargers or being limited when deciding where to sit), and be something I could, of course, afford.

The MacBook Air ticked all the boxes. And this was before I had any first-hand experience using the machine. Reading up the specs and watching tons of videos about the laptop gave me all the information I needed to make my decision – it wasn’t something I took lightly. I spent a long time ruminating about the purchase because I had the time to do so (I had no opportunity to work outside due to the lockdown).

So what were my qualms about the MacBook Air? Initially, it was the new Apple Silicon. I had been exclusively using Intel processors when it came to laptops and desktops (minus the one time I had a prebuilt desktop with an AMD processor), so I was skeptical about how well an ARM-based processor could run a fully-featured desktop operating system.

Speaking of the operating system, how would I handle the transition? I had been using Windows for the better part of my life and the idea of having to switch to something else seemed daunting. Would I have access to all apps and programs that I needed?

Battery life for laptops is one of my biggest gripes. I’ve been let down way too many times by how poorly Windows laptops perform in this area. Many high-end devices I’ve tried out in the past have let me down. Even when I was still using the Zenbook, which had great battery life in the beginning, I didn’t feel safe leaving home without bringing my charger along.

Google and YouTube were my best friends during this period, and I looked up everything I wanted to know. Nothing swayed my opinion when it came to the laptop’s hardware – all the reviews said that the machine was a beast with killer battery life. As for the software, I wasn’t too concerned – if I could do my work on Linux/Android, I could survive on Mac OS.

With all that in mind, I chose the base model MacBook Air and upgraded the RAM and storage (16GB/512GB). I could have gotten by without the extra storage since I don’t plan to store large files on my laptop and always have thumb drives with me but I felt I could afford the additional peace of mind. As for the RAM upgrade, I’m glad I got it since Activity Monitor tells me I’m constantly using over 12GB (Photoshop, Chrome, and MS Teams are real resource hogs). If you use similar apps often, you’ll probably want the RAM upgrade if you don’t want your SSD being used constantly for memory swaps.

My Thoughts

I’m still getting used to Mac shortcuts. It’s annoying when programs like Chrome have different hotkeys for Windows/Mac, so I spent a lot of time learning new ones to get back up to speed. I’m still clicking a bunch of stuff, but I’ll memorize it all eventually. Also, I’ve been absentmindedly using Mac shortcuts on my Windows desktop.

Mac OS felt familiar to me – it reminded me a lot of Ubuntu which I’ve used in the past. The main difference is me not having to use the terminal (at all, except when trying to get some apps running).

Transitioning to working on Mac OS wasn’t difficult since most of my work is done within Chrome (what can’t be done through your browser these days?). I did download a few additional apps, and even though they weren’t working natively on Apple Silicon, they ran without a hitch (besides the fact they consumed a lot of memory). Hopefully, those issues will be addressed in the future.

There were some things I had to get used to on MacOS – I couldn’t use hotkeys to quickly arrange/tile my windows nor could I launch pinned programs on my dock like you can on Windows. Fortunately, this was rectified by downloading Rectangle and Snap but I was surprised that the operating system didn’t have this built-in, in my opinion, they’re pretty rudimentary features.

Despite my MacBook Air having a 2560 x 1600 display, I couldn’t make full use of that resolution without the use of a third-party app (EasyRes). That felt odd to me. A lot of programs aren’t on the App Store (even popular ones like Discord/Spotify), I had to download them from their websites instead. Not a big deal since I don’t use the Windows App Store either but I had the impression the Mac App Store would be the main way to get popular apps.

Gestures are awesome, I enjoy using Mission Control for working on multiple desktops and switching between apps. The trackpad is intuitive, and I’ll never understand the complaints about Macs not having touchscreens. Having used touchscreen laptops and tablets in the past, I have never yearned for their inclusion in any laptop. External pointing devices get the job done better (and you don’t have to worry about finger stains).

Battery life is amazing – I can get a full day’s use and still have plenty left at the end of the day, so there’s no need for me to carry a charger around. One thing to note, this selling point goes away when you increase the laptop’s brightness. I experienced it the other day – 77% of battery life gone in 4 hours because I set it to the maximum. Since learning that, I’ve kept my MacBook Air at 50% brightness and lasts as long as advertised. At the time of writing, my MacBook Air has a screen on time of 11 hours and I still have 32% of juice left. If you’ve been waiting for tablet-like battery life on a laptop, the wait is over.

Performance is great. I know my workflow doesn’t push the machine to its limits, but you can check out the tests done by other folks to see what it’s capable of. The M1 processor is no slouch when it comes to running heavy-duty applications and multitasking. The fact that the MacBook Air can do everything it does without slowing down or heating up (it doesn’t even have fans!) is a bold statement by Apple. It no longer has to rely on Intel for its high-performance machines, and I’m happy to come along for the ride.

Touch ID is very useful. I like how fast and responsive it is, no complaints there. I wish it was on the iPhone too.

Conclusion

I’m very happy with my MacBook Air purchase. Would I have been satisfied with yet another Windows laptop? Perhaps, since I wouldn’t know what I missed out on. But I’m glad I made the purchase. It would suck having to lug around a power brick in my bag again. The quirks I’ve experienced with Mac OS have been solvable with some extra apps and everything else not mentioned is something I can live with. Will I switch to Mac desktops in the future? Probably not, since gaming on Windows is still king but I’m definitely open to staying on the Mac train when it comes to laptops for productivity.

MacBook Air – the best laptop I’ve ever spent my money on, would totally recommend 10/10.

One Month Update (24 December 2021)

I discovered some additional limitations of the default app switcher (CMD + Tab). You can’t tab through multiple instances of the same app (i.e. multiple Chrome windows). This led me to discover a new shortcut for doing that – CMD + Shift + ` – not great but it gets the job done. Today, I realized you couldn’t tab to minimized windows. The app will switch, but the app you tab to will stay minimized. Looking on the internet, I stumbled upon an app that solves both of those issues, essentially making CMD + Tab function like how Alt + Tab does in Windows. It’s called AltTab and if you’re like me, coming from Windows to MacOS for the first time, I highly recommend it. In addition to making your app switcher function like it does in Windows, it has many other customizable features too, and it does it all for free. This app has changed my life.

“There’s no telling how much longer your world and mine will remain in contact.”

A long-awaited (by nobody) update to this mostly ignored blog. Hah! Thought it was dead, didn’t you? Not a chance. The domain and hosting expire in April 2022, so we’ll still be around. Also, I intend to keep it going. So nope, this blog won’t die, just yet. But what’s the point of a blog that isn’t frequently updated? I’ll tell you.

It lets me know how much time I’ve spent doing other things instead of updating my blog. Previously, I had plenty of things to fill these pages with. An update a day because I had so many things to talk about. As time went on, I found myself spending time on things other than writing because writing for fun isn’t that enjoyable when you do it for a living. To me, at least.

I can pinpoint my blogging habits according to the amount of writing I had to do for work over the past few years of my life. I wrote a lot more when I didn’t have to write much for work. I guess my body has a limited word output capacity. Also, it’s a mental thing. I’m sure I could keep on writing if I wanted, it’s just that I choose to spend my energy on other things instead.

Like Animal Bus. In case you weren’t aware, one year and eight months after the comic launched, I have completed it, and I couldn’t be happier. This means I get to work on other projects without feeling guilty (self-imposed, mind you). Nobody was making me feel bad other than myself and now I don’t have to anymore. While it’s not the best comic I have ever done, it is the first full-length I have completed and it was a great learning experience.

The art and story are terrible, I had the chance to make changes to them and I didn’t. Why? My goal for the comic was to mess around with my Wacom tablet and experiment with the graphic novel format. It was never intended to be my magnum opus (on a side note, do people ever know that what they are doing is going to be their masterpiece?) but a chance for me to prove to myself that I was capable of working on larger scope projects and seeing them through to the end.

What did I learn? Making long-form comics as a hobby is not easy. You need a lot of motivation to push yourself to keep going, especially if you’re working solo. In a team, you can be held accountable. If you’re being paid, you’re expected to deliver. When you’re doing something this ambitious for fun, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself. If you don’t feel like working, nobody can call you out. You’re just doing this for fun! It took a lot of willpower and faux discipline for me to complete all 50 chapters.

Things that appear simple aren’t so simple. There’s a reason major, scheduled comics have teams working on them. You have a writer, artist, inker, colorist, and letterer. It’s not so easy doing everything by yourself. For someone with no experience in laying out comics, I had to fall back on making simple layouts (4 panels per page, somewhat equal sizes). Speech bubbles were another thing to consider – where should they be? How much text should I put inside each one? What’s the reading order? Does it look good visually? What about the text? When should I break sentences up? There’s a lot I had to learn during the execution of Animal Bus.

Unless they were written with the intention of being comics from the beginning, stories are hard to translate into interesting comic panels. The original draft for Animal Bus had tons of monologue, character thoughts, and other non-visual elements. Because I originally didn’t have plans to turn it into a comic, I had to make a lot of changes while drawing it. This ‘translation’ process took up a huge chunk of my time. I had to be clever when deciding what to cut out, include or change.

If you’ve read the comic from the start, you would know that I initially wanted to color the whole thing. I mean, it’s just line drawings – I could use the paint bucket to color everything right? Maybe if I was more careful with my drawings, that would have been possible, but I had to use the brush to manually paint them, and that took up so much time. A few chapters in, I decided that it wasn’t worth it and skipped coloring altogether.

In any case, it was probably too ambitious of a project for me to tackle as my first comic but if I didn’t complete it, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you this. That being said, when I do go back into making comics, I’m definitely going to work on a smaller scale. There’s no need to bite off more than I can chew. It won’t be anytime soon though – I’m done making comics, for now. I might still doodle stuff here and there (find me on Instagram) but I’m going to spend more time on music, dive back into game development stuff and maybe experiment with video essays (I’ve gotten very interested in them recently and am curious if I have the chops to pull one off). I also recently got back into Dark Souls, so that’s a good time sink.

Hope everyone is staying safe from COVID-19. The world kinda sucks right now. Take care.