A Day at the Park

We were just kids hanging out as a family, at a park, playing with our dog. The sun was coming up, so we decided to go home before the heat became unbearable. Heading back to our car, we passed by a playground which had some children playing on a swing. As we walked by, a kid on a swing fell off and started bawling.

Suddenly, this lady (who wasn’t the mother of the kid) came out of nowhere to chide us for walking with our leashed dog. She blamed us for scaring that kid off the swing. Obviously we had done no such thing. Looking back, I wished I thought about our dog attacking that lady. I bet that would have made young George laugh.

My mother, being the protective woman she was, stepped in between us and that lady and told her to mind her own business. We ignored that lady and continued walking to our car.

Many years on, I still remember that experience without knowing why it was such a significant event. Maybe I remembered wrongly, and our dog did do something to scare the kid. My confirmation bias refuses to let me believe it though. Our doggo could do no harm.

That was over twenty years ago, and today I finally realized why. That incident in the park marked my first ever encounter with a Karen.

Flaw(ed) Academy

It’s been a while since I signed myself for an online course – the last one being many years ago when I had plenty of free time in one of my jobs. But a couple of weeks ago, an Instagram ad caught my eye – it was a free Creative Writing course from Shaw Academy. Since I’m always looking for help to improve my writing, I decided to give it a shot. I clicked on the ad, followed the instructions, and signed up.

First hiccup – there was no Creative Writing course for me to choose from. It had automatically signed me up for some Social Media course which I had no interest in. Puzzled, I tried digging around the website to no avail. Seemed like I was stuck. I decided to ignore it and move on with my life.

Last week the ad popped up on my feed again, and in the comments someone left their email address to get in touch with for support. I decided I would give it another shot, so I reached out to them and wrote about my issue. Support was quick to respond, to my surprise, and they added the Creative Writing course to my account. Sweet. I logged in and scheduled my first set of classes.

The next day, it was time for my lesson, I was late by a few minutes when I logged in, so the video was already playing. Imagine my surprise when I discovered there was no rewind or pause button. Strange, I thought. Regardless, I continued watching the video until the end, where the instructor mentioned that these lessons would be rewatchable from the Course Toolkit.

So, off I went in search of the Toolkit – turns out it was something I had to pay to access. The only other way for me to watch the portion of the lesson I missed is to reschedule the lesson to another day. The assignments for the course are also part of this toolkit, looks like I won’t be submitting anything for this course.

I understand that having this strict schedule might be an attempt to discipline students into following deadlines/schedules – I get it, but this is not a real school. It’s not even a live stream broadcast where a student coming in late could disrupt the session. Just give us playback controls! Isn’t that the point of technology? Isn’t it the point of online courses? They’re meant to be flexible so people with busy days can learn whenever they have the time.

And why call it a free course when students can’t complete it without paying any money? I might sound like some spoilt brat but I’m comparing this to edX – an online school that is actually free (with the option to spend money for a physical certificate if that matters to you).

I’ve completed eight courses on edX over the past few years, and I can tell you it does everything right that Shaw Academy doesn’t. Videos can be controlled, and you can watch them at any time. No need to spend any money to access lesson materials, or bother trying to squeeze it into your schedule – it’s all available when you have the time. There’s human interaction if you’re interested (most courses will have a forum for discussion and to comment on each other’s work).

Shaw Academy, thanks for the free trial, but I won’t be continuing with my course even though the lesson videos were informative. Unless some drastic changes are made to the whole learning experience, I can’t imagine anybody paying for this. Especially when there are much better and free alternatives out there.

Attention Seeker

Why do people stream? For money? Sure.

What about people who don’t make any money from it? I have no idea. I asked myself that question, and don’t have an answer for you.

I guess it would be nice to have an audience? But why?

Usually, I’m averse to attention, but also I’m someone who enjoys playing live music to a crowd.

Maybe I only think I don’t enjoy the attention.

Because there’s no other benefit for me to do such things. I’m not getting paid to play shows (most of the time) and I definitely don’t make any money streaming.

I moved my stream from Twitch to Facebook because it’s supposedly easier to grow an audience there – after all, my few hundred friends can see when I go online. I literally made it easier for people to find my streams.

But who wants to watch me play games? Especially when I don’t offer high-skilled or very entertaining gameplay? No idea.

Why do I stream then?

I guess it doesn’t make a difference if I do or not. On the off chance, someone tunes in, I have somebody to interact with. If not, it’s just a way for me to make full use of my sick rig and fast connection.

Tune in and follow my Facebook Page to catch me playing video games. I could be your next favorite streamer. It’s unlikely, but if you don’t watch, you’ll never know.

High Rise Living

The best part about living on the eighth floor of a building – you get a breeze all the time, no matter how hot it is outside. Just leave the windows open and fresh air trickles in. It’s nice. Sometimes when I don’t feel like using my fan, it’s a great way to save some electricity.

However, leaving your windows open can suck occasionally – bugs and dust get into your room. The other day, a little beetle flew into my room and kept hitting against my window, creating an annoying sound that distracted me from sleep. Eventually it found its way into my mosquito trap. Not sure what happened to it.

Why do I have a mosquito trap? Even after cleaning out my room last year, mosquitoes decided to stick around, which bothered me. I bought myself a mosquito lamp trap – a contraption that shines a UV light and generates carbon dioxide to attract the bugs, and has a fan that stops them from flying out once they get in – a useful device. But even that wasn’t enough, I got myself a mosquito repellent mat heater and a couple of Ridsect cans to cover all bases. Yeah, I hate mosquitoes that much. If only they hated me enough to avoid me.

Another great thing about living in an apartment – you get a massive garage, a pool (that I don’t use), security, and a cafe to eat at when I don’t feel like going out of the building. On the other hand, it sucks walking to your car and realizing you left something at home – you have to decide if it’s worth delaying your journey by a few minutes because you need to go back up to get whatever you forgot. Vice versa, but I guess you’re not really rushing if you’re home. When you need to take an urgent shit or piss, the ride up the elevator can be excruciating.

It’s good we have guards to keep our parcels for us, but there’s also the fear of somebody else accidentally or intentionally taking our packages. I haven’t experienced this yet, but I’m sure it’s happened before. Also, the guards aren’t that vigilant – I have stuff stolen from my bicycle that was parked downstairs. One of these days I’ll confront the kid who did it. I might as well hunt for my flip flop thief while I’m at it.

What I’m trying to say is, living in a high-rise is neutral. Like everything else in life, you assign a value to it.

PC Build 2020

You learn something new every day. That’s what I believe, and I think it’s held true so far.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve done a lot of learning. You see, it’s been a while since I had to assemble a PC from scratch – the last one I did was a year ago. Over the past few weeks, it was my turn. To be honest, I didn’t need an upgrade, my PC was running fine, but since my nephews needed one to do school work from home (lockdown problems), I decided that it was time for me to get a new machine.

I said goodbye to my 10-year-old case (which had relatively new parts – the last upgrade was over 2 years ago) and scoured the internet for my next build. Jokes, I built my new PC first before giving away the old one. Since the experience is still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d write about it – maybe I’ll come back in five years’ time to see if anything has changed.

Cable management is a skill

In the past, I’ve never cared about properly managing the cables in my PC – I had a metal case with no windows, the only person who would know what it looked like was me. This time around, my case has a clear side panel which people can peek into. I decided to give it a shot. Initially, I tried doing it without any help, but I realized I needed some guidance. A few YouTube videos later, I got the hang of it.

It’s not the best job, but I’m proud of my first successful attempt. Cable management requires patience and some trial and error. One of my biggest mistakes was making cable bundles too thick – this prevented the side door from closing properly, so I had to unbundle the wires and try again. Also, there’s no reason to use zip ties if you have twist ties – they can look just as neat and be as functional.

Old cases have terrible airflow

Nothing much to say here except that I can game at around 40 degrees. On my old PC, it was around 70 degrees. I think all the space inside the case makes a big difference. Also, Cooler Master is pretty good when it comes to bang for the buck. I can recommend their cases if you need something budget-friendly.

Cooler Master CPU Coolers are a bitch to install

A year ago, I had problems installing my friend’s CPU cooler (Cooler Master). Turns out, you had to remove the fans before installing it. This time around, I faced the same issue, but I didn’t know I had to remove the fans because they weren’t in the instructions. I watched a YouTube tutorial to find out. I wish they’d follow Noctua’s footsteps – those mounting brackets are ingenious – I managed to install their coolers successfully on my first attempt by following a tiny two-page manual.

On a side note, isn’t it incredible how people are willing to take the time to upload helpful videos onto YouTube? I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the first person that video has helped out.

RGBs have standards

If you’re interested in having RGB components hooked up to your motherboard, you have to take note of the kind of connector they use. It wasn’t a big deal for me since I don’t care too much about RGBs, but my motherboard (which uses JRGB) didn’t support the connection on my Cooler Master CPU cooler RGB (JRAINBOW). While the lights work, I can’t use software to change the light settings. Fortunately, Cooler Master provided a little controller that you can fiddle around with to switch light modes.

RAM and motherboards

There is a reason the RAM slots on your motherboard are colored. You’re not supposed to simply stick the RAM in willy-nilly. Also, if the motherboard supports dual channel memory, get a dual-channel kit, or buy two RAM sticks. 8GB x 2 will perform better than a single 16GB stick. Also, don’t forget to enable XMP on your motherboard if you have high-performance RAM. If you don’t it won’t function at advertised speeds (nothing wrong with running at default speeds, but you could have paid for cheaper RAM instead).

Not all HDMI cables are equal

Because I gave away one of my monitors, I had to replace it with another (once you use two monitors, you never want to go back to one – you feel so handicapped). When I got the monitor, I kept using my old HDMI cable since it would be one less cable for me to unplug. Turns out, that was a bad idea. My monitor wouldn’t go to sleep when I had shut my PC down. Initially, I thought it was some monitor or software setting. I even tried exploring my BIOS to figure it out. I did some Googling and it turns out not all cables are equal. Long story short, I replaced the HDMI cable with the one the monitor came with and it now goes to sleep after the PC has turned off. I don’t know why, but that’s how I fixed the issue.

Speaking of new monitors, 144Hz displays are amazing. Even using Windows feels great! I had been using 60Hz screens forever since I never experienced fast refresh rate monitors before. Now that I have, it’s going to be difficult to switch back. Hopefully, 60Hz screens become a relic of the past in the future. Simply dragging windows or moving the cursor around is enjoyable. I would equate it to how responsive iOS is compared to Android – when it comes to scrolling up and down webpages, or just dragging icons around – people who have used both devices would know what I mean.

Mistakes:

I probably should’ve gotten a Ryzen processor – to be fair, I had bad experiences with an AMD machine in the past, which has led me to stick with Intel ever since then. But after reading and watching a lot more videos since I built the machine, AMD Ryzen is supposed to be the way to go – I could have saved myself quite a bit or upgraded my GPU (not that I needed to, my 980 Ti (thanks, Ken Jae) is more than adequate for me.

I removed one more rear PCI slot cover than I had intended to, and I can’t put it back without using glue.

Uninstalling your copy of Microsoft Office doesn’t give you an additional install (lol).


In conclusion, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge throughout the whole process and I look forward to the next time I put another computer together – I hope it’s not too soon (in my case, at least).

Learning never stops, until your heart (or brain) does.

Uncontrollable Lights; a First World Problem

Been a while since I wrote about a first world problem – I guess it’s time for a new one! Last night, for the first time in a long time, I had an internet outage (which was scheduled by Time Internet – just regular maintenance (on a side note, that’s one word I haven’t learned to spell. I get it wrong 50% of the time)). I had forgotten about it and was still awake when it happened.

Since I could no longer use the internet, I decided to go to bed. However, I tried turning off my lights with my Google Home Mini and was told that it couldn’t work because it had no access to the internet. And because of that, I had to turn my lights off by flicking the switches – something I hadn’t done in months.

Smart light bulbs are cool. In addition to letting you choose what color and brightness to flood your room with, they can power on and off automatically or at scheduled times. Honestly, they’re amazing and I doubt I would ever go back to regular light bulbs, but if they have one drawback, it’s their reliance on the internet.

When they’re offline, your only options are to turn them on or off – not too bad if you’re okay with their default state and color. Because once you turn off the main power (i.e. the wall switches), they reset to their default state when powered on again (note – this is just my experience with the Yeelight, maybe other smart bulbs can store settings).

Writing this post made me realize this isn’t a common problem at all. I did mention it was a first world problem. Also, it sounds like a really dumb rant. But I missed out a post last week and needed something to write about, so here we are. Smart lights are still cool, I’d recommend them if you enjoy controlling things with your voice. Or phone.

Speaking of phones, that iOS 14 announcement was something eh? iPhone users, welcome to Android!

Frustrating Investigations

During the lockdown, I’ve had some time to catch up on shows that I hadn’t watched before and a large chunk of them turned out to be crime/investigation series. While I enjoyed watching the shows (i.e. Broadchurch, The Stranger, Safe), there was something that irked me a lot about all of them – the people interviewed by the police are never upfront about the truth!

Everyone seems to have something to hide, and for some reason, they don’t care enough about the murdered victim to be upright with the cops. Because by the end of the show, I find myself thinking – this would have all been over in a day instead of weeks if they had spoken up initially.

Sure, it makes sense if guilty people are hiding the truth, but the majority of these people are just bystanders or have nothing to do with the case! Yet they keep silent even when opening up wouldn’t get them into trouble.

I’m sure it’s just the writers’ way of dragging the show past a single episode, but wouldn’t it be more compelling if detectives had to do actual crime-solving instead of verifying false statements? It’s obviously working because I keep watching these shows, but whenever the series end, I feel like I’ve wasted my time.

Maybe I’m just watching the wrong shows, but Netflix recommended them to me and they were interesting enough to sit through. So, whatever. It’s my own fault for indulging in them. I frustrate myself. Ugh.

Instagram ads are alright

I dislike ads. I’m sure most of you know that. I recommend uBlock Origin to everyone I know, I purposely purchased a domain name and rented server space so I could have an ad-free blog, and use a third-party YouTube app on my mobile devices so I don’t have to deal with them interrupting my videos.

Sometimes, ads can’t be avoided – like in the Instagram app. These advertisements show up in your feed after scrolling through a few posts, and other times they insert themselves in between stories of people you’re browsing. Most of the time I’ve received bullshit ads that I swipe away immediately, but recently I think the algorithm has me figured out (yay).

These days I don’t get any more adverts for strange sex toys, rubbish manga or cash-grabbing mobile games. Instead, I get music video ads that I watch and swipe up to. I like the fact that I can instantly load their YouTube video or Spotify page to continue listening to the whole song. While I haven’t found my next favorite band yet, I have discovered quite a lot of songs that I would have missed if it wasn’t for the intrusion.

Thank you for the encroaching commercials, Instagram (Facebook). For once, I can wholly support them, and I hope this trend keeps up.

In the meantime, do check out some of the bands I’ve discovered through the power of advertising:

Properties of Nature – You Didn’t Start a Fire in My Heart, You Started it in My House!

East of June – Rebel

PNKR – Olivia

LØE – People Have The Power (Official)

Evading the Commute, Falling Behind

If there’s one thing I never thought I’d say, it’s I kinda miss being behind the wheel. No, hear me out – I don’t miss traffic jams but I do miss listening to podcasts while driving. But wait, George, don’t you listen to podcasts because you’re trying to pass time in the car?

Yes, it’s true. However, during the past few months spent at home, I realized that I’ve fallen behind on my podcast queue. It’s starting to look like my Steam library. Because I don’t drive, I don’t listen to podcasts. So, why don’t I listen to podcasts when I’m not driving?

When I’m not driving, I’m usually doing something which requires my attention (not that I don’t pay attention while driving). In this case, it’s working from home, or watching a show, or playing a game. When I’m doing those things, I can’t have a podcast running in the background – I’ll either get distracted by what I’m listening to, or I’ll miss whatever the hosts are saying. There’s no in-between – or at least, I haven’t trained myself to be capable of doing such things.

I have limited time and attention span. I’m not sure if it’s a flaw, but I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one. Which is why I only listen to music while working. If I hear someone else talking at the same time, I end up losing my train of thought while writing. I definitely can’t watch a show at the same time. And with games, I end up not paying attention at all, which beats the whole point of listening.

What about listening before bed then? I used to do that but I end up falling asleep before finishing an episode and when I wake up the following day, I have to relisten to it to catch what I missed. Not a great use of time if I use it to consume the same content twice.

Is there a solution to this? Of course, but that would mean deprioritizing other things I enjoy so that I could squeeze podcast listening into my day. However, that’s something I’m not willing to do at the moment. I guess podcasts aren’t that important to me. If I was desperate to listen to them, I wouldn’t have this problem. Why the rant then?

Good point. Maybe I just wanted to write about working from home.

Working from home means you get to be more productive right out of bed. Just wash up, make your breakfast and sit yourself down in front of your computer, start working. I’m not complaining about working from home though. I think it is a good thing.

I also believe that this lockdown has a lot of companies rethinking their positions on letting employees work from anywhere (at least I hope so). As long as they get the work done, right? People save petrol and commute time. Nobody has to get stressed over traffic or risk getting into a vehicle-related accident. After all, the internet was invented for a reason.

Online Profile Privacy; Evening Drama Rebooted Plug

Back in the day, sharing your online contact details was a simple process.
You had your IM username (in ICQ’s case, it was your UIN) for people you want to chat with, and your email address for everything else. Most people would share either one without a second thought (assuming you were interested in speaking to the person requesting that information).

Now, with the number of different social networks available, it’s a bit more complex. Different online profiles have different amounts of information that you would like people to have access to, they all have different weights.

This thought crossed my mind earlier today when I was asked to request to join a Facebook group and to inform the person in charge of that group over Whatsapp instead of Facebook. In my mind, I was thinking, why? Why not keep everything on Facebook, since the platform facilitates both groups and messaging. Then I thought, maybe that person didn’t want to share their personal Facebook profile.

But that person gave me their phone number (which was on the signature of the email) – something I have always rated as more personal than a Facebook profile. On the other hand, this person might have given me a business number to reach out via Whatsapp instead. Then I thought some more – why didn’t that person just make a business Facebook profile for such situations in the first place?

And then I concluded that maybe I’m just overthinking things.

For reference, this is what my social media privacy levels are:
Phone number, email: for friends, family, and work.
Facebook: for my friends and acquaintances.
Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, Soundcloud, YouTube, this blog: for the public.
LinkedIn: for future employers and friends? I’m not sure yet. I only created an account (earlier this year) to apply for jobs, and I have less than 10 people in my network. I don’t even log on to it unless I get an email alert.

Pretty much everything is available to the public, and the only reason my phone number and email address aren’t is to avoid spam. If I could put it all up there without such problems, I’d probably do it. After all, the internet is around to make you easily contactable.

I don’t have multiple accounts and only use my various accounts for different purposes – but if anyone from the other circles find their way to my other accounts, I’m not bothered by it. I believe that anything online is pretty much public, so I don’t post anything online that I don’t want people to see.

While writing this piece, I got carried away with work and when I returned, I lost my original train of thought. I think it was about how different people treat their details differently, and most people are probably a lot more concerned about their online privacy than I am. Maybe I’ll return to this topic in the future. Possible Evening Drama Rebooted topic?

Also, if you haven’t been following, I’ve been hosting a weekly live show called Evening Drama Rebooted on Twitch for the past few weeks. We’ve managed to keep the show going for eight episodes despite not having consistent times – quite an achievement, in my opinion. It’s about me, Seng Yip, and Christin shooting the shit over random topics. The show was born at the start of the MCO and should go on at least until it ends. No idea about our future plans yet. And yes, the name is a throwback to a group blog we used to write for. Check out our past episodes on YouTube.