Obligated (to myself)

Hah! Thought I wouldn’t write a post this month? Wrong. This blog is still alive and well, I’m merely alive. I’m just writing for the sake of writing, so this blog isn’t a dead piece of shit. Regardless, I’m alive and well. Not dead yet (damn). Just evading Covid 19 like Sajid Mir the FBI, while keeping Evening Drama Rebooted going.

What’s been up, George? Well, I’ve been very unproductive in terms of creative projects, since breaking my posting streak for Animal Bus, I’ve lost all momentum, and I’ve let work overtake my free time (that I don’t allocate for relaxing). Kinda sucks, but I’ll bounce back (eventually). On the bright side, I’ve been playing a lot more guitar than before. Wrote a bunch of new songs and I’ve been practising “Both of Us” by You Vs Yesterday (what an amazing band I discovered randomly, will write about them in the future).

THIS SONG IS FUCKING AMAZEBALLS

Keyboard wise, I haven’t built anything in a while. I rebuilt my Daisy cos when I initially built it, I didn’t think about the Mini USB port tolerances, which meant I had to use specific cables with the keyboard. Now it’s reset, all of my cables can work with it (yay). Still waiting for a keyboard kit (Terrazzo) which is supposedly in Malaysia but untrackable at the moment. Then I have an ergo version of the GNGKB75 in the works (need the acrylic case cut for it).

Other than that, life’s just been an endless cycle of work, relax, work, relax. Sometimes work, work, relax, work. Am thinking about taking a long break at the end of the year. Maybe make another trip to Cameron Highlands (if conditions allow). I kinda miss the solace I get from being alone. Probably won’t bring too many things (a single guitar, mic and laptop is enough).

Speaking of laptop, I made some upgrades to mine. Back in September, my laptop was crashing constantly. Did some diagnosing on my own and learned that the SSD was dying. Decided to pay the Asus service center a visit to find out what I could do. They told me that it would cost RM50 just to find out what the problem was since my warranty was expired (finally). I told them I knew what the issue was, all they had to do was replace the SSD. They told me they were selling the SSD for RM450. Felt like I was going nowhere, so I told the guy, “thanks (for nothing)”, and left.

Did some searching online and turns out that the SSD they wanted to sell me only cost RM88 on Lazada. Real fuckers. Apparently service centers overcharge you for parts to dissuade customers from coming back to them (if the replacement part fails, they don’t want to deal with it). Not sure if it’s true for all companies, but I got annoyed. Anyway, I decided to give myself an upgrade by buying a larger capacity SSD 512GB for RM270 and replaced it myself. Wasn’t very hard to do. Most difficult part was figuring out where the hidden screws were for my laptop (under the back feet), and replacing the SSD was a straightforward task. After reinstalling Windows, everything is working as normal. I haven’t had a laptop crash since I put in my new SSD. I also replaced my battery since the old one was at less than half the original capacity, which was easy to do.

With the amount of fixing I’ve had to do over the past few months, I feel pretty confident with my PC building and soldering skills (I had to desolder 6 keyboards for a friend). I enjoyed doing it, a possible change in career? Maybe one day. For now, I’ll keep them in my repertoire of skills.

One thing I realized ever since I started working is that doing a job related to something you enjoy somehow leaves you with way less time to enjoy it than before. Honestly, when I was in animation, I hardly drew, when I was blogging, I hardly blogged, when I sold books, I hardly read, and now that I’m in gaming… fortunately I still get to spend most nights still gaming, but there have been stretches where I didn’t.

On the plus side, I’ve resumed reading. I finally finished the book I started earlier this year – Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. It’s a good book, I enjoyed it a lot. And the fact that some of the characters felt so relatable made it even more interesting. I guess you could say I’m a fan of his work now. Can’t wait to get started on his other titles.

However, I do wonder if any meaning/tone was lost during the translation of his books. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think they did a bad job at all (not that I could tell, since I’ve never read the originals in Japanese, I wouldn’t know), but I wonder if some parts were funnier/sadder etc because of the translation. Something to ponder about. Regardless, he inspires me to write characters who are deeper and more complex than the typical token stereotypes.

Momentum (lack of)

Those few of you who still read this blog have probably noticed the decrease in posting frequency. It all started when I decreased how much I wrote to two times a week, then once, and it devolved into a post a month.

The lack of momentum is real. But that’s okay. We all grow up and have more pressing things to attend to in life. Can’t be spending time typing shit onto this blog every day anymore.

Considering I now have a full-time job as a writer, I guess I’ve been getting plenty of practice doing that. But I shouldn’t make excuses. Lazy is as lazy does.

I had a streak going with Animal Bus for most of the year until I got extremely busy with work and started delaying my chapters just to accommodate all the work I had to do. That kinda sucked. At least Evening Drama has been going on consistently. We’ve already crossed 30 weeks, so I’m proud of us. Let’s see if we can keep it up to the magical 52.

I haven’t done anything keyboard-related in a while, except desoldering a whole bunch of keyboards for a friend. I have an ergo version of the GNGKB75 waiting to be built, but I need the case for it cut first.

I still play Dota, but less frequently than before. Kinda ironic how working in a games-related field takes away my time to game. Then again, it’s been the same for every other job I’ve worked in. Does that mean people shouldn’t work in areas that they enjoy? Beats me. Then how are you supposed to “Do what you’ll love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.”? Hm. I guess I haven’t figured it out yet.

Life’s been busy, life’s been up, life’s been down. Life’s been all over the place. My mind is all over the place. Like this post. But at least I’m writing. Something.

I posted up some new tracks on SoundCloud, feel free to check them out. I post more Instastories these days. I still rarely tweet (I mostly retweet DGD lyrics).

COVID has really changed how life has been for me. And a lot of other people. Okay, the whole world. Most things are shitty, don’t think anything has improved. Oh well. At least I really don’t have to go into the office now. Not that I found that to be a problem in the first place.

I had a dream I went to a doctor and tested positive for the coronavirus. Don’t think it means anything right?

Stay safe, peeps.

Song Requests Over The Air

While I was driving today, I switched to my car’s music player radio mode by accident, and kept it on after I realized my mistake. I thought I would see if I had been missing out on anything after all these years. After a minute or two, I concluded, “nope” and switched back to Bluetooth mode. But before I switched away, the station played an ad about itself, and one of the voice clips used was a lady requesting for a song.

I then wondered to myself, “why?”. Why would anyone make a song request in this day and age? It’s 2020, for crying out loud. There’s no reason to make song requests over the air anymore. Do you know how long it takes to: call up a station, wait for your call to get through, hope that your call gets chosen, speak to a DJ to ask for your song, and then wait for your song to come on?

A very long time. You could probably drive home, slip into something comfortable, lay down on your bed and put on that song in a shorter amount of time. Maybe pour a nice glass of wine too. It’s also very easy to go on YouTube or Spotify to search for a song that you want to hear. You can even rewind or replay the track as many times as you like. 

If you’re requesting a popular song, why? It’s going to be played within the next hour regardless. Something obscure? The DJs don’t have it, and nobody wants to listen to your shitty taste in music anyway. If you want to share a song with a loved one – send them a link on WhatsApp, and say “thinking of you”. Heck, you could even record your own voice message to accompany it. Or share a link on Facebook and tag that special person. It’s kinda like the same thing. Except that they won’t miss it if they happen to not be listening to the radio at that specific moment. I mean, that is the beauty of music on demand.

Radio song requests are dead, use that airtime to play shitty prank calls instead. Or run another ad.

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.