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.

Not Quite a Black Mirror

I was browsing through a local Facebook Group earlier today to see what was going on and I noticed a strange phenomenon. There were a lot of people who didn’t use their own profile pictures in the group. And I don’t mind if it’s some anime picture, cartoon, or landscape and so on. But a bunch of accounts used profile pictures of celebrities/models – people who they clearly weren’t. I know gravure models don’t live in Malaysia and share the same interests as me. Also, they don’t even pretend to be the model by using the same name, they have their own names attached to the profile.

What does using a cute Japanese girl or K-pop star in your profile picture accomplish? I’m befuddled. Does it give other people a better impression of you? Do you get better prices or responses to your items or comments? Does it make you feel good when you’re on Facebook? Does it make you feel closer to that person? Does it make you smile whenever you launch Facebook and you see that profile picture looking at you? Why in the world would you do that? What do you gain from it?

I’m not saying it’s wrong to do so, I’m really curious why people would do that. I understand being shy or wanting to remain anonymous – there are literally billions of other images you could substitute your profile picture with to not come out looking like a creep (or a weirdo…what the hell are you doing here? you don’t belong here).

Which brings to mind another topic I wanted to discuss in the past but forgot about: why do people use their own portraits as wallpapers for their phones? I get it when it’s a photo of a family member or your children, but when it’s a solo photograph of yourself? How narcissistic does one have to be to put themselves on their phone screens? Maybe I’m insecure about my own looks and don’t feel confident enough to put my own face as my wallpaper, and I’m the odd one out here, but never in my life have I ever felt compelled to do such a thing. It boggles my mind. Again, it’s not wrong to do so – put whatever the hell you want on your phone, it’s your phone and not mine.

Apparently, it can be helpful for some people to cope with their own lives. TIL.

Second Stage Turbine Blade

“I started with the hands, cos they looked like the easiest part to swallow. I didn’t have to chew too much. The internals weren’t too bad either. Not something I’d typically consume but it was bearable.”

“Oh god, you must have been famished. I can’t imagine what you did with the shell!”

“Haha, you have no idea. I had to grind it up before it was palatable. No way I could have eaten it whole. Was a pretty interesting experience!”

“Ew! Did you get the shits?” Fred laughed.

Jimmy pulled up a chair and sat at our table. “What are you guys talking about? Sounds juicy!”

“I was just telling Fred that I ate a clock yesterday, it was very time-consuming.”


Writing Prompt from Reddit: [CW] Write a story around a pun, a joke, or a punchline

Excursion

“On the right, beyond those rocks, you can see the cheetahs resting under the trees, waiting for the sun to come down before they start to hunt,” said Ms Lilium through the microphone.

The kids all looked out the side of the bus, trying to catch a glimpse of the predators they had only read about in books, letting out “oohs” and “ahhhs” excitedly.

This was their first excursion out of the Dyson sphere to planet Earth, and they were finally able to observe with their own eyes things they had only seen in books and television.

The driver slowed the bus down as a herd of deer stood in the middle of the road, blocking their path.

The deer were now circling the bus, noses in the air, sniffing frenziedly.

“Wait, aren’t deer herbivores?” said Lucy, the smart alec of the class.

Little Tommy felt a shiver run down his spine.


Writing Prompt from Reddit: “Wait, aren’t deer herbivores?”

Five Thousand Years

My jaw dropped, I could not believe what I was seeing.

There she was, standing precariously at the edge of the road.

Was it really her? She must be at least thirty five thousand years old now.

I called out, “Come here, Snuggles!”

She yelped, ears flailing in response, and ran to me.


Writing Prompt from Reddit: [WP] For five thousand years you thought you were the only immortal on earth, then one day you run into an old friend. A very, very old friend.

Paths

“Are you ready?” she asked me.

Turning back now would have been near impossible. I nodded wordlessly.

She handed me a coin. “It’s all up to you now.”

I removed my backpack and set it on the ground. The woods were surprisingly well lit at this hour. The moon must be working hard tonight. We were back at same forked path we had backed out of before – but we didn’t have the luxury tonight. I had to make a decision.

There were two routes in front of us. I had to choose one of them, but I wasn’t sure which one. There were no signs or any clear indication. She suggested I flip a coin to decide when the time came, and that time was now.

“Isn’t it the stupidest idea?” I said.

“Do you have a better suggestion?”

“No. But, we’re leaving it all up to chance!”

“You know that’s not true. Once the coin is in the air, you’ll wish for it to land on one of its sides. You can’t explain it, but you’ll know what I’m talking about. There’s already a path you want to take. We can choose to go with your gut – or with whatever side the coin lands on. It’s up to you to decide, either way it’s all the same to me.”

I pondered for a moment. “Why can’t you make the choice for me? That way it would be so much easier!”

“This isn’t my journey. I’m but a mere companion. I go where you go.”

“What about them?”

“What about them?”

“Won’t we run into them if we go down the wrong path?”

“Sure, but we could also avoid them entirely. There’s a chance.”

“We could turn back-“

“And let them come after us? That’s fine with me too. We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.”

“You’re not very helpful.”

“I know. I’m also imaginary,” she said with a smile.

“Very funny.”

I flipped the coin. It landed heads. Right where I wanted to go.

I picked up my backpack and headed down the path. She disappeared as quickly as I had made up my mind. I hoped I was right.


Writing Prompt from Reddit: [DP] “We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.”