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.
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!
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.
One thing I’ve noticed since switching to diet soda is that I get a lot more people chiding me for my drink of choice compared to back when I drank regular soda.
I get it, drinking either form of soda is unhealthy, there’s no need to tell me that. Plain water is always the better choice (sparkling ftw btw). It’s nice to have the taste of a sweet beverage on your lips every now and then. Like the occasional pint of beer I drink – funny how I never get any flak for that.
Anyway, I’m not here to change anybody’s minds about drinking diet soda – it’s like religion. People can drink or believe in whatever they want, just don’t force your preferences onto others. However, I do want to clear the air on the topic.
While doing some research for this post, I came across this video and it sums up everything better than I ever will (it even has sources):
If you don’t have 24 minutes to watch it, here’s the lowdown: consuming a safe level of Aspartame does not increase your risk for any disease. Don’t drink more than 24 cans of Diet Coke a day and you’ll be fine. So, you can stop spreading tales about how I’m going to die faster because that’s not true. There’s no concrete evidence to say otherwise.
Also, as an active smoker, I can probably say that being killed by diet drinks is the least of my concerns.
For people arguing over how ‘natural’ foods are always going to be healthier vs something created in the lab – just because something is artificial doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. Whether something is made in a lab or found in the wilderness does not determine the safety of food substances. Perfectly safe substances can be made from toxic materials and vice versa. There’s also tons of shit out there not made in labs that are harmful to humans.
For the record, diet Dr. Pepper tastes like ass. It’s the only non-diet soda I drink these days. Occasionally I’ll drink a regular Coke or Pepsi when their sugar-free variants aren’t available, but I’ll usually order something else instead.
“Life is what you make it” is a common phrase that I say all the time and believe in. Sometimes it becomes interesting even if you don’t do anything. I guess you could say this was my fault, but let me begin.
I leave my flip flops outside, on the welcome mat of my home. I have been doing that for years with no issues until a couple of days ago. There’s always a first time for everything.
As I was about to head out of the house in the afternoon, I realized my flip flops were missing and in their place was a hideous pair belonging to a stranger. “What the fuck?” I exclaimed.
I asked my mom if she had brought my flip flops into the house – negative. I told her that they were gone. She laughed. I wasn’t so amused about it.
They were my favorite pair of flip flops! And they weren’t cheap! And last I checked, Miniso had stopped selling them. I was pissed off. Immediately, I began to wish the worst upon whoever had switched my footwear. I was talking to myself, calling the thief all sorts of names. My mind began generating evil thoughts – leaving out another pair of flip flops with diseased needles protruding from the bottom, the thief getting his/her foot trapped in an escalator, the thief stumbling down a large flight of stairs to their death – everything under the sun. I had never hated someone as much as I did that day.
It took me a day to cool down until I returned home and saw that my flip flops weren’t on my welcome mat, which reminded me of that miscreant. I was still mad.
I haven’t been this angry in a while. I know my words don’t hold any power, but it is cathartic to let it out.
To the owner of the flip flops above (who knows if they were stolen too): fuck you, you lowlife degenerate. I hope stealing my flip flops will be the cause of your downfall. May you and your family be plagued by foot diseases, victims of abuse, and robbed blind. Sooner rather than later. You don’t deserve such comfortable footwear.
Why do people even bother praying? Whenever something bad happens to someone, people say send your prayers to X or keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Does it even matter if you do?
I keep hearing all the time that something is ‘God’s plan‘ so why even bother trying to ask for otherwise? If something is going to happen because it’s destined or predetermined, then what are you praying for?
Isn’t trying to change an outcome going against your god’s plan? Why are you not going along with it? Are you saying he/she/it is wrong? Can god be wrong?
Why would god listen to the words from your lips? Unless you’re saying you’re so powerful that god listens to you. If that’s the case, then why can’t you pray for everything you want in life and get it? People say you can’t pray for selfish things – isn’t praying for someone’s health selfish in a way? You want someone to survive so you can spend more time with them. If you didn’t intend on ever seeing that person again, you wouldn’t have bothered.
What if someone else was praying for the same person’s death? Who does god listen to then? Does god even listen? How does god decide who to listen to?
If god doesn’t listen, then why pray? Why aren’t we questioning god’s ‘shitty’ decisions in the first place?
“Oops, I accidentally gave your grandma cancer. Deal with it.”
Does an almighty and powerful god need to listen to people to know what to do? Does god even give a shit?
Pray if it makes you feel better, or if you want to. Just don’t pray and expect anything to happen. If anything does happen, know that it’s because you worked to achieve it, or it was a coincidence. It wasn’t because you prayed for it.
Change things you know you can instead of trying to invoke some mysterious force in the sky. It’s much more effective.
Here’s a wonderful bit by a comedian I came across a few months ago on Netflix:
The other day, someone decided to do a double park, blocking my car from exiting. I had to turn on my lights and beep the horn a few times. Fortunately, that person happened to be in a store nearby, so he ashamedly ran out to move his car. Also, I wasn’t in a rush, so it was no big deal but he did waste a couple of minutes of my time.
Now imagine, if I had to get somewhere urgently, and that person was out of earshot? What if I had an important job interview? Or had to say farewell to someone who was on their deathbed? What if I drove faster because I was late (due to the double-parker) and ended up in a car accident myself? I know I’m being overdramatic, but hear me out.
Unless it is a matter of life and death (which isn’t the case 99% of the time), there never is a reason for anybody to double park their vehicle. It doesn’t matter if you’re seated right outside so you can see when the car you’re blocking needs to leave; would it kill you to just find less inconvenient parking so you don’t have to inconvenience anybody else? Sometimes those 2 minutes you cost somebody could make a big difference in their lives.
Besides the vehicle you block, double parking also causes issues for other vehicles: you turn two-lane roads into one-lane roads. This makes it so that people have to drive around your vehicle to move forward, which can create jams. People trying to reverse their car will also have no vision of oncoming traffic thanks to your car blocking the road. People having issues reversing can also create more traffic jams.
All because so you could get some roti canai a couple of minutes earlier?
it’s very easy to just park further from your destination and walk a bit. Sure, the weather sucks, but your body will thank you and you don’t inconvenience anyone but yourself. Don’t be a dick. Don’t double park.
After leaving my last job, I kinda figured I was done with working 12+ hours/day events. Turns out, life has a funny way of catching up on you. For the past four days, I’ve been helping out at a company event (a children’s concert), and it really threw me back to my Big Bad Wolf days. Coming home just to shower and crash my aching body into bed, just to wake up the next morning to repeat the cycle. I honestly felt like my bones were sighing with relief every time I laid myself down.
Although it has a lot to do with the fact that I’m nowhere near in shape, it brought to mind the things that I took for granted as a child. I think all the damage I brought unto myself is finally showing itself. Back then, I would read in bed, play games on my GameBoy under covers, fall asleep in funny positions, and I’d be okay (I guess you could say I ruined my eyes). These days, all I have to do is sleep on my side and wake up with neck aches for the rest of the day. It’s crazy.
Which reminds me of this meme I saw a while ago:
While it’s funny to laugh at such images (thanks to whoever created it), I can totally relate. I haven’t stopped using the stuff mentioned for earlier stages of life; yes, baby powder is great – especially for dealing with groin sweat, I never realized it was a thing until not too long ago when it started happening to me; deodorant and cologne is still part of my life.
Look at what’s on my desk at this very moment:
Also, I remember people telling me that Poy Sian inhalers were something old people used. I guess I was just ahead of my time.
I shall start with a disclaimer: this is purely anecdotal. It’s what happened to me over the past two years with my ASUS Zenbook (UX430U).
As you can see from the image above, that was the icing on the cake of my terrible experience with this device and ASUS Malaysia’s service center. Let’s start from the beginning.
I purchased this Ultrabook after leaving my previous job as I needed a laptop to work on. I only had an old Linux machine at home to use with a dying battery and keyboard (despite be replacing the battery and hard drive earlier, it didn’t help much). I know I wanted something slim, lightweight and powerful enough for me (I hate slow laptops, there’s never an excuse for it). I didn’t need to game on it, so an ultrabook with no discrete graphics card seemed right up my alley.
After doing some research and shopping around, I settled on the ASUS Zenbook UX430U. It had everything I wanted, and the price tag wasn’t unreasonable. Bought it, and started using it daily. I loved the weight of the machine and the performance I got out of it. It was a joy to use – until the first problem reared its head up less than a week in.
1) The laptop’s charging port stopped working for no discernible reason. It just stopped working, and I couldn’t charge my laptop. Now, you might say this is a case of bad luck, but the fact that I couldn’t get a replacement laptop on the spot was annoying. They wanted to send it to the service center to get it checked up and fixed. It only took about a week and was good to go. I was unemployed then, so it was acceptable to me even though I was unhappy about it, but I should have taken that as a sign of things to come.
2) Fast forward to about a year into having the laptop – everything was fine and dandy. Until I noticed something odd about my device – one of my USB ports wouldn’t charge my vape when I plugged it in. It could read files off drives and my phone fine, but it wouldn’t provide any charge. This bothered me as it was a laptop with limited ports (only two USB 3.0 ports and a USB C port), I had to make sure they were fully functional. I sent it to the service center to get checked out and fixed, which resulted in me in not having a laptop for a couple of days.
3) When the laptop was fixed, I noticed something odd with its display. It was randomly showing grey dots and lines on the screen, which was especially noticeable on black/dark backgrounds and images. It took another trip to the service center and a week to be fixed. This time the laptop took another week to fix.
4) My laptop’s speakers stopped producing sound. I normally listen to music using headphones, so this was something that took me a while to notice. I had to send it to the service center again, and they got it fixed within a few days. They said there was an issue with some connection.
5) The straw that broke the camel’s back. A couple of weeks ago my laptop was having issues with my SSD. It was an issue that I had encountered in the previous months, but it was usually fixed with a reboot (sometimes multiple). My laptop would somehow stop recognizing that I had an SSD installed and give me the BSOD while I was working. Sometimes during boot, it would fail to recognize that I had an SSD and throw me to the BIOS. This time around, restarting the laptop wasn’t doing the trick, so I had to send it to the service center again.
I informed the staff of the issue clearly – verbally and by writing it down. The lady at the ASUS service center acknowledged it. I passed the laptop to her and went off. I received a message the following day telling me that my laptop was ready for collection. I thought that was strange because I’ve never had a one-day turnaround from them before.
Reached the service center and asked them what the issue was – they told me that they formatted the laptop and it should be fine. I was distrustful of them. I told the lady that this was not a software issue, why would a format fix it? She just told me to go back and use the laptop and to come back if there were any problems. She also told me that one of the screws holding the bottom case of my laptop was missing. No shit, Sherlock. Why did you tell me that instead of just putting in a new screw? Were they short on screws?
Anyway, as I expected, the same SSD issue happened again. I even sent them photographs of the problem (at their request). Drove my ass to the service center, passed them the laptop again, with an “I told you so” look on my face. The lady apologized and said they’ll get it fixed as soon as possible.
About a week later, I collected the laptop from them. I turned it on at the shop (it was on sleep mode), and everything seemed normal (the missing screw was still missing). The lady told me that they replaced my SSD to solve the issue. Everything seemed normal to me until; I got back and rebooted my laptop after updating some drivers.
The first thing that pops up on the action center is Windows Defender telling me that my machine was infected with a trojan. I did some digging through the Defender logs and noticed that it wasn’t the first time the trojan was detected. There was a backlog of when the warnings started appearing, and what files caused the trigger. Turns out that Windows Defender detected the trojan on the thumb drive that was used to install Windows updates on my laptop.
This meant that whoever was installing Windows on my laptop was clueless or had a complete disregard for basic PC security. I’m pretty sure it is completely unacceptable to be using an infected thumb drive while working on a customer’s machine (correct me if I’m wrong). That technician had also deliberately ignored Windows Defender’s warnings and continued installing files off that infected thumb drive. What kind of fucking moron does that? I’m pretty sure I said “are you fucking kidding me?” aloud to myself. I was furious.
I sent photos of the message to ASUS and told them that they had an incompetent technician. They had the cheek to tell me to just restart the PC. Holy shit, whoever ‘fixed’ my computer deserves to be fired and be hit by a car on the way home, with their box of belongings in their hand.
If by some chance you’re reading this, technician, fuck you.
Instead of sending it back to them and risk my machine falling into the hands of another idiot, I fixed this problem myself (created a bootable Windows 10 install on a USB drive, and wiped the SSD before installation).
For almost two years, I’ve had to visit the service center way too many times. This is not okay for a device that you rely on for work daily.
In the future, I’m not going back to ASUS if there’s an issue with my laptop I can solve on my own, and I’m not purchasing another ASUS laptop. They’ve taken more than enough of my money and my trust. I still have faith in their hardware like graphics cards and motherboards (haven’t had issues with those yet) but their laptops are a definite no from me. Based on my experience, I will never recommend an ASUS laptop if you need something reliable.
Side note: in addition to all the time spent waiting for the laptop to be fixed, there was a lot of time and fuel spent driving to service centers, paying for parking and tolls, and loss of productivity from not having a laptop to work with. Oh yeah, I had to back up all my files and remove my logged-in accounts every time I sent it to be serviced (huge pain in the ass).
Also, if you remember, I purchased a tablet to serve as a working machine during the various times my laptop was out of commission and it’s been a lifesaver (it’s still running great btw!).
If there’s one thing I learned the importance of a long time ago, or something I know very well – it’s that momentum is a real thing. Once you start something, it’s easy to keep going. But when you take a break for whatever reason and you walk away from it – coming back to pick up where you left off is a difficult thing to do.
There are a lot of things I wish I was doing, but I don’t bring myself to do them because it’s so much easier to be lazy and indulge in video games or watching shows. It’s already 7 months into 2019 – and have I accomplished any of my goals for the year?
The main issue about taking a break from something for a long time is that it’s difficult to pick up and resume where you left of. Before you say, George, “You’re just being lazy!” Yes, I am aware of that. “There’s no such thing as momentum, it’s just your lack of willpower and discipline!” I wouldn’t argue with you about it. But this is something that I’m not the only one who struggles with. It’s a common thing. However, that doesn’t mean it’s something that I should accept. Regardless, it didn’t stop me thinking about it, after all – momentum is a very real thing (and it exists not just for physical objects, but in the metaphysical world as well).
For example, there have been countless moments in video games like Dota 2, where a team that has been doing poorly at the start of a tournament, picking up steam in the later stages to win the whole thing. On the other end, there have been teams on hot streaks who then have a day off (because they’re in the winner’s bracket) and lose their next match. Even on a lower level, some games are won by momentum because one team keeps its cool under pressure better than the other one. Winning one team fight despite being very far behind turns into winning two, three more, and then the whole game.
Reeling it back in to something more relatable – is this why some bands find it so difficult to follow up their debut albums? After spending so long on their first one and releasing it, they’ve expended all their creativity and energy, they can’t pick it up for the second release? Or is it why some bands churn out hit records after hit? Or maybe it’s a different reason – in that time between the first and second release, you’ve changed as people, and don’t create the same sort of art as before. You don’t have the same thoughts, you’re no longer in the same head space, maybe you no longer have the same struggles, maybe you have a different set of restrictions this time around. Who’s to say? Not me, I haven’t released an EP since A Million Different Weddings (which remains unfinished til this day if you remember my promise of creating album art for it).
I’m sure it’s just my lack of willpower.
Momentum is important. I remember last year when I was blogging on a daily basis – it was easy to keep up. I wrote something everyday, I forced myself to do it. Sure, it hampered the quality of my writing (to be honest, it wasn’t that great to begin with) but at least it was consistent. These days, I find myself looking at the calendar and going – oh, it’s been a week since my last post. I guess it’s time to write a new one.
It’s kinda difficult to write when you’re not doing it everyday (work doesn’t count). Like my comic. Animal Bus – I haven’t been working on it for some time – we’re way past the December launch date I set for myself last year, and I’m nowhere near the state I want the comic to be before I release it. My game – no progress, ideas. Songs – I’ve managed to write something new, but I haven’t branched away from my usual acoustic guitar, 4-chord song structure nonsense.
I guess I’m making excuses for myself when I don’t need to. I’m not even on a deadline, and nobody is holding their breath for my stuff. What I’m trying to say in so many words is that I haven’t accomplished anything this year. What’s new?