Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - What a crap year

I am glad the year is coming to an end although I know today is not a day where things get reset and start afresh - the crap will continue on in total disregard to this date - but at least, I have survived 365 days of crap.

A month ago, I was talking to a colleague about kids and I remarked on why people want to have kids. My remark gathered a lot of outrageous response such as "how can you say such things?", "they are so adorable", "they may tire you out but it is just physical, can't be that bad!". I believe they don't have a kid like Jane, who screamed (note I use the word scream, not cry) - who screamed 18 hours a day and can drive you insane. If there is any couple who are wondering if they should have kids, come spend a few days with me and I bet you they will start taking contraception really seriously.

In 2013, we had disharmony in the family - between me and my wife and between my wife and her mother - the root of which is a screaming 4 year old. It has gotten so bad that the missus had quit her job and starting 2014, she will be full time to take care of both kids - mainly because only a mother's compassion can withstand an 18 hour ordeal.

And thus, 2014 is pretty bleak to me because I am going to be the sole breadwinner with mortgages and the prospect of a higher living expense due to the corruption of the current government who conveniently raised tariff on electricity, petrol, sugar, tolls and what not.

2013 was also when school starts for Jane. They say when she goes to school, things will be better. The first half was really unpleasant but the second half sees a lot of improvements on her end. To say that she didn't improve is not true. She did. For that I am thankful. While the crying lessen, the screaming increase. And the screams are usually due to some OCD-ness of her - a book that was not in line, a shirt that was wet due to drink, worrying about people touching her things. I blogged about it so go read there - so I understand her OCD-ness but even then, I cannot take it when she screams.

2013 was also when I have a new boss - one who doesn't cared about the business and is just in the department to sit through the current shit storm of bad businesses. Not only does he not give any strategic direction, he sucked his boss' asses and made life generally miserable for all of us. I didn't really care. I could take it - but when you combine shit at home and shit at work, one can really go insane.

So, thankfully, I have a new hobby - mechanical keyboards - and that made things tolerable as I can also focus my interest and attention to some of these technical stuff that I can learn from something as mundane as a keyboard.

Crappy year all in all. I don't miss you. Farewell!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Retro

I love the look of this:

These key caps is called Round 4 Spherical (SPH) key caps and it mimic the retro look of old gen keyboards. 

Thanks to Bahija for making this a reality!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Karma and the link within generations

In Buddhism, we believe that the karma you bear is carried through generations. Karma can be bad and good. If you have a good karma, it can be carried to your sons and their sons - 7 generations, in fact. Similarly, bad karma affect future generations too. In Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism, we believe that chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo can help you break the chain of bad karma in this lifetime ie you don't need to die and be reborn to get a better life/karma.

With this in mind, and I am not sure if you believe this, but this is what happened to my family.

As a child, I have OCD symptoms. I loved books and I hated it when the spine of my books were broken. So, when I read books and novels, I held them inches apart so as not to break the spine. When I saw books with many lines of broken spine, I cringed in pain. And this would be on my mind and disturbed me, sometimes I may lose sleep over it. And when I arranged my books, I had the tendency to arrange according to height. Or arranged according to author or to series. And if it is a series, I would look for the matching covers design.

What's worse was that every morning after waking up, I would open my book shelves and eyed each rows of books to make sure they are in order. It's an obsessive compulsion and I could not help myself.

I get very upset when my sister broke my order and took a book, or worse, touched a book and left it in a different heights and order. It just made me mad.

As I grow up, the compulsion is less. I was able to manage myself more. And with the move to digital age, I find that I am freed of the physical compulsion because I could transfer my obsession to the computer. My desktop icons are always arranged in grid. Books in Kindle format does not get crumpled or dog eared so I have no worries there. All my computer files are put in proper order. The digital age let me hide my compulsion so it is not so obvious to other people, but it's still there. My iTunes albums always have the right cover. Fortunately, iTunes have an auto download cover with version 8 onwards - before that, I get uncomfortable when some of my songs have no album arts.

All my iPhone apps have beautiful icon. If an app have lousy icons, I won't download them no matter how good they are. That's the reasons I could not stand Android. But it's ok, these compulsion are kept within the iPhones. No one has to know.

So yeah, digital life saved me.

The strange thing is, I see Jane, my 4 year old, starting to have an OCD. Actually her OCD was around even at year 3, just that we didn't comprehend what was upsetting her. One of them is that she always want her shirt to be tucked in. She also wants that her pyjamas pants is long enough to cover her feet and would get upset if they were too short. She also wanted her possessions and her books arranged nicely.

Just this last week, I introduced Lego toys to her and she asked me to build cars and vans. I built them for her and she would place her cars onto a square car garage and she would make sure the cars are parked in proper order. The blue van always go in first, then the red van, followed by the yellow car. Before she slept, she would want to carry the garage and put into her cabinet. And she would look into the cabinet a few times to make sure all is in order before she would go to bed.

She's just 4. And I don't practice my OCD openly because 1) I was too busy with the family and work to care about proper order anymore and 2) I satiate my OCD-ness in the PC/digital world. I don't believe she picked it up from observing me, because I don't demonstrate this behavior much.. so it must be something carried forward genetically or, as we said, it is a karma that I have not broken and therefore transfered/inherited by the 2nd generation. In fact, it was a surprise to my wife that I was so OCD in my childhood.

I hope this doesn't really affect her life. if it does, it become a real concern, what my friend Dr Love would call a disorder. If it is just a peculiarity, then it is a syndrome, which is not a big deal.

Kat on the other hand, was a happy go lucky person. She tried to emulate her sister and carried her Lego set to the cabinet before she slept but her Lego set was a haphazard mess of bricks. And when she put into the cabinet, she just dumped them inside and the Lego would be all over the place. She doesn't care less, just wanted to emulate her sister to put the Lego into the cabinet. This would not be the case with Jane's. Her Lego were all properly aligned to the Lego dot away.

So when Jane was acting up sometimes, throwing tantrum because something was not in order, how could I get mad at her? Coz I was like that, as a kid. I have to really embrace her with more understanding and love and compassion.

The other day, she had a piece of plastic paper with 8x8 pieces of stickers. They are all stickered in a grid and aligned nicely. She really like this sticker set. And then Kat peeled off one sticker and all hell broke loose. Jane was so upset that she threw a huge tantrum and was inconsolable. My wife had no idea how to handle and asked me to do it - she said you are OCD too, you should know what to do!

At first I just don't know what I would do. I offered to take it back from Kat and paste the sticker back to its place and she just couldn't accept that. Said it was ruined already. As I pondered on a solution, I put myself in her shoe and think what an OCD person like me would do. And I thought of a solution, shared it with her and VOILA.. she agreed! The solution was simple: I said why don't we take a scissor and cut off the row in which the sticker was taken off. Then she would have one piece of 3x8 and one piece of 4x8 which are proper symmetrical stickers. And the piece of 1x7 (one of the sticker was taken out) - we can give to your sister to play with.. and she was ok, because she now have two pieces of rectangle that was not violated.

OMG!

Anyway, what I worry is that her kids in the future would have this syndrome, because karma is transferrable for 7 generations right? I need to really breaktrhough this by chanting a lot more daimoku.

That's why, if you ever find yourself wondering why you have some deficiencies or if you find that your relationship with your mother is always a fighting relationship.. take a look at your relationship with your daughter - how is it? Is it always a quarreling relationship?  My father in law and his son doesn't get along too well.. and it reflected in his relationship with his son. My bro in law always scold his son. Sometimes, we can't really run away from our relationship karma too and the only way is to chop it off at its roots, via Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

So before you blame you child on 'why are you like that?', take a look at yourself. Buddhism said that if you want to know the causes you created in the past, look at the current self. If you want to know the effect you will have in the future, look at the cause you are creating now.




Saturday, November 30, 2013

You think your company is cheap..

How's this?

Last year, my company decided to cut cost and remove coffee/tea for its staff. Instead, it installed a vending machine where one have to pay to get our daily caffeine. Then a year later, they increase the price of the coffee/tea, because, you know, sugar price hiked. Of course, we still get free flow of filtered water.. until last week, when the company announced that, in the guise of supporting a greener environment, that they are not giving us paper cups for the water anymore. Water is still there, you just have to bring your own mug.

Well, if you are a salesperson and have no fixed workstation and is mobile, where the heck will you store your mug?!

RIDICULOUS!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stroke of bad luck...

Last year, at the end of 2012, my home PC motherboard finally burnt. I remember I was enjoying XCOM Enemy Unknown when it happened. I took leave to play the game but the PC kept on hanging. So, I had to buy a new motherboard.

Today, that new motherboard burnt! I cannot restart my PC? It didn't beep. It didn't go into POST. It just hang. Nothing on the display. The monitor was in power safe mode, meaning that it didn't get any signal.

What a sad panda day for me!

No PC means no gaming, not that I have a lot of time for gaming...

Oh well, maybe it is a sign........... I should save money. No year end Steam sales for me!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Poor Service

7 years to go to reach Vision 2020, Malaysia's goal to be a developed country and yet we see this today:

This morning I was in the Touch N Go office beside Damansara Toll to top up the Touch N Go card. There are two counters, one for cash and one for credit card. They sit beside each other.

A woman was in the credit card counter filing a complaint. She was filling up the form and talking to the person behind the counter. Behind the woman was a man, waiting to top up via credit card. I was behind the man. There was no one else.

The man and I waited for almost 10 minute. He asked the cash counter woman if he can top up at her counter. She said no.

And she continue to sit idly while 2 customers are waiting. And I am not sure why she didn't take over and handle the complaint. Or just top up for us, come on!

So we waited and waited.

Where is the customer first mentality!

Positive spin: well, the lady customer was pretty attractive to look at.
SIGH!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Great Day

Last Friday was one of the smoothest days I have ever encountered. By smooth, I meant that many things seemed to happen like a clockwork and I got many things done. I took the day off and so I decided to do a few things - meet up with ZipD and go see a dentist. But I have two things I need to do in addition - go back to the office in the morning to collect the Noppoo keyboard because I finally found a buyer.

So I sent my daughter to MIL house at 8am and the traffic from Persiaran Surian to BU was smooth. Typically it would be quite jam so I managed to reach the office by 8.20am. Grabbed my stuff and went to my mother's house in Kepong. I went for a nice pork noodle mee and then took a call with my boss from 10.30am-11.30am and rushed to Mid Valley to meet my friend ZipD. It's a Friday and many people tell me it is madness to go Mid Valley, especially during lunch time. There was some slight jam in Federal Highway and the moment I went into the parking, just at that moment of taking the parking ticket off the machine, there was a empty parking in front of me! In minutes I found one bay. As I went to the escalator, I saw "mailbox etc" right in front of my eyes and they are a consignee for PosLaju so I was able to post the Noppoo keyboard without having to queue in a post office. I was amazed at my luck.

Spent two hours with ZipD for a great lunch and a long chat at Starbucks and I left Mid Valley for my dental walk-in try-my-luck in SS2. Traffic was smooth again and I was able to get a parking in SS2. The dental appointment was a breeze - in and out within 30 minutes of cleaning my teeth, no queue.

Everything just worked like a clock. It's one of the best days. If everyday in KL is like this, this would be a great city to live in. Alas.

Monday, November 04, 2013

The difficulty of being a parent

Yesterday night, Kat wanted to go downstairs to see his mother who was making milk for them. Jane accompanied her down and I said I wanted to make sure Kat is safe. She's 2.5 year old after all and going down our stairs can be dangerous. They both didn't like me coming along and whined about it but I insisted. Then Jane shouted at me to "go back into the room". That pissed me off! I told her straight that I am your father and you don't shout and order me around. If anything, YOU should be going back to the room and I stormed downstairs.

I don't know where she learned this from. It's obviously not from me nor my wife. We don't order them to bed or to the room. As I sounded my frustration to my wife over such a incredulous tantrum, she said that she obviously learned it from somewhere (school or TV or something) and that she doesn't know whether it is wrong or right and it is our job as parents to educate her that shouting and ordering father back to room is wrong.

That took me aback. Here I was thinking how rude and impossible Jane was and here my wife is saying she doesn't know that she is wrong and is just mimicking something she learned in the Tv or observed someone else doing it.

But how can I show her what is right and what is wrong when I am obviously pissed at her for saying such things!

Parenting can be really hard! Seriously.. why do people want to have kids???

Disastrous Day

This is the temperature after we stopped at the R&R
and cooled down the car
I took Friday off. My father want to visit a very sick uncle in Brunei. This uncle is his brother in law. He's a great person and my father put a lot of priorities on families, so he wanted me to go with him. We booked a flight in Air Asia. Supposed to fly off at 1.45pm. As we drive to the airport at around 11.30am (I know it is a a bit tight but I had a teleconference at work and have to stay on.. but I figured 3 hours.. why not) - I notice that my car started to heat up. The temperature is rising as we drive in Elite Highway. It got so high that we stopped in the nearest R&R and pour water into the engine to cool it down. More wasted time. Then we reached the airport at 1pm and they refused to let us in! Said that we are too late. We appealed to no avail.

So we changed our ticket to the following morning - 6am flight and drove back home. Along the way, it started to pour and we had to stop our car, sit in the rain while the engine cooled. As we reached Damansara around 4pm, there was heavy traffic (it was a work day, after all) and we were all so stressed up about the car heating up again.

We reached home around 6pm. And since I can't go to Brunei, I told my mother that I will accompany her to a wedding dinner. By the time the reception finished, it was 11pm and I had 4 hours of sleep before I have to go to airport, this time in another car.

Positive spin over this disastrous day? I get to spend a lot of time with my father and mother individually, something of a luxury these days. I am happy actually, on how it turned out as those moments were of quality and I know I will not regret them!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happiness In This World


This morning as I drove Kat to MIL house, she was pretty talkative this morning and at the same time, I wanted some quiet time to myself to think. I entertained her queries - nodding and saying a few words in response. In that moment, though, an important thought struck me. I love Kat a lot but the feeling of love doesn't overwhelm me everyday, definitely not during that drive as I wanted to think. At certain moments, I feel a surge of love for her. At other moments I have no particular feelings - just neutral and doing my duty as a father. Love is not a continuous flow of feelings. It is not like electricity or water flowing on a river. When you turn an electric lamp on, it shines forever until you switch it off. The electric current continues to flow through the lamp and doesn't stop until you flip the switch. Love doesn't work that way. Similarly, happiness doesn't work that way.

So, why is it that many religions promise eternal happiness? Is this even achievable? If love, the fundamental and primal feelings, is not something that flows continuously like a electric current, what is a state of eternal happiness then? If you are happy every second of the way, is that even logical and achievable? You will be like a mad man from a psychological ward. Is that the reason you need go to a new place, like heaven, to have this eternal happiness feeling? Or you need to reborn in your next life to get this happiness? Reborn where? Planet Happiness somewhere in the Milky Way or beyond?

In Buddhism, happiness is not an end state. Achieving enlightenment, therefore achieving happiness is not the end goal where when you reached, you stopped moving. In Buddhism, happiness is a journey - and in this journey, it is full of problems and challenges. When you are able to overcome all these problems and challenges - that they doesn't pull you down, discourage you and you move on with life despite of the problems, at that moment, you are happy until the next problem came to you, in which you fought through and overcome and be happy while you overcome them. A cancer patient who doesn't let cancer destroy his life, is said to be happy. A financially challenged person who doesn't let that affect his relationship with his friends and family, who continue to work hard to overcome the financial trouble and in turn able to encourage others to do the same, is happy. A person who was dumped by his girlfriend but is able to move on with life without giving up on hope and love, is happy. That's why in our Buddhism, we can achieve happiness in this world, in this lifetime. We don't have to wait to be reborn in a holy land, or in heaven, to enjoy happiness. It exists NOW, today. You need to have the life state and the state-of-mind to overcome your challenges to enjoy the happiness.

In Nichiren Daishonin writing: "Though worldly troubles may arise, never let them disturb you. No one can avoid problems, not even sages or worthies.

Drink sake only at home with your wife, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. no matter what happens."

He said that no one can avoid problems - even the wisest of men. And that life is full of ups and downs and regardless of it, we need to chant to uphold the positive life state. When your life is full of ups, you chant with gratefulness and enjoy the up time. When you are down, you chant to lift your life state and continue to over come these challenges. That is the secret formula to achieve happiness in this lifetime!

State of Society

This morning, in the car park, one driver a few cars in front of me was getting really impatient and started honking in rhythm – honk honk honkkkkkkkk, pause, honk honk honkkkkkkkkk, pause and so on – it went on for almost a minute. I could imagine a driver sitting on his/her seat, cursing and hitting the horn in anger and I think to myself, what sane person would do such thing? What would have driven him to behave that way. I get pissed at times too but I don’t displayed it outright or in such a manner. It really showed how impatient fellow Malaysians are these days with all these traffic and rush hours. I am sure he started early (did he?) but probably got stuck in a unexpected traffic and as such he is in such a hurry. Is this society going to get worse? It seemed that it is. Why is it that people are behaving this way?

In last month’s study meeting, we learned that the main reason for this is because people, in general, lack a philosophy in life. Their current philosophy lies around 3 areas: gratification from material things – so people are pursuing joy and happiness from material stuff - they buy nice car, nice stereo or nice keyboard (ahem). So, people put their priorities are in the pursuit of wealth – they must earn more than their friends, neighbors, relatives. They must have bigger cars, beautiful houses, more maids than they can handle. They spent so much time in working/business just to pursue this wealth that they have forgotten to be human, to care for their family, or to care for their fellow human being friends whether they are neighbors or colleagues or generally the people in the street. People take secondary temporary jobs. In the evening, they attend MLM seminars to sell more lamps, more vacuum machines, more insurance, more Amway products, financial and investment services.

The other area is that people indulge themselves in activities that they think they can find happiness in. People eat and eat because rich food made them feel good. They drink - that’s why it was called happy hour, right? They go for fun stuff like head banging (ecstasy pills), movies marathons and TVB/HBO episodes chasing. They gamble. Some became very conscious of their health – they go gym, running and they do a lot of other forms of exercise – for heath reason, sure, but some wanted the endorphin as a result of exercise to feel good. They just indulge in all these personal activities that give them temporary happiness, for they never last, right? Just-in-time happiness.

The third area that modern people’s philosophy lies is in avoidance. In Hokkien, it’s called boh chap. Basically it means hiding in your own cocoon, oblivious and ignoring worldly matters. How many of us don’t care about the state of the country – be it politics, social, safety, economic? How many of us have this “let me close the door of my house, I don’t really care what’s happening outside” attitude? Or the, as long as it doesn’t affect me, I wouldn’t be bothered attitude? Sadly, this is the type of attitude that is very prevalent in the society today. You don’t hear much of gotong royong (neighbourhood working together for the better of their community) nor do you see people being nice to their neighbours. Some even fight and call police on each other over parking spaces outside their houses.

These are the 3 philosophies uphold by the people these days. How can we even hope for a peaceful and happy society if the people of this society don’t have a correct philosophy?

In Buddhism, in order to achieve a peaceful, safe and loving society, each of us can start with ourselves. We look into ourselves to see where our priorities in life are and we start changing ourselves. A small change in yourself, can propagate to the people around you, to your neighbor and ultimately to society at large.  When the world had industrial revolution, we see a growth in industry and manufacturing. Similarly during the Renaissance revolution, a burst of culture and arts flourished. A similar human revolution, a change in oneself, can be like the butterfly flapping its small wings but causing a typhoon 10,000 miles away.

A change in our self is the first step but we need to tell others as well. In my previous blogs, I spoke of working professionalslittering the car park. How many of us have the courage to drop a note or educate the person who litters? But if we don’t take that first step and be oblivious or ignore, how are we going to achieve a peaceful and safe society?

Hmm.. food for thoughts?


Friday, October 25, 2013

Tweetbot 3 vs Twitterrific 5

Tweetbot Homepage viewed in Safari
This morning marked the release of the highly anticipated Tweetbot 3 for iOS 7. Tweetbot made a name for themselves a couple of years ago when they released one of the best 3rd party Twitter client in the App Store. Their design were outstanding and one of a kind, enabling them to surpass all other Twitter clients. Tweetbot was so good, I paid $2.99 for the iPhone client and also $4.99 for the iPad client. I just can't bear the default Twitter client that Twitter provided for free.

I used Tweetbot for months but when Twitteriffic 5 was released this year, I switched. I switch because Twitterrific introduced a brand new UI which was way radical than anything I have seen. It was smooth, minimalistic, playful via tasteful colour, beautiful. And for $2.99, it was a Universal app, meaning it runs for both iPhone and iPad. And this was months before iOS 7 was announced. Twitterrific set a new bar, they already envisioned the minimalistic approach of iOS 7 and at one point, it already feels like using an iOS 7 app before iOS 7 got into the hands of the mainstream users.  I was hooked. Tweetbot 2 looked dated in comparison.


Tweetbot 3 for iPhone

So, a month after Apple released iOS 7 to the masses, Tweetbot 3 for iPhone, a complete rewrite and redesign from ground up, was finally released. I'm not alone to say that I was extremely excited and looking forward to it. In a mere 12 hours, it became the number 1 top paid iPhone app in US Store. 

But how does it match against Twitterrific?

Frankly, I have to say that I wasn't wow by Tweetbot. Many of its functions and UI remained the same except with some animations. I know that the developer claimed that it was a redesign and rewrite from ground up but it felt like a reskinned instead. Aesthetics aside, I did not find a huge difference from Tweetbot 2. The bottom row had the same buttons including the last two which is customisable. The ability to retweet from a different account than the one you are using by long-press on the retweet button remained. The swipe left to view conversation remained. A nicer round avatar icon with some sort of a verification badge is kinda new. A photo gallery-only view instead of twitter text is kinda nice - something that Alien Blue, a Reddit client, has championed.

In contrast, Twitterrific improved on their older version by making a full screen, smooth scrolling, fun colour codings and beautiful new font types as well as new gestures based navigation. It feels new, even after iOS 7 was released. It still hold on to be my favourites at this moment.

Tweetbot 3 went the safe route and it showed.

Twitterrific 5 has beautiful colour coding
based on tweet type, new playful font type

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

I saw this tweet by @SciencePorn today:
According to a study, these are the top 5 regrets of the dying(Just before death) pic.twitter.com/MsyIlCbyOE


I have been thinking about these 5 top regrets this morning. I am not sure if these are the answers I will give in my death bed. I can agree with "I wish I hadn't worked so hard." I am trying not to work as hard these days and I understand that every employee is dispensable. The company won't die because you didn't logon to your emails at night.

But I am not sure of the "I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself" -  what is a life true to myself? If there were no restrictions and no one expects anything of me, what is the life I will live? Stay at home and play PC games all day? That is not exactly what I wanted. I had being single for a big part of my adulthood, so I do have all the time and I while it away on PC games, comics, novels, drinking teh tarik with friends talking nonsense, watching TV series or movies and wasting more time at work doing mundane stuff. At that time, with no family commitment, I didn't know what was a life true to myself. How can I know in the next 30-40 years of my life? Now that I have a family, is it a life focus on the kids? If that is, is that true to myself? Is that living a life of what others expects of me?

What would you do if you don't need to be an actor in this world, acting a life not your own? Can anyone answer this honestly?

On "I wish I had the courage to express my feelings" - what about this? I have nothing to hide in terms of feelings to my wife and kids. Maybe the "express feelings" part would be to express to my parents. I think I didn't say "I love you" a lot but I also think it is not our Malaysian/Asian culture to do the same. I spend a lot of time at home, every Sunday visiting my parents with the kids. Is there still a need to express myself more? How would this be a regret?

"I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends" - ok, I can understand and appreciate this. I blogged about it here. Seriously, with convenience of technology these days, this should not ever be a regret. 

"I wish I had let myself be happier" - but what is happiness? Does anyone really know? Is it buying more things? More keyboards, more PC games, more Apple products? Those are temporary happiness; they are not lasting. Those are  what Buddhists called 'treasures of the storehouse' - materials stuff. Happiness is about accumulating 'treasures of the heart' but how many people understand this? I am still trying to comprehend this myself. So, how do you let yourself be happier? Let yourself - as though you are actively not letting yourself. Perhaps this is linked to 'living a live others expected of me'. Buddhism is about appreciating the dignity of life. Appreciating and respecting each living being as though they are the most precious thing ever. That, in turn, would accumulate a unshakeable life state within yourself and ultimately you will find happiness within you.

If you really want to know how to achieve happiness in this world, then I would recommend you listen to this study material by SGI USA Study Chief, Mr Greg Martin. I listen to this when I am down and get a huge encouragement every single time. It's a 50 minutes mp3 that I played in the car when stuck in jam and have gained a lot of encouragement and tips to find happiness, today! now!, in this world, not in the next life, not after you die. Download here: Happiness In This World.

Let's learn together!


Bad Traffic

Today I have a meeting in KL. I dreaded the jam and sure enough, there was an unusual traffic just right after the toll at the Mont Kiara end of NKVE. It's quite bad and I cursed at the traffic and the bad quality of life in Malaysia.

Then, I remembered my positive spin... how can I see a positive side to traffic jams? The reason we have such bad jams is because of the progress the country have made. We may cursed at the corruption of our political leaders but it is also them that put Malaysia in the world map and the progress that we have today - everyone have the ability and wealth to own a car.

If it is not because of progress, I would still be a clerk. Considering my background where my father is a auto spare parts supervisor. But today, my life is vastly different from how I grew up. In my other posts, I said that I grew up in KL but my baby sitter home did not have water pipe and we have to pump water out of a well. Well! That's ancient.. and it was just maybe 35 years ago! So we did make progress. Despite the flaws of our current leaders, Malaysia has prospered.

We should be thankful :)

After my meeting in the heart of KL, as I leave the city at 1pm, I also met with an unusual jam. This one is a standstill. After suffering for 30 minutes, I found out that it was due to a truck stalling right at the mouth of a tunnel in Jalan Tun Razak. Stupid truck! I wish the authorities actually checked the condition of truck instead of approving after taking bribes. If they had done their job, we wouldn't be stuck in a jam. What's the positive spin to this?

My positive take is that while we are all stuck, the traffic right after the stalled truck was smooth. Super smooth all the way to PJ. I bet you that someone who came out of KLCC would be surprised at how smooth the traffic was. And they would be wondering if it was a public holiday somewhere (don't we sometimes have this though?) And I bet you that someone who was rushing for a meeting appointment would be thankful for the smooth traffic and will be able to meet their customers on time.

You can't win all the time. At times, you lose and somebody else gains :D

Positive Angle

I am going to create a new tag. This tag will be called Positive Angle. The intention is to always find a positive aspect of a dire and negative circumstances that you are in. The glass is always half empty right?

This morning, Jane started crying again for no reasons and was very demanding. Her OCD was out in full force. Her stockings were not aligned and she was upset. So we reflected how come she was ok for the past 3 weeks but her tantrums returned. We think the reason was that Anne was quite moody in the past two days due to exhaustion. I have observed that Jane is very sensitive to how her mother feels and she reacted accordingly. The reason she was fine last 3 weeks was that these were times when Anne just started working part time and have no stress at work. So her disposition was very positive. And we guess Jane picked up that positive vibes.

As we talked, we agreed that Jane's hypersensitivity ensured that we needed to have a positive mindset. We need to have a high life condition so she could accept and react positively. In other words, she encouraged us to chant a lot more, which is always good thing to do. We are taking a positive spin out of a negative condition. A child who creates cause for her parents to chant more is a valuable and is child who is executing her life's mission. She is accumulating a lot of good causes that one day will have very positive effect in her life. That is her purpose in life, I guess.

Positive spin.. take a look at life with a different lens.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

That didn't last long..

The crying commence! Sien!

The implication of free OS X Mavericks and iWork


Today’s Apple event marked another subtle and potentially disruptive poke at Microsoft and it’s core business – Windows and Office. For the first time, Apple gave their next gen OS away as a free upgrade to existing Mac owners. Free. In the past, incremental operating system upgrade cost a minimum fee, around $29. With Mavericks, not only did they change the naming of their flagship OS, moving away from the cats family to popular locations in California, they are also giving it out free.

When Windows 8 was released, Microsoft also provide an upgrade pricing of $40 to existing Windows 7 users but for a limited time. This move was how Redmond reacted to OS X Lion and Mountain Lion's incremental upgrade. But it was limited and now MS is selling Windows 8 Pro Upgrade for $88 and a Windows 8 Pro full version for $189 - and there is also Ultimate, Home, Home Premium and a whole lot of confusing versions. 

Why would Apple release Mavericks as free? 

I believe they learned from their experience in iOS. Every iOS operating system upgrade for the iPhone, iPad and iPod was free. And the rate of conversion from their customers to new OS was remarkable. This rate of adoption made it easy for Apple and its ecosystem of developers to support their customers effectively. In addition, giving away free iOS did not cause them to lose any business but instead it helped moved the millions of devices and customers to a technology platform and direction that is mapped by Apple. I know Microsoft had wished all of their consumer and enterprise customers adopted Windows 8 as fast as they could have liked. Does anyone still remember the struggle MS went through to move people out of Windows XP? Their customers refused to do so and MS is forced to extend their support for Windows XP customers until recently, they finally end of life this product due to the maturity of Windows 7. There is an advantage to have all your installed base on the same level of OS instead of being stuck in a fragmented and disparate environment.

OS X Mavericks has 200+ new features, some of them pretty exciting to me: Finder tabs, filename tags, new Safari that only renders graphics when it is visible to users, thus saving huge amount of battery, iCloud keychain for password management and a host of others. There are also a huge number of apps included from the new iBooks to Maps for Mac, to the usual Notes, Reminders, Calendar, Mails, Contacts, iMessage, Facetime, Phonebooth, etc. The iLife suite, which consist of a photo management software iPhoto, home movie making software iMovie and music composition software Garage Band, is also free.

There are a lot of R&D money pumped into this and it attest to the power of free for Apple to give it away. In one single stroke of ingenuity (well, they have done it in iOS, so it is not exactly original), Apple has elevated itself way past Microsoft in desktop operating system and is now at the playing field of Google.

Giving away iWork, their productivity suite of word processing, spreadsheet and presentation to new Mac and iPhone users is the final nail to MS Office coffin and is now competing with Google Docs. It sucked to be in MS shoes now. No wonder Ballmer left so quickly! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

For Sale: Noppoo Choc Mini Mechanical Keyboard with MX Black switch

I think it's obvious I love mechanical keyboard. Aside from my blog entries here on mechanical keyboards, you would have notice that I have been blogging more. It's just such a pleasure to type these days that inspiration to blog comes flowing in.

I have 5 keyboards now: Razer BlackWindow Ultimate, Matias Quiet Pro, Noppoo Choc Mini, CODE Keyboard and the latest addition: Poker 2. I only have 2 hands and 2 PCs (one at work and one at home), so at any one time I am just using 2 keyboards. 5 is just too many and too mental.

As such, I am selling the Noppoo Choc Mini. This keyboard is a 75% size keyboard, very compact, very quiet because of the linear Black switch and very good build. It has POM key caps, one of the better keycaps around.

I shipped out of Malaysia - if you are interested, please drop me a comment below with your email and I will be in touch!


Page View

Wow, I didn't expect to see 130,000 page views in my blog! Welcome!!!

On the right shows all the popular posts. These are probably hits from people doing a search in Google and stumble upon my blog.

I need to write more relevant stuff instead of just random rambling!


Cane or Dialogue

Starting October, my wife will start working half time, only in the morning and will leave the office at 12pm. She will take care of Jane in the afternoon. One of the main reasons for this arrangement is that we have decided that we will look after Jane ourselves to relief my mother in law. Also, as my MIL said it, her old method of child rearing is very different from our modern times - not just different but also conflicting - that she felt that she's not able to take care of Jane effectively. 

The surprising thing is, over the past 3 weeks, Jane was very well behaved. The first week was rocky. Lots of crying and screaming, which was usual for us, but my wife was adamant and would not give in to her requests. Jane would test her limits.. but after a few days, she knew her mother is not to be fooled with and in a surprising 180 degree turn, she became very well behaved and accommodating.

At one point, I have always wondered if raising and discipling a kid via dialogue would be more effective as compared to the cane. Who has the patience to dialogue when the easy way out is through cane and shouting and threats? But then, these past 3 weeks have really opened my eyes.

My MIL old ways are about threats (if you don't listen I will have to take out the cane), striking fears via warning (don't climb the sofa, or you will fall and hurt yourself) and that doesn't seemed to be working with this new generation of kids. My wife's way of listening and talking and guiding may seemed futile against a screaming kid but I guess in the longer run, it may be the most effective yet.

Instead of crying every morning when she wakes up, waiting for her mother to come up to pacify her, these days, Jane would wake up herself and go downstairs looking for her mother. Without any fuss, she would change to school uniform and get ready for school. Instead of just throwing things all over the place, she nows picked them up and put them into boxes when we asked her to. Instead of wailing for attention, she nows asked and speak her mind.

Too good to be true?

We shall see.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

PWTC

Today I took Jane to One Utama. We parked in One World Hotel and walked through the lobby to the mall. As I see her walked, I thought of how, years ago, PWTC - yes, that World Trade building - and The Mall (Yaohan, it was then call) was the only grand thing that happened to KL. And that PWTC has the nicest toilets - it's funny because during that time, all public toilets in Sungei Wang and Lot 10 and even Kota Raya is chargable and free toilet was unheard of!

But now, with all these other new convention centers mushrooming here and there, PWTC has become really dated. When was the last time I went there? I don't think I even remember it!

Old men has no friends

So I grew up wondering why my father doesn't have good friends that he hang out with, unlike me who went to mamak with friends and we have so much variety of topics to discuss.

Now that I am a father of two, I begin to see the real reason my father did not go out. I am not going out as often as I would have liked. The combination of work and taking care of the house chores and two very active kids can really drain any mood that you have to go out and mamak. You just want to lie down and close your eyes for just one moment.

But, fortunately, I have technology with me, which my father unfortunately did not have during his younger times. Sure, he has access to telephones, but real men don't talk to each other on phone for long. We meet up for drinks. But with technology like Facebook, Twitter, iMessage and Whatsapp, real men can now communicate via text messages, not girly phone calls.

While my friends and I don't meet up, we still manage to keep in touch via these technology above. A beggars can't be choosers!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Liberation

The maid has gone home. Back to sweeping, mopping and doing laundry. Tiring. But it is really liberating. It's like one less person to think about, for instance, when we were out for music class and felt full since breakfast, we don't have to stop and tar pau for the maid. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

RIP Ah Mmm

This morning, I received a sad news from my sister. My nanny, baby sitter, guardian of many years have passed away today. I called her "Ah Mmm", which is Hokkien for Auntie. She took care of me when I was 5 year old until I turned 14 or 15 years old as both my parents are working parents. She took care of my two younger sisters too.

I have very good memories of the time I spent in Ah Mmm's house. When I was first sent to her, she lived in a kampong - the actual site is where PWTC and The Mall is now. At that time, her house was on stilts because that was a flood prone area. And there was no water - we drew water from a well. Yes, Mr Ringgit, KL boy, has experienced a  village life, living out of well. Can't imagine huh? So I lived with her for about two years when she finally moved to Kolam Air, near Jalan Ipoh now. This house, which she still lived in today, was where I spent most of my childhood.

I remember asking Ah Mmm for 20 sen every evening so I could go to a local sundry shop and buy junk food, particularly Mamee. I also remember her cooking pork floss and me helping her to smash the pork into very fine floss using a stone chisel. And during festive seasons, I would helped her make "kueh kar pek" - and this is cooked on a charcoal satay-like pit. I learned to cycle there and I also learned to overcome my fear of a rooster attack there. She reared chicken and there was this alpha male rooster that became very protective of the hens and would attack children and adult alike. I screamed when he chased me - it was really terrifying.

Every year, we visit Ah Mmm and enjoyed her signature duck meen sin. It was one of a kind. She would cooked a huge servings to serve a very big family gathering. No one makes meen sin like Ah Mmm. I am saddened by her departure but it is expected. She suffered a stroke and have been half paralysed for almost 1 and a half year. In a way, her suffering has ended.

I don't remember any wise advise that Ah Mmm have given me as she doesn't really talk much but these days, a psychologist would tell you that how a kid turned out is based on the guardian that he spent the most time with. In my case, I would say that I spent a lot of time under Ah Mmm's supervision and what I am today is a direct reflection of her guidances.

I will be going to her wake tonight. Her funeral is on Thursday. I will bid her my last respect and farewell. I will always remember her!

Friday, October 04, 2013

WASD Code Keyboard Review

The CODE Keyboard by WASD Keyboards arrived yesterday! Shipping through USPS took about a week. Not too bad for a normal postal service. The package is pretty normal. Just your normal box within a box. The CODE box is white, with the branding on the box. Even the white box is made of normal recycle paper. Pretty normal stuff. Minimalist. I like it.
The keyboard is protected by a flimsy plastic. No bubble wrapper. Could be an issue if the handling by the courier was rough. But they do have those pink styrofoam stuff to protect.

Unlike the Matias, there was no 'fragile, handle with care' sticker. Maybe those will increase shipping cost?







Underneath the cover though, is one of the most beautiful keyboards I have laid my eyes on. It is pretty heavy, perhaps one of the heavist keyboard I owned, which explained the US$50 shipping cost. The heft gave it a high quality feel. 

This is the BMW of keyboard. Unwrapping the plastic, I finally laid my eyes on it and, wow, it is a beauty. Each of the key caps are made of a matte material but thankfully, it didn't attract any fingers grease or finger print. The textured case is minimalistic. Even the bezel is very thin. 

There is no branding on the keyboard; you can't tell it is a CODE except for it's white backlighting. The CODE was a brain child between Jeff Atwood of Stack Overflow fame and WASDkeyboards. It is based upon WASDkeyboards new V2 design. So what you read about CODE is about the same as a WASD V2 except for the backlighting and Clear switch.

It is as unassuming as it can be except that one look at it and you know it is not your normal keyboard. This is one high end stuff. A BMW has very distinctive frontal headlights, you know that eye-liner that is signature of the BMW? Well, the CODE has its white backlighting. It's what defined a CODE as a CODE.

It came with a key cap puller, a micro USB/USB cable and a PS/2 and USB adapter. The key cap puller was a great thought, thanks WASDkeyboard!

The ultra rare MX Clear switch is built on top of a white-coated steel plate, which explained the weight of the keyboard. MX Clear is as tactile as the Blue, more heavier than the Blue when pressing it and very quiet. So if you think Blue is too light, this is the switch to go to especially if you wanted something quiet. I'd say it is the same heaviness as the Matias Quiet Pro which I reviewed here as well.

Don't mistaken the MX Clear with the MX White. The both looked the same but are two different key switches. I think MX White is milk white in colour while the Clear is slightly translucent.

The keycap is made of ABS material. That's the material used to make Lego bricks. Because of the fact that it is a backlight keyboard, they have to use a transparent plastic, paint them black, lazer etch the character and then put a coating over it. It looks really nice. But I worry how long the coating can last. Will it come off after years of usage? It's even madness to consider this point - I mean, on a US$10 Logitech keyboard, it never occurs to you that the key cap will peel or the character will come off. So why is this worrying for a US$150 keyboard? Yup. I need help for spending so much on a keyboard!! It shouldn't even be a question at all. You don't ask whether the BMW paint will fade under the strong tropical sunlight - do you?

Behind the keyboard, the cable is detachable, which is pretty cool as you can easily transport the keyboard. And if the cable broke? No problem, you can replace it with any micro-USB and USB cable. There are enough rubber in all four corners for good grip. Even the legs which is used to prop the keyboard is made of some rubber materials. No slippage here no matter how hard you type. There is also 5 opening in which you can arrange your cable. Very thoughtful design.

There is also a DIP switch. Do you know that the normal keyboard we are using is called QWERTY, because of how the row of keys are arranged? It seems that there are DVORAK key arrangement which people claimed will increase your typing speed and there is COLEMARK, which, um, a lot of programmers used. So this CODE keyboard supports QWERTY, DVORAK and Colemark setting just via a DIP switch.

There is no USB port, which some may take concern with but the CODE keyboards are built based on standard key configurations, meaning you can just order any other keycaps and change them. This may sound like a simple thing but many keyboards, eg the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate, Noppoo and some others have a different sized Space Bar or SHIFT Bar or CTRL and ALT. That makes them incompatible and not able to be replaced easily. CODE though, is built on standards, so even these modifier keys are replaceable.

So, there you have it. A review. And I need to stop this addiction. Having 4 mechanical keyboards with two being utilized (at home and in office) and two collecting dust is just too mental and too much. I am very satisfied with the Code, so much so I have decided that this is the last one and I am not going to satisfy any curiosity I have.

I already have three of the best switches around: MX Blue, MX Clear and Quiet alps. I am done.


P.S. The Code keyboard is based on the same design as WASD V2 keyboard. The only difference is the Cherry MX Clear and the backlighting. But the Code is also sold out as of this writing. In fact it was sold out the moment it was launched. The pre-order was so great.

I still remember when I read about the Code for the very first time. I was led to this because of a tweet by John Gruber. In that instant, I knew I wanted it. It was a great write up/marketing page. And at that time, it was still available for pre-order. What made me hesitate is the price tag - US$150.


I contemplated on this a few days. Then I saw, to my dismay, that it was out of stock. The reason it was out of stock is because of the rare MX Clear switch. Cherry is not making much and the back order takes around 6-12 months. So I put this aside but I was also considering the WASD V2 keyboard - same make except a Cherry of my choice and no back lighting.


So when I saw in a forum that it was not available, I instantly jumped on it and placed my order for this ten-key-less model (i.e. without Num Pad). I had buyer's remorse after that, sure.. it is an expensive keyboard and I should be saving money now. 3 hours after I placed the order, it was gone again! That made me feel slightly better - this is a prized possession now :) I found out from the owner of the company that the reason it was temporary available was due to the cancellation of people who pre ordered who cancelled before it was shipped. Probably they, too, have buyer's remorse. I wonder if they are kicking themselves. If you are one of them, drop me a comment :D




Don't WhatsApp /SMS when driving

This morning, we received news that one of Jane's classmate passed away after fighting for her life for 4 days. She was cycling in her A...