Insanely Simple

I’m halfway through Ken Segall’s book Insanely Simple. It’s a page-turner, distilling the concept to its essence. The writing is clear and free of fillers, akin to the title of the book.

One doesn’t have to be a marketer or in the creative sector to appreciate this book. The idea of simplicity can be applied to our lives – par down our choices and learn to live simple.

Obama is the famous example where he wears the same outfit everyday, so he could conserve his limited cognitive energy for more important matters.

Likewise, I’m looking likewise to simplify in my life. What are the areas I could simplify? Last night, I did a quick cleaning and sorting of my wardrobe. Donating away the clothing I almost never wear (about 10% of my outfit), the space appears more spacious and neat.

Is simplicity the same as minimalism? I reckon they share similar traits and could be used interchangeably. Minimalism sometimes gives the vibe of stylish and effortless dudes. Same plain t-shirts in multiple quantities, same color socks so they could lose one and the world wouldn’t end. Their apartment are white-washed, their gadgets are all single colored.

I like the idea but I’m not sure if I’ll ever live this way. Imagine a minimalism gathering where all the other guys are in almost the same outfit. That would be so cool. Wait, cool? Well, isn’t that the kind of uniform for minimalist dudes?

I was in the police force a decade ago and during those years, we wore the same shirt, same pants, same sleeping wear everyday. It sure was liberating because you don’t even give much thought to what you should wear. They’re all the same. I just have to ensure they’re cleaned and ironed.

Essentialism, less but more, simplicity, minimalism.

The concept – that we must be deliberate with our choices – is more important than the words used to describe it.

Pushing Up Good Habits

20 push-ups and sit-ups. Every night, without fail. Did it for 9 straight days. No matter how tired I was, I made sure it was done.

It’s my first 30-day challenge. For 30 straight days, I have to do
20 push-ups and sit-ups. I chose this as I’ve a fitness test coming up in 2 month’s time. My body is also terribly out of shape, the fats protruding out unsightly at my despair and to others’ disgust. Every little bit of toning helps.

Striking out the days is satisfying. It becomes the
Seinfeld’s hack of “don’t break the chain”. For the past 4 days, I was down with tummy upset. Balancing and using my core was tough, and sitting up repeatedly was painful.

So I broke the chain.

The first day after I stopped, I was eager to regain the momentum and get back into action. Second day, less so. By the third day, I was not even bothered.

It shows that building good habits take time. Break the chain and it becomes harder to gain the momentum.

Happiness in a Bag

Last weekend, I gifted my wife a Sandqvist bag as an early Mother’s Day gift.

We’ve been looking for a similar brown leather bag since we first came across a Fossil bag 8 years ago. We contemplated getting it and a few months later, it was gone from the shelves. It probably made way for new season’s arrival. Since then, nothing similar has caught our attention.

Not sure why I’m a subscriber to Sandqvist newsletter, but I’ve been receiving marketing promotions from them regularly. Their emails are clean and direct, right inline with the brand’s identity.

People naturally gravitate towards title with SALE in it. The email reads “Early access to our sale! 50% discount”. Early access, 50% discount. I felt valued and privileged. I had to check it out.

When I saw it, I knew immediately it was the one. It was love at first sight. Her name is Elina. It’s a beautiful brown leather bag that looks almost like the Fossil bag. It’s every bit as striking as it is costly.

But I knew it would fit my wife perfectly. I knew I would regret if I didn’t act on it.

The twinkle on her eyes when she received the gift, the delight on her face when opened it up. And the joy when she tried it on.

It’s all worth it.

Lovely Passport Designs

Countries with rich heritage should showcase it more often. What better way to let the world know than passport. It’s literally the window to the world, one in which if designed properly, subtly boosts its soft power.

I praised the design of Japan’s new passport ahead of Tokyo Olympic in 2020. Besides having one of the most powerful passports in the world, it also has one of the best passport designs anywhere in the world.

Adding to my list of favourite passport designs come in the form of Canadian and Norwegian. The former has pages containing national icons that reveals itself under UV light. Norway’s version has an understated cover with natural landscapes inside, with aurora appearing when UV light is shone.

How delightful it must be when immigration officers chanced upon them for the first time.

(via Ia Inc.)

The Poorly Designed Apple TV Remote

I’ve been living with a shuttered Apple TV remote for the past 12 months. It’s useable, but not ideal.

Rewind back a year and I was watching Netflix. I heard a thud sound and the Apple TV remote fell from the sofa, at no higher than 60cm. That was enough to shutter the glass. Cracked lines run across the sleek but fragile device.

My emotions turned from worry to frustration. Turned out I wasn’t the odd ones who faced similar problems with the poorly designed remote. Many discussions online surfaced the same problem – the remote breaks easily. Way too fragile. The glass coating looks fabulous and feels…decent. But it comes at the expense of useability and durability.

I called Apple up and while it’s under warranty, it doesn’t cover accidental damages. It cost $79 to get a new one. Even explaining to them how I’m an Apple fan that owns far too many i-devices couldn’t convince them to replace it. Nor could my question on why this poor design could ever made it to production grant me a free replacement. Feedback noted, they added. Oh well, all of this wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t roll out such a bad remote.

It’s not just the durability. Many have rightly criticised its interface and symmetrical design. Picking it up, you have no idea which way is the remote facing. It feels the same. And the touch surface is too prone to accidental swiping. I have experienced it way too many times when an accidental touch brought the show elsewhere. It was always challenging returning to where the scene was.

Apple has been plagued with quality issues in the past couple of years. From the well documented failure of Macbook keyboards to the AirPod which can’t hold even half of its original charge after just a year of usage. That’s disappointing. Apple ought to do better with its products.

This is damaging to its reputation and strong relationship Apple have with its customers. These niggling issues may have prompted even its most loyal customers to cast a glance elsewhere. Some have retort to saying if Steve Job was around, none of this nonsense would have happened. I kind of feel the same.