The Giant That Is iPhone 7 Plus

I’m writing this on a iPhone 7 plus.

It’s an unwieldy device. So huge in my palms, it’s giving me pain. My right wrist aches from using it. The pinky finger on the same hand hurts. I’m still finding the right posture for maximum comfort. Given how things are now, I’ll take a position that solves the above mentioned problems.

The gigantic footprint means I will never truly love it. The most I can is to accept it. The size and the baggage of it all. It occupies a significant portion of my jeans. It’s too big to be used one-handed, but too long a shape to be comfortably held with both hands.

Why did I still get the phone (and hanging to it) in the first place then? Portrait mode.

Let’s not talk about the technical aspect of it and instead, focus our attention how much better our photos can potentially be. I haven’t been getting around often to truly test the capabilities of this mode. But from what I’ve shot so far, it’s a supremely usable function and most times, I’ve came away impressed at the kind of photos it took.

Sure, it’s not perfect (and it will never be). Some of the photos I took have some errors, especially at the edges where it struggles most. But it’s good enough to isolate the subject and bring the focus back to where it should be. When it works, it’s amazing. It gets them right more often than not.

That’s not to say I’ll stay with this, I call it Hercules, until the next iPhone refresh. I’m constantly casting an eye for someone to sell the iPhone 7 for a reasonable price. Even the iPhone SE appeals to me more. The eagerness to snug the latest iPhone (as with every new release) is still prevalent, but it’s dying out soon.

Where I used to avoid pre-owned electronics, I’ve gradually accepted them. It’s good for the environment and the pocket. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a used product, especially when I exercise due diligence to check the product and the credibility of the seller. Sanitize it thoroughly and it’s all good. The biggest concern is the weakening battery, but it shouldn’t worry me if it’s being used for just a few months at most.

Having said that, I’m using the jet black model bare. Without a case. I used a leather midnight blue case from Apple, but the slippery nature makes it harder to grip. It’s supposed to be easier to handle, but it just didn’t fit for me. The quality of the leather though, is top notch. Over time, I reckon it will develop a nice patina. Patina is the reason why I opted for a leather case in the first place, but I wouldn’t get to see and feel it. I returned the case to Apple and the whole process was seamless and speedy. Excellent customer service as you’d expect from Apple.

Jet Black is a terrific finish. It’s grippy, it’s glossy and it’s wonderfully polished. Is it because the last glossy finish was many versions back, and now it’s back in trend only because of the novelty factor? The back of the phone is smudged with fingerprint marks. Micro-abrasion happens all the time, but it’s being magnified here because of the close proximity of the device to our eyes. Other than under direct strong lighting, it’s hard to spot them. Buying a jet black model and putting them in a case is akin like buying a Ferrari and driving it with a cover wrapped over it.

Some would argue a case not just preserves the aesthetics, it protects the phone from accidental drop and damages. I agree, but an iPhone is pretty durable on its own and I handle them with care. I also understand the need to use a case due to the environment. To me, working in an office doesn’t justify a need to cover it up.

I’ve ponder about this issue for some time already. Whether to use it as it is – naked – or cover it up. Resale value will definitely be affected. Every buyer would want a phone that’s as close to the original condition as possible. Who would want a device that’s filled with scratch mark and abrasion and chipped corners. But is the trade off of getting slightly higher value when I sell it off worth it?

Life is about trade offs. I’ve made the decision to abandon my long-held view of never getting a gigantic phone. I’ve also use it bare despite concerns about scarring it.

How long will it last? Is it worth the trouble?

Only time will tell.

Words. Stop. Flowing.

I’m finding words hard to come by. As much as I want to articulate those thoughts in my mind, the words just wouldn’t flow.

Clear mind is an indication of clear thinking. We need clear thinking to write well. Right now, I possess neither.

That’s not to say I won’t write at all. Because we all have to start somewhere, right? It’s about building momentum. The rough draft I’m writing now can be the block to write better pieces tomorrow.

I dislike the feeling of my writing drying up. Where I used to pen my thoughts freely, I now struggle to even string short sentences together.

I still get many ideas, but those ideas never materialise beyond my mind. Those days will pass, I assure myself. The important thing is (re)starting.

Sometimes, we need a break to come back even stronger.

October Read: Ego Is The Enemy

Two weeks ago, I shared my thoughts on the book “Never Split The Difference” by Chris Voss. Thinking and writing about it boosts stronger recall and I’m sure if I didn’t write them down, I would have forgotten about most of them, however appealing they were at the time of reading.

Today, I’m going to share about another book called “Ego Is The Enemy” by Ryan Holiday.

Ego is inside everyone of us. The degree of how much ego we display varies. In this book, Ryan Holiday shares about how ego obstructs us to learn new things, blinds us to the reality, and prevents us from absorbing feedback. It makes us make poor decision because the basis for evaluation is not rationale,

But you’re not able to change the system until after you’ve made it.
It reminds me of another phrase I read about in the newspaper: Champions learn the rules and then they change it. You cannot effect change as a newcomer without any credentials. No matter how talented you are or how great the solution you proposed is, you have to prove yourself before people are going to take you seriously. As the author puts it “Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you’re the least important person in the room—until you change that with results.”

Think about this the next time you face that choice: Do I need this? Or is it really about ego? Are you ready to make the right decision?
I’m often at this crossroad, struggling to make the right decision. I’ve made many poor judgement calls as I seek to satisfy my ego over long-term goals. It’s a shame because doing that leads me astray from my dream.

Even the tallest mountains have animals that, when they stand on it, are taller.
No one is the best, at least not forever. There will be someone or something that’s faster, cheaper, and better. Complacency sets in when we think we are better than others.

Another executive described his management style as “chasing colored balloons”—he was constantly distracted and abandoning one project for another.
Always chasing after the shiny new thing. We can do anything, but not everything. In this age where we have access to virtually every bit of information, it’s even more important to double down on what we set out originally to do, and not be derailed off track by other seemingly glittering path.

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
Success is doing our best. We don’t have to measure against others. When the work is done, ask ourselves “Am I proud of this work? Is there something I can take pride in?”.

In the Internet age, we call this the Streisand effect (named after a similar attempt by the singer and actress Barbra Streisand, who tried to legally remove a photo of her home from the Web. Her actions backfired and far more people saw it than would have had she left the issue alone.)
The best way to handle untrue rumour is to let it die down by itself. You’ve seen it before, the more the accused tried to defend himself, he dig a deeper hole. Though it’s probably wiser not to take a stand to clarify your innocence, because it will only add fan to the fire.

Let the others slap each other on the back while you’re back in the lab or the gym or pounding the pavement.
Get the head down and work hard. Success never comes overnight and even if miraculously it does, you still need to put in a good shift to sustain it. Don’t worry about other’s progress because they are at different stages. Instead, focus on putting one foot ahead of the other.

Like the previous book I’ve read, this book is also filled with tons of helpful information on why keeping our ego in check is important. So folks, stay grounded and humble.

Ego Is The Enemy is available through Amazon. 

 

Building Company Culture

“He will be away for a week”, my HR told us, “better get hold of him before he leaves”.

My boss is overseas for a week. That’s one week without supervision, and that means one week of slacking. Right?

But it never happened. The company still functions as it’s supposed to. Sales still come in and shipment still went ahead. People still report to work and knock off on time. My assumption about slacking is way off the truth.

Why exactly didn’t it happen?

Strong company culture and having the right people.

If we are able to instil a strong culture in the company, one where people know their roles well and also how others work, everything runs smoother. People come and go, they go on vacation or take sick leave, but we can still function. We will be able to cover for one another and function as a unit.

A strong company culture cannot be achieved without having the right people. The right people make things so much easier. They don’t grumble (much) because they just get on with it. Such people are fun to be with. Attitude matters more than attribute. Attitude is tough to correct whereas attributes can be picked up.

I’m glad that I work in a company with a great culture, surrounded with awesome colleagues.

Brilliant Bag From Nissin and LEGO

Witty, funny, and well executed, these bags by LEGO and Nissin are full of character.

lego-carrier

The actual straps are smartly hidden within the bag so if you hold it up, the iconic yellow handle gives the illusion that it’s been carried by a LEGO person.

Another similarly bag is by Nissin.

cup-noodle-hot-water-pouring-bag-1cup-noodle-hot-water-pouring-bag-2

Threading The Gaming Addiction

Last night, I laid on the bed, thinking about the game I just bought. The titled is called Pro Evolution Soccer 2017.

The thought of making a wrongful purchase flooded my mind repeatedly. Buyer’s remorse sets in. It’s the feeling of regret one gets after buying an expensive item. I tossed around, knowing that wasting money is one thing, but trying to justify the purchase by investing more time and effort into it will just compound the remorse.

It’s part impulse purchase (a healthy discount over the retail price) and partly because I want to wind down after a long day of work. The problem is, I found myself tensed, stressed and anxious. I felt tensed become of the adrenaline rush from playing. Even after the game has ended, it will often keep me alert for several hours afterwards. I felt stressed and anxious because I spent more time than I allocated for. After the whirlwind of games, I asked myself why have I neglected doing activities that truly makes me relax.

That is the story of my life with games.

To counter this, I’ve set aside a maximum of 45 minutes daily for games. Restraint is always the hardest, especially when the novelty of a new game hasn’t wear off. Still, it’s vital to instil the discipline to do the “real” routines that feels relaxing and peps me for bed. Routines like reading, writing, sketching and talking to my wife – these are what makes me feel fulfilled. I find that if I game all the way just before bedtime, I tend to have extremely troubled sleep. The following day would be a horrible one to endure.

With everything in life, moderation is key. Just like a glass of red wine nightly boosts health benefits, a game (or two) after work can take my mind off the mundane chore.

Let’s hope when I do get a good night’s sleep, I will quietly mumble ‘goooal’ in my dream.

Passion

Passion.

It’s a simple word, one that’s getting overused by the free souls touting their new found freedom.

It’s a romantic word to use – chase after your dreams, do what your passion brings you. But how far can it bring us? How long can it sustain us before the reality sets in? Can passion withstand the inevitable obstacles and challenges as we move along?

I’ve a deep passion for technology, especially consumer electronics. I love reading reviews on gadgets, and I once haboured the thought of making a living reviewing gadgets. That would be so cool – trying and using things that interest me, and getting paid for it at the same time. My angle and opinion would influence the readers. My writing matters. It would be a dream job marrying two of my favourite passion – consumer electronics and writing.

But not everyone can be a tech journalist or supporting themselves with a blog. That’s the reason why I’m still holding on to a full time job that has no resemblance to my interest.

Because there’s something above passion gets us through life.

It’s purpose.

Not everyone can fulfil their passion. But everyone can achieve their purpose.

The pump attendant in the gas station, do you think it’s his passion standing there, waiting for cars to drive in and top up petrol for them? The cleaner that collects our soiled dishes, wash them and then clean them. Do you think it’s her passion to perform this role? Unlikely. But people do this for a reason. That pump attendant may be building up his saving so he can eventually go on a long fishing trip with his friends. The cleaner may be saving up for her children to go university.

The clearer our sense of purpose is, the more resilient we are to hardships.

Stop Using “Very”

‘Very’ is the most useless word in English, said Florence King. It invariably weakens what it intends to strengthen.

Now, whenever I want to use the word “very”, I would refer to this handy chart.

stop-using-very

How Traffic Jam Comes About And How To Resolve It

Fascinating short clip on how traffic jam comes about.

I’ve always wonder what causes the traffic to pile up – especially when there’s no accident and the congestion eases up after a certain point.

Clue: it’s not the car that causes traffic to jam. It’s the driver, and that’s us. We are susceptible to poor judgement and reaction amongst other factors.

Self-driving vehicles could function at peak capabilities and coordination would be perfect (once the fine-tuning and communication between them are ironed out).

In the future, there would be no need for traffic lights. Because cars could talk to one another and process these information instantaneously, we would get smoother traffic condition.

That leaves us humans with one thing – to enjoy the ride.

New Passport Design for Japan

 

japan-new-passport

the-great-wave-off-kanagawa-and-koshu-kajikazawa

As a country known for its attention to detail, Japan has taken this trait to a new level. What a fantastic ambassador this passport will be, as it travels around the world collecting stamps from various countries.

As it introduces iconic artworks and culture to custom officers, it also reminds its citizen what a rich history and heritage Japan has. If all else fails, it would make a great conversation starter when the immigration queue gets long.

This lovely new passport design is set to launch in 2019, in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics,