In Praise Of Sunday Papers

Except for the weekly Sunday papers, I haven’t been reading newspaper for more than a year.

As a person who’s used to reading papers as part of the routine, I expected to get withdrawal symptoms. What is the world happening around me? Since I’m in the line of business development and marketing, I must be updated on the domestic and global events.

Will people assume I’m an ignorant fellow who turns a blind eye to news? Will I appear shallow in conversations where colleagues know everything and I get left out?

The truth is, nobody cares.

In the past, my morning routine over breakfast would be flipping through the papers, scanning the headlines and zooming into interesting ones. It doesn’t apply anymore.

Sure, I need a fair amount of industry, local and global knowledge in planning strategies for the company. The difference is, I selectively look for news that are essential to my line of work.

News make me depressed. We cannot change the dampen state that’s blanketing the world now, but we can avoid the negativity surrounding it.

Sunday paper is different. It has an upbeat and jovial mood to its coverage. The articles are more lighthearted, focusing on lifestyle topics like food, travel, books and sports.

Just the way I like it.

The Camera In Your Pocket

We keep hearing it “the best camera is the one that’s always with you”. What use is a camera so-good-but-so-heavy that is not by your side 90% of the time?

Our smartphone is now a communication device first and phone second. In fact, speaking on the phone has become one of the least used functions for most people.

The advancement of camera in our little device has allowed us to capture more than ever before. We see something, we capture, and then we share. Sharing is our way of communicating.

Tap tap tap, so simple.

The awesome array of photo-editing apps and simplicity of taking pictures with the smartphone turn us into storytellers.

As a tool to document happenings, it’s hard to beat.

The pictures taken with portrait mode using iPhone 7 Plus are stunning. Using software to create hardware effect is not perfect, but it’s going to get better.

This is just the start. I can’t wait for portrait mode to be introduced to other models.

Then & Now

When I was small, I love to ask people questions like what is it like to be 20, 30 or 40?

I imagined vast changes at every decade of life. As a small and innocent child with no idea of how reality works, I couldn’t wait to grow up so I can do everything adult does. Now in my thirties, I felt the same about life – clueless.

In the past, I couldn’t imagine myself enjoying reading and writing. For the past 5 years, these two activities have became my treasured companions.

I dreamed a room of comics and video games when I was a kid. I now wish to live in a books-filled home.

My taste changes with time as well. I loved fried and spicy food growing up. Now, I appreciate the freshness of ingredients and would usually forgo chilli.

I was fascinated with overclocking and overhauled the entire system to squeeze that 10MHz more. These days, I’m content with a 4 year-old Macbook with a meagre 128GB storage.

I guess priorities shifted. It’s no longer about me and what I want. Material consumption have taken a backseat.

Of course, I’m still a sucker for good design and quality wares but I’m fine with compromise now. Where I used to choose branded necessities, I’m cool with house brands now.

Where I used to only insist on new products, I’m OK now with second-hand (or pre-loved) item.

Where I used to gross out at the sight of washing toilet, I’m now changing the litter pan of my rabbit, Baby defecate no longer fazes me. Changing diapers for my baby is becoming a routine.

I’m less optimistic on what I can achieve now though. In my teenage years, I believed the world is my oyster and I can do anything I wanted. That’s not what happened.

Where I thought the dreams of chasing after my passion would lead me to places, now I’m part of the modules that form the workforce. Earning my upkeep so I can pay the bills, raise a kid and do what I enjoy during the weekend.

That’s how it is, that’s now I feel at the age of 32.

Emotions Are Contagious

Rub shoulders constantly with entrepreneurs and you’d be more inclined to strike out on your own.

We already know that how people around us behave influence us, but to know that emotions can be passed to people around us is revealing.

When someone is anxious, we can sense them. They want people to relate to their anxiety so we can tackle the problem together. But the anxiousness now spreads to us and because of that, we make poorer decisions and do lower quality work.

In his article titled Stop Adopting Other People’s Anxiety, designer Mike Monteiro says the solution is to remain calm under such situations.

Imagine slicing your finger open cutting a bagel,” Monteiro writes. “You freak out. You wrap it all up. You go to the emergency room. Do you want your doctor to scream when she sees it, or to look at it and very calmly say, ‘Let’s take care of that’?

It’s also what Elon Musk preaches about the one thing he learned from his favourite childhood book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Don’t Panic!

Neapolitan Pizza In Tokyo

In a country of multiple wonders, food in Japan is right up there on the list.

After reading Tokyo Neapolitan: The New Wave of Japanese Pizza, I’m adding this to my must-try food when we visit Tokyo next time.

Speaking of crust, I had the most uninspiring crust from slices of pizza from Prezzo. Thoroughly disappointed in the thick, soggy and tasteless crust – no wonder people often leave them out.

“In movies, you see people leave the crust. Unacceptable. Is the crust really that bad over there? I work hard to make my crust delicious. I never want anyone to feel like it’s too much, something to be left behind.”

Yes, it’s that bad. And it really makes me want to try the light and thin and fire-seared crust made by the chefs in this article.

Yoshino Cedar House Sunset Room

This accommodation named Yoshino Cedar House, available for rent in Airbnb, is a collaboration between Tokyo-based architect Go Hasegawa, Airbnb and the community of Yoshino.

The house was built by local carpenters and craftsmen, using materials harnessed from sustainable cedar forests located in mountains nearby.

I can image myself totally switching off from the bustle of city life, sitting here with a book and tea, and leisurely enjoying the slower pace of life.

The Resistance Behind Self-Driving Is Loss Of Control

Driverless cars are great.

I imagine once self-driving vehicles become mainstream, we’d be free to do our own stuffs like observing the changing scenery or reading the papers. Wait, isn’t that what public transport already provides? Driverless cars have the benefits of picking you up from your doorstep, and driving you to the exact destination.

What’s more, the roads will be more efficient. Instead of having a vehicle idling at the car park, it can be on the road picking people up as and when needed. Humans being humans, are prone to judgemental errors. Hard braking is annoying, so is abrupt lane changing and sudden acceleration. In more serious cases, they result in accidents. Most of the accidents are avoidable and caused by human errors.

The roads would be far better off without a human in control behind the wheel.

And that’s precisely the reason why it’s facing so much resistance.

The process of selling industrial equipment is inefficient. It’s a highly clunky process involving trips to the auction site, where a land filled with equipment after equipment are displayed. As a dealer, you are not sure if there are buyers that are willing to meet your prices for them. As a buyer, you need to travel physically to the site, bid for the equipment and even then, you might not get it. Imagine travelling all the way down and go back empty handed.

Why hasn’t somebody thought of a better idea and execute it? That’s what Allstocker of Japan did.

With the internet connecting everyone to everywhere, there’s no real need to be physically present. Worried about the authenticity of equipment listed? Allstocker provides independent inspection that ensures the equipment is true to its listing. Worried that once you pay up, the seller doesn’t ship over? Allstocker ensures once the buyer pays up, they will hold on to the payment, and only releases the money to the seller when they have shipped the equipment.

It’s an industry ripe for disruption. No wonder Allstocker is doing great and expanding their range of inventory.

Then again, I think back to this quote by Jason Fried in his article “What are you competing with?” In it, he shares his thought on the inefficient process of selling cars. The used car would first be sent to the wholesale auction, where dealers/buyers from all over the country would bid, buy and redistribute the cars. Why not cut away this tedious process?

Turns out, saving time, headache, and money isn’t a top priority of the sales managers.

[…] What’s more important to a sales manager than a dollar? A day away from the office. A break from the monotony of selling cars off the lot. A road trip to the auction. Hanging with their other sales manager buddies in a hotel somewhere far from home. A little vacay, even if it’s a working vacation.

[…] The company that’s trying to sell the anti-auction product and service isn’t competing with the auction, they are competing with the auction experience.

One would think safety would be the top-most concern. But as the technology matures, self-driving would be way safer than human being. I’m sure of this. Most of the people I spoke to seem to agree. However, they are still not keen on the idea of self-driving. Why, I asked them, is stopping them from going this route since it offers so much benefits?

The sense of control. The lost of control is the resistance stopping self-driving vehicles.

Man want control of their actions. Sitting behind the wheels give them the mean to do so. By having the option to self-driving, you are indirectly removing away their sense of control. To people who have been taking public transport all along, this is not an issue. But to people who have been driving for a long time, this takes some getting used to. The experience of having control of the car is the real reason they are reluctant to see driverless vehicles becoming a reality.

In this case, while self-driving vehicles are competing against other traditional car manufacturers, they are also competing against something else entirely.

Typeface Is Not Font

image credit: Pablo Stanley

After trying for years to understand the fundamentals of typography, I still sometimes struggle to grasp the concept of typeface and font.

How do you explain, in layman term, to someone who said he wants to change the font from helvetica to open sans? Open up any Microsoft office suite of apps and you’ll see them referred to as fonts.

So, are these two interchangeable? It’s understandable to most people that typeface is font (and vice versa). But typeface sounds more considered, an almost deliberate word to show that you care about the interface.

Muji Beads Sofa

If you tell me I’d fall head over heels for a bean cushion some years back, I’d have laugh it off.

Bean cushion is the poor cousin to a stylish reading chair. Where one has a form without structure, another is thoughtfully designed.

Now, I’m typing (editing) this on a Muji beads sofa (their equivalent of bean bag). Three days in, I already think this is my best purchase of the year.

Muji’s bean cushion is unlike any others I’ve tried (though I had not tried that many). It’s soft, the bits inside are small and fluffy. Sit or lie in any position and watch the bag couture to your body shape. The cover is smooth and comfortable, so the entire experience of this bean cushion is totally amazing. It’s also versatile to be moved around and act as an ottoman.

I’ve fallen asleep while reading on a few occasions. While my search for the ideal reading chair has taken over a year, I’ve now found the perfect alternative in this Muji bean cushion. If you’re having second thoughts about it, head over to your nearest outlet and try it out yourself. I wasn’t convinced until I tried it on and from there, I was hooked.

Meanwhile, surf the tranquil product page of theirs and scroll through calming pictures. You’d wish you have a cup of hot beverage within reach while relaxing on a comfortable bean cushion.