The End Of Road For Messenger

Comes Friday, Messenger will be history. It shall be retired in favour of Skype. 

As I reflect on this statement, I’m reminiscing the times where Instant Messaging (IM) regime supreme, and Messenger was at the forefront of this wave.

Dear Messenger,

You allowed us to change our status to whatever we wanted. If we feel like appearing offline, we could do so and at the same time, we would message our friends using our offline status. 

You allowed us to broadcast what we were feeling at that time, and our new change of message would be read and enquired about. Back then, status update wasn’t common so the curious part of us naturally wanted to read, decipher and find out more about the meaning behind the message.

You enabled me to know whether the other party is typing, so I wouldn’t know stupid if indeed the lady behind the monitor turned out to be a bot.

You did one thing and you pulled it off wonderfully. At your core, you provide a platform to bring everyone together. You influenced the way we exchange information and set the standards for instant messaging. 

In that little window of yours, we’d chat, share stories and pictures. I remember having group chats involving many close friends, and the conversation would be filled with laughters and some random nonsense. Conversation would dragged late into the night and we’d continue where we had left off the following morning when we met. 

But like all good things come to and end, your decline is inevitable. Over time, as your service becomes more popular, so does the bots and spams. Redundant features were added in, the ship is bloated with things people have little use for. The decline would be further compounded by the emergence of apps like Whatsapp, and the ease of keeping in touch with friends via the built in Facebook messenger.

In the age of social connectivity, we have never seem so far disconnected from each other. It’s ironic, and it’s best summed up by the following:

Others before me have lamented how, in an age where communication so is easily facilitated by the internet, we lose something of the depth and intimacy that a telephone call, hand-written letter or long face-to-face chat bestow. I think when it becomes so easy to ‘keep in touch’ with someone by posting on their wall, dropping them a chat message etc, you can build up a false sense of maintaining a relationship, when in reality it wilts in the absence of more genuine contact.

Thank you Messenger, for giving us (particularly me) for so much memories.

Obsession On Numbers

I’m obsessed about numbers and figures. I can spend the day looking at charts, graphs and try to decipher the relationship that brings meaning to these data.

Each time I logged into the administrative panel of this blog, the first click is inevitably the stats column. It’s not comprehensive, but it’s not too shabby either. A simple breakdown on the traffic I have been getting (which, by the way, is a measly figure), which content is favoured by them and how they stumbled upon this site. It’s an interesting space to look at, for it allows me to gain an insight on who have been browsing my work and having this evidence alone propels me to produce even more work. It’s an assurance knowing I’m not just writing for myself, there’s actually someone out there that reads what I’m writing.

The obsession can sometimes be a bane. Rather than focusing on writing, I’d be more keen in digesting the numbers. It’s unhealthy. I write for many reasons, and keeping a blog to check the traffic certainly wasn’t in my thoughts at all.

So why worry and be carried away by this figure I can’t control. I blog because I want to, I write because it’s worth writing, I share something because I want the world to know. In myself, I already have an important audience. Having a sense of obligation to produce for myself and not give a second thought can be such a liberating and empowering realisation. 

It’s going to be tough not to check on the stats. But each time I think about this, I reminded myself it’s nothing but a mere distraction that hiders my progress.

The Ad What Will Make You Quit Smoking

It’s a simple and heart-warming campaign. Probably it won’t work on every single smoker out there. But I’m pretty sure everyone will look up, think about what’s happening.

The stick in their hands, why are they puffing their lives away. The moments wasted away could be better spent elsewhere – bringing their children out to the field to play, cooking a simple dinner for family, or just sitting down and enjoy the beautiful sunrise with their overworked wife.

Imagine smokers are deprived of all these simple pleasures, because of all the harmful toxins by inhaling cigarettes.

The advertisement is storytelling at its best. At the core is a believable story. We can resonate with the storyline, whether we are a smoker or not. We have a duty to protect our next generation from harm, hence we deter children from smoking.

At the same time, we don’t give a second thought about our own health. Ironic, isn’t it.

It sends a powerful message out there, not just to smokers but also to potential ones sitting on the fence on whether to take their first puff.

It triggers an emotional reaction so strong we sit up and take note. It makes us ponder and reflect on things which we wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Please Copy

“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy, you will find yourself” – Yohji Yamamoto

When we were young, we are often encourage to draw, to write, to create. We looked into the sky and saw the flock of birds flying past, the ray of the sun penetrating through the windows and the sight of children happily jumping into the pool.

Back home, I drew these images down. I don’t suppose anyone could comprehend what were on it, but it matters to me. Because it is what i have experienced as part of my childhood. It will forever be locked inside memory, and nobody could unlock the pin and steal it away from me.

On ideas and inspirations

Lately, a lot of things are going through my mind. I have lots of projects I want to work on, lots of ideas for articles to write, and lots of books to finish off. I also came across many products and services that are expertly implemented, blending brilliant design with excellent functionality. I’m especially aware of how the design and execution of service like Instapaper works. Simple and minimal. From the default font to the background colour, from the layout to the design, all the design elements seem deliberately chosen with care. I also admire many apps, like the ease of creating a new item in Clear, and the colour differentiation from dark orange to a lighter shade to indicate the importance or date of creation. I also like how in Airendipity, you can remain anonymous and post your thoughts, and the motion of flying your plane is sliding it out to the horizon.

These are the little ideas, sparks, and inspirations I like. These little details matter, and I want to implement them for my own work.

But the world disapprove of copying

However, social norms dictate otherwise. When we copy, we are accused of lacking ideas. Lacking inspiration and aspiration to create something new. Can I find something that is truly original anymore? I doubt so.

The things we write, songs we sing, products we make, and services we provide all stem from a combination of experiences and influences we have acquire over the years of our existence. Just like we use ideas from various sources and implement them to become something we call our creation.

Imitate your hero

Every one of us has a role model. A superhero we can look up to and learn from. For me, that superhero is a sleepy fat cat call Garfield.

On the TV screen was this sleepy cat, his name is Garfield. He wasn’t particularly good at anything, and most times he was either lazing around or munching food. How did I come to like him, i can’t explain nor do I know the reason. He just happened to be the character that held my attention the most. I remembered religiously begging my parent to get me comic book of Garfield, to which they obliged. I wanted to create a character like Garfield to keep me company, so I have to draw it out. The problem was I didn’t know how to do it. So I went over to the kitchen drawer, hunted for the piece of baking paper and hurried off back to my room. Placing the comic book of Garfield over the baking paper, I started to trace over it. Slowly, the picture turned out to be half decent image of the fat cat.

Nice, I thought to myself.

So over time, I practised this act of drawing whenever I had a spare moment. Eventually, after casting aside what may looked like drawing of a mouse more than a fat cat, I can finally say I could draw a decent image of Garfield without the aid of tracing paper. The satisfaction was immense. That was my creation and I was proud of it.  It meant the world to me at that time. I had put the inspiration into practise and turned it into reality.

The simple process of creation

So the process of creation becomes something like this:

Copying–> Understanding–> Mastering

I outlined the shape, I understand the shade, and I finally master the strokes.

In our world we are living in, no one and nothing can be claimed to be truly original. If I ever hear someone whispering in my ears that something is original, I would just assume they haven’t seen something similar, or they are not aware the source of its origin.

As we progress and become more comfortable in our skills, we learn how to turn inspirations and combine ideas from diverse fields to call them our own.

Because every little steps involving copying.
Like the baby mimicking you picking your nose.

Four Years And Counting With iPhone 3G

Streakmachine

 I don’t want to be pulled down into a cesspool of unnecessary consumerism and get a new device every year, just because I can.

Four years and counting with iPhone 3G. That’s not only a testament to the quality, it also inspires confidence that the product is manufactured to last.

The passing of time didn’t render the phone obsolete, it’s still a fine phone. Sluggish performance is to be expected, when the life cycle of smartphones these days hovers about 12 months or lesser.

With the abundance of new phones with tantalizing features wetting our appetite, there aren’t many out there who can resist the temptations to upgrade. It’s time to appreciate what we already have, evaluate its current value and put it into perspective.

The Slashing Game At Twitter

I’m never an active user of Twitter. I use it mainly as an outlet to stay in touch with the authors I like. So, like many others, I’m a passive user and Twitter is merely a platform for me to consume news. 

In the news lately are two services Twitter acquired over the years – Posterous and TweetDeck.

Less than a month after the announcement that Posterous will shut down its service, TweetDeck is the next casualty. The action is swift and decisive.

To that end, we are discontinuing support for our older apps: TweetDeck AIR, TweetDeck for Android and TweetDeck for iPhone. They will be removed from their respective app stores in early May and will stop functioning shortly thereafter.

With the direction Twitter is heading, and the control over third party apps, many developers are in line for similar fate.

My Everything Bucket Of Instapaper

Everyone has their own version of their ‘everything bucket’. It’s meant to be a place where you can store anything and everything.

Just like people are happy with throwing things in Yojimbo, which I’ve yet to try but I intend to in the future, I’m content with putting all my online reading materials into Instapaper.

Speaking of Instapaper, I can’t give it enough praise. The highest compliment I can give is it’s probably the first third-party app I’d install. There are strong competitions out there, most notably from Pocket and Readibility, but Instapaper has held its own and the service is just a delight from a reader’s point of view.

Though I haven’t been using Pocket much, I’m beginning to like it. Primarily, I’m using it for videos and image-heavy articles. For long-form reading, Instapaper is still by far the most obvious option for me.

Well, the idea behind Instapaper, and Pocket (Read it Later) alters the way we consume  news in a positive manner which few have imagined. The idea itself is not novel, we longed for a service which can save the article we want and allows us to read them at a later time and date. It’s the execution that’s pulled off brilliantly.

Without the services of Instapaper and co, content consumption would probably be much less enjoyable. I would have to put up with sites having small fonts, bad typography, ads filling up the pages, pop-ups flashing and other factors that would have diluted the reading experience. If I dont have the time to read the articles on the spot, I’d have to find a way to locate it. Which means I’d have to email the link to myself, and when it arrives in the inbox I’ll have them dig out amongst the pile of never ending mails. Creating an email solely for the purpose of this might be an viable option, but we no longer have to go through this route when something as convenient as Instapaper is around.

Instapaper sometimes doesn’t render videos and images properly, but that’s of little concern to me. It’s suppose to be a collection point for all my links and articles. At the end of the day, when I’m back from the day’s work, I’d sit in my room and sort them out accordingly. If the articles are worth referencing, I’d archive them in Pinboard. If it’s some videos and images-centric sites I want to watch them regularly on the go, I’d file them in Pocket with the relevant tags.

It may seem strange I’m using Instapaper as my everything bucket, but that’s what I found to be the most comfortable. Over time, it has become a platform to collect items from all over the web, and from there, I’d decide what to do with them. It’s not meant to be a permanent storage point. To me, it’s like an inbox, where there’s a constant stream of incoming items. I’d read them, archive them, delete them, or leave them as it is for another day.

The Little Vintage App Called VSCO

I made no secret of my liking for things retro and vintage. The character they exude, the charm they possess are all integral of the intriguing package.

I own a moleskine notebook, and the feeling of opening it, browsing through the aged pages filled with my handwriting always bring about a heartfelt warmth that no digital gadget can match, let alone supercede.

As we move forward into the digital revolution, pictures become clearer, cleaner, sharper and the overall quality has improve tremenously.

In the midst of all these improvements, why are people, like me, still drawn to the vintage photos that are supposingly retired to the selected fews who are viewed as clinging on to the past?

So far, no digital photos can replicate the feeling of film photography.

The feeling of looking at a film producted photo is entirely different from looking at a digital one. There’s a special charm with the photos producted by film that we couldn’t replicate with digital cameras. 

So amdist reports of users having issues with the iOS VSCO cam app, I went ahead and tried it out myself.

And man, saying it’s a delight to use the app would be an understatement.

The app is built to be simple right from the start. It doesn’t inspires to everything, but it does one thing and it does it marvellously. The settings don’t overwhelm the users with redudant features or things which are seldom used.

You can go straight into the app can play with fliters right away. There are 3 black & white and 7 color filters. Those are the deafults. You can tweak them even more by playing with settings like grain and fade effect.

The vintage-like proceeding is the closest I can get to film-taken photos.

Even with my limited processing skills, I managed to get a few photos which are way beyond what I expect them to turn out. Most importantly, the app is fun to play with and I spent most of the weekend editing the photos.

It’s fair to say it’s one of the app I have purchased. For less than a dollar, it’s certainly top value. 

VSCO Cam