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. 


Have Your Own Voice

What is the best style?

The best style is to have your own style, and not copy them. The best crafters learn the technique behind the style, they don’t copy them.

Copying can only lead us to progress so much. We are shaped by external influences, by the things we read, people we meet, and the images we are exposed to. It’s through these things that our taste and style are refined over time.

You listen to what your inner voice is telling you, and you shouldn’t give too much damn about what others are saying. 

That being said, it doesn’t mean you turn a deaf ear to everything else. Open your eyes on what others have to say, but form your own opinion. Having your own judgement is more important than taking the blind advise of opinion leaders. 

Because, the only person that truly knows yourself is you.

My Best Piece Of Investment For The iPhone

…is a sheet of screen protector.

Yes, you read it correctly. Not the fancy, colourful case, not the yet-again another productivity app, and certainly not one of those minimalistic writing app filling up the market.

To understand why I made the decision to apply this piece of glass over the screen, we need to go back in time and replay the scene.

It was September last year, and the iPhone started shipping worldwide. I lined up like the rest of the world did, got my iPhone, my first iPhone to be precise and went home happy. Couple of weeks later, I got out of my car and for reasons I couldn’t explain, the phone got flung out and landed screen first on the car park.

I walked over, picked it up and this was the moment of emotional roller coaster. The bad thing? The screen cracked. The good thing? It’s still in working condition. I’m disgusted at my carelessness, but grateful that the phone could still be used. To be sure, I made a few calls to be certain of that.

Anyway, I went to get the phone changed and this time round I want to make sure the phone has ample protection. After researching, I zeroed in on this screen protector, and what an investment it turned out to be.

The Glas.t Premium Tampered Glass

First off, Glas.T by Spigen is made of glass, not some run-of-the-mill cheap plastic. What different does that make? In short, it’s basically the only screen protector you need before you change your phone. The slightly longer version? Comparing plastic built and glass, the gorgeous output of the retina screen is never compromised, you still retain the wonderful screen reproduction. I haven’t move on to the topic of durability which leads us to…

The Drop Test

I have since dropped the phone many times, not intentional by any means, often screen first down onto the hard concrete ground. Each time that happened, my heart skipped a beat, literally. The traumatic experience of the screen cracked replayed many times over and the memory is still fresh in my mind. Thankfully, it has held up well and there’s no visible cracks or anything, just a hairline scratch on the top left hand corner.

Many screen protectors add a level of plastic sheet over the generous screen, and the difference with one with a cheap screen protector and one that’s naked is strikingly obvious. And the feel as your fingers slide over the screen is noticeably different, and over time, the friction increases and the action of gliding your fingers around the screen becomes less of a pleasure.

Glass.T doesn’t have this issue. It doesn’t compromise on the screen quality and it’s remarkably smooth to touch. If you are one that likes the feel and touch of the naked screen, you would be glad to hear the glass.t has almost the same feel and touch.


The Glass.T is not without any cons though. The level of protection it provides comes at a price, the price of a thicker screen. The added height means dust are prone to being trapped in and around the edges. It also makes the home button much harder to depress, but this little issue can easily be resolved if you stick a cool looking sticker on top of it.

To sum it up

It comes with a hefty price tag. It’s not meant for everyone. If you are the sort that handles phone clumsily, prone to dropping and raining constant abuse at it, glas.t should be on your radar. Above everything else, if you want the best protection for the gorgeous screen, this is definitely right on top with the best.

Discovering New Apps

Discovering apps are fun. Discovering apps which you didn’t know could aid you in your life is even better.

Be it helping you to stay organised, be more productive or just trying out new apps because of the novelty value, we each have an agenda for doing what we are doing.

Blame the newly acquired Mac

Ever since I got the Macbook Pro two months back, I have been hooked on loading the apps into the little computer. I have never been a software person, I was never into things which promised to make me a more organised person through better management and stuffs like that.

But, once I started using it, the world of apps and software opened up on me like a little child opening to a door filled with teddy bears. Likewise, I embrace it with an open mind and willingness to learn what and how they can enhance my workflow.

The transaction from Windows to Mac has been seamless. As a Windows user for close to two decades, I’m surprised to admit I haven’t been missing out on Windows too much. I used to be a hardware geek, and over-clocking has always been a habit and passion for me. Guess I’m passed that phase now. What really intrigue and interest me is the overall design that perfectly balances aesthetic and performance.

Never mind the common fruit phone i’m using. Never mind being called a pretender by non-Mac users. As the fact goes, I’m enjoying using the Mac platform than I ever did on Windows/ Android.

If I have to pinpoint what exactly convinced me to make the above statement, I’d have to highlight how refined most apps are on iOS and Mac platform. Maybe in a couple of years, Android could catch up in terms of what they can offer. As for the desktop scene, Microsoft are on a downward spiral really.

Getting used to Paying

I guess the biggest challenge before me is the number of occasion i have to pay for software and applications. Maybe I’m consistency spoilt by free wares and getting alternatives for paid software. On the topic of paying for applications, services and software, I’m right on top of that. I believe to truly support developers that have came up with things we deemed worthy, we need to let our feedbacks and pocket do the talking. Improve the system via feedbacks, support the developers by throwing money their way. Only through this route can we ensure that the developers know their work are being appreciated and may they continue to refine and roll out better versions in the future.

For Mac, this usually mean forking out a sizeable amount of money. The prices sure aren’t cheap, and the high barrier to entry probably deter and weed out those freebies seekers. I’m glad I tried some of first-class apps out, for they are absolutely wonderful and delightful to use. Now, I value them more of an investment than an expenses.

I will continue to uncover new apps and services, discover new indie developers and finding the app that fits right into my flow work is a wonderful experience.

Well, it’s no coincidence my pocket feels lighter these days. Maybe it will be even lighter in the future.

What an Amaz-ing Resume

As we move away from the traditional resume of old, many different formats of resume are slowly gaining acceptance as a form of expression and differentiation from the competition. 

Then, this guy from France decides to take resume making into the next level. More than taking a cue from Amazon, it’s a smart and quirky duplicate, with witty descriptions all over the place.

More than just raising a few eye brows, I expect him to be getting flooded with calls and emails from companies and curious on-lookers.

P.S.: at the bottom of the site is the quote “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”
To me, it’s a funny spoof of Amazon. There’s nothing malicious in the intent. The guy probably got what he wanted, and Amazon gathers more publicity.

(via swissmiss)

Do Without Stop. Don’t Go Back

I always wonder what it feels like to do something, create something and make something without the fear of the end product turning out to be bad.

The only thing holding me back from doing something new is the fear of it being not good enough. I would constantly go back to my work, edit, and eventually I find them not good enough to publish.

And rinse and repeat. I’d put off writing, creating for this very reason. I often wonder how it feels like to liberate myself from this burden.

The only way I can find out is to try it out. By experiencing what it is, I hope I’m freeing myself from the weight on my shoulder.

I find myself to be able to write better on a blank sheet of paper. I just don’t know why, but the motion of holding a pen, and putting words to paper is such a serene and calming feel. Words are able to flow, sentences are more structured, and most importantly, I feel good doing it. I don’t go back and edit them, even if there’s typo mistakes or anything. I just write, and write.

This is what it turned out to be. I chose my words a little more deliberately, my thoughts are a little more concise and this entire post was created without any form of editing. 

So, this is how it turned out to be.

A job done, a ghost put to rest.

Hit And Miss On Microsoft’s Products

Instead of the traditional approach of charging users for a one-time purchase, Microsoft will be introducing a subscription model in the form of Microsoft 365 Home Premium, costing $99.99 for an annual subscription for up to 5 devices. 

The new offering includes the latest and most complete set of Office applications; works across up to five devices, including Windows tablets, PCs and Macs; and comes with extra SkyDrive storage and Skype calling — all for US$99.99 for an annual subscription, the equivalent of US$8.34 per month.

Smart move I believe.

They know their grip on Office’s suite of products are loosening, and this trend is set to continue. To facilitate adoption across different devices in the household, in comes the new model.

The student deal is even better – $79.99 for a four-year subscription, that’s equivalent to $20 a year. It’s a no-brainier really. Locking in students and familiarizing them with MS’ products would go a long way in retaining the share of the shrinking pie.

Having said that, I believe Microsoft is probably forgoing sizable share of the iOS crowd by not developing an app for that market.

That’s all for the good stuff. Now for the big hoo-hah. 

On the 64GB Surface Pro, only 23GB is available for use. The rest, well, they are already reserved for the operating system and built-in applications. Imagine the public outrage, opening up the device and realizing that they have lost 64% of the storage involuntarily to the system imposed by Microsoft.

According to the spokesperson, we can recover the space.

Users will be able to free up additional storage space by creating a backup bootable USB and deleting the recovery partition.

It’s irrelevant  It’s not the job of a paying customer to clean up the mess. That’s a big deal, because not everyone is savvy enough to know this before committing to the purchase.

To put it blatantly, it’s deceptive.

When I buy something, I want it to work as advertised. I don’t want a nasty surprise waiting for me in the form of 41gig, out of 64gig have already been reserved for something I have no control over.

That’s two end of the scale, a promising looking service being overshadowed by negative coverage and controversy.

The Future Of SimpleNote

A scan around the community will reveal the deep relationship many people have with SimpleNote. Lately, it has ran into problems with syncing and data losses. Some stayed on, in hope that it’s a one off bug. But these things persisted, and some left…reluctantly.

It’s like a strained relationship you want to salvage, but has no control over. It has served you admiralty well in the past, but the ever present glitches here and there mean you can’t fully trust it the way you used to.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel, it seems. It got acquired by Automattic, creator of WordPress. From their initial statement, they’re big fans of SimpleNote as well.

You know how sometimes, the services you love just disappear when they’re bought by someone else? Or they wither and die a slow and painful death? Not the case here. We made sure of that.

I’m cautiously optimistic, but also realistic enough not to pin too much hope. With that, let’s look back and reflect what made SimpleNote part of our essential workflow.


Today I feel like a jilted lover stalking their ex. I continue to check the developer discussion board and see many repeat complaints about bad syncing and data corruption….While tags and fast full-text searching are wonderful features of Simplenote, in the end data integrity wins the day.

Shawn Blanc:

Simplenote is invaluable to me because of the notes it holds. But a great app encourages regular use the same way a crummy app discourages it. And I can think of no higher priority for finding a great app than when looking for the one which will hold my digital brain.

Because of the syncing problems and apparent lost of documents, Shawn went on a wild goose chase in search for Simplenote/ nvALT replacement. He explored many capable alternatives, but in the end, he went a full circle back to the the original combo.

And the following three raving reviews:
Why i love SimpleNote – Still
All you need is SimpleNote
Splendid app called SimpleNote