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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nexus In The House

I bought a 32gb WiFi Nexus 7 tablet today after days of consideration and online researches. I've combed scores and scores of reviews and comparison articles, forum posts and YouTube videos to the extent that if unlimited WiFi plans were non-existent and we were still on data plans from the late 90s, I oughta have gone bankrupt by now, nevermind the dark circles under my eyes now because of the time spent for all these.

Actually, I've thoroughly enjoyed the researches since they have taught me things about the Nexus 7 I didn't know about initially and the knowledge gained are helping me now, now that I have one in my mitts. Viva La Big Bad Net. My Nexus 7 is my very first foray into tablet territory and so, what made me decide to lose my tablet virginity? The main reason is quite a frivoulous one, gotta say:

Because I'm tired of always having to leave the house with less than 100% charge on my Note 2.

Let me explain myself here:

Why I bought the Nexus 7

The Galaxy Note 2 has an awesome long-lasting 3100mAh battery and I haven't had any problems making it through an entire day with it, but I'm the most nit-picky mofo I know this side of the expanding universe. You see, I'll usually charge it overnight so that when I wake up in the mornings, it will be fully charged, ready to rock and all set to face the big bad world for the big bad day.

Problem is, the first thing I'll always do when I wake up is to fire up Tunein Radio or Sonar (if I decide to go a little psychedelic) on my Note, since I happen to be very much in love with music and it's just awesome frolicking with the very thing you are in love with first thing when you wake up (after murdering the darned alarm clock). I only have 2 wall chargers for my Note in my house - in the master bedroom and guest room (the micro USB cable attached to my computer, which can also charge my Note at a slower pace doesn't count).

So when I go through my morning routine on a typical weekday as I prepare to go for work, I bring my Note that's blasting broadcasted radio music with me to every corner I go around the house - when I'm in the shower, it's there inside the bathroom with me, allowing me to enjoy bathroom reverb acoustics. I should give my phone swimming lessons some day just in case I go too wild with the water and shower dances.

When I'm making coffee, my Note is propped on the kitchen ledge so that I can bogey as I swirl liquid caffeine and refine my 4/4 timing using the teaspoon as a make-shift metronome. When I'm in the master bedroom deciding what to wear in front of the wardrobe, my Note will be lying on the bed still blasting music.

You get the idea. I can't leave my Note plugged into a stationary wall charger as I prepare for the day. It's a mobile phone. It's not a hifi system, so it can't permeate the entire house with music from a stationary spot. My computer system setup is more than capable of producing what a home entertainment sound system can produce (which is why I don't own a dedicated pure hifi system) but why should I turn on my computer and wait for it to boot up completely before playing music with it when I'll be leaving the house soon?

I prefer quickies in the mornings, so that's when my Note always comes in. Besides, it allows me to catch up with the news on Flipboard at the same time too. Early morning birds get all the media worms. Remember to filter away all the gutter crap though.

If you've been thinking faster than I'm telling this, you ought to be able to tell by now that by the time I'm ready to leave the house, my Note would have less than 100% charge left in it. By then, I usually won't have enough time to charge my Note back to 100%. I've tried it once or twice before as I twiddled my thumbs while waiting for it to charge but twiddling thumbs always makes me feel stupid and unproductive.

My Note usually has around 97% by the time I go out the door, which is no big loss but like I've mentioned, I'm nit-picky and horribly fussy. I'll even feel uncomfortable if I have to leave the house on a 98% charge even though my Note's battery has a stamina that gives me bragging rights. Like I've said, frivoulous.

Maybe I should make an appointment with a Shrink for this nit-picky problem of mine. Either that or I go buy something that can take over all these workload for my Note when I'm at home - something with a small enough form factor that allows me to carry it around the house with ease. Ta-Da, that's the role of my 7 inch Nexus 7 tablet.

Oh, and having a backup Android device is a good thing, since from an electronics standpoint, the ability to take the load off my Note and allow it to rest whenever I'm at home would probably prolong its longevity, since there are such things as machinery parts depreciation and wear and tear - things like screen-burns, battery efficiency depreciation, etc, are possibilities on all electronic gadgets.

Well, that's probably taking it a little too far, considering we can change and upgrade our phones with every recontract cycle, but l really like the idea of my gadgets running in tip-top condition for as long as I have them.

Why the 7 inch form factor

This one is easy: I'm a reclining sloth at home when it comes to things like surfing the web, reading and watching videos, since l love doing these things lying down on the bed or on the couch (no, I hardly eat potatoes). It's a heck lot more comfortable than sitting in front of the computer for hours on end, despite my comfy computer chair. Giving in to gravity is easier than fighting it anyway.

When it comes to lying down, the ability to still be able to use your device by propping it up with just one hand and controlling it with the other is essential. I'm not sure if you can do that comfortably with a 10 inch tablet since l don't own one but I can imagine that a 7 inch tablet will definitely allow for much better handling when it comes to lying down. Also, l prefer the portability of a smaller tablet since according to my usage style at home, l can bring my gadget to any corner of the house, like what I've mentioned about the way l use my Note in the mornings, which my Nexus will take over.

Why the WiFi only Nexus 7

Because my Galaxy Note 2 is a 'Phablet'. It's more than adequate to cater to my needs when I'm on the road and to me, the brilliant size and right portability is comfy enough for outside usage. Its 5.5 inch screen is big enough, which is why they call it a 'Phablet' in the first place - something in-between a smartphone and a tablet, which negates having to lug an actual tablet whenever I'm on the road, at least according my needs, your mileage may vary but that's cool. The Note 2 is an awesome device in that regard. l simply love my Note ♥

So my WiFi-version Nexus stays in the house wirelessly connected to my router while my Note goes out with me on the road. This is why I've decided to get the WiFi only Nexus instead of the 3G plus WiFi version, which saves me exactly a hundred bucks. If, for some reason, l have to bring my Nexus out of the house and l can't find any free WiFi, l can always tether my Nexus to my Note. That would be like phone sex. Of course, if you love bringing out your tablet with you all the time, getting one with a SIM card slot would be better for you.

Delegated Roles

Here's how I've planned on using my Nexus and my Note when it comes to content: Home use, graphic-intensive FPS games like Dead Trigger, comics, p0rn and movies will all be handled by my Nexus, since its bigger 7 inch screen will give more enjoyment for such things. As for my Note, it will handle away-from-home use, all 2D non graphic-intensive games, photography (the Nexus has no rear camera but taking photos with tablets suck as they currently are) and all other things l like doing with the awesome S Pen, like note-taking and blogging, which I'm doing now with my Note's handwriting-to-text feature, since I write faster than l can type.

It's really a pity that all the Note 2s available at where l am only come in the 16gb version and not even the Samsung outlets here know if the 32gb version will ever make it here (Samsung has ceased production of the 64gb version), so freeing all my storage-hungry games from it frees up lots of storage space on my Note, since apps and games can't be installed on the 64gb micro SD card I've put in it, unless l root my phone. Don't see the need to root my Note yet though.

The 8gb Nexus 7 first became available followed by the 16gb version. There is no way in hell I'll get a 8gb or 16gb tablet based on my needs. To make matters worse, the Nexus 7 has no expandable micro SD storage and for me, getting either the 8gb or the 16gb version would be a sad cruel joke based on what l wanna use a tablet for. 32gb is the barest tight-squeeze minimum for me. Now that the 32gb Nexus is available and after lots of storage estimates and home computer back-up considerations (my Nexus will primarily be for home use and so, always be near my computer anyway), l decided that now would be the proper time to get a Nexus 7.

Other odds & ends

Initially, the much more expensive Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 was my top choice for a tablet. Here, have a look at all the wonderful things it can do:

A marvellous gadget, isn't it? I get geek-horny every time l watch that video. Still, I decided against it in the end. Price isn't the issue here - storage (only the 16gb version is available here), portability, screen resolution and the high possibility that a new Note tablet might be released very soon are the issues.

I think I'm really beginning to seriously hate seeing '16gb' on devices. Screw 16gb, performing tablets and smartphones are now used for high multimedia consumption and should really come in higher internal storage spaces. Ok, I can understand that not everybody is a heavy user and 16gb is sufficient for such folks but if we can't install apps and games on external SD cards without going the rooting route, at least make higher capacity options available for us heavy users too, damn it.

Cloud storage? Cloud storage eats up your measly monthly data plan at where l am if you're not on WiFi and your cloud data access will be subjected to the mercy of internet connection that is not immune to possible connection disruptions or interferences when they happen. Cloud is essential as extra backup in the event of device loss or demise though, like when your hard disk or SD card decide to croak and go belly-up on you.

What I'm saying here is that Cloud service is useful for data assurance but l don't like the idea of relying on it when it comes to data that I access constantly all the time, since Internet connectivity can and do get plagued by the lag monster at times.

By the way, l bought my Nexus without having to fork out a single cent out of my bank account, since I just got awarded $500 worth of vouchers by my company for hitting and surpassing my 5 years of service mark as well as an additional $50 voucher for my birthday during October. My Nexus came with a price tag of SGD $399 and so, l still got spare vouchers to play with. The vouchers are Capitaland vouchers, so l bought my Nexus from IMM.

Well, l haven't bought a Christmas present for myself for some time already, so getting the Nexus tablet as an early Christmas present for myself makes me a happy camper. It's all good. The plan is to use the leftover $100 worth of vouchers to get myself a new pair of Obermain work shoes and top-up with a bit of my own dough, since the designs l like cost more than a hundred bucks. Worth it though, love those durable German work shoes.

And finally, my best friend Joe was there with me every step of the way today - we communicated through Line and being an experienced tablet user for years, he gave me his advice, suggestions and thoughts which helped me a great deal. Thanks, buddy.

Right, so l now own my very first tablet. Now let's see what pure Android is all about. I've been looking forward to trying out this new experience, which is actually another reason why I chose to get the Nexus 7.

It's a 7 inch little sexy thing and l'm sure it's gonna be really enjoyable playing with it. Nope, that wasn't what she said last night.

-De Lion Speaks

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jacelyn: The Inevitable Has Happened

It was only early last month when Jacelyn told me about the high possibility that she might leave our company early next year. I knew she wasn't kidding as this sad voice inside me told me it's gonna happen for real this time. Ever since that day, I've been holding on to the hope that it will only happen after being delayed for as long as she could possibly hold out.

She told me today that she has tendered her resignation yesterday when I was on leave.

Knowing that Jace has been serious about it, I was still taken aback and still asked her if she was being serious, all the while bracing myself for the futility of my no-hope question. Now I know exactly what it was that she held back on telling me during our company dinner & dance last saturday night. Swallowed words can hurt sometimes.

My colleague-sister is really leaving.

This is the beginning of the void I talked about when we were at Mount Faber which I knew I'll face when she leaves. I'm now standing on the lip of it and there is nothing I could do about it when I get pushed straight into it. It's not gonna be the first time I'll experience this void; everytime buddies leave in employments past and present, I'll be shoved into it.

Void doesn't mean you feel nothing. Void can mean you feel empty. There's a big difference between nothingness and emptiness. The former is much less dreadful.

Just because I've experienced that void several times doesn't mean I have to get used to it. I'll never get used to it. After Jace told me about her resignation during early afternoon, I told her that I needed some time with this. It's now coming to midnight and I'm still finding myself needing more time. You can't get over almost 6 years in just one day.

I'm having trouble dealing with this and I'm going to the store to get some beer. Maybe I'll wake up later and heave a sigh of relief that I've just woken up from a heart-breaking nightmare..

-De Lion Speaks

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

John McLaughlin on My Twitter

Fired up my Twitter today as I always do, since I have things to bitch inform the world out there about on almost a daily basis, not just on Twitter but on Google+ as well. I just like to express my thoughts and feelings, I find it therapeutic for the soul. Facebook? Heh, Facebook is passé in my book.

Almost all of my friends are still on Facebook though, and I only have a very small circle of friends and followers on Twitter and an even smaller one on Google+. Either that's due to the Scorpio philosophy of Quality over Quantity or some higher divine power is seeing to it that I can only torture a minimal number of people with my ramblings. Oh, and there's Sturgeon's Law too.

Now where was I? Oh yes, Twitter. So I went to the Follower Requests section of my Twitter and saw that John McLaughlin has requested to follow me and of course, I approved his request immediately without hesitation after reading his tweets just to make sure:

Oh my gosh, it should have been the other way around: I should have been the one who humbly requested for Mr McLaughlin to allow me to follow him first instead. As you should be able to tell, I feel really honoured because in the guitar world, Mr McLaughlin is a guitar god. Not only can the man really shred on an electric guitar..

..he can really shred on an acoustic guitar too:

Oh my gosh. You know what? As I acknowledged his Twitter follow request and immediately followed him back, I experienced the irresistible urge to go pick up my guitar and practice but I had to fight that since it was still the working hour. Darn >:(

And later in the day, I received another Twitter request from 'Santana' but looking at the tweets, I've concluded that the person requesting to follow me must be a fan of Santana instead of the real Carlos Santana himself, who is another world famous guitarist. Since the tweets of this person are decent enough and they make enough sense and are not nonsensically frivolous (traumatic phobia induced by Facebook which the medical and psychological fields should officially and formally acknowledge), I accepted his or her follower request:

Nevermind the meagre 9 tweets, this person could just be a man or lady of few words. That sure beats being nonsensically frivolous.

I really can't help but wonder how Mr McLaughlin came across me. I'm hoping that he found me on my Youtube channel which links to my blog which links to my Twitter. If that wasn't the case, I hope he found me on my blog which links to my YouTube channel and which also links to my Twitter. I'm suddenly feeling dizzy.

What I'm trying to say here is that I hope he saw my guitar playing videos and liked them.

I've also received email that a few folks I don't know personally have subscribed to my YouTube channel recently. I'm just a nobody on YouTube and I wasn't really expecting anyone to watch my videos, since I upload them for fun and treat my channel as a place to store some memories, just like this blog site.

So you can imagine my pleasant surprise when l receive comments for some of my videos and it makes me really glad when folks tell me nice things about my guitar playing videos. It got me stumped, actually. I really should work harder and upload more videos, since even if just a handful of people let me know that they find my vids to be enjoyable (either that or they could actually be masochistic), it motivates me everytime to play better and improve myself as a guitar player.

The icing on the cake for my YouTube channel is that Mr Joe Bonamassa, another guitar god, subscribed to my YouTube channel months ago. I can still remember how unreal that was to me to the point that it took quite a bit of time for my mind to comprehend the reality of it all.

So yeah, it's been quite a day filled with lots of motivation and I'm grateful for it.

PS: And by the way:

Yup, it's the 12th of December, 2012. Nah, I don't believe the world's gonna end on the 21st. The Mayans probably ran out of parchment or ink or something. Either that or the Spaniards exterminated the Mayans before their head oracle came back from his year-end holiday.

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only."
- Matthew 24:36

-De Lion Speaks

Monday, December 3, 2012

Old Soldier, New Privileges

It's early in the morning and the sun isn't even up yet as I prepare to go to the office. I got a pile of unopened mail waiting for me and since it's the beginning of a new month, I figured I better whittle down that pile of envelopes waiting for me in the kitchen as I'm sure that some of them ought to be credit card bills. Don't ever owe the banks if you can help it, that's never a healthy thing to do. Ignore that and you might just find yourself entrapped before you know what happened.

So I started tearing open the envelopes left, right and center to get my mitts on their contents (feels like Christmas) and came across the following that brought a smile to my face:

Yup, I've completed not just my 2 and a half years of National Service from mid '95 till the final month of '97, I've also completed my 10 years cycle of Reservist duties. Apparently, I'm now old enough to be excused for good from any further soldiering and it's really a nice gesture from Mindef to show appreciation for the services rendered towards the nation from us discharged troopers.

This made me smile as memories of my NS, Reservist and camp buddies all the way from Basic Military Training to my permanent unit in the Air Force came flooding back. My National Service was an experience I will never ever forget and I had a good one overall, I'm glad to say.

The muscle-aches, the exhaustion, the ghostly and unexplained encounters, watching your buddies hit Point Break and then getting back up on their feet again because we were soldiers and we didn't allow ourselves to get pinned down for too long, the no-holds barred partying, the fights that always ended up with everybody being cool with everybody else again, the constant homesickness that was your constant companion, the thousand-yard stares, the defaulter parades, the confinements, the guard duties, the funny as hell and innovative pranks we pulled on one another 'cause we would have gone GaGa if we didn't find things to entertain ourselves, the encouragement we gave one another 'cause we had no one else to rely and count on in the jungle and in camp.. these are experiences as a whole you won't forget.

So after I was done reading the front of the letter, I flipped it over to see what was on the back and I went "Woah.." when I saw the following:

If you have to pay taxes every year, I'm sure you will appreciate it very much if you can get $1,500 shaved off, yes? I already expected the rest of the points printed here but I wasn't expecting the tax deduction at all, so it was an unexpected pleasant surprise, gotta say. My Lioness agreed that that's a nice gesture from Mindef and a nice privilege for us men who have served the nation.

Erm, the only thing bad about the whole matter is that it's making me feel kinda old but I guess I can come to grips with that and live with it, heh.

It's nice to be remembered and you are most welcome, Mindef.

-De Lion Speaks

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dealing With Comics On The Go

Happy December. I'd have been happier if the afternoons here were not so hot and humid and behaved more winter-like instead (or at least autumn-like), considering it's already the start of the winter season, but that's a pipe dream here in the damned tropics. The evening and nights are pleasantly cooling though, so it's hell for on-the-road day-jobbers like me and bliss for the night-shift folks.

Anyway, here's something I've always wanted to talk about: graphic novels, comics and manga on your Android smartphone.

Have you ever stored comics that come in jpeg (or jpg) format onto your mobile and see them all get displayed when you open up your phone's photo gallery? If you are like me and think that comic strips shouldn't have a place alongside your photos in your photo gallery which auto scans for every picture file residing in your phone, you should be able to identify with me regarding the messiness of it all.

Zip 'em up & rename 'em
The solution for me comes in the form of this app called Androzip. Just browse to the folders containing those comic jpeg files using Androzip, zip them up, rename the file extensions of the zipped files to cbr, delete the original folders containing the jpeg files and your photo gallery will no longer display those comic jpegs anymore - only your comic reader app will be able to view them, which is the objective here.

As an example, say you've got a folder labelled 'Chapter 001' that contains the jpeg files of chapter 1 within the comic's root folder. Zip up that 'Chapter 001' folder with Androzip and a folder named 'Chapter 001.zip' is produced. So far so good? Ok, then rename 'Chapter 001.zip' to 'Chapter 001.cbr' (minus the quotes). Finally, delete that pre-zipped 'Chapter 001' folder, you won't need it anymore.

Just repeat the same process for the rest of the folders containing the comic's jpeg files and you're done.

File renaming with Androzip
Note that every step mentioned above are all done within Androzip itself, since this handy app has renaming and file deletion capabilities. Nifty. Oh, it handles RAR files too, which is another very common file compression format. No, you don't have to root your Droid nor computer access for this.

Sure, you can get lazy and just let your photo gallery go to unkempt hell with comic files, screenshots and photos taken with the camera get all over the place all mish-mashed together. If so, good luck hunting down that photo you need if your comics, graphic novels and manga contain lots of chapters. So it's best to keep everything neat and organized within their own proper places in your phone instead, yes? You only need to do the Androzip process mentioned above just once for every comic anyway, unless the comic already comes in cbr or cbz format.

I know, you could filter your photo gallery by albums but then again, each chapter of every comic will also be displayed as an album if their contents are in jpeg format. So if your comics contain lots and lots of chapters, it's back to messy photo gallery hell. So save yourself the eyesore.

In case you would like to know which comic reader is good, I recommend Perfect Viewer, which is what I've been happily using all along. I recommend this app not just because it can read cbr and cbz files, but also because it allows any folder you select within your external SD card as its bookshelf (example: a no-brainer folder labelled 'Comics' where you keep all your comic collection), which is something I can't say for lots of other apps.

I classify comics as multimedia and multimedia files ought to be stored in external SD cards if you happen to use one in your phone, instead of being stored in the phone's internal memory. All you need is a good class of SD card (I use a SanDisk Class 10 card) and you are good to go.

Happy eyesore-free reading.
Otaku Banzai \o/

-De Lion Speaks

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Yes, People Do Leave Facebook. What Heresy?

The following is a pic. Pics are supposed to speak for themselves:

Don't get me wrong, Facebook is not completely a bad thing but trouble is, it mostly is, at least for me. Anyway, I had to explain several times already that I didn't unfriend anyone, I've just deactivated my Facebook account for almost a month already, I think. I can't be arsed to keep track of how long I've been away.

The only reason I'll ever go back to Facebook and reactivate my account (if I ever do) is if I need to contact someone on my Facebook friends list (especially my customers) because of urgent matters and I do not happen to have his or her contact number and email. I hope I never have to but if I really have no choice and have to, I'll deactivate my account again once I'm done communicating.

Gee, I'm making myself sound like a Hit-&-Run guy but every individual can only stand terror for so long and each of us have a finite threshold for pain, yes?

Nope, Facebook doesn't allow you to delete your account permanently, in case you didn't know already. All of your base and every bit of information you've ever posted about yourself belong to them. Legally. You did read the clauses and fineprints, right?

-De Lion Speaks

Monday, November 5, 2012

When Old-Timers Gather

When old-timers gather, they trade veteran stories.
When old-timers gather, they look back at the long road they've travelled to see how far they've come.
When old-timers gather, they try to pierce through the veil of time into the future to catch a glimpse of what lies ahead waiting for them further down the road.

Jacelyn and me are old timers in our company. Come next year's February and it will be my 6th year with our Pharmaceutical company. For Jace, she will hit her 6th year mark on next year's May. My gosh, Time has its way of hiding her wings from you and before you realize it, she has already taken you so far and wide that the realization of the passage of Time can be really scary sometimes.

You cannot fight time, it always wins. Either you make the most of it as you have no choice but to march forward along with it or you just let it drag you along with it as you do nothing and waste it. Time is like Nature - its an integral part of life and our existence but even so, trying to dominate it completely is a pipe dream and it humbles you. It's like water - it can flow onto your palm but you can't grasp it, it escapes between your fingers. Try to contain it and it evaporates over time. You can borrow from it but you can never claim ownership over it.

If you make Time your enemy instead of your friend, you are screwed in the long run.

Check out the view, it's quite lovely, isn't it? Jace drove us both up Mount Faber on my suggestion since me and my family drove past here during the weekend and I liked the environment here. We decided to hunker down at this place here called Faber Bistro for a drink and to catch a bite. Chilling together at the peak of a hill is a nice change of pace from ground level for us.

Faber Nom: Prawn Twists
On the way up the hill, I joked about how misty and cold the weather has gotten as we climbed altitude and Jace contributed to the nonsense by commenting that she should have brought her trench coat and gloves. It was nice distracting ourselves from the humid shit we have for weather here in the tropical belt. I wish I was on the other side of the globe enjoying cool autumn proper and I miss wearing my coats and gloves.

We talked about many things: chief of which were her acting projects, my guitar playing, films, friends, our aspirations, YouTube videos, the awesome Samsung Galaxy Note 2, the boring as wet paint iPhone and work. That's how things always go whenever Jace and me hang out together, we chat about everything about everything to the point that before we realize it, hours usually already flew by us. Now that's quality companionship. Just so happens that serious and logical topics that make sense can be derived out of a multitude of initial 'nonsense', so hey. It's probably conversation evolution. Whatever.

Oh yeah, the subject of work. Sigh, work.

All of us in the Sales Division are stressed up lately with sudden changes in product portfolios, changes in modus operandi and some key products have been pulled out from under our feet like used rugs. In my case, a certain core product under my care all these years has recently been taken back for good by the product principal. That product has been one of my best-selling products and so, a huge hole has been ripped in my sales earnings and me and my manager have been looking for ways to patch up the monetary hole.

We've learned to accept the fact that when a principal's product has boomed in the market under our distributorship, chances are that the principal will take back the product. We lay the groundwork and they tread on it, so to speak. That's how it can usually go, it's just business. Still, it sucks and punches you in the gut if you happen to be the sales rep that has all along been relying on such a product which has constituted a huge chunk of your bread & butter.

It's been a challenging year for the company as a whole across the entire Sales Division. Imagine having to endure not just one, but a few profit-generating products across the board which we've been working hard on taken back by their principals and well, that ought to give you an idea of basically what we are going through.

And then Jace told me about the probable possibility that she might leave the company next year. She has been telling me the same thing every year but this time, something tells me that she's never been more serious about it. Luke already left a few days ago and he has been with us for 7 years, so anything can happen with the rest of us left behind given the state of the situation. It just so happens that Luke wasn't the only one who has left the company within the year.

It Jace leaves, I'll never be sure if I could ever get over that huge empty void I know I'll feel everytime I go to the office. That's because we've been colleagues for almost 6 years now and Jace is my buddy and we hang out together. Once the rapport and attachment have been established, letting go will not be an easy thing to do.

Both of us looked at the scenery of the city scape before us and at the far horizon that stretched out to the sea as the shadows lengthened with the approach of dusk, filling the late evening orange sky with the retiring rays of the setting sun, lost in our own thoughts as we wonder about the uncertain future.

For me, this is the best job I've ever had in my entire adult working life because my colleagues and customers are wonderful people and if I have to leave all these behind and move on some day, it won't be easy for me to let go of it all just Iike that. I found this job when I was at a down and out stage of my life, thank God. How many of us can truly say that we love our jobs and the people involved that we need to deal with? It's just too bad if the economy and market situation ruin it all for you.

And then Jace asked me: "Will you miss me when I'm gone?" The trouble with her question is that I knew she wasn't joking when she asked me that. I was taken aback and was stunned for a couple of seconds. Of course I'll miss my buddy if she leaves. In fact, if it happens to be me who leaves first, she'll be the one I'll miss the most and worry for. So we made a deal then and there to continue hanging out with each other if either or both of us leave the company.

The thought of either one or both of us leaving the company is a painful one, since the sales situation aside, we like working in the company. The tide may be changing but the current is still pleasant. We feel torn just thinking about it.

Night was almost upon us as we left Faber Bistro and I snapped a photo of the place as Jace and me walked back to her Chevrolet. Faber Bistro is a nice cozy place to chill at if you prefer it remote away from the hustle and bustle of the city. In case you've been wondering, the staffs working here get up and down the hill by cable cars linked from here to Harbourfront. Yup, I chatted with one of the waitresses since I'm always curious about things like that. I hope I have 9 lives.

Jace drove us down to the foot of Mount Faber where Fragrance Hotel is and we went to the 7-11 there (which has to be the smallest 7-11 store I've ever come across) to get some more drinks and we chatted some more before we split. Hours always fly by whenever l hang out with Jace. Night has already fallen by this point and I could feel that the waters of Time have already slipped through my fingers and our mood then was rather dark, just like the night that has just engulfed us and everything around us.

Sitting in the cab heading home, I thought about everything Jace and me talked about as I hoped that our situation will improve somehow so that nobody has to leave. Would suck if it didn't.

My heart aches. There's something ominous about the whole issue lingering in my gut. There are times when I hope with all my might that my Scorpio instincts will turn out wrong.

-De Lion Speaks

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Running Man

I'm sitting at the basketball court near my block just chilling away and there is this man wearing a gray Army singlet jogging non-stop along the entire perimeter of the basketball court. Round and round continuously he goes with no sign of letting up it's making him seem almost machine-like. The man would be classified as obese by army standards.

I'm wondering why he's having a constant smile on his face as he continues to push himself. Maybe he's feeling good with the rush of endorphins that comes with exercise. Maybe he's feeling good about the fact that he's putting in effort doing something for his own good.. or maybe he's smiling away the torturous ordeal; you know, folks do go over the edge sometimes when they find themselves right smack in the middle of something tedious at best or torturous at worst - mentally, emotionally or physically. Pushed far enough, grimaces of extreme exertion or pain can transform into smiles of irony instead.

What I'm trying to get at here is that running endless circles non-stop is torture for an obese person.

Which is the reason why I'm finding myself filled to the brim with admiration and respect for the running man before me. Actually, it doesn't matter which possibility mentioned above explains the constant smile on his face and it doesn't matter if there are other possibilities (like there are folks so friendly and jovial they have a constant permanent smile etched on their faces like a birth-mark or tattoo), as far as I'm concerned, I admire this obese man for his determination and courage.

Did I mention it's torture for an obese person to keep running non-stop in circles?

Determination and courage. Yup, I've just used those two words. Let me explain the determination part first:

When I was going through basic military training that began on the 8th of June, 1995 at Pulau Tekong, we bumped into the recruits from the obese camp on several occasions and let me tell you, what would seem like a normal everyday task or exercise to a slim non-obese person like me can be hell for the obese person.

Whenever I run across obese folks on my running route, I get reminded of the fact that they are having it a lot tougher than me and for them, they have to put in a heck lot more effort than I have to, all things other than weight being equal.

It stands to reason that they have the determination since they are having it tougher as compared to slim folks like me. As it is, I'm already at the target spot they are trying so hard to reach. For me, it's just maintenance while for them, it's something they are fighting for with every drop of sweat that falls from them. They have my respect for that.

And now, the courage part:
Hands up for those of you who have witnessed obese folks getting ridiculed and made fun of because of their weight or body frames. It's a mean world we live in and I'm sure that lots of obese folks in the world have faced or are facing loud mockeries from others at worst, or silent discriminatory eye gazes at the mildest end of the scale.

Therefore, don't you think it takes a lot of guts for an obese person to exercise in public by choice? Maybe there are those who just couldn't give a damn about whether others laugh at them or ridicule them. Good for them, I say. Just keep doing your thing, believe in yourself and give the finger to those who mock you. Afterall, those who are putting in effort to gain something for themselves deserve respect rather than those having it easier that mock.

But for those who are sensitive or self-conscious, it takes a lot of courage. How many of us can truly say that we are courageous? That's something we all need to ask ourselves before we start talking shit about those having it harder than ourselves. Bottom line here is, the one who needs to pluck out courage to expose his or her flaws to the world and work on it deserves respect rather than the one who doesn't need to go through the same circumstance.

Slim detractors may say that obese folks brought it upon themselves by having failed to control their diet (though obesity can be caused by other factors too). That may mostly be true of course, but everybody makes mistakes, don't we? Sometimes, the one that puts in effort to right the wrong that he or she has done deserves as much respect as the one that prevents himself or herself from comitting wrongs. Both can be just as courageous too.

On the flip side of the coin, those who are obese and loathe their condition but choose to do nothing about it, they owe it to themselves. Only they themselves can help themselves. Making up their minds about it would be a great start. I have nothing to say regarding those who are obese and don't give a damn about it. Not giving a damn is a choice too. Their call, their prerogative.

So yeah, everytime I see an obese person running and exercising, I get encouraged and motivated by them. I tell myself that if they can do it, so can I. Just because you have it easier doesn't mean that there is no possibility of you falling into the trap of complacency. Just because you have it easier doesn't mean that you can do without encouragement and motivation to carry on.

I feel like going over to the running man before me, give him a pat on his shoulder and tell him: "Keep it up, brother.. and thanks for the encouragement and motivation."
But I, who is a stranger to him, don't wanna scare him or interrupt him, so I'll just quietly blog about him here and whisper a 'Thank You' in his direction.

If only he knew that he is making me feel guilty (in a positive way) about myself for having put off my runs and exercises on hold for the longest time. It's high time that I get off my butt and start taking care of myself by exercising and running again, thanks to the running man at the basketball court.

-De Lion Speaks

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

People Move On

Luke has been our Senior Product Manager in our company for over 7 years, around coming to 2 years longer than I've been with the company and today is his final day of empIoyment with us before he hops over immediately tomorrow to his new career adventure.

I've already seen 2 managers for my small department that I reported directly to leave (the first one was actually a Sales Supervisor but his duties were more like an assistant manager's) and I wish I could have blogged about them. Too bad I started using Blogspot only after they have already left and my previous blog contents with another blogging site got wiped clean from the face of the earth.

I mentioned just now that my department is small. In reality, it's so small that it consists of just me and my one manager with an overseer that lets us run the bulk of the operations most of the time. The overseer (which used to be our very senior GM but now, our very own Managing Director took over the helm) only steps in whenever very major decisions need to be made or whenever anything pertaining to my department needs to be authorized by a bigger gun. My MD is a very busy man, which was why he hired us to run the bulk of the mill and I happen to be the grunt doing all the leg work.

Luke has been my colleague for coming to 6 years already, which is the duration of my employment with our company thus far, so Luke is my senior colleague. He started as a GP sales rep and worked his way up to his current position. There was once years ago when he tendered his resignation but our MD offered him bonded sponsorship for studies and Luke accepted that and stayed. Well, he has just finished his bond and became a free man again. What he told us during his farewell lunch a few days ago is still ringing in my ears: "People come and go and people move on."

It's the end of the work day after our office birthday celebration which involved me since my birthday was a few days ago. While walking to my colleague Jess's car to hitch a ride from her back to the wild wild west where you can find lions, I whipped out my phone and took the following photo of Luke as he took a break conversing with Jacelyn and Lily to pose for me. I wanted it candid but they caught me in the act:

Something tells me that that was the last time I'll ever take a photo of Luke. We've been overseas together on company sales incentive trips and the memories of our trips, especially at Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto always bring a smile to my face. Good times. If our Sales & Marketing teams should go for another overseas trip again, I'll miss Luke's presence.

No human relationship can be 100% perfect and Luke has pissed me off on several occasions on work-related issues but who's to say he has never felt the same towards me as well. It doesn't matter anymore now that he's leaving and whatever unpleasantries are behind us now. There is no longer any point holding on to foot-stepped imprints on our work shoes any more.

*Wipe Wipe*

Besides, I hear that harbouring negativity for too long might beget fatal cancer, no? So we'll forget the bad, hang on to the good and move forward.

Luke, you are a great and intelligent guy overall and I sincerely wish you all the best, brother. Keep your wits about you as you always do, I'm confident you are gonna build a better life for yourself out there. God bless, bro.

-De Lion Speaks

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

S Pens Don't Get Along With Magnetic Fields

I've started to notice a spot on my Galaxy Note 2's screen where my S Pen will seem to go all crazy and inaccurate. Said spot is near the middle of the right edge of the screen. If I try writing or operating my S Pen at that particular spot, the writings and accuracy will seem to go randomly all over the place.

Oh how my poor heart breaks. Try imagining my utter dismay upon the thought that I bought my Note at retail price just four days ago and now this? I'm not gonna have to deal with this issue; it's a new device, so I made up my mind to go back to the mobile shop and make them do an exchange for me with a new set. I'm so dismayed that I've decided to take a cab home right after work so that I can get this over with as quickly as possible.

Sitting in front of my computer at home now and backing up the data on my Note 2, I decide to try my S Pen on it one last time. Who knows, perhaps a last minute miracle might just happen. By this point, I've already taken my Note out from its case which I bought for it, since I'm gonna exchange my Note for a new one and I'll transfer the case over to the new Note 2.

Pulling out my S Pen, I fire up S Note and begin to write at that 'troubled spot'..
I find myself muttering "What the?!" when the strokes from my S Pen go over that troubled spot on my Note's screen so smoothly and accurately. Apparently, I did receive my last minute miracle after all. Putting the case back on, the S Pen starts to go screwy again. Taking the case off, the S Pen behaves properly again.

So as things have turned out, the miracle wasn't that my Note decided to somehow rectify itself and finally function properly but rather, the fault lies with the case instead. My Note has been taken in and out from the case twice for this and each time, it has shown consistent results and so, putting 1 and 1 together, I get a 'faulty' case. Fucking rocket science.

But why was it only at that particular spot on the screen? Putting my Note back in the flip-book style case, it begin to dawn on me that behind that troubled spot on the screen is where the case's magnet used to secure the flap of the case is situated. Pulling the part of the case where the magnet is situated away from the phone so that it doesn't come into direct contact with it, my S Pen starts functioning properly again.

So the magnet has been the culprit all along and I consider myself to be extremely lucky that the fault actually lies with the case rather than with my Note.

So mystery solved and I can breathe again and I no longer have to make a trip down to that mobile shop. I'll just get myself a non-magnetic case, no biggie. Can you imagine how I would have felt if I did make an exchange, put the same case on the new Note 2 and experience the very same issue? Can't help but shudder just thinking about that.

If I condense and squeeze this entire blog post into just one sentence, it will be this:

Cases with magnets will screw up your Note's S Pen whenever the magnet comes into direct contact with the device.

-De Lion Speaks

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Me - Proud Owner of a Galaxy Note 2

It was only yesterday when I first held the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 in my hands. No, I didn't get too crazy to the point of me refusing to wash my hands after the awesome experience, though I suspect the situation got pretty close to such an unimaginable extent and I had to rein myself in.

Drama Mode Off

It's 7 more days to go before the official launch day of the Galaxy Note 2 here and my buddy Lim told me the other night over beer that he saw someone in the bus with the device already and he wasn't drunk. To top it off with an extra punch, my Lioness who doesn't drink and is always sober, told me that one of her colleagues already bought and is using an imported Note 2. Thing is, her colleague bought it from this mobile shop at Jurong West block 501, which is like just 20 minutes or so walk from our house.

As I've mentioned yesterday, I've been waiting so very impatiently for the Galaxy Note 2 for months on end already and since my contract with my telco still has a long way to go as I've renewed my contract during June to get my S3, I now have the freedom to get the Note 2 from anywhere. Such freedom comes with a price though - I have to pay full retail price. Therefore, the plan is to buy the Note 2 on retail and sell my S3 to cut my losses, which should net me a few hundred bucks to patch up the wound on my wallet.

So my Lioness accompanied me and we took a bus instead of walking to Jurong West block 501. Yup, It's a happy ending alright and we came home with an imported titanium grey Galaxy Note 2 in my happy hands. Here she is:

Actually, I spent an obscene amount of time at the KFC next to the mobile shop selling the Note 2, going on the Net and calling up the other shops in other areas selling the imported sets as well to compare prices, enquire about the 32gb Note 2 (not available anywhere here and nobody knows if and when it will ever make it here) and finding out if there would be any complications with OTA updates when it comes to the imported Note 2 sets, which the vendors told me there is nothing to worry about.

I spent so much time doing all these impromptu research before deciding if I should buy the device there and then that my Lioness decided to have some KFC chicken to pass the time, heh. Bless her, for she helped me with my research and she called up some vendors for me to help me save time. I also get to enjoy some of the chicken. She's a secretary by profession, so her career skills came into good play here.

I told her that my goal was to buy the 32gb Note 2 instead of the available 16gb version but nobody knows if the 32gb will ever be available here. For the S3, the 32gb was released here like 4 months after its initial launch with the 16gb version. Well, she understood how much I wanted to own a Galaxy Note 2, so she suggested that I should get the 16gb now and then sell it off to get a 32gb if and when it should become available here some day. Besides, the Note 2 allows for up to 64gb of expandable micro SD space, which is a lot of extra storage space (though some folks reported in online forums that they experimented with 128gb external SD cards and they do work).

Actually, for the Galaxy S3 and the Note 2, games can't be installed on external SD cards but if I wanted to, I could root my phone for it, so there's still a way to tackle the 16gb internal memory issue should I run out of storage space because games can eat up the most space. I'm actually using my 2 years experience with my 16gb iPhone 4 (which I've sold off), which was my first smartphone as a gauge to help me here: I never got to the extent of completely running out of storage space with it due to PC backup of stuff whenever I decide I don't need them as much anymore but still, I would prefer the extra insurance with a 32gb Note 2. Nevertheless, the idea of expandable storage for the device sure as heck makes one feel a lot better.

Anyone trying to convince themselves that external storage is a poor choice is just deluding themselves and trying to justify their lack of additional options. It's not very bright to choose lack and limitations over additional options and features that can and do come in handy, is it? Such folks who are throttlers of eclecticism do exist and you can find them in iFruitloop forums. I'm not saying that every single person in such forums are that way of course, but I'm sure you can easily spot the hardcore ones who are when you see them advocating lack while crusading against choice and additional options.

Trying to kill off freedom and imprisoning ourselves in chains is one of the greatest tragedies mankind do to themselves.

Back on track: after weighing the suggestions, considerations and all the pros and cons mentioned above, I decided to get the 16gb Note 2 from the shop, which I did. I paid SGD $840 for the phone (and I grabbed the offer of a soft case worth 20 odd bucks and a screen protector worth 12 bucks - these 2 accessories for just an extra 10 dollars, so why not?) and the boss told me he can buy my S3 off me for $540. Since I have to transfer lots of data from my S3 to my new Note 2 and back them up on my computer at the same time, l couldn't and didn't sell my S3 on the spot. Besides, I should source around just in case I could get a better selling price with somebody else.

The Note 2 I bought is the non-LTE GT-N7100 international version, by the way, which is around $150 cheaper than the LTE GT-N7105 version which will be the version to be officially launched here in a week's time from now. In case you were wondering, besides LTE, the differences between both versions are that the non-LTE version has a FM radio receiver while the LTE version doesn't and the S Pen of one version won't work on the other. So why did I decide to settle for the much cheaper non-LTE version? Because:

1) LTE coverage here still has a long way to go. One of the Samsung staffs who attended to me yesterday at Tampines Mall told me it should take around 2 years for LTE coverage to be adequate enough island-wide here, though I think one and a half year should be more like it. By then, I'll be able to recontract and probably get the Note 4, all things being equal considered. That would be the proper time for me to switch to LTE.

LTE data plans are a pain in the ass currently anyway with their 2gb monthly limit. How much can a heavy user do with just 2gb per month? Sure, you can pay for additional gigabytes but I still think LTE plans are costly currently. I'm holding out for the possibility that by the time I hop onto the LTE wagon, I'll get to enjoy cheaper rates by then. Hopefully. Every aspect of technology usually become cheaper over time.

Until then, I'll keep my existing 12gb monthly data plan and cut my losses as much as possible now, since having to pay retail price for a phone is honestly something I never imagined I would do but I feel that the Note 2 is worth it for me to break this long-time taboo of mine, considering my mobile needs and how I think the Note can cater to them. I'm still feeling a little crazy about it though, so I better squeeze every ounce of usefulness out of my new Note and make it all worth it.

2) There is a possibility that I might buy the 32gb Note 2 should it become available here and should the 16gb version can no longer cater to my needs adequately. Remember that games, apps and widgets can only be installed on internal memory when it comes to Samsung phones unless you root, as shown in this video for the Note 2:

However, there is another way out for the 16gb internal memory:

So, if I do not wish to root my phone, I should get the cheaper non-LTE Note 2 now so that my wallet can feel better in the event that the 32gb does get released here and I decide to buy it. If that happens, I'll get a LTE 32gb which ought to be more future-proof.

The way I see it, if I'm to get a phone which I think is worth for keeps for a long time to come, it has to be at least 32gb with LTE so that it can survive into the future, given the progress of the mobile technology situation and the fact that operating systems are starting to utilize progressively bigger chunks of memory and storage space. This also means that by the time I can recontract with my telco again, if the Note 4 proves to be only marginally better over the Note 2 by then, I won't upgrade to the Note 4. I doubt that would be the case but I'm no soothsayer, so never say never. It's safer to say 'maybe'.

I don't know how Samsung is gonna improve drastically with their future Notes over the current Note 2 other than a better camera, a faster processor, probably wireless charging and a better display as well as more functions with the S Pen. Not that these aren't insignificant upgrades though, don't get me wrong. We shall see.

The 1gb of RAM in my S3 will not be able to cut it with the passage of time. I was actually disappointed with the fact that on my S3, due to its low 1gb of RAM, multi-tasking was a hit-or-miss situation; open up too many apps and say you've scrolled down halfway through a webpage and you switch to another app, switch back to the webpage again and you might find it reloading itself again instead of staying put at where you left it. It then becomes irritating that I had to look for the section of the webpage I previously parked myself at whenever this happened. The Note 2 with its 2gb of RAM should encounter much less of such issues unless I run a gazillion number of apps at the same time.

Before paying for the device, I requested for my Note 2 to be switched on so that l could inspect its display and to test if there would be any problems receiving OTA updates which was a concern bugging me all along. There wasn't any problems with the gorgeous display or screen and yippykaiyay, I saw the OTA update icon displayed on the notifications bar. I'm sure the update is for enabling the multi-windows feature but that has to wait till I get home and use my WiFi connection for the update download.

With my new Note 2 in hand, my Lioness & me are now walking to the bus stop while I factory reset the phone. Yup, it's good practice to factory reset a new phone before you start using it to get rid of any possible hiccups residing in the phone and I hear this is also beneficial for the battery as well.

Seriously, I never expected myself to own a Galaxy Note 2 this quickly before its official launch here. It was only yesterday when I held the demo sets in my hands while telling myself I had to wait till the 20th (or from 6pm onwards on the 19th if I should go queue up for it at Paragon and I absolutely hate getting myself into long queues). I just heard this young girl behind me at the bus stop telling this woman seated next to her that she wants a Galaxy Note 2 for herself while I was playing with mine. I have to admit that this feels pretty good ;p

Now if you will excuse me, I have a new phone (some call it a 'Phablet') to set up and play with, so I'm signing out. You can be sure that I'll blog my thoughts about it after using it for an adequate and reasonable amount of time to formulate a concrete opinion about it, so stay tuned. Just for the record, several overseas reviewers from mobile technology sites have already reported lots of hands-on positive things regarding the device that got me excited and all fired up. Just search for 'IFA Galaxy Note 2' or 'Galaxy Note 2 hands-on' on YouTube or Google if you are interested.

Congratulations, self. Now hold that mutha properly and don't drop your new Big joy on the pavement. Pun intended and I'm effing stoked Big time. What's the proper term for this, 'Nerdgasm'?

-De Lion Speaks

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Galaxy Note 2 In My Hand

It's the 12th of October: 8 days before the official launch date here of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 which I've been pining for for months on end already and exercising the patience for it is admittedly tough business for me, ugh. But lookie here at the pic, that's my hand there holding the Galaxy Note 2, days before the device is supposed to be officially launched here. In case you were wondering, yeah my fingers were experiencing some sort of digit orgasm when I was taking the photo. Splash.

So I was at Tampines this afternoon where I was supposed to meet up with my new colleague Queenie and orientate her on the pharmaceutical retail front by visiting my customers there together. When I arrived at Tampines, I went up to the second floor of Tampines Mall to use the washroom to refresh myself after the long train ride there, like I always do. Just so happens that washrooms on levels above the ground floor are usually cleaner.

When I was done, I quickly headed towards the Samsung mobile store just opposite the washroom. Couldn't help it, since I've been waiting all these while for the Note 2's arrival, I wanted to check out if there were any new news pertaining to it.

As I got close to the entrance of the Samsung store, my eyes picked up what looked like a bloated-up Galaxy S3 on display as my heart skipped a beat.. yes folks, that 'bloated-up S3' was a Galaxy Note 2. So what was the very first thought that sprung to my mind when I saw the Note 2, sitting so invitingly there on the display stand? It was this:

"Get your credit card ready on battle station, self, I'm buying one Note 2 straight off the store right here and right now. There is no need and no room for second thoughts."

But I held back the impulse shopper in me as the rational part of myself told me to try out the display sets first and there were 2 pairs of them in the store - each pair consisted of a white and titanium grey set placed side by side for easy colour comparison. I had to rush through playing with the display sets since I had to meet up with Queenie who was playing with other Android phones in another store at the train station while waiting for my arrival. Yeap, we are both Droid phone fans.

I really liked what I was seeing as I played around with the new Note except for one issue: The S Pen sure looked and felt smaller and flimsier than what I've seen of it on Youtube videos to the point where it got me wondering if they actually displayed the S Pen of the venerable Note 1 instead, which of course didn't make any sense. That was my only peeve towards the device at that point in time.

To cut a long story short, here are the answers from one of the really helpful Samsung staffs there who attended to me regarding my 2 main queries:

1) Only the 16gb internal memory version of the Note 2 will be launched in the country and there's no telling when and if the 32gb or the 64gb versions will be launched here in the future.

I would prefer to get the 32gb version but at the same time, I wasn't surprised about the current situation which was the same situation with the launch of the Galaxy S3 months ago. The 32gb S3 became available in the Samsung mobile stores here around 3 months following the launch of the 16gb version here. Here's hoping the Note 2 will follow suit.

2) I can't buy a Note 2 from the store here, I have to wait till the official launch date which is the 20th. However, according to the staff, M1's main outlet at Paragon will start selling it from 6pm onwards on the 19th and pre-orders start on the same day. Looks like I'll have to endure my impatience till then. Bummer, I was really looking forward to buying one from the store (can't get it on contract with my telco since my contract still has a Iong way to go, so I'm free to get the new Note on retail from anywhere. I'm a free man in this regard, nevermind the higher cost I'll have to pay).

Anyway, the staff couldn't give me any info on the pricing since that hasn't been officially released yet. I'm guessing it should be between 800 bucks plus to 900 bucks or so on retail. We'll see.

Yup, I'm prepared to let my S3 go to get the Note 2 in its place, I've made up my mind about this already. Um, I got my S3 like almost 4 months ago. Don't get me wrong, I really like my S3 and I think it's awesome, it's just that I've concluded the Note 2 can do so much more and cater to my mobile needs better, based on the online reviews I've seen and read so far, at least.

Still, I can't help but feel adulterous about it.

-De Lion Speaks

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Hosed My Own Blog Pics On Google+

So I've decided to migrate over to Google+ from Facebook, since except for the occasional meaningful and insightful post, Facebook has become nothing more than a feed of spam for the most part - if it's not about food (barring photos of hand-made food made by my friends themselves, since I appreciate honest effort by oneself), it's about vague one-liners or it's about photos that blackmail your morality into liking them; which if you don't, then they declare you an uncaring evil person without a shred of morality - Ego masturbation by the number of Facebook likes on the part of the peeps posting the pics, more like.

Not that there's anything inherently wrong with photos of gluttony food but if that's mostly what folks post for the majority of their facebooking time, it just leaves you longing for more depth and substance. The same can be said for vague one-liners. I relish expressions that cleverly portray one's feelings and thoughts but one-liners just don't cut it. Consider the following example:

Post: Sad.
Comment: Why?

See? One-liner posts are usually followed by one-liner comments. Thing is, if you know that your friends are gonna question you about your one-liner, you might as well post with detailed information right off the bat. The following example sure sounds a heck lot more informative which also spares your responding friends the unnecessary extra step of having to ask you about your otherwise vague one-liner:

Post: I'm sad because I know that vague one-liners scream the impression that one has difficulty in self-expression but yet, people who are actually perfectly capable of expressing themselves still use them.

And about those photos that blackmail you and hold your morality hostage into liking them: they are usually photos of the unfortunate, the crippled or the abused. I can appreciate the awareness-building regarding the plight and situation of the unfortunate so that we can all ponder about how we can contribute to their welfare, no problem at all, but if they are captioned by sentences like 'Like to show your sympathy, ignore if you are uncaring and cold-hearted', even if I am a kind person who cares, I don't take kindly to threats directed at my morality like that.

Such things reek too much of likes-craving and I wonder if people who post such photos have the permissions of the unfortunate folks portrayed in the pics to do so in the first place. Whether your viewers like whatever you post ought to be up to their freedom of choice, you don't use their morality and their concept of right & wrong to blackmail them. It's sad seeing friends falling for such blackmail tactics.

And there are the folks who don't turn off their Facebook gaming feeds and folks who post links to articles and then copy and paste huge chunks from the body of the linked articles on their posts; they might as well just quote the articles in their entirety or even better, let the links remain while giving comments about what they personally think regarding the subject matter, rather than just regurgitate everything like cows.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problems with long posts at all if they are the poster's own expression of thoughts and opinions but if you link to articles, you don't vomit them out word for word. Your friends can read and they don't need to read the same thing twice (if they even bother to click the links and read, that is).

One word: SPAM.
Two words: Spam Irritates.

I'm not saying that Facebook is a 100% complete total crock of shit, of course. It does have pros over Google+ and vice-versa. Like I've mentioned above, there are occasional gems on Facebook too - the insightful posts, the clever snide remarks that say so much more when you read between their lines (it's good to ponder and think once in awhile as opposed to mindless swallowing, you know), the awareness-building photos that politely ask you to show support by liking them IF you really happen to like them without blackmailing your morality, etc.

Trouble is, the weeds far outnumber the flowers. Facebook is a total mess for the most part - for me at least. Sure, I can filter out all the crap but since there is so much crap, why should I go through all the trouble of weeding things out? Besides, if you block any of your chosen friends' posts, you will miss the gems that they sometimes post too. A 'One Shot Kill All' solution is not the proper solution here, as it kills the 'weeds' along with the 'flowers'. Sturgeon's Law comes into play on Facebook and having to weed out 90% of the whole shebang just to get to the remaining 10% is not a very productive thing to attempt.

Another issue about Facebook I find worrying is that I have friends who can tell me that they haven't been on Facebook for ages and in their next breath, blurt about the things I've posted for the past couple of days.. Seriously, just admit it already if you spend your Facebooking time playing spy. Either they are being fake by conscious choice or they are unaware that Facebook is making them fake. Since it's the decent thing to do to give your friends the benefit of the doubt, I'll close my right eye to the former possibility mentioned and stare at the latter possibility with my left eye.


So I've decided to migrate over to Google+ in my quest to evade the spam and the riff raff and start over on a clean slate. I decided to try Google+ when I chanced upon the following video:

People in the know say that when it comes to Google+, it's about making new friends as opposed to seeing existing friends there. I think that is true, at least from where I'm coming from, since it seems that none of my friends have an active Google+ account. Even if a meagre handful of them do, their Google+ pages are ghost towns (I did come across 4 of my Facebook friends' Google+ pages), as they still flock to old familiar Facebook and pasture there like what all their friends are doing.

I guess breaking away from the party for a quiet change can be a scary thing, especially if the change means you will be greeted with loneliness first thing after making the switch. Good thing I have Sensei there with me and good thing she loathes Facebook. Quiet quality over noisy quantity is a treasure most people throw away for fear of a lack of companionship. Good thing I'm a Scorpio, I was born a lone wolf by nature and I have no such problems :)
Can't do without a spouse though, as I have a constant craving for love.

I said 'quality' and I said 'love', I didn't say 'quantity' nor 'orgy', so I can get away from Facebook and survive on Google+. No problem there for me. Besides, it's not like I've completely deactivated my Facebook account; I still leave it there (albeit neglected but that's to be expected) as another avenue of communication for my friends there and as and when I receive notifications that my friends on Facebook have sent me messages, I'll grit my teeth, brace myself for the horror, fire up Facebook and respond to their messages. Other than that, my Facebook page is now a ghost town.

There's no telling that one's Google+ page won't end up a spamming mess like Facebook as one's social circle there expands, but for me, I'm liking the peace and quiet there for now. If things take a turn for the opposite one day, that would be a worry for another day, not today. I live for the moment when it comes to social media. I can be nomadic when it comes to such things - Not happy? Just pack up, leave, move on and seek better pastures. It doesn't have to get complicated.

When it comes to Google+, it's all about adding the correct Circles for yourself to get an enjoyable experience out of it. You don't even have to post much if you choose not to do so, just reading the posts of the proper circles you've added that pertain to your interests and hobbies is enjoyable in itself.

And finally, here's the part this blog entry's very title points at:

So I've opened a Google+ account and I found myself really liking the interface of its mobile version, though on the flip side of the coin, I dislike the webpage version of it since it looks.. how should I put it.. generic? Yeah, generic, for lack of a better word. No problem though, since I surf social media on my mobile 95% of the time.

Well, you know how setting up a brand new site goes - I went through the settings and the whole shebang setting things up and when I went to my Google+ photo albums section to take a look there, I was mystified as to why the pictures on my blog site were there. So apparently, Picasa is integrated into Google+. I don't know about you but I do not want my blog photos to be in my Google+ page. I just don't see any purpose for them to be there at all, so I deleted the entire album that held them.

Then the horror dawned on me when I went over to my blog and saw this:


By all killer recycle bins, where the freaking fuck did the photos and pictures on my blog go?! My jaw hit the floor when I realized that deleting my blog photos album on Google+ zapped them all from my blog site too. Oh bloody fuck.

Shame on you, Google. I present to you my extended middle finger for this.

Have a look at this. Looks like I'm not the only one who wandered into the minefield and got blown away without even realizing the fuck why. I don't think l saw that pop-up warning detailing the consequential deletion of the photos on my blog itself. Maybe it did and I skimped it but the point is, why should Google sync blog photos with Google+? Maybe they have valid reasons I'm not in the know of and maybe it was my own fault somehow but

Bloody heck, so I ended up hunting down copies of all those blog photos deleted and putting them back in my blog all over again. The ordeal was exhausting as hell and you guessed it: some of the photos are lost for good since I couldn't find copies for all of them. Come on, we are talking about at least 2 years worth of blog photos here and you can't expect me to hoard everything. The only lucky thing about this tragedy is that only those photos saved in Picasa got zapped while the photos of my earlier blog entries saved via Blogpress didn't, since they are stored in a different server. That's a definite relief.

So if you spot any of my blog entries missing their pics, thank Google for me. And if you are a blogger thinking of opening a Google+ account, don't say I didn't warn you here. Do yourself a big favour and save yourself a big heartache by setting your blog pics album on your Google+ page to private mode instead of deleting the whole album.

But damn it Google, I still really like your mobile version of Google+ and I still like using it. I hate you but I like you, so WTF?

-De Lion Speaks

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The iPhone 5

Lunchtime break, so I happen to pass by the mobile shop & popped in:

Behold mortals, the iPhone 5 in my hand. Finally. Late for the party, I know, but I wasn't in a hurry for this bad boy to begin with. I'm actually scared as hell that I might get $ued for $o much a$ touching it while muttering $omething about rectangle$ with rounded corner$, t$k.

As always, solidly built, a pleasure to hold in the hand & very functional for what it's been designed to do (if you pretend the map is working). No, the ground didn't break, I'm still standing.

- De Lion Speaks

Monday, September 24, 2012

Virgin Trip To The Genting Highlands: Day 2

Ah, the lovely thing about waking up in the morning on a mountaintop is the fresh air and cool weather, which are things I'm gonna miss after we leave the Genting Highlands later in the day. Now that I'm done showering, which is something I always do when I wake up, it's time to head out for breakfast.


My Lioness and me have no pre-determined plan as to where we should have our breakfast this morning and that won't be a problem at all, considering there are lots of eateries and restaurants all over the shopping mall.

We are walking around randomly and we see this Chinese restaurant called 'Shanghai 10' in front of us. Checking out the restaurant's menu placed at the entrance, we decide to try out the Dim Sum here for our breakfast, so off inside the restaurant we go.

Om Nom Nom moments later..

The Dim Sum here is ok, it doesn't taste any much different from any other typical Dim Sum place even from those back on home ground. With tummies filled, it's time for the both of us to go for a stroll outside and check out the famous outdoor theme park on this clear morning with great outdoor visibility.


I was hoping the mountaintop weather today would be cold but to my slight dismay, it's only cooling today. Even so, I'm telling myself that I'd rather have the current weather temperature condition any day than the hot and humid crap that tries to pass itself off as weather we have back home on ground level.

So quit the dismay, self, and consider yourself fortunate that you're on top of a mountain now enjoying the escapade from sweltering and stifling humidity that you will have to face again later in the day as you descend towards sea-level on your return journey home.

It would have been nice if the heavy mountain mist from yesterday was still around today for the continued Silent Hill touch, but the advantage with its absence is the perfect visibility range for terrain photo shots that I can have the opportunity to take later.

As for the outdoor theme park, some of its areas are actually undergoing renovation works and therefore, some of the rides and stations have been put on temporary hold for the time being and are currently not in operation.

However, what seems to be the most adrenaline-inducing station amongst all the stations still operating (judging by the fact that it's the only apparent source of velocity-induced loud terrified screams mixed with thrilled excitement) is this roller coaster-like ride where peeps are 'seated' not in the conventional seating position but instead, in the odd belly-downwards horizontally-suspended position.

Yup, it's the photo on the left of this paragraph there and you can spot the peeps riding it horizontally just below the middle and towards the right portion of the photo. I can imagine how being suspended horizontally belly-downwards like that makes productive use of gravity to facilitate the outpouring of torrents of puke in a more efficient manner. Physics done right. But brrrrr, no way are we gonna hop on this one and thankfully, I don't see cascading streams of mid-digested breakfast.

We've been considering all these while whether we should take the shuttle service to the strawberry park as well as the 煮炒 restaurant area that my nephew recommended to us, both place located just a short distance further down the mountain. We decided to drop the idea because even if we tried, it would have been too rushed for us to enjoy ourselves properly before we needed to hustle back on the double to catch the coach for our return trip later.

Given our situation, I suppose you probably need to have at least a 2 nights stay here at the Genting Highlands if you wish to enjoy at your own comfortable pace every location of tourist interest here. There is nothing else here at the outdoor theme park that interests us and after some more leisurely walk around the area, we decide to head back to our hotel room to pack up while the still on-going screams from the monstrous structure at the theme park trails off behind us.

Back at the hotel

Emerging from the lift on the 11th floor of the hotel where our room is situated, I stop in my tracks at the big window at the lift lobby while I whip out my phone. On this day with clear visibility, as opposed to yesterday when the mountain was enshrouded in heavy mist, I now have a far and elevated line-of-sight to take a photo of the mountainous terrain before me.

Studying the expansiveness of the terrain from my bird's eye view, it hits me once again just how gargantuan in scale Malaysia is. I actually expected to be able to spot lots of buildings and obvious landscape and structures of modern civilisation off in the horizon but man, am I blown away.. As evident in the photo, except for a thin horizontal stretch of man-made structures that you can spot if you zoom in on the photo, and except for the immediate vicinity around the hotel, natural mountainous terrain stretches allllllll the way to the edge of the far horizon as far as the eye can see.

I think there ought to be pockets of buildings nestled in-between the bases of the far off hills and mountains hidden from my view but still, the wow factor is there for me when it comes to nature on a grand scale like this. Every time Mother Nature makes me feel small and minute, she earns my respect and reminds me of the awesomeness of the Creator. Malaysia has its own natural resources and land is certainly one of them.

It's time to retrieve my mind back from the horizon and go back on micro mode as we walk back to our hotel room to pack up and prepare to make the journey back south towards home.

My Lioness spills the beans

Lugging our packed luggage out of the hotel and proceeding towards the coach depot area, we figure there is still enough time for us to relax and have a drink at the Starbucks here. This is the moment I've been waiting for, as my Lioness told me yesterday that she will reveal to me what actually happened in our hotel room that sapped the colours from her face once we have checked out from the hotel.

I wanted her to take her own comfortable time and pace to reveal to me and now that we are making our way to Starbucks and won't be going back to the hotel room anymore, she suddenly turns to me and says: "你知道昨天在我们房间到底发生了什么事吗?" Oh goody, just like having waited a long time in the theatre for the stage curtains to start getting drawn back so that the show can begin, my long-suppressed anticipation is giving way to excitement as she continues: "我现在可以给你揭秘了."

This was what happened according to her:

When we checked in to our hotel room yesterday, we opened the windows to let in the cool natural air from outside to freshen up and cool the room, considering there are no air-conditioners in First World Hotel's rooms; not like there's a need for them anyway on top of a mountain when the temperature ranges between cooling during the day to cold during the night. There's a ceiling fan though.

Next, I went to take a shower while my Lioness was resting on the bed. When I was done with my shower and came out of the bathroom, I noticed that the windows were closed and the curtains were drawn while my Lioness' face was all pale. Even though she smiled at me, I discerned an uncomfortable uneasiness behind her smile.

According to her, when I went into the bathroom earlier and right at the very second when I closed the bathroom door, from outside our 11th storey room's window, a woman's voice started singing and repeating a particular verse from some old Mandarin song. The same verse was repeatedly sung over and over and over again ad nauseam and it stopped abruptly right at the very second when I opened the bathroom door after I was done with my shower.

Questions, questions and more questions. Questions like: How her voice sounded like (rather lethargic and lacking in energy), whether it came from another hotel room (my Lioness couldn't tell but it was really close by from outside our window but who would continue to loop only a particular section of a song non-stop instead of playing a song in its entirety in a hotel room?). And why did its timing and duration coincide to the dot with my time and duration in the bathroom?

I don't have the concrete answers of course but my Lioness thought: "也许你杀气够重, 所以当你不在场的时候, 它才敢比较这么的明显暴露自己吧?"

So my Lioness thinks that it was probably because of my vibes that the 'entity' only exposed itself in such an aurally obvious manner when my presence wasn't around in the immediate area - which means my Lioness is inclined towards the thought that the incident was a spiritual encounter. She went to close the windows and she drew the curtains - but not before she actually popped her head out one of the windows to see if she could spot anything out of the ordinary. Gosh..

Trouble was, albeit muffled, she could still hear the singing coming from outside even with the windows closed and the curtains drawn. Like I've said above, it only stopped when I opened the bathroom door.

Anyway, whatever it was, I took a photo from right where the hotel room's windows were earlier before we checked out. The photo shows the exact view of what's directly just outside the windows. Gimme a holler if you happen to spot anything out of the ordinary:

Leaving Genting

Having processed for our return trip at the Five Stars Tours booth within the coach depot area, we are now twiddling our thumbs while waiting for the coach we've been assigned to to arrive. There's a big crowd here as you can tell from the photo there. Well, it's a Monday, so the folks here are the accumulation of the peak weekend crowd now heading off. I sure hope none of them are heading home penniless from gambling sprees at the casino.

After some waiting, our double-deck coach finally arrives. As is customary for me whenever I'm leaving a place with cool or cold weather, I begin to take a moment for a deliberate deep breath of the cool air while the pores on my body feel the cool sensation of the atmosphere in an extra mindful way before I enter the coach. My Lioness and me take our seats at the upper deck where we can have a better view of the scenery outside.

A while later after everyone has entered the coach and settled down, the driver shuts the coach door and I bid sayonara to the lovely atmosphere and weather outside. I'm finding the thought of the humidity waiting for us at the base of the mountain particularly irksome and loathsome.

Stopover for Ipoh snacks

After some time cruising along the highway, the coach turns into an area comprising of small warehouses and shophouses. We alight from the coach and are being directed towards this shop selling Ipoh snacks and goodies like the famous Ipoh white coffee.

Not being a snacks person, after a cursory look at the merchandise in the shop, I went outside to check out the immediate vicinity and warehouses. I wonder why I'm always glancing back at our coach this time to make sure it's still where it is.

Done with my little discovery trip of the warehouses and shophouses outside, I am now back inside the shop selling Ipoh snacks, helping my Lioness carry her purchases and the both of us head back to the tour coach. When everyone else has come back, the driver revs the engine and our fleet of tour coaches begin to head back to the highway to continue our journey south.

I figure it ought to be late afternoon or early evening by the time we reach Yong Peng later, which is where we are now heading towards.

Back at Yong Peng

Sure enough, now that we have reached Yong Peng again, the late afternoon is already starting to give way to early evening. The timing dictates that we have to have an early dinner here now or we could only do so at night back on home ground, considering there will be no more rest point stopovers after Yong Peng and the remaining distance of the rest of the journey home from here is still a rather lenghthy one. I do not know how accurate I am in saying this but Yong Peng to me is the midpoint of the entire journey.

Remembering the rather awful lunch I had here yesterday, I gave the same stall that sold me lunch yesterday a wide berth and decided to try some hot plate noodles from another stall instead. Hmm, it looks like even though my noodles dinner tastes more palatable than yesterday's lunch, it's nothing to write home about. In fact, it's actually below average according to my taste buds.

The driver is giving us about an hour's time for our free & easy dinner and we figure we'll have enough time to walk around Yong Peng a bit after we eat, probably getting some snacks or dessert from the outdoor stalls outside later. After that, it will be a one straight ride further south till we get to the customs and cross over the causeway back to home ground. From there, once our coach reaches back to the same premise where it picked us up for our trip to Genting yesterday, my Lioness and me can just walk a short distance home from there.

Concluding Thoughts

So, will I recommend anyone to go for a trip to the Genting Highlands? I will, if the following 2 conditions are met:

  • The person I'm recommending Genting to is not a gambler - that's despite the fact that the casino there is the focal point of tourist attraction. I just don't want anyone's blood on my hands. There are the indoor and outdoor theme parks and the lovely weather one can enjoy instead.

  • The person I'm recommending Genting to is either looking for a short 2 or 2-and-a-half days getaway, or a stopover before going someplace else in Malaysia like Kuala Lumpur, for example.

For my Lioness and myself, we might go back there again to visit the places we've missed, like the strawberry park, for example, if an opportunity presents itself again. That being said, I don't think we will make a deliberate special effort to rearrange for another trip just to go back there. Instead, it ought to be a very casual decision or just a 'along the way' plan if we should go back to the Genting Highlands again in the future.

Thanks for having sticked with our 2 days Genting trip blog entries thus far, dear gentle reader. Should you plan to make a trip there yourself, may I suggest that you close the windows and draw the curtains in your hotel room before the sun goes down.