December 29, 2018

2018 roll up

Life in the 40’s revolve around basically only a handful of things. If you were to crawl through the list of important things over a population of middle aged farts, 2 prominent words will definitely stand out like sore thumbs – Children & Career.

In my case, thankfully, it’s just a child and a measly career. You see, it’s simple. People usually get married in their mid 20’s, and during then, they’d pork and conceive a child (or more). By the time a married couple is in their 40’s, the child(ren) would be in the teens, so… there’s going to be much focus in that area. So is the career. It’ll be about 15 – 20 years into the work life and things are just beginning to spice up.

My daughter Regine hits 12 this year. I started to see her changing into a different person. Suddenly, she could speak Cantonese, and she has a guy-pin-up poster in her room. She watches a lot of Youtube channels now, and she has her own social media accounts as well. She could understand words like ‘hangry’ and ‘shart’. She pointed out words that I missed in my crossword puzzles and now she’s taller than my wife Emily! Just only last week, she had her braces on and with the stress in her mouth, she’s as emo as shit. She already had her orientation this week, and she’ll be starting her secondary school years in the new year. My kid is now an quasi adult and I am still coming to terms with it.

My career – I could say it’s taking a positive turn now. The attrition in the team made the whole affair enjoyable for me, as I had to cover as the lead and I had to code shit myself (and I did not even know how to code!). In a way, I am finally able to change things to the way I wanted it. I told my boss I needed more headcounts, but deep inside me, I am secretly enjoying the work (I think I’m sick). Day in and out, I am damn busy, just like the old times when I was with Company Y. At the beginning of the career in Company T, it wasn’t much of a challenge by just dealing with shitbags. Now, I deal with shitbags, code my own program, run my own team and rig my own hardwares. (I guess that’s why I can’t be successful/a boss – I can’t live without getting my hands dirty).

The travel took us to Italy this year. It was one of the most memorable trip we had (mostly had to do with the experience of driving there). We got wiser now, and made improvements after each trip. The new problem now is that with Regine’s secondary education starting, her attendance at school has just gotten more serious and finding a good time to travel would be a whole new challenge for us. But we’ll manage.

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December 20, 2018

Rome, Italy – Itinerary and planning (7 days) – part 2 of 2

*this is the continuation from Part 1

So I returned the rental car on Day 5 to the FCO airport. From FCO, I transferred to the city of Rome and checked into an AirBnB lodging. I had the afternoon left and used it to make some reconnaissance around the narrow cobblestone alleys, and also to pick up some of my Italian shaving supplies. The Day 1 starts the next day (on Day 6 of the whole trip). Here’s the disclaimer for this Rome itinerary:

- Actual travel time took 2 weeks (4 days at Tuscany, 8 days at Rome). You’d need a day to get to Italy by flight, and another to come back. The place is fucking far. Refer to a map. If you choose to go by other means of transportation (other than flying), you’d need to allocate more time.
– Trip was done in mid November, considered winter season by the locals. This season has a relatively short day time. The itinerary takes account on that short daylight and compensates by starting earlier in the morning.
– This is an itinerary post, I’ll do a separate post for what I think about the places I’ve visited.
– This was planned based on 3 pax – my wife, my 12-yo daughter, and myself. I managed to hit 95% of what I’ve planned (with the exception of 1 particular day), with almost perfect timing accuracy. If you’re planning for a group of more than 4, this probably won’t work as well for you.
– The main objective is sightseeing and to experience both rural and urban Italy. The itinerary involves a lot of walking, with at least 11k steps (up to 21k steps) each day. That’s roughly about 8km – 15km of walking per day. If you have mobility issues, this is not going to work for you.
– The itinerary hinges on the assumption that you’d do your own planning/research on public transportation. You can choose to splurge on taxi or go easy by subway/bus, or even rent a fucking car/bike. Doesn’t matter. Just Google around for info.
– If your religion prohibits you from visiting buildings or monuments of other religious faith, this won’t work for you too. (A lot of churches, including a visit to Vatican City).
– Some of the days are weather dependent, meaning, it cannot be done without a clear/blue-sky weather. You need to proactively check the weather forecast (when it’s within a week away) and shuffle the days around. I actually had to shift a few days around. One of my planned days did not happen and had to be substituted with an impromptu plan.
– I’m going to do something different with this itinerary sharing. Instead of including the time/hours like the actual itinerary, I’m going to just share the locations and let the readers plan it out on their own – as different assholes might have different ideas about spending time, so… why limit it?
– This is just my own planning and shared to give everyone an idea how to make it their own. It is definitely not the best, with individual preference, travel date and financial factors considered. If you think there are flaws with my planning, that’s probably because you suck or we simply have differences.

*warning: long post ahead…
Read the rest of this entry »

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December 9, 2018

Tuscany (Florence, Siena, Pienza/SQ), Italy – Itinerary and planning (4 days) – part 1 of 2

part 2 here

I found a bargain back in January this year with Qatar Airways to Rome, so I planned for a trip there and just came back a week ago. It was a 2 week excursion (actually 12 days, if you minus out the long traveling time) – 4 days in Tuscany, and 1 week in Rome. My overall expenditure turned out to be lower than going to Japan (not surprising at all). Here’s the itinerary for you bastards who might be interested. Going to split the trip into 2 parts, one for Tuscany and another one for Rome. As usual, the customary disclaimer before you proceed…

– Actual travel time took 2 weeks. You’d need a day to get to Italy by flight, and another to come back. The place is fucking far. Refer to a map. If you choose to go by other means of transportation (other than flying), you’d need to allocate more time.
– Trip was done in mid November, considered winter season by the locals. This season has a relatively short day time. The itinerary takes account on that short daylight and compensates by starting earlier in the morning.
– This is an itinerary post, I’ll do a separate post for what I think about the places I’ve visited.
– This was planned based on 3 pax – my wife, my 12-yo daughter, and myself. I managed to hit 95% of what I’ve planned (with the exception of 1 particular day), with almost perfect timing accuracy. If you’re planning for a group of more than 4, this probably won’t work as well for you.
– The main objective is sightseeing and to experience both rural and urban Italy. The itinerary involves a lot of walking, with at least 11k steps (up to 21k steps) each day. That’s roughly about 8km – 15km of walking per day. If you have mobility issues, this is not going to work for you.
– The itinerary hinges on the assumption that you’d do your own planning/research on public transportation. You can choose to splurge on taxi or go easy by subway/bus, or even rent a fucking car/bike. Doesn’t matter. Just Google around for info. (for the record, the Tuscany part in this itinerary was done with a rental car – which according to me, is the most efficient way to get around between the places).
– If your religion prohibits you from visiting buildings or monuments of other religious faith, this won’t work for you too. (A lot of churches, including a visit to Vatican City).
– Some of the days are weather dependent, meaning, it cannot be done without a clear/blue-sky weather. You need to proactively check the weather forecast (when it’s within a week away) and shuffle the days around. I actually had to shift a few days around. One of my planned days did not happen and had to be substituted with an impromptu plan.
– I’m going to do something different with this itinerary sharing. Instead of including the time/hours like the actual itinerary, I’m going to just share the locations and let the readers plan it out on their own – as different assholes might have different ideas about spending time, so… why limit it?
– This is just my own planning and shared to give everyone an idea how to make it their own. It is definitely not the best, with individual preference, travel date and financial factors considered. If you think there are flaws with my planning, that’s probably because you suck or we simply have differences.

*warning: long post ahead…
Read the rest of this entry »

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November 12, 2018

afternoon bus

The smell of diesel and grease. The feel of blackened rusty metal. The odor of sweaty PVC seats. The roar of old English engine. The engagement of an aging transmission. The jerking of a cranky clutch. The rattling of plastic panes. The G in a speeding cabin. The chatter of school children. The sound of chiming bell. The look of tired conductor. The coarseness of recycled paper. The smoothed surface of metal plate. The hissing of pneumatic pumps. The sweat of laborers. The noise of defective buzzer. The cacophony of traffic. The gaze of innocence. The bake of the sun. The breeze of relief. The fading thoughts of uncertainty. The pang of hunger. The silent songs in my head. The city that I love. The sight of my home.

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November 8, 2018

mobile phone case

One of the many things I do not understand about most people, is why they feel compelled to put on a case for their mobile phones? I see a lot of people like buying expensive (and beautiful) mobile phones, only to ruin its appearance by slapping on a crappy looking case.

I’ve asked around. The rationale of people putting a phone case seems to revolve around the idea of insuring the phone from being damaged if it gets dropped or something. Well, if that’s the case (note the pun), then why bother buying an expensive + beautiful phone, if it’s going to end up with a case that makes it look like a brick anyway? Fucking escapes me.

Adding a case complicates matters. I believe in some ways, adding a case would skew the device’s thermal dissipation rate, and will likely affect the battery life. A case is also a magnet for grime and is filthy as fuck after only weeks of usage. I’ve seen people with very gross phone case before, I wouldn’t touch them with a 10 ft pole. And how would anyone know if the cheap case is safe for consumer goods? What if the plastic is made from a highly flammable material? I guess the thought of breaking one’s expensive phone screen is more dreadful than a potential 3rd degree burn…

You see, phone manufacturers spent millions to develop their products to look as good (and safe) as it should, and with reasonable durability with exquisite materials like metal chassis, tempered glass, non-flammable plastics, sealed enclosure (IP68 rated), etc. Trust me when I say, it doesn’t need a case. If your clumsy ass keeps dropping and damaging phones, then you probably need to worry about bigger things in life (or your phone’s not expensive enough). Slapping on a case just makes your clumsiness have less monetary repercussion.

I’ve never put on a case for any of my phones before. I use all of them as they were (naked), out of the box. It has been like this since my first mobile phone (1999) and all my phones were not diminished in value when I sold them for a new one. Sure there were scratches and dents (I dropped some of my phones before, like everyone else), but the phones held themselves pretty well and I think it adds character. I clean my phones regularly with wet wipes and on some occasions, with IPA wipes. Those were the pre-IP-rated times. Nowadays with glass surface and IP68 rating, I’d just wash my phone with soap and it’s always squeaky clean. Never needed a phone case.

*list of my phones: Nokia 3210 (sold to a hot chick), Nokia 8210 (sold to a phone store), Nokia 8250 (gave it away), Samsung X430 (sold to a phone store), Nokia 3120 (sold to a phone store), Sony Ericsson T610 (scrapped), Sony Ericsson K750i (bricked due to dead batt but, I still have it around), Samsung Galaxy S (sold to an old fart), HTC One M7 (still in use, as a night clock for my daughter), Xiaomi Mi3 (still in use in my lab to develop an app), Xiaomi Mi4i (sold to my wife’s colleague), Samsung Galaxy S7 (my wife’s using it now), Samsung Galaxy S8 (Samsung bought it back from me with full price after 1 year, long story), Samsung Galaxy S9 (current phone).

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