Monday, November 20, 2017

Old timer, meet new timepiece

Just arrived: my new wristpiece. As the box says, it's a Ticwatch with full Android Wear functionality.

Unboxing, the product bears a large display for which I am grateful. It has only one Home button on the left, but who needs more buttons when every other control you need is on the touchscreen?

The display is bright and clearly visible, and a relief as I am so used to squinting at my previous display, these eyes not being what they used to be. This model is the Ticwatch S, which means it comes with a lot of health apps, "S" being for "sports". One more thing to nag at me daily to get my 10K steps in. Other items in the box are a screen protector and a nifty pair of charging cables. I guess the future is here. If you see me talking to my wrist, I'm actually asking Google Assistant to take a note, make an appointment, direct me to a location, or text so-and-so.

Meantime, My old Pebble Time must have known he was soon to be replaced. Still perfectly functional, it really wasn't his time. But since his parent company got sold away, I needed to find a reliable replacement -- I just didn't expect the Ticwatch to be delivered so soon. Anyway, over the weekend, I suffered a careless misstep and fell head first into a parked bicycle. But most of the damage went to the old Pebble Time, with the now severely scratched faceplate. Guess it's his way of saying he will always be mine, now that I can't sell him off or give him away any more. I'll keep him paired with my old Note 5. Relics of yesteryear.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Making the switch to the Pixel 2 XL

Am now a happy user of the new Google Pixel 2 XL.

Straight out of the box, it's almost ready to use. Transitioning from my old phone was a breeze: all needed files, apps, and settings directly copied over via a data cable link between old and new phones. A quick re-login for social media apps on the new phone, and it's like I never left my old environment.

A quick tip for setting up the fingerprint security access: despite what the instructions say, tap your finger on the sensor. Each tap lights up a segment of a blue circle encircling the fingerprint icon. When all segments are fully blue, it's done. Now getting past the lockscreen is quick and accurate -- I haven't had my print misread even once yet.

Have yet to properly play around with the other features such as the new camera with 'portrait mode', though. My surroundings aren't all that inspiring to shoot. The 'blue shift' issue, well, I knew about it before I shelled out for it. The screen does turn perceptibly blue when viewed at an angle, but it's an imperfection I can overlook, literally.

Once again, thanks to my generous Uncle Moe for the annual provision!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fillings, nothing more than fillings

A fully-packed day of wall-to-wall consults I had to cancel.

I’d been living with what I thought was a cavity in my molar for months. It made me chew on my left side, but occasionally a bit of stray food would get lodged in there and cause an explosion of pain inside my skull. But I have a deft tongue, good for dislodging food particles from hard-to-reach recesses in my mouth, and so the pain doesn’t last more than a couple of seconds.

Yesterday, however, something went in and the pain stayed with me for the next few hours. Definitely time to stop putting off the inevitable.

Today, I squeezed in an appointment with my dentist and expected the worst. Turns out there was no decay, but my tooth had cracked. The damage was bad enough to cause a little chunk of tooth to come loose, but not so bad as to leave the rest irreparable.

I had the sliver of tooth removed along with an existing filling which had been put in place years ago — a metallic blight against my natural enamel. Sounds painful, but I didn’t realise that was happening until it was over. The new cavity got a new filling, this time in a more natural colour. Yay!

Dentist suspects the crack might have been caused by me grinding my teeth in my sleep. There are wear marks and my canines are flattened. Next visit, we review the new filling, and barring further complications, reinforce it with a composite. Then maybe we’ll discuss the need for a night guard to deal with my night grinding.

Update 19 Jan 2018:
The repair has failed. Was crunching a McSpicy when the repaired molar split in half! Unsalvageable, it had to be extracted. Now living with a gap in the back. Dentist says that in time, my existing wisdom tooth will fill in the hole as it is growing in that direction, anyway. Haven't had an extraction since my early teens. Turns out the process was more frightening than painful. Maybe I have a good dentist?

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Had the fright of my life. It was our first ever extended family Nat Day feast. We were all anxious to sample the wife's newfound baking skills, and the BBQ that followed.

Cuz J brought around a bull terrier mix he had recently adopted -- actually saved from being put down by his previous owners. The maltipoo was on my lap when the bull came sniffing round. On catching sight of each other, the bull reared up and clamped his jaws on the 'poo, dragging her off my lap onto the ground. While the 'poo was screaming, I reacted, shoving what few fingers I could into the bull's mouth and tried to pull his jaws apart. J and son rushed over to help, the three of us tugging as hard as we could. In the back of my mind, I was wondering what damage the 'poo was suffering. She was still screaming. My forebrain kept focus on the immediate problem: open jaws, assess damage later. Somehow, the bull let go and we got a clean separation. He got an immediate time-out in the garden, while the 'poo went into the bedroom for a diagnosis. It could have been worse.The 'poo showed only bite marks on her right ear, bruised but not punctured. Lots of sympathy and comforting later and the trauma seems to have faded.

The bull will probably need more socialising to properly calibrate his IFF sensors. I'm guessing he saw the 'poo as prey -- like a large squirrel, or something -- and couldn't help himself. As for the 'poo and me, we're gonna be a bit more wary of strange dogs from now.

Monday, June 26, 2017


A month ago, I had what I thought was a sudden craving to spend lots of money. Turns out, a month later, it wasn't so much a craving than a premonition. All I wanted to spend on was a new (and almost totally unnecessary) monitor with an HDMI port. Everything else was unplanned expense including repairs to Mr L33t; car maintenance; new health insurance policies; membership and late charges for a credit card I hadn't been keeping track of since I never use it; vet expenses for the cat's UTI, wedding gifts; and various entertainment expenses for out-of-town visitors. All worthy causes, no doubt, but the wallet is severely fatigued from the frequent open-close reps.

Austerity drive until next payday... which is looking so far away, at the moment.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


The new monitor finally arrived, a day late and unannounced. Just so happened I was home. So now I have a huge-ass big-screen monitor sitting on my desk, with barely enough space for my keyboard which is partially hanging off the monitor's baseplate. I might have to rethink the desktop layout, though I hate moving things about, now that everything has been let to settle for years.

At least my games are a lot more immersive, taking up way more visual real estate than before. Yay!

Friday, June 09, 2017

Pending delivery

Does anyone else feel trapped at home awaiting a delivery that's due, but with no specific prearranged time? Guess I'll just nip out for a bit. Need food...

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Upgrade time!

Just for the record; my reference, really:
Upgraded Mr L33t again yesterday. He is now rockin' with the following components:
Mobo: Gigabyte AB350 Gaming-3
Processor: AMD Ryzen 1500X
RAM: 1x16GB Kingston
GPU: Gigabyte Geforce GTX1060

If there is a reason for the upgrade, it's due to a system crash that I was unable to diagnose towards a specific fault. What was clear that my secondary drive with all my data was one of the contributing factors. And, yes, I had eliminated that possibility in my testing and the system was still unable to boot.

Good news: Although I assumed the worst in being unable to recover my data files, I had backed them up on a portable drive and was pleasantly surprised to serendipitously rediscover them today. No questions asked, just re-backed them up on a new drive, just to be safe.

And tomorrow, the new monitor is scheduled to be delivered...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Are you normal?

No one wants to be normal in Singapore. A 'normal' person takes 5 years to complete secondary education. That's too slow. Not when 'express' only takes 4 years. If a person has to take an extra year to be schooled, they must be stupid and are an embarrassment to their parents who will never be able to hold their heads up again among their contemporaries, all of whom have 'express' children.
Faith Ng's play, Normal, directed by Claire Wong, focuses on two students in their 5th and final year of secondary education. Daphne blanked out after studying too hard at her Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE), while Ashley obtained less-than-outstanding results at the same exam -- which they took when they were 12 -- thus qualifying them both as 'normal', and nothing more.
Like every other normal student, they bear the label as a stigma. They have little confidence in their own abilities. Their well-meaning teachers' insistence on upbraiding them on their attire, punctuality and decorum at every slight infraction is simply focused on making the normals conform in outward appearance, but does little to challenge them intellectually where academic learning really counts. As such, with every school day feeling like prison, the normals feel increasingly convinced that they will end up not graduating and their lives will be over.
Unlike the other teachers they have encountered, the new literature teacher who runs the Drama Club takes a different approach with the normals. She believes in them and helps them work out their fears, anxieties and frustrations through theatre and convinces them that they can succeed in the end. But in a plot reminiscent of Dead Poets Society (1989), Ms Hue is alone in her efforts and the system beats down on everyone eventually.
The play is beautifully set. There is the main playing area in which all the action takes place, while a corridor runs behind it framed to look like school chalkboards when lit in front, but becomes transparent when lit from the back (the magic of sharkstooth scrim), revealing the ensemble engaged in a variety of school activities. In a genius piece of lighting design, this corridor-frame is uplit at both ends, casting a shadow that creates the illusion of an old school tower on the upper back wall of the stage.
A snappy script keeps moments of tension, bleak humour, and awkward tenderness flowing at a brisk pace. Scene transitions are done by the cast in low light while singing familiar girls' school songs -- efficient, entertaining and relevant. The dialogue is liberally peppered with colloquial vulgarities, which could be shocking -- if we didn't already know that schoolgirls actually do speak like that. However, in performance, because the dialogue is delivered in perfect English, the colloquialisms feel a little forced and incongruous to the lines. 'Natural' speech is still a paradox local theatre here has yet to figure out. Nevertheless, the few soliloquies at the end are vivid in their revelations of past history leading up to the decision the normals make when events that have transpired cause them believe that kindness has turned to betrayal.
For a play that turns a critical eye on the rigidity of the education system and how it adversely pigeonholes people seemingly for life, it is disappointing that the normals make the decision that they do. The characters of Daphne and Ashley are built strongly and sympathetically. As such, it seems a bit of a stretch that they would succumb to their circumstance rather than rise above it. Perhaps that is the point: that the system wastes much human potential. Like the Alpha, Beta castes of Huxley's A Brave New World (1932), the system gives few opportunities for 'late-bloomers' to excel, or even bloom at all.
But it isn't so much the system that finally drives Ashley's decision as much as her own persecution complex which locks her in a vicious cycle, causing her to interpret every interaction with her teachers as hostile, and escalating that hostility with her own defensive reactions. If Ashley is the architect of her own fate while 22 of her classmates are able to move on from where they are, then the character of Ashley is only there to play the stereotype, pander to audience expectations, and raise sympathy rather than deal with the real flaws of inequality and injustice inherent in a system that is ironically supposed to support meritocracy.
Otherwise, Normal is an excellent and realistic view of school from both student and teacher perspectives. While teachers are well-meaning at heart, their personal biases and choices in responding to their students can be very cruel, indeed.
Review originally published on (26 March 2017)

Monday, January 02, 2017

Cake in a box

He hears, "put the cake in the box."

She means, "putthecakeintheboxthatIgotfromDaisobutdon'tteartheoriginalpackagingwhichhasinstructionsonhowtousetheboxproperlyandbesidesIwanttogivethewholethingtoCousinSallyasaChristmaspresentsopleasemakesureIcanresealthepackagingsoitstilllooksintactandnotlooklikeit'sbeenopenedbefore."

He puts the cake in the box.

She goes ballistic.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.