Another Chapter

Quit my full time job in March and started taking a break from full time work since the start of April.

The first week of April had me busy moving all the stuff in my room to my new home. The huge Ikea Galant table was the hardest, but I managed to move it over single handedly.

Managed to get the neccessary things moved over before the COVID-19 lockdown.

The next few weeks and months, I spent my time doing nothing productive. And because of the lockdown, I didn’t travel further than 200 metres away from home, and was comfortable with it.

In July, I began working on my own SaaS (Software as a Service) product whose details I won’t share much publicly until it’s done.

Every morning I wake up at 8am, make or buy breakfast. Take a shower and with a cup of hot coffee, I sit down in front of my computer and begin working while listening to music from my old yet wonderful Klipsch Promedia GMX 2.1 speakers.

Being someone who enjoys staying at home, I don’t feel affected much by COVID-19. Perhaps I will when I begin searching for a job if my SaaS product doesn’t take off.

But for now, it feels good to have a spacious and comfortable room to work in.

What are you waiting for?

The phrase, “What are you waiting for?” is so overused in advertising. I wonder who the first advertiser is who used it.

Many years ago, a company that runs a huge anime convention every year in Singapore, made a facebook post to tell their fans that tickets are now up for sale.

As you suspect, they ended the post with the words “What are you waiting for?”

And so I left a comment in that post saying “Waiting for the price of the tickets to fall.”

My comment soon got deleted and I noticed they stopped using these words again in future posts.

2020

My first post on this blog was dated 1st Jan 2004. I’m quite sure I started blogged 1~2 years before that. So it makes it about 18 years of blogging. Back then the blog was named “Elusive Emotions”, because of the various thoughts and emotions that I was experiencing back then during my student years. (most likely I was just an emo person back then, lol)

Looking back at my 2004 post, I had apparently spent the night alone at Orchard Road, witnessing the chaos everywhere at countdown. This year, I opted to just spend the night at home, gaming, chatting and drinking with my Japanese friends. Didn’t even bother to look out the window to listen for fireworks anymore.

2019 has been the peak of my life so far. I bought a house, and will finally get to enjoy air conditioning. I had the storeroom separating 2 rooms torn down in order to combine the 2 rooms to make one long room for myself.

As of now, the renovation is still in progress. Some parts of the house may not be visually pleasing to many but it’s mostly because this apartment I bought is old and so the structure isn’t aircon-pipe friendly. I can live with it though. I’m just happy to finally have more space for myself, and much better living conditions for my parents.

As a person who enjoys sci-fi movies a lot, this decade would be my favourite. Back then, futuristic movies often refer to years in this decade. (I can’t think of any titles so I’m just basing it off my feelings).

Can’t wait to see how far technology will progress this decade.

Quick and dirty guide to travelling in Japan (mostly Tokyo oriented) for Singaporeans

Go cheaptickets.sg or some other site to find the cheapest ticket to Japan. Tokyo has 2 airports, Narita, Haneda. Haneda is nearer to Tokyo (about 20 min train ride). Direct flight is about 6~7 hours. Depending on traffic, customs might take 30~60 minutes.

Fastest way from Narita to Tokyo (Ueno) is via the Keisei Skyliner (about 40 min train ride) but a bit more expensive. You can buy 2-way tickets online at their website for a slightly discounted price.

From my experience, best is to land in the morning/afternoon. Most hotel’s check in time is 2pm. If you arrive early, you can ask the hotel’s concierge to keep your luggage until you come back to check in. If you leave on a late night flight, you can also ask the hotel’s concierge to temporarily keep your luggage after checkout.

If you plan to travel outside of Tokyo for a few days during your trip, it would be good to spend the last 1~2 nights in Tokyo if your flight departs from here. It would be risky and too much of a rush to travel from Kyoto back to Tokyo for your flight.

And if you plan to stay at the same hotel after returning back from outside of Tokyo, you can ask the concierge to keep your luggage at a small fee per day. Then just travel out with a lighter luggage.

Remm Akihabara is a not bad hotel (their elevator system is a little annoying though). Can book online at hotels.com. At off-peak periods, a night’s stay can be around $100 SGD. Akihabara Washington is also near by and pretty good. Both hotels are right next to JR Akihabara station.

Get a SUICA card (similar to our ezlink). Can buy from their ticket machine. Most machines should have a button on screen to switch to English. Might need a deposit. If I’m not wrong, the card expires 10 years from the date of the last transaction. You can use SUICA at most convenient stores and trains throughout Japan. Just show them the card to indicate you want to pay using SUICA. This will help you reduce the amount of loose change.

Get a data SIM card (https://rental.cdjapan.co.jp/ or at the airport). No eSIM as of the time of this blog post. Google maps is pretty reliable there. Can help you find directions and even tell you which train to take, and give you suggestions on what places to visit and dine at.

As for amount of money to bring, 10,000 JPY for every day you are there is safe. But if you don’t shop a lot, 5,000 JPY/day should be enough. This amount includes travel, food and some shopping. Use the meal prices at McDonald’s to gauge if a restaurant’s food is expensive or cheap.

Compared to my first trip to Japan, more places accept credit cards now. There are some cards like YouTrip or DBS’s Multiplier account that helps you make payment in foreign currencies at lower transaction/exchange fees. If you go this route, you can bring less JPY cash. Cash is still needed at some places. Topping up your SUICA for example.

JR Pass is only good if you plan to take Shinkansen out of Tokyo. Have to buy it here in Singapore (JTB), then exchange for the actual pass at a train station or airport when you’re there.

Don’t get from Chan Brothers. When I wanted to get a 14 day pass, they tried to sell me 2x 7 day passes which is more expensive.

Once exchanged, you will have to go through a manned gate at every JR station. Just show the staff your JR pass and you will be allowed to go through. You cannot use the JR pass for metro lines. They are both different train operators.

You can also make reservations for the Shinkansen at certain stations that have a counter only for Shinkansen travellers. I would a list of dates and times and the train number, departure and destination, and make those reservations as soon as possible. If you are unable to make a reservation, there are free-seating carriages so just arrive early and queue up.

Apple

My very first Apple product was the iPhone 3GS. I still remember how I queued overnight just to get one and had to go for work the very next day without sleep. It was my very first smartphone and the excitement kept the sleep monster away.

I don’t do that now. I’m happy to just pre-order one and wait for it to be delivered.

Since then, I gradually started using more Apple products. The MacBook Air, iPad, MacBook Pro, AirPods.

Right now I have the iPhone XS, MacBook Pro 2019, iPad Mini 5th gen, and I still keep my older MacBook Pro 2015. I ditched the AirPods because they were too expensive and having my first pair fail after a year doesn’t give me enough confidence to own another.

The thing I love about these products is how well they integrate with one another, greatly improving my quality of life.

I use the 1Password password manager on my iPhone and when I copy the password on it, I can immediately paste it on my MacBook. I use the built in Keychain app too, but kept 1Password because it can generate keyboard friendly yet reasonably secure passwords and can manage one-time-password tokens.

The notes, reminders and calendars app are synced across all devices. I can write notes when I’m on my MacBook and search for them when I’m outside on my iPhone, vice versa.

I also like how I can answer phone calls when I’m on my MacBook Pro without picking up my phone. I have earphones that come with a mic that I use to listen to music while working on the MacBook. Sometimes I would get phone calls and I can immediately answer it without taking off the earphones.

I’m looking forward to more QoL improvements Apple products bring.

Having said that, I don’t own an Apple Watch yet primarily because of the battery life. I find it kind of troublesome to have to charge it everyday. Probably because I’m used to how I only need to change the battery for my analog watch once a year, and I still like the look of an analog watch. I’m still keen to own one for the health and safety features like ECG and fall detection though.

Lastly, another reason I love Apple’s products is how beautiful their user interface is. Although they have made some ugly ones before (remember the UI for the very first notes app? lol), the UI right now for most of their software is very pleasing to look at.