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.

The rising prices of Apple products

I fell in love with the iPhone ever since I touched one that belonged to a friend. Back then, the iPhone was exclusive only to a certain carrier and I was on a different one.

Years later, that carrier no longer had the exclusivity and I was able to buy the 3GS model. My very first smartphone. Even queued through the night for it.

Since then, I would upgrade my iPhone almost every time when there was a new release. As of this time, I’m using an iPhone 8 Plus 256GB which costs SGD $1,030, after recontracting with my carrier for 2 years. My monthly phone bill is about $40.

With the recent announcement of the new iPhone models, an XS Max 256GB will cost $1,475 and the XS 256GB at $1,335. (2 year re-contract)

While it’s a more powerful phone than the previous generation, at the way the new phones are being priced, I have no doubt it will gradually become unaffordable to the average person.

Guess this 8 Plus will have to stick with me for one or more years.

On the bright side, there’s no “compelling” feature on the Xs that make me want to own one.

My iPad Mini 4 serves me very well since I only use it to read manga.

The only Apple product I want to upgrade is my MacBook Pro. It’s an early 2015 model with 16GB of ram, 128GB SSD.

I’m having disk space issues as I only have 5GB free most of the time. I run virtual machines so I need lots of ram. Responsiveness seems to have been a thing of the past because a lot of my work apps are CPU intensive.

I was glad when they announced 32GB ram MacBook Pros but disappointed to learn it was only for the 15″ model. I would prefer to stick with the 13″ model for it’s lighter weight.

If I ever get the MacBook Pro with the specs that I want, I don’t see myself upgrading my Apple products for years to come.

Unless….

Apple comes up with something so compelling I just have to get my hands on…

Which I doubt they will for at least the next 3 years.

Avoid pop.co

A while ago, I bought the tickets for Laracon Online. Among the goodies you get is a free .co domain for a year with a domain registrar called pop.co.

There was a special promo link that you have to use to get your free domain, but this link wasn’t communicated clearly enough and I paid for my .co domain.

So I tried to contact them to see if this could be rectified. I didn’t expect a refund, but maybe just extend my domain with an extra year.

No response. Nothing at all from them, for weeks.

Today, I tried to login to webmail on pop.co. Logged in successfully but I keep getting redirected back to the login screen.

And if you check their twitter account, you’ll see that there are no more responses after the goodies where given out when Laracon Online went live.

Something’s fishy.

Transferring out my domain to my current registrar (This is not a sponsored post, lol). WHOIS lookup prishe.com if you want to know who.

This one I’m using now has been reliable, and support promptly responds to my questions.

In summary, fuck pop.co

On Cryptocurrencies

When bitcoin was first announced, it boasted of features that would help make “ideas flourish”.

With low transaction fees, no chargebacks, it was supposed to help businesses in their transactions.

But today, it has achieved none of that, or maybe it does in the black markets, but I’m not familiar with that.

And while no significant life-improving thing has been achieved, a lot of processing power, resources to make chips for those processing power and electricity to power those chips are continually being consumed in enormous amounts by cryptocurrency miners.

I feel that all these resources could’ve been spent on more important things.

Like protein folding.

Making cheaper computers for people who can’t afford one.

Electricity to power more cars so that fossil fuels can be phased out faster.

In my eyes, cryptocurrencies are nothing but just a new age ponzi scheme.

People treat them as an investment in the future.

A vaporware future.

Having said all that, I still bought about $800 worth of coins last year just to learn what the process is like to purchase coins.

Sold them when their price went up, bought them again when their price fell. Now I have $1200 worth of coins, just waiting for the next price increase.

Blockchain technology on the other hand, may bring improvements to various industries. And as long as it doesn’t consume so much resources, it’s something I can agree with.

FastIris

There are only 2 bus companies in Singapore. SBS Transit being the largest and whose buses I travel on most frequently.

They released an iPhone app called iris, for poor people like me who cannot afford our own mode of transportation,  which we can use to check the time the next bus will arrive at a specified bus stop.

It was frustrating to use. I hated the loading screen which wastes a few seconds of my time. And then I had to spend a few taps to get to my favourites list which I’ve added the bus numbers that I frequently use.

On top of that, there are frequent unknown errors and I would have to try and reload the bus timings again and each load takes a long time to complete.

I happened to learn about the mitm proxy tool from an article that exposed how the Path app was sending user’s address book info in plain text to their servers.

This tool can be used to analyze traffic data between a phone and the internet. So I set it up and used it to analyze the HTTP requests made from the iris app.

It made a lot of requests which explains why it’s always so slow.

So knowing the structure of the data that was sent and received from the iris servers allowed me to write my own web app to get the information I want. And the result…

fastiris

It worked perfectly. And very fast.

I’ve added it as a bookmark icon on my phone. One tap, it brings me to the browser and loads my web app. Instantly, I’m shown a list of bus numbers that I frequently use. Tapping on the bus number, will load the next and subsequent time remaining till that bus arrives at the bus stop. That’s all I need.

There’s even a short cut to load the timings for 2 buses that I travel on everyday to get to work.

It uses cache.manifest to make the browser cache the jQuery file and the index file, this made loading the app almost instant.

I’ve also added 2 fields at the bottom which takes in the bus number and bus stop number so I can check the bus timings for other buses just in case.

tl;dr: programming and computers are fun.