The world of over engineering

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Take a look over on kickstarter (or indiegogo), you will soon find the platform is filled with over engineered stuff, like super complex lunch box, items that doubled or tripled with additional features and functions that may or may not be necessary and so on.

Just do a quick search on “bag”, you will find that almost every bags packed in every single features gathered from every other existing bags out there, all cramped into one. All these features generate enough hypes to make each of these bags labelled themselves as “the best bag every designed and built”, throw in a collaboration with some “famous” YouTubers, or get it review by some of them and there, you have a winning formula in selling tons of it.

For example, there are over engineered carry-on backpack that can expand in capacity, carry up to 30L, filled with compartments, extra padding and weights in over 2kg for just the bag alone. Typically, carry-on luggage is limited at 7kg in weight, that means you can only fill up another 5kg of stuff with such a huge capacity… all of a sudden it doesn’t sound like a lot right? Let’s say you carry a laptop that weights around 2kg, you are only left with 3kg to carry all your remaining stuff (clothings, toiletries, other daily essentials etc.), how is that even practical?

Camera bag is another culprit of over engineering. Velcro are replaced with countless of magnets, lots and lots of compartments that can’t even be filled, bags that are designed as “the ultimate bag” which cater for every possible environment (such as urban, hiking, trekking, extreme sport and so on), the list can go on and on. Other than bags, there are various camera accessories or “tech” items flooding the platform everyday. There’s nothing wrong for them to sell you something you don’t need, but it’s our call to perform our due diligence, to be rational and honest, and ultimately not to be deceived by the marketing hype.

For me, I had tried to stay away from “reviewers” online, be it YouTube or any other platforms. If I was interested with something, I took the time to really study, understand and think through whether it is really as useful as it advertised. “But it’s on kickstarter! Limited quantity and special price for early backers! Promotion ends in 30 minutes!” It’s okay, for me, I’m willing to spend more on something I really want and need than paying less on something I don’t really need and regret buying in the end. I had my fair share of wrong decisions in the past, and hopefully I will be a little wiser in the future.

Talk about habit

Go My Own Way

Habit, something we are used to, and something that we do unconsciously. Some have the habit of drinking coffee every morning, some have the habit of wetting their fingers with your tongue before counting cash. We all have some sort of habit, maybe you may not even realize it.

For me, I was so used to wearing watches that even when I’m not wearing one, I’ll still be constantly raising my wrist to check out the time, and I will feel rather “insecure” for the rest of the day for some reason.

Recently I had picked up a new “habit”… I have been wearing glasses for over 20 years, and last year I had lasik for both of my eyes, so there’s no longer a need to wear glasses. However, my old glasses wearing habit still persist. There were times I tried to “take off my glasses” before washing my face, there were times when I still shield “my glasses” from water spray or rain droplets. The worse was sometimes I felt that I can see things clearer when I’m wearing glasses, despite the glasses is actually just cosmetic without any prescription.

The same goes to photography. Say you are easily drawn to something and you unconsciously groomed the habit of photographing the same thing, even worse if it is at almost similar angle or composition. Some have the habit to shoot things dead centre, some have the habit to over-saturate their photo during post processing.

I believe it is hard to avoid having any habits. The key point instead will probably be whether or not you are aware of your habit, recognize it and stop it when necessary. Maybe you can make that your “new habit” instead? Till then.

Live within your means

It had never really struck me until I sit down, reflect and do the math. Netflix, Adobe subscription, Apple Music, Microsoft Office and etc. are just a few of the things I was paying for on monthly basis all along. I was working in sales, as long as I push myself, I’ll get my equivalent pay in return. Although I wouldn’t say I’m rich in any means, but those are the things that seem affordable to me all along.

With my job switched to non-sales role, my overall pay was reduced a little. Couple that with additional expenses after moving in to new places, my expenses and saving have gone haywire for awhile until I finally spend some time looking into it. Judging from what I really need and what I’m willing to pay for, I decided to make plans in restructuring all my expenses.

As a start, Adobe and Netflix will go, I can’t find justification to continue on as I don’t use them often enough to warrant a subscription. I’ll make do with any cheaper (or even better, free) alternative for now. Next will be Microsoft Office, I’ll make do with Apple’s apps and move most of my cloud backup back to local RAID storage that I already bought few years back. Gym membership from big names has been swapped to neighbourhood gym too. Flickr will probably be next.

The streamlining process goes on and on, and hopefully I can cut away all fats and live a leaner life going forward. “But you only live once”, yes, but still that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be leaving my responsibilities behind. I can still live the best without spending that much more. Perhaps this is a good chance for me to become a step closer to minimalism. Till then.

The Circuit Breaker

Social distancing

It’s almost a week into the 30 days long “Circuit Breaker” period, a period of time introduced by the government of Singapore to curb the spread of COVID-19. People are advised to stay home, wear mask when leaving their house, and only to head out for essential matters such as buying food and groceries. With this measure, hopefully we can contain the virus from transmitted locally and bring down the number of cases.

So how do I survived through the first couple of days? Well, nothing eventful actually, and fairly simple. As usual I woke up at 5am (yes, even at times like this) and instead of heading to gym (all non-essential services and facilities were closed throughout the period), I’ll either go for a jog around my neighbourhood or just do some workout in my house. I don’t have any equipment other than a piece of resistance band actually, so for this one month I’ll just focus on bodyweight or core trainings. It’s okay, there’s no point buying gym equipment at put them at home just to serve this period.

Once done, I’ll head to nearby market to stock up some groceries if required, otherwise I’ll be reading some news or catching up with a few videos, and I’ll have my apple cider vinegar as my “starter” and followed by a cup of home brewed coffee to start my day working from home. Yes, I’ve skipped my breakfast for the time being as I restarted my intermittent fasting routine, just nice during this period of time. Then I’ll cook my lunch and dinner, and end the day reading a few chapters of book.

How about weekends? Well, as a rather “introvert” person who enjoys all sorts of stay-at-home activities, I really have no issue surviving through the weekend. Read a few chapters more on the book, watch a movie, do some writing, spend some time in self reflection and sorting my mind, find some topics of interest and do some research on it, listen to music, take a nap… and there goes my weekend.

For others, this 30 days will be a gruesome one. People with no hobby, no interest, can’t live without going out and staying out will face tremendous challenge to survive. Already there were people who refuse to stay home, still head out and loiter around, still refuse to take personal hygiene into their habit, still refuse to wear mask… sigh. Seems like we are not far away from the extension of 30 days Circuit Breaker period.

The Singapore government has done a good job in controlling the situation, although I do not agree with some of their decision (such as late closure of border, isolation of dormitory for foreign workers), but they have been taking good care of their citizen and residents alike. All in all, I applaud their effort in managing this pandemic. Yes, on hindsight they can always do better, but apparently the world is not ready for a pandemic yet, no matter how hard we tried and prepared ourselves.

Okay, it’s been a long ranting post. Lastly, everyone plays a role in making sure the pandemic does not worsen. Stay calm, stay home, keep yourself clean and do take care of those who are in need as well whenever possible. Let’s work together and work harder to overcome this. Till then.

The state of 2020

“We should just write-off first half of 2020 and let the year begin in July.”

That was what my friend told me. Trip canceled, job lost, pay cut, income dropped, flight grounded, people died, tears dried. Up until the end of March, 2020 has been nothing short of chaotic and a mess. Most of our lives have been disrupted, many were forced to stay home, many were feeling helpless, many were feeling anxious of the uncertain future.

For me, I was fortunate that nothing much was planned for the first half of the year in the very first place. Disruption has been minimal, other than not being able to travel back to my hometown in Kuala Lumpur, some minor movement restriction, life has been pretty much “as usual” here in Singapore. I’m not sure if the measures implemented by the government were effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19, but at this point of time, there’s really nothing much I can do other than leave it to the expert to advise, and of course to wash my hand frequently.

For those who are restricted in movement, do take this opportunity to read some books (if you need recommendation, browse around my blog for some), learn some skills, don’t just Netflix and chill your time away. As the future is uncertain, it’s better to take every crisis ahead and turn it into an opportunity for the days to come. Also, stay safe, stay healthy and stay calm. We’ll get over this for sure.