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.

I’m not afraid of dying

Yes, seriously, I’m not. Why? Well, what’s the point of feeling afraid and anxious on something that you can’t even control?

“But I want to live longer… I’m still too young to die…” as some said. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I wanted to die young, if possible. I don’t need to live my life up to 70s, 80s or 90s. Some may argue that they are working hard everyday and their life has just begun after their retirement in 50s. Some said they want to see their kids grow up, graduate, get married and have their own family.

For me, I want to live and enjoy my life now, like… now. I don’t want to save all the enjoyment until my retirement, I don’t want to pinch my happiness on unknown circumstances in the future. Like what I had always said, live your current moment to the fullest, live as if today will be your last day of life, live without regrets for tomorrow.

Therefore, it is important to balance my work and personal life, it is important to work a job that I enjoy, it is important to live my life to the best I could. If I die tomorrow, I will not feel a sense of “life is too short”, I will be able to close my eyes and smile.

Of course, the reality is, I have no control over when I will die (that is until the time euthanasia is legalized and become a norm). So it doesn’t mean I will spend all my money just to fulfil my lust for materials and experiences. I am still saving for retirement and for emergency, in case I live that long. If not, the money can always be donated to those in need.

So… here I am today, trying my best to live my life to the fullest, and I hope you are too. All the best, till then.

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.

Apple Watch… 5 years on

5 years ago, Apple launched its first smartwatch to the world, dubbed the Apple Watch. In my opinion, the original Apple Watch (now called as Series 1) was pretty flop as a device itself, I remembered looking at it and I was like “there’s no way I’m gonna buy this”. As many have rightly pointed out, the Series 1 was hoarded down by a lot of shortcomings on performance and selling features that appeal to people. It nailed the design, but not the experience… just yet. Although I have dismissed the Series 1, a part of me realized that there’s true potential in it to become great, and oh boy did it became great.

Fast forward to present, the Apple Watch Series 5 has waterproofing, sound level detection, built-in ECG, built-in GPS and compass, cellular network onboard, edge-to-edge screen, always-on display… it is indeed the perfect companion and the most personal computer device Apple has ever built. In just 5 years, Apple has moved the needle of smartwatches so much that made other competitors scrambling to play catch-up. Stories about how Apple Watch has changed lives (and even saved lives) have been circulating across the internet. In fact, Apple has even surpassed most of the traditional watches to become one of the highest selling watches in the world.

Personally, I have been using the Apple Watch Series 3 for more than 2 years now. I’ll admit I was a skeptic initially. Who charges their watch on daily basis! It’s an expensive gadget to upgrade on yearly basis! But once you get over it (you are charging your phone on daily basis anyway?), you will start to enjoy it, like really. After 2 years of usage, I have been enjoying wearing it day in and day out. It tracks my workout, alerted me on abnormal heart rate once which prompted me to went for a health check (everything turns out to be fine and will continue to monitor my status), get me moving throughout the day and get me notified on all the important alerts that I wish to see. And after 2 years it is still working flawlessly, and hopefully maybe it will last me through the third year as well before I even consider to upgrade.

Can I go back to live a life without one? I wonder.

Of course it is not all rosy. Sleep tracking is not available, tracking could be more accurate, the aluminium used could be of better grade to withstand more abuse, more monitoring features are always welcome and so on. So it will be interesting to see what’s next from Apple for the coming generation of Apple Watches. Should everyone buy one? Absolutely not, even if you are iPhone user. It really depends on what you need, some active users might better off getting themselves a dedicated and rugged watches from Garmin or Polar, which are built for outdoor adventure and runners. Those who just want something super simple and cheap that work across multiple platforms will find themselves happy with a Fitbit.

For me and a couple of others, Apple Watch has been the best product from Apple for the past decade. I’m looking forward to see what else Apple has planned for this personal computer that sit on my wrist all day, and let’s see what will the future look like in the next 5 years. Till then.