Best Read of 2019

I have read quite a lot of books this year, be it fiction, non-fiction, biography, self-help and so on. And here are my top 3 picks for the year, and I highly recommend everyone to read them too. Hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

Don’t be fooled by the title of this book. It certainly isn’t some fucking nonsense book that talks about nothing. The author discussed about why people felt entitled, how we can make a better decision to make our lives better, what we should be giving a fuck and not giving a fuck on, how we should embrace problems and difficulties for growth and so on.

To put it simply, this fucking book gives you some mind fuck and hopefully you will be able to unfuck yourself after reading it. To get a taste of what is being covered in this book, take a look at Mark’s website here.

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

This is another epic book that will surely gives you enough mind fuck. Facts are everywhere, readily available, literally been taught and stuffed into our head, but yet people can still get things so wrong, be so out of touch with reality, and keep believing in the falsehood that they believe in. I myself am guilty of this, and this book gave some guidance on how to be a little more mindful and factual in life, which hopefully lead to better decision making, less complaining and more optimistic.

Here’s a video of Hans in action:

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This is a memoir of Paul, a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with cancer. It’s about the story of him fighting his life between work, family, life and illness. It’s not just an ordinary fiction or Korean drama where the main character get sick and died just for the sake of making you cry. This book is much more than that. It makes you think about life, about choices, about death, and the meaning behind those. All in all, a very nice read that will make you think and re-think about everything.

I am who i am, still.

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I know my weakness, I do know. Well, I guess it’s my weakness, at least that’s what others perceive it. Along the years, I tried to change some of them, but not all were possible to be changed. Some old habit, some sticky behaviour, some fixated thoughts still remain.

For a start, I’m someone who doesn’t hide his words and feelings, who don’t give “face” when I don’t give a damn. I’d been trying hard to pretend, but it didn’t work well. It’s just not me. I’m trying to change a little of my approach nowadays, will still need to see if that gels with me.

I’m not afraid of offending people when I know they are in the wrong. I know a lot of people will take that as offensive, not forgiving, not caring, no empathy. I have tried to be a little more compassionate, but it had not always turned out well. So in the end, I’m still very much the own-self I am.

I’m not trying to justify myself being who I am here. This is more like a reflection piece for me, myself, as I reflect back and see how I could possibly move on. If I do offended anyone all these days, I’m sorry for that. Perhaps there are things that are harder to change, things closer to my values, things closer to my belief, things closer to my core personalities.

Of course there were instances where I probably can do better, and those are the lessons I need to learn and remember, and ensure the same mistake will never happen again. It’s a long way to go, and let’s see how it goes in the future. It takes time, but I’ll still try my best, and hopefully one day, I am a better me.

It all depends…


Yes, it all depends.

Something that seems right to you could seem wrong to others. Something that is acceptable to you could be unacceptable to others. In the end, it all depends. It depends on each individual’s value, needs, upbringing, requirement and etc.

For example, X-Pro 3 released with a inward-flipping screen. There are those who love the idea, and there were those who felt it is plain stupid. Take another example, Face ID login on an iPhone, some find it as a game changer, while some prefer to stick with their fingerprint recognition. Some say Leica is overpriced, some say Leica has soul. At the end of the day, it really depends whether something resonates with you.

The photo you took could mean a lot to you and perceived as a great shot, but to others it could be just a meaningless snapshot. Sometimes, it is very hard to draw a line that’s clear enough for everyone to agree with, especially when it comes to photography, something that’s art-related, something that everyone would have their own opinion on.

So?

You can choose to be bothered and argue with people who disagree with you. You can choose to stand firm and continue to believe in what your faith leads you to. It all depends… again, on your choice on how to react and respond. For me personally, I don’t bother too much on what others were saying or doing, I’m more focused on what I want to say and what I want to do. Of course I’m not saying I will totally shut off suggestion and advice from others, but I will try my best to be aware of my end goal while dealing with differences.

Well, you may agree or disagree with me, it really depends. Till then.

Are we getting “Smarter”?

Nowadays, everything seems to be getting “smarter”… Smart home, Smart phone, Smart TV… getting stuff connected to internet and create an app to control them seems to be on the rage and the new standard of defining “smart”… add in a few AI, Big Data, IoT and you have a full package to market it.

But with all these “smart” devices flooding into our lives, are we really getting smarter? Is our lives really improved? It reminds me of a few instances when I visited a couple of my friends’ home. Walking into the room, my friend will proudly show me his trick by using voice command to turn on the light or air-conditioner.

“Ok Google, turn on the lights.”
From the moment we step into the room, to my friend finished his command, to Google finally understood it and get the lights on… it took like 5-10 seconds? If I were to walk in the room and press the physical switch, it would take me probably… 1-2 seconds?

“But… it’s cool!”
“This is the future! Voice command and hands free!”
“I don’t want to be left behind! I must be at the forefront of technology!”

Sadly, a lot of people just don’t seems to understand what they are getting themselves into. To me, I don’t see a point of wasting 10 seconds to replace a task that can be done in 1 second. It just doesn’t add up, why automate something that’s already been so efficient to begin with?

Now, that’s not to say I’m against the idea of… say a smart home. In fact I find that there are quite a lot of advantages (and disadvantages) of having everything connected to the internet. You can turn on or off appliances at home remotely, monitor power consumption, understand and study your usage behaviour or pattern, group several devices together and control them at once under scene mode… just to name a few of the good and meaningful things that you can and should be doing with your smart home.

Collecting data, providing insights and control in improving life, automation… these are genuine reasons for us to celebrate “smart” devices, but to turn on a switch in front of you with voice instead of your hand? Oh please… Okay, I might be pissing people with this post. I’m not trying to make fun of anybody. If you want to be cool, want to be ahead of times, then invest a little more time into doing some of the things that really harvest the best of technology.

We all can get a little “smarter” with all the smart devices around us, but we still need to take the effort to do so. Having the devices alone will not be enough, we still need to think, understand and extract the best of them, just like how we have been living our lives in the pre-smart era.

Ecosystem… Good or Bad?

I am rooted into Apple’s ecosystem, though I wouldn’t say I’m deeply rooted in it. I don’t have Apple TV, I don’t use Siri, but I do have the “basics” of iMac, Apple Watch and iPhone (I still have an iPad but I don’t use it that often anymore).

I enjoyed using them, they may not be the best device individually (and there will never be “the best”), but the fact that all devices I use on daily basis can interact and linked with each other closely, work seamlessly across each other really makes a whole lot of difference. Apple has refined and pushed the envelope on ecosystem more than anyone else, and that is something which I valued, and I understand not everyone will value the same.

Being able to send a message from my iMac without the need to grab my phone, opening a tab on my iPad and have the same tab shown on my iPhone if I want to, copy from one device and paste your from your clipboard to another device are just a few of the features proved useful when you are being tied down to an ecosystem. Not to mention the seamless connectivity of AirPods to any Apple devices has shown what kind of efficiency a locked down ecosystem can actually deliver.

Well, depends on how you look at it, it could be a curse or a blessing. There was once I felt concern for tying myself down and be in the mercy of one company. I made a switch back to Android, I was waiting patiently for the Surface Phone to arrive (which promised Apple-like integration with Windows), but in the end, none of them turned out to be a viable option or materialized. Ever since Surface Phone was dead, Microsoft promised better integration with Android will arrive, but we have yet to see it until today.

In the end, I’m back to the Apple’s ecosystem and been happy to stay there ever since. One may argue you don’t need to have your phone to be in-sync with your other devices, well, it may not mean anything to you, but it meant a lot for those who are really using it. I value the convenience, and I’m willing to even pay a premium for it.

Of course it’s not all good and rosy for the Apple ecosystem at the moment. There are many other things they can do to improve further. Apple Watch still requires an iPhone to work, app experience across platform (iOS, iPadOS and macOS) could still be better and so on. But I believe some of this will sure get iron out in the future.

So is ecosystem a good thing or a bad thing? You be your own judge.