Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

2020 Update

Monday, December 14th, 2020

It’s almost the end of the year (2020) and just noticed that I haven’t posted anything in a long while. We are in the middle of a pandemic and have been working from home since March. I have gotten used to this new routine and can’t imagine going back to the office… A couple of things I realized about myself during this time:

  • Am really a homebody. I no longer enjoy going out (without an agenda) which I used to do every weekend with my family.
  • I relearned playing the guitar and found out that you lose it if you haven’t played in a while… I find that even missing a few days of practice messes up my timing. However, since I have played during my younger days, I have gotten back to my previous skill level in just a few weeks.
  • I have started doing projects around the house (fixing plumbing, shampooing the carpets, cleaning out the dryer vent) and we even painted the main living area/bedrooms/bathrooms.
  • I’m inclined to tinker. Right now, am obsessed with the car. Added roof crossbars, changing out bulbs to LED, and will be probably be making more improvements.
  • Am probably in the minority who will look back at this year and think of it fondly mainly because I was so productive this year, and in all aspects too (home, work, physical health, mental health, spiritually, creatively).

Some of the new tech that I have recently purchased relate to smart home tech. I got new locks, security cameras, garage door, lights, plugs etc. I have also effectively ended my Samsung boycott as I got a Samsung smartwarch, and their wireless earbuds. Am still wary of getting their home appliances though… I think their personal tech (phones, watches, tablets) is way better than their other departments.

Smartwatch/Fitness Band Hunting

Monday, July 15th, 2019

I have been on the market for a new fitness band/smartwatch since my Microsoft band was discontinued and it finally broke (bracelet tore off). I have had both the Microsoft Band and the Microsoft Band 2 as well as a Wear OS device in between. I really loved the MS Band (original version) since it is very durable and it does all I needed. Battery life was also great, averaging more than 2 days. However, the band wasn’t that durable and only lasted for a little more than a year. I have exchanged it in for a brand new pair and that was why it lasted me longer than it should. I got the Microsoft Band 2 shortly after it was released but that lasted me less than a year (bracelet broke). The main problem with it is that the bands weren’t replaceable.

Like I mentioned earlier, I also owned a Wear OS device which was fun to play with but did nothing else. I didn’t find it useful enough as a smartwatch or a fitness wearable. Wear OS just isn’t that good to begin with… I have always thought of Google as a masterful software company but this is one product where they clearly dropped the ball. The UI is horrible, the apps are useless and the built-in mechanism for fitness such as steps, calories and such are just very, very basic. It doesn’t even have a built-in sleep tracker. The accompanying app isn’t up to par with competitors such as Fitbit, Garmin, or even Samsung Health. Needless to say, I was very disappointed and sold that device in just a few months of owning it.

So with that long introduction done, I will now list the watches/fitness bands that I considered.. I have always wanted a Fitbit and the only ones that I really liked in their line of products are the Versa and the Ionic. If I had truly just wanted a fitness band, I think this is a no-brainer, I would have gotten a Fitbit Charge HR. I have also heard great things about Garmin, and being a runner, I looked into the Fenix line, specifically the Fenix 5. I didn’t really like the Samsung brand (totally different story) so I only reluctantly looked into their line of smartwatches, which at the time was the Galaxy Watch. Upon looking deeper into the smartwatch category, I also found a Wear OS smartwatch, the Ticwatch Pro.  Initially, I was leaning towards either a Versa or an Ionic, so I was watching a lot of video reviews on these 2 products. I then almost settled on the Fitbit Ionic but wanted to see what its competition was… so I looked into Garmin Fenix 5. I learned that the Garmin app isn’t as good as Fitbit’s and while the Garmin does look very attractive, it costs considerably more than any of the other watches I was looking at. I then stumbled upon the Ticwatch and quick brushed that aside because of Wear OS’s lack of native sleep tracking. I’m also wary of chinese manufacturers as there may be backdoors to these products and I knew that the risk of being spied on or my info being harvested for the chinese government was pretty high. So that left only one brand that I despised… Samsung. I reluctantly looked at reviews and videos of the Galaxy watch and was quickly intrigued… First of all, they were attractive (as all Samsung products are) but then I looked at the features and found out how unique their line of smartwatches really are… they use the rotating bezel as a navigation tool which is utter genius! And since they rely on their own OS, the experience is very fluid and intuitive. I decided to buy one from Costco to test it out, since I thought the 46mm might be too big on my wrist, I purchased the 42mm version. I quickly loved how well it worked and found out about additional apps that I may be able to make use of… mainly, Samsung Pay.  Since they run their own OS, the list of apps is not that extensive… but then again, I’m really not looking for apps, I only needed the basic fitness tracking (steps, runs, cycling, heart rate, sleep) and smart notifications (text, calls, instant message notifications, alarms, calendar, reminders, etc.).

The Samsung Galaxy watch delivered on everything that I needed it to do and it packaged all of this in a very sleek and intuitive interface that is a joy to use. I have despised Samsung as a brand/company (I still do!) but noted that the team working on the TizenOS and the smartwatch are probably the exception as I’m a believer in exceptions. As I watched more and more reviews and videos, I quickly learned that there was a predecessor to the Galaxy Watch that works quite as well as the Galaxy watch with only a few differences. The Gear S3 frontier look almost similar to the Galaxy Watch and it is almost $100 less. The only difference that I can see is that you can swim with the Galaxy Watch but you can only shower with the Gear S3, I can totally live with this as I’m not a swimmer anyway… apart from this, the Galaxy watch also tracks REM sleep where the Gear S3 does not. I can live with this as well as I don’t think this is a useful metric for me. As long as I know how much light to deep sleep ratio I have each night, I’m good. The only other differences are better battery life (+1/2 days on the Galaxy watch) and Samsung Pay, which is NFC only in the Galaxy watch… the Gear S3 uses both NFC and MTS. Weighing all these, since I was leaning towards a 46mm watch anyway (I was about to trade in my 42mm for a 46mm), I decided to try out the Gear S3 Frontier which was coincidentally on sale at Best Buy ($280 CAD).

After a week of use, I’m convinced that this is the best watch for me. It’s very competitively priced for the amount of hardware/software you are getting. The best value in my opinion, maybe only the Ionic ($240 CAD) matches it in value.  I have set up Samsung Pay and while it’s a hit/miss… I have used it enough times that I will know which terminals it will work on. There was an instance when phone call notifications weren’t coming through and that was a bit worrisome but after a reset, it’s been back to normal but will keep an eye on that. One surprise feature is that it can control my Spotify app (on my phone) acting as a remote which is useful when I’m driving as I drive an older car which doesn’t have bluetooth connection to my stereo, I connect it to the AUX jack. Another surprise is that making/answering phone calls on the watch is a pleasant experience… I can hear the caller very clearly and the other party swears that my voice is so crystal clear, it’s almost studio quality. They must have some background noise-cancelling stuff going on there. Needless to say, I’m very happy with my purchase.


Constant Improvement

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

I’m a believer of lifelong learning… However, I’ve also been a lifelong procrastinator. I know… right?! Recently though, I have finished a course on Coursera titled “Learning How to Learn”… it’s one of those rare exceptions when I actually start a course and follow it through to the end. I have only done this twice, I think… but have enrolled in more than 10 online courses. Here’s my list of ongoing courses so far…

  • Intermediate Mandarin
  • JavaScript (on Codecademy) – around 70%
  • Learn Sass (on Codecademy) – around 33%
  • Body Matters (on EdX) – 10%
  • Blockchain Technology – just started
  • and many others which I have enrolled in but never even started.

At one point, I hope to be able to finish at least a few of these courses… I know I have quite a long way to go but I have realized that at least for ‘coding’ courses, I only need a jump start introduction and I learn better as I apply it in practice, so I probably wouldn’t go back to the JavaScript or Sass course anytime soon… One thing I find fascinating is language learning. I have had quite a bit of Mandarin during primary/secondary school so I feel like I just need to brush up on it or build my vocabulary as I understand sentence structure and am able to understand almost 50% of a sentence. Am also trying to learn Japanese but feel like I need a speaking partner to fully grasp it.

Another thing I could improve on is my exercise… it has dropped off quite a bit from last year when I used to go to the gym at least 3x a week to only once or none a week for the past few months. The drop-off is attributed mostly to the distance of my gym… I have to drive there and my only real window to get there is between 7 to 8pm which is usually reserved for family time.. my wife used to come to the gym with me which helped me last year but she hasn’t gone in a year now so I’m constantly just trying to find the time during the day, usually lunch hour when I could get a run in if it isn’t raining… so it isn’t for a lack of motivation as I do love exercising.

Enough of the rambling and on to my recommendations for learning while going through life as a dad and a full-time employee. Here’s what helped me stay the path:

  • I can’t recommend enough the “Learning How to Learn” course on Coursera… it sheds light on how to overcome procrastination, how to train your memory, and basically how you learn new things more efficiently.
  • Audiobooks. If you can’t find time to read, then you have no excuse when it comes to audio… you can listen on the car while commuting to/from work (my preferred method), lunch breaks, snack breaks, etc.
  • Join a group study (or find a learning buddy). Set a regular time/day to meet up and discuss.

If you have any ideas, do send them my way as I’m always on the lookout for new ways to learn.


The automated home

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Currently, I’m obsessed with automating every inch of my home. I have Google home scattered all over my house and various IOT devices (internet of things). I can control my lights, my toaster oven, my PC, my TV, and anything else I can dream up. I love talking to my house and each new device I have been acquiring lately plugs into this obsession. I have also recently been made aware that almost everybody else wants this technology but doesn’t have the skill set to know where to start. So if you are one of those people, shoot me a comment below and I’ll try to answer your questions.

Default Media Queries for Bootstrap 3

Friday, February 27th, 2015

I keep having to look this up online so I figure I should just post it here for reference. It’s almost been a year since my last post anyway so why not.

= Bootstrap 3 Media Queries =

/*========== Mobile First Method ==========*/
/* Custom, iPhone Retina */
@media only screen and (min-width : 320px) {


/* Extra Small Devices, Phones */
@media only screen and (min-width : 480px) {


/* Small Devices, Tablets */
@media only screen and (min-width : 768px) {


/* Medium Devices, Desktops */
@media only screen and (min-width : 992px) {


/* Large Devices, Wide Screens */
@media only screen and (min-width : 1200px) {


/*========== Non-Mobile First Method ==========*/

/* Large Devices, Wide Screens */
@media only screen and (max-width : 1200px) {


/* Medium Devices, Desktops */
@media only screen and (max-width : 992px) {


/* Small Devices, Tablets */
@media only screen and (max-width : 768px) {


/* Extra Small Devices, Phones */
@media only screen and (max-width : 480px) {


/* Custom, iPhone Retina */
@media only screen and (max-width : 320px) {


=            Bootstrap 2.3.2 Media Queries            =
@media only screen and (max-width : 1200px) {


@media only screen and (max-width : 979px) {


@media only screen and (max-width : 767px) {


@media only screen and (max-width : 480px) {


@media only screen and (max-width : 320px) {


Bitcoin explained (infographic)

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

What is Bitcoin?? If you are struggling to explain it . . . then this infographic might help.

Bitcoin Explained

What is Bitcoin?

Responsive Email Design (How to Infographic)

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

How to Design Responsive Emails

How to Design Responsive Emails

Thanks to Litmus for this infographic.

Starbucks Brewed Tea or Coffee?

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

I’ve been frequenting Starbucks a lot lately and my default drink is the Pike Place Roast or if I feel like treating myself, I go for a non-fat latte. However, I have been telling myself for the longest time now that I should probably stop drinking too much coffee. Caffeine does help me focus sometimes but I don’t want to be dependent on the stuff, I’ve also read somewhere that it doesn’t help when your work demands creativity. Furthermore, I attended a nutrition workshop and watched a documentary where it says that coffee is actually bad for you (a blog post for another time) – that was what finally convinced me to stop, well at least for a couple of weeks to see if it makes any difference in my productivity or general well-being. So for lunch today, instead of ordering my usual cup of java, I ordered Green tea at Starbucks . . . which is kind of weird for me as I haven’t done it before. I feel as though I’m ordering something off the menu and imagine being kicked out of there because I have offended the barista.

In any case, I got my drink and sipped, it really wasn’t all that bad – I could probably get used to this, which in turn got me thinking . . . I paid around $1.95 (plus tax) for a grande, it’s the same price as a tall. The venti costs more though, which is interesting – do they put 2 tea bags in a venti cup or is this just Starbucks charging you for hot water? And then, I thought some more and got curious as to which drink makes more profit for Starbucks? Or more importantly, which one is getting ripped off more (let’s be honest, Starbucks is ripping everybody off), the coffee drinker? or the tea drinker? So I did what any normal tech-savvy person would do, I googled it. I didn’t get any answers so I decided to find out on my own.

First off, I went to the Starbucks store and looked up both products.

Starbucks Pike Place Roast Starbucks Tazo Full-leaf Tea

Starbucks Pike Place Roast 1lb. bag are selling at $11.95. Starbucks recommends that you put 10g of ground coffee for every 6oz. cup of water. There is 453g to the pound so if my math is correct – 11.95/(453/10) = $0.26/6 oz. cup. A “tall” Starbucks cup is 12 oz. so a tall medium roast costs roughly around $0.52 if you were to make it yourself. Let’s assume this is Starbucks cost to make it as well. In the store I frequent, the price of this drink is around $1.79. So Starbucks makes around $1.27(1.79-0.52) on this drink.

Starbucks Tazo Full-leaf tea bags are $6.95/15 tea bags. So flexing my math muscles again we get 6.95/15 = $0.46/tea bag. Like I mentioned earlier, a “tall” and a “grande” are the same price at my Starbucks store, and it costs $1.95. It seems that Starbucks makes $1.49(1.95-0.46) on the tea.

While it does look like the tea is costing me more, approximately $0.22 more – it lasts longer, as I usually pour a second cup of hot water on the same tea bag and it still tastes fine. Am not sure how the refill works for tea though, do they give me a new tea bag or just refill the hot water?? I’ve had free refills on my coffee before but it is very rare as you have to drink it all in-store to qualify for the free refill. For the tea, I could just grab it and go – and it’ll last me almost the entire day. It’s also good for me, so I guess I will stick with it, at least for the moment!

People Spend Less on Fathers . . .

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Fathers get the short end of the stick . . . according to the infographic below, on average, a person would spend $35 less on Father’s day as compared to Mother’s day. I have my own theories on why this is – firstly, since Mother’s day comes first – people would spend their budgeted amount. By the time Father’s day rolls around, you have just picked up the credit card bill and it’s on your mind while you’re out shopping for dad. Another theory I have is that moms like expensive stuff with their designer purses, shoes and clothing. Dads, on the other hand are simple beings and easily pleased. Also, since we might end up with the tab anyway, let’s just skip the presents altogether.

So, without further ado – here’s that infographic courtesy of
Father's Day Infographic