New York Itinerary planning has begun

Last week I borrowed a couple of travel books for both Morocco and New York. Last weekend however, I had some time to go through those books, especially the New York one and started taking down some notes and places of interested that I must visit on my upcoming vacation to New York.

Things are looking pretty exciting the more I read about New York. I have covered reading the basics on must see locations in Lower Manhattan, Lower East Side, Chinatown, Little Italy, SoHo and Tribeca. I stopped at Greenwich Village. Perhaps this coming weekend, I’ll spend one entire day just covering all the different districts and neighbourhoods New York City has to offer, all the way to Harlem.

I have 10 days, with my parents and aunts in tow for this trip. They aren’t exactly superwalkers given their age, so when planning for this trip, I need to be mindful of that. But they doesn’t mean I couldn’t encourage them to do a little exercise to increase some stamina for this trip, so that they can brave the outdoors and do a whole lot of walking while we are there in the days leading up to the trip.

The trip is still 3 months away, so I have plenty of times to plan the itinerary.

At the very least, coming up the top destinations and locations to visit New York City is a good starting point. I can always add little details like what to eat, and where to shop later as the date approaches.

I am still eyeing that Coach briefcase by the way.

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Trying out the new Gutenberg.

To iPad or not to iPad?~Unknown~

According to WordPress, the Gutenberg aims to create a more feature rich WordPress blog. Right now as I am seeing it, the user interface looks totally different, one that requires a little bit of getting used it. It actually reminded me of WIX web builder.

So back to the topic at hand: Should I get the new iPad Pro?

And if so?

What size should I get?

The 11 inch or the 12.9 inch? 

For the past couple of days, since the announcement of the new iPad, I have been contemplating on whether to sell my current 13 inch MacBook Pro. My studies have reached the end. I will no longer be attending classes or doing any assignments. I am even terminating my Office subscriptions. I am not sure if this is a wise decision, but my main motivating factor of selling my notebook is the possibility of doing interesting things and maybe pick up a skill or two while using the iPad. The versatility of the iPad, coupled with amazing apps, I could possibly pick up drawing skills, language skills or just about anything to improve myself and learn something. Now that I have more time, I’d like to explore that possibility. It’s a bold step, especially when I have grown so used to the Mac ecosystem with the MacBook Pro at its center. Will I use the iPad for years to come, or will it become a white elephant in the room?

The real possibility that iPad could just become a white elephant in the room. Unused, unloved, a waste of money in the end. 

To prevent that, I will need accessories. An Apple Smart Keyboard is important, as it will be my main portable device and it is a form of input that I’m quite familiar with. I am on the fence with the Apple Pencil, since I am not an artist. But then, not getting the Apple Pencil just defeats the purpose of getting the iPad. Didn’t I just tell myself, that the main purpose of the iPad is to improve myself by learning new skills? And isn’t drawing a skill that is legitimately made possible by the iPad?

And then there is the matter of size. 12.9 inch looks awesome and will feel just like home since I am so used to the 13 inch MacBook Pro. But bringing it out in the public will make me feel like an obnoxious person.
“Hey look at me! I got a giant iPad and I am using it to play Candy Crush!”

The 11 inch screen would be perfect to bring it out, but will it be a downgrade in terms of real screen estate and productivity? I still would very much like the extra screen to typing and writing stuff, hence the priority of getting the Smart Keyboard over the Apple Pencil. And all these accessories

cost money!

Migrating files from one cloud to another can be a nightmare.

In a couple of weeks, I won’t be needing any of the Microsoft Office Suites anymore. I would have graduated and the chapter of my life as a student will officially end. 31 years of formal education (not going the intervening years that I started work, but I digress, you get the drift). So it doesn’t really make sense for me to continue subscribing to Microsoft Office anymore when I know I will never use it again. And if I need to use it sometime in the future, there is my work desk that comes installed with Office as well as open source versions of it. While not perfect, it’s not like I do not have absolute access to Office for critical tasks.

Office subscription comes with OneDrive, offering a generous 1TB of cloud storage space.  Over the years, I have added quite a lot of files inside, mainly photo backup and a number of videos. I have used about 200GB of space in all in OneDrive. Now, seeing that I am going to terminate the subscription, I need to find a way to migrate those files over. I have Dropbox that I use for work and the subscriptions, I usually claim the cost of the subscription through my company. It’s 1 TB as well but I have rarely utilized it since I start subscribing it for work. I have only used about 20GB of space, including share work files. So it doesn’t make sense for me to subscribe to two different cloud storage solutions, despite the fact that one is paid by the company. I might as well consolidate my personal and work files in one cloud storage provider. Consolidation is key. It makes life easier.

What doesn’t make life easier is the difficulty of having to download all my files to OneDrive, and then to re-upload them to DropBox. It’s just too tedious. Right now I am having difficulty downloading GBs of data at one time, only to be interrupted by connection issues with OneDrive.

Now I know that there are third-party cloud syncing solutions, but I have tried some of them, and almost all that I have tried were terrible unless you upgrade to their full suite of functionality to take advantage of their seamless cloud migration or cloud sync features.

My Office account is due in early December and I need to migrate 200GB of files fast and efficient. Right now, there is no other way than leaving my desktop on for days on end, crossing my fingers, hoping that the download is complete.

And it’s not that my connection is terrible, but OneDrive downstream speeds are terribly slow.

My Master’s course: Looking back.

Two years ago I made a decision to be a student again. A part-time student. A postgraduate student. I knew what the stakes were. Working and studying at the same time was never meant to be a walk in the park. Sacrifices had to be made, something had to give.

For me, it was holidays cut short, weekends spent doing my assignments rather than doing the things I enjoy to relax for the week. It was a constant grind, semester after semester. Sure I had to enjoy the summer holidays, but where there weren’t school assignments to worry about, there was always work to catch up.

The first year was tolerable. I was enthusiastic. It felt great to be a student again. And what better way to be an NUS student. Night classes twice a week for the first semester, a week-long course followed by the next, and then online modules conducted by the ANU the rest of the way. I took on every challenge, trying my best to get good grades. To prove myself that I could juggle work and study at the same time. And for a while it did. As the work piled on and the assignment became more numerous, the pressure was on. Add to that workload is the thesis I had to write as part of the final year project. That took the cake.

The second year was tough. Despite having no actual classes, those modules that I chose was challenging, assignments were abstract in nature. Lots and lots of writing. Lots and lots of deadlines. There were times, I had to admit, that I just could not care less anymore. Where a passing grade was good enough. But in the end, I did better than just getting a passing grade. I would definitely get a better grade if only I had more time devoted to my studies, but you only so many hours in a single day like I said, sacrifices had to be made. There were numerous times where I just had to tell myself that this is good enough, I cannot abandon my other commitments.

These two years were filled with highs and lows. But now it’s almost at an end. I cannot believe it.

I am going to miss my classmates, despite not seeing face-to-face on a daily basis. These people are some of the nicest and the funniest bunch of people I have ever met. I am truly grateful to have known them.

So what is next for me? Honestly, I do not know. I guess when everything is truly over for the course I am taking, I will sit down and reflect deeply what the next phase of my life should be.

Why I’m not getting the Apple Watch series 4

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Ever since it was leaked that a new Apple Watch is in the works, I hadn’t given much attention to it. And now that the specs for the series 4 watches are out, it still doesn’t give me a compelling reason to upgade to the latest series of watches.

It’s been about a year since I gotten the Apple Watch Series 3 and it is still running great. I have been more active than ever before thanks to the fitness and health apps I have installed and used over the past year. Keeping track of my heart rate, number of steps I have taken, calories burned, hours stood, and even my sleep is been a fun experience and informative journey so far. I am very impressed by the sheer amount of health data that my Apple Watch records on a daily basis.

The new watch features a bigger screen, a slightly slimmer profile and more accurate GPS, accelerometer and even an ECG monitor. Those are nice things, but based on my usage, aren’t really must-have features. The battery on my current Apple Watch is still fantastic and looking back, I actually don’t meddle too much on my watch on a daily basis to experience any battery woes. So while it is nice to upgrade to the latest watch, the added features and improvements doesn’t really add value in how I use it and how it would serve me on a day to day basis. For this generation, I will be skipping the Apple Watch Series 4. Maybe something novel and interesting is in the works for series 5. By then, improvements in technology and a greater social acceptance in accepting calls and having a conversation through your wrist would make the upgrade to the cellular model a compelling option. I still that there are lots of improvements that can be made to the battery life of such devices.

Apple should continue to  heavily invest in wearables R&D. It will be exciting to see what they can come up with in their smartwatch segment.

I did the unthinkable.

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At 3.01pm on the 14th of September, I did the unthinkable. I fired up the Apple Store app on my iPhone X and pre-ordered the new iPhone XS Max. For the first time in my life, I blew more than S$2000 on a phone. Call me crazy, and I will agree with you. Why the hell did I do that?

Now, I am not suffering from buyer’s remorse because my remorse hasn’t reached that stage yet. Rather, I felt remorseful that a phone would cost so much. My current iPhone X was already hard to swallow at S$1888. At S$2000, I think it is safe to say that this upcoming phone just broke the camel’s back. With such exorbitant prices, my ability to upgrade phones on an annual basis is no longer possible. I think it is safe to say that the iPhone XS Max will be the first phone that I would use for 2 to 3 years. The time of annual phone upgrades is gone.

The only consolation of mitigating the full financial impact of such a purchase is that I was able to sell my current phone to someone else for S$900. I still had to fork out more than S$1100 just to get the new phone. My brain is telling me that buying this phone is a completely irrational decision. My heart tells me that this is the phone to get and that you will enjoy all the new benefits it bestows upon you when using it. So we shall see.
One feature of the new iPhone XS Max is the bigger screen. I loved the Plus models of the previous iPhones. Imagine having the size of the new iPhones at Plus model sizes but all screen and no bezels. With such a size, I might actually consider for the first time watching TV shows and films on my phone while commuting.

So there you have yesterday marked the day when I did the unthinkable. I will be getting the phone (Hopefully) on the 21st of September 2018.

So I have been thinking about money…A lot!

I am 30 this year and recently I have been thinking and yearning to move out of my parents apartment and buy my own apartment.  A place where I can call home. But I can’t do that until I am 35, me being single and if I want to buy an HDB flat, then 35 is the age when I can buy a flat for myself to live in. 5 years of waiting of planning. And all the time this part few months, of imagining myself owning my own home, naturally led to thinking about money.

Buying a home is a significant investment and commitment. The cash deposits, the bank loans, the monthly mortgages, more bills to pay, all led to the fact that I had to start thinking about money more and more often. Lately I have kinda obsessed in managing my money, to the point where I no longer think of where to save, or how much cash saving I should have, but more in the veins of: How much emergency funds should I have? How much of the monthly mortgages am I comfortable at paying? How much money should I put in my retirement fund? Where should I invest? For how long? How much can I afford in buying a house? Where should I look for, for my first home? So many questions. So many adult questions!

My thinking about money has become so granular, that every dollar is carefully considered. Of course, keeping a tight lid and having sheer discipline in managing your money all the time is unrealistic. Circumstances change, you might lapse in your spending habits, and there will be days where you might have the extra cash to do anything you want, be it saving or spending. Again so many decision, its paralysing.

I used to think that I should just set aside the amount of money I should save, and then whatever is left is for spending. That is no longer the case. Life just got a little more complicated. Savings, expenditures, investments, deposits, withdrawals, transfers, mortgages etc.

I have 5 years to plan. 5 years to determine where I should go where my money is concern.