Resubscribing to The New Yorker

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Sometime last year, I subscribed to The New Yorker, taking advantage of the 3 month subscription promotion for only $1 an issue for 12 issues. It was a good deal and I had not only access to the latest issue of the magazine, but also it’s archive. I loved The New Yorker. Its long form writing on most topics from science, medicine, and various social issues happening around the world is a great read. And contemporary topics covered around the world on various issues allowed me to keep somewhat up to date with what is happening around the world with a little more depth to the topic in question. While it is a weekly magazine with a few long form articles covering certain topics, it does not have the breadth of topics nor the lightning fast reporting found in other news agencies like CNN, BBC or the International New York Times. What it lacks in breadth, it makes it up for depth.

It is rare (for me) to actually enjoy the kinds of writing found in The New Yorker. Topics and subjects covered in their articles are fairly easy to understand (except for American politics which is usually skip) and quite engaging, mainly because it really delves deep into the subject matter, with excellent writing, top notch fact finding and verification, such that articles within The New Yorker are written as a story to be told, rather than facts to be reported. In almost all articles, there is always a human side to it, rather than reporting just the facts and ‘he said she said’ perspective. Investigative journalism are among my favourite kind of journalistic writing and it is abundantly found in The New Yorker.

I took advantage of the promotion but never continued my subscription ($59.90 for a year). Partly because I didn’t allocated time within the week to actually sit down and read he articles within The New Yorker. And soon, I found that I began to lag behind as more issues are released on a weekly basis. Very soon, I felt that, the more I lag behind, the more reluctant become in catching up and actually setting aside time to read those articles that I missed.

Fast forward to 2 months ago, I actually committed myself to continuing my subscription for an entire year. One of the main reason I decided to do that was because I finally bought an iPad mini 4 two month prior. Now I can read my favourite books, (Kindle), keep up to date on the news (CNN, BBC, The International New York Times) and finally have time and the platform to dedicate myself to reading The New Yorker. By using the iPad app, new issues are downloaded automatically and the magazine is formatted beautifully on the iPad Mini such that it makes reading the magazine a joy (just try the National Geographic Magazine app, it’s wonderfully formatted for tablets and it’s fully interactive). And with the iPad Mini, I can read while commuting, which is a boon, since now I can truly read my favourite books, comics, and magazines. The time spent commuting (45 minutes each way) can now be spent on reading. You have no idea how much that means to me when I finally got the iPad Mini.

So now, I am a happy subscriber to the magazine and will continue to do so, as long as those articles in the magazine continues to captivate me.

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Day one 2 Journal + Notes

I saw the price for the new, revamped app to the ever popular Day One journaling app. Isn’t it a little too expensive?

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And that’s, I presume, is the price after a 50% discount sale going on right this week.

I used Day One app for a short while but I can’t really commit to myself journaling seriously on a daily basis. It takes quite a bit of effort for me to make a conscious reminder that I need to update something about my life on a near daily basis. I genuinely like what they are achieving in terms of taking day-to-day journaling to a whole new level, modernising it, digitising it. And when I heard that they would be releasing a totally new app with tons of new feature, I was quite excited for them. The app is clean, intuitive and doesn’t get anything in the way of journaling. It’s journaling plain and simple and I there are really nice features that makes writing in the app really fun and intuitive. Day One 2 Journal promises all that and many more, with support to upload more photos, multiple journals for different purposes that can be colour coded and they now even have their backend sync infrastructure, called Day One 2 Sync, which supposedly ditches the conventional third-part Dropbox and iCloud synching services to backup all your entries that delivered mix results.

I really like Day One app, but the new app is just a tad too expensive for now.

 

App in the Air

I came across a new travel app for the iOS called “App in the Air’. It basically keeps track of all your air travels you have ever done in your life. What you do is simple: Just key in basic information such as airline, flight number and date of flight and it will automatically find the correct flight that you have booked and it will be stored in the app. The neat thing about this app is that it shows you a visual representation of your travels on a global map (drawn from Apple Maps) The more travels you add past, present and future, the more lines of travel it will be drawn on the map. So it basically shows you a personal world map of all your travels you have ever done.

As you key in flights that you have booked, you can send reminders to yourself to either do an online check-in, make a list of things to pack prior to departure and more. It will show even you the departure gate, check-in timing and many more. You can even leave feedbacks on whether the flight was on-time, delayed or cancelled. It also has a chat room for other users of the app to share information on airplane, flight or the airport of your destination. Overall, It’s a pretty simple app to use and navigate.

One qualm I had about this app was the difficulty in inputting past flight details. It doesn’t seem to have reliable flight information if you input your past flight details past a certain date. It is as if the database is not there. That is understandable considering that some of my flight information that I tried entering was close to 10 years ago. Even I don’t have the exact flight details except from the departure and arrival day and the airline that I flew with. All these old information was quite hard to come by myself. I had to cross-reference against old email records, flight confirmation letters, and even this blog to confirm my flight information. Thank god for this blog. I blogged my past travels and it was a treasure trove of information.

So while you may not have the exact flight information, you can still input your flight details with some rough estimation. So long as the departure and arrival location, as well as your departure and arrival timing makes sense, the app will still accept it and will update it in your travel map. It will also automatically calculate the total distance you have travelled so far in the air as well as the number of hours spent in flight. (that is provided you added in the correct departure and arrival timing, something that you would have to make an educated guess or research online using Google)

Once you have a bunch of flight information stored, more lines appear indicating the places you have travelled on the world map. It’s pretty neat, and it makes me really want to travel even further and to more places in the future, just to take in more miles or hours spent traveling.

I have plans to travel even further next year. I just need to start planning.

A new journaling app

 

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One Day app, a new journaling app was up for sale on the Apple app store. I knew about the app and all the rave reviews it has received over the years. Now I  have the chance to try it out and I am quite impressed by the simplicity of it all. You can now blog or write short notes about your life and the things that are happening around you using the iPhone and they even have a Mac companion that syncs with each other so that it creates a seamless experience for the user. And it is quite private too. It allows the option of setting a password in the app to prevent strangers from reading your journal or messing around with it.

In this day an age with Facebook feed updates and Twitter short messages, Day One looks to be a serious contender when it comes to journaling not just in a traditional sense but also while on-the-go, and wherever you might be. It has several neat features such as adding location and weather information to your journal entries, adding layers of context sensitive information that would me your journal entries more meaningful.

As a long time user of WordPress, I feel quite torn in whether I should jump over to Day One and use it as my main journaling app, or stick with WordPress. I have a good reason to stick with WordPress, because I have been using its services for so many years. Having written close to 1000 entries since I first started WordPress, it pains me to see it abandoned. I would still love to use WordPress to write longer entries, touching on subjects or events in my life that matter me most. There are ways that you could export Day One entries to WordPress, but it’s not as simple as cutting whole chunks of texts and pasting into the text box. There are hurdles to overcome and I find it a little difficult to set it all up.

Day One is great when you need to record and write down things happening in your life in short bursts of updates, just like Twitter. But should I really start the habit of doing that, knowing that I already have WordPress that already serves its purpose as a means of reflection and recollection? Or should I keep WordPress and Day One separate? I could use WordPress if I need to express myself and reflect in a more lengthy post, while Day One could serve as a ad-hoc recollection of life’s little moments, no matter how mundane they are.

Maybe I should try this approach. I’m really starting to love Day One, and maybe I might want to purchase the Mac App as well on the app store. I will still keep WordPress running of course. I could use WordPress as a means to write lengthy entries every now and then, if I have the mood for it and perhaps it should serve as something more substantial than just updating Day One on what I ate, where I have been and what I did for the day.

What’s been happening?

It’s been a while since I last updated. Lots of things happening and I hate to say it, I haven’t had much time writing my blog about it. But I think not being inspired to write is closer to the truth.

For starters, I got my nexus 7 table which I recently wrote about and having used for some time now, I don’t think I would regret making the purchase decision anytime soon. Unless of course, it starts to break down, then I would be in deep trouble, since I bought it off Amazon, and the warranty can be a little iffy when it comes to situations likes these. But not to think to deeply about what would happen if it does, this is by far, the best tablet that money can buy. Period. Here’s the catch; the best tablet that MONEY CAN BUY.

For SGD310 (off Amazon pricing, which is a steal by the way) you get an amazing tablet is is perfect for reading and watching videos. I don’t play games on tablets of smartphones, so I can’t really comment on that. But as far as popular apps used for reading, and stuff, it’s been a wonderful experience. One thing I truly like about the tablet is the gorgeous screen. That’s all there is to it when it comes to the Nexus 7. A gorgeous screen. For someone who wants a tablet specifically for reading and watching movies (not necessarily on-the-go) when you’re in bed, or on your own couch, this is a great tablet. 7 inch is perfect. Not to small to lose your sense of immersiveness in videos, but not too big that it becomes clunky to hold on an extended period of time. Especially when you are watching a 3-hour movie.

So I love Nexus 7. Now moving on.

A friend of mine recently bought the WiiU with a ton of new games and he invited a few of us to play the party games. We had a blast and I was completely blown away at some of the games. Full of fun and delight, and some really innovative gameplay elements inside, especially Luigi’s Mansion, my afternoon weekend zipped past just like that. We lost track of time and before we knew it, it was dark and time to go home. We had such a great afternoon just chilling at my friend’s house and playing with his WiiU. And did I mention the cats in his house? Eight of them.

So I finally ordered my Gel Kayano 20. I bought the lime green shoe, size 8.5. I was very hesitant in getting online, since it did not come with free shipping. But after careful considering and hoping that the extra shipping charges do not exceed SGD20, then I would effectively still save about 80 dollars. Locally, the shoes are currently selling at SGD279. There were discounts here and there bringing the price down to SGD249. But that is the lowest I can currently find after much research on the price. With shipping charges included, I should not exceed SGD200, which effectively allows me to save a good 80 bucks. So I gave it a go. I went to my local shoe store that sells the model, tried a couple of different sizes, chose an ideal fit, took note of it and then raced back home to place an order of the desired size. Not a hint of guilt. And hey, the consolation of buying online, is that I get to buy the lime green colour, which is pretty neat and colour does not sell locally. They have the fiery red option down here that I don’t see on Amazon, but I guess I’m gonna stick with the lime green one.

My current shoe, is about to clock in a good 600km of running. A year has passed since I got that shoe and I think it’s prime time to get a new pair. A better one with better cushioning. I am not getting any younger and I am placing a higher priority in preserving my knees and ankles as much as possible for my old age while still maintaining my overall fitness. I run about 15 to 20km a week, which is a good range. Nothing too intensive, and nothing too light. Just nice I feel. And hey wasn’t there a journal article about the downsides of running intensively with regards to your long term health?

I asked my friend to buy 3 books totalling close to SGD50. Im piggy riding on his amazon shipping cart so that we can hit the minimum sum to achieve free shipping. So I am happy and patiently waiting for them to arrive. He just made the order yesterday, so it will take some time. But no hurries at all. Though you might be wondering why buy physical books when you can get the ebook instantly on Amazon or torrent them off from some site? Well, as an avid reader, once in a while, it feels good to hold a physical book. The smell of a freshly pressed words on crispy brown recycled paper as you flip through them. The texture of the paper, each fibre weaving through to make a page of paper. These are feelings that cannot be replicated on the cold hard gorilla glass screen. The books I bought are educational, and none are fictional novels. Those I’d rather read on my kindle, rather than having them lying on the shelves. Non-fictions however are slightly different. They are books of knowledge, facts that can be referred to in the future. Worth having it and reading them again when you feel like it. Books have been around in hundreds of years. It is hard to give it up altogether.

Now to digress a little bit;

I have been working for 3 months. A permanent job finally and one that I am settling into. I like my job. And the income that it gives me every month is fair and comfortable. I am not married, single and I don’t have a home to call my own yet nor have a car. And I don’t have much to spend on. So I save a significant portion of my monthly income ( 35%). Other than the tuition fees that I had to pay my dad back since he paid it upfront in the first place, the money that comes in is sufficient. I am by no means rich, neither am I implying I am rich. But rather, big ticket items, like computers and furniture (if I have plans to furnish my rooms further, not that I am complaining, since my rooms is wonderful and comfortable) still requires time to shore up the money that you save before you can actually buy them. I have this macbook air for 2 years now. I have no need to upgrade my computer anytime soon. If this macbook air can serve me another 2 years, why not. I have no desire to keep up with the joneses as far as personal computing is concerned. It’s good to have the latest gadget, and it’s tempting when Apple announces new stuff., but it’s not a need when your current one serves you well. So I am taking good care of my computer and I really do not want to let anything bad happen to it. I don’t play PC games. I have a PS4 that more than serve my gaming needs. And so, like I said, it would be disappointing to see my saving diminish just because I need to get a new computer which can cost thousands of dollars. Not that I can’t afford right now, but I would rather save as much as I can so that I could use for  more pressing needs (though travelling is not a pressing need, but it is good to have once in a while with the money that you save, rather than living pay check to pay check with nothing to spend on to reward yourself for the hard work you do in your early career).

Right now I am spending a little big more these few months, because with my new job, I can now afford the things that I need like good clothing, nice shoes and other stuff that I am denied before due to financial constraints living as an undergrad. But after I have what I need, I think my spending will taper off and then I would save much more in the long run. The increased spending in the initial months after I got my new job does not eat into the 35% portion of the savings that I have aside. It is the other 35% that I have set aside for my daily expenditure. So in other words, the money i set myself to spend on a daily basis on food and transportation is still enough to buy the other things that I need like nice clothes and shoes. So in other words, life is good. Seeing my saving grow every month makes me feel happy and lucky. And the more money I see being saved, the harder it is for me to really use that money for leisurely means, unless it is totally justified. This is something I have not experienced before. Seeing my savings grow, somehow it becomes more difficult to see it being spent. Hence, the depressing thought of getting a new computer should the need arise down the road and spending on other big ticket items.

Pocket app

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I’ve had Pocket app in my iPhone for a long time, but it is only recently that I get to use it on a regular basis. I never knew that it would be extremely useful for me in the long run. The Pocket app basically saves all the news articles or any related articles of interest you come across the net and saves them in the app so that you can read it later when you are free. Long form articles takes a long time to read, and sometimes you just don’t have the time and you prefer to skim all the other articles you have yet to come across for the day. With Pocket app, you can simply save them and read it later. It also saves the time and effort of copying the link and emailing it to yourself to be read later. All the saved articles are saved in one location and the text and other associated media, pictures, screenshots and even videos embedded in the text are saved and presented beautifully by the app.

For me, this new tool, allowed me to allocated my time better. I can now read all my saved articles that I initially didn’t have time to read while I commute, or waiting for someone or something. And no more lost articles or forgotten links. Everything is saved in the pocket app, waiting to be read. So now, every time I come across an interesting article, I will save it and read it when I have the time to myself. Anyone who have yet to use this app, ought to try it. You will quickly realise how more productive you can become during your day.

National Geographic magazine app

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The National Geographic magazine app is my favourite app for the iPad. I am huge fan of Nat Geo and I subscribed to their magazine for several years way back when I was young. This time, the app allows your to read the Nat Geo magazine all at the comfort of your iPad. It offers subscriptions, around SGD 39 a year, giving you access to 12 issues, or around SGD 3.90 on a monthly basis. Why is this my favourite app for iPad?  The magazine is totally interactive.

Unlike some magazine apps, the Nat Geo magazine that you download for your iPad is a total revamped, different from the printed edition, and  it is optimised to take advantage of the full range of interactivity you can get out of reading the magazine through the iPad. Each issue, as you download them, is choked full of interactive features. You can zoom in at pictures, interact with maps and visualisations, contain lots of videos within each issue that you don’t get out of a traditional magazine. Recently, it even comes with audio narration of several articles in the magazine itself, often narrated by the writer of the article themselves. Listening to them read the text for you, is a great alternative than just reading it. The pictures are gorgeous on the iPad and the format is optimised to the dimensions of the iPad. Everytime a new issue is released, it automatically downloads it to your iPad and the magazine cover is fully animated, rather than static. Everytime I open the magazine to read, I am thoroughly immersed and focused on the content that is in front of me. And it is so much cheaper than buying the magazine on newsstands.

If you think that the digital magazine only filled with “PDF” version of the printed magazine itself, you are wrong. Just try subscribing a month’s worth of subscription and you will be amaze at what the iPad version of the magazine has to offer. It offers so much more at such a great price. This magazine is truly worth subscribing for reading on the iPad.

Other magazine app worth checking out are Wired, The Economist, TRVL, The New Yorker, Time.

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