349. Instagram / Alcoholics Anonymous

A little more than a week ago, I got myself an Instagram account. Because we all need to stay updated on the most current trends in social networking in order to avoid looking like a total dork.

Creating my account, I was chagrined to find that my default username “zhenyee” has been taken. Signing up instead as “zhenyee.jo”, I silently swore eternal vengeance upon whomsoever stole my screen name. I managed to get the account up and running, followed a whole bunch of people, considered following some cute girls outside my social circles as well but ultimately deciding against it, and then I stared at the screen, waiting for something interesting to happen.

Nothing did.

I should post a picture, I thought. But post a picture of what?

With a growing realization that my life isn’t, by a long shot, interesting enough to be documented in photos, in a last ditch attempt to avoid looking like a total dork I took a picture of my workstation with all that snazzy symmetry everyone seems to be all about these days. I uploaded it with a caption, and a bunch of people “liked” it.


Now what?

And that was when I realized that I had experienced almost everything Instagram had to offer me. Also, that no matter how hard I try, I will always and forever be a total dork.

(the sooner we all just accept who we are, the better. No one ever said that who you are is popular or cool)

I have since uploaded a couple more pictures, all of which got a couple of likes each. Again: I’m coming to the realization that my life isn’t interesting enough to be documented in photos. Whoever started following me in hopes of getting interesting updates are in for a big letdown.

I’m not sure if it’s just me getting old, but even after a little over a week, I still don’t see the point in it. You post some pictures, you get some likes, you like other people’s pictures… And then what?

Earlier this evening I went out for supper with a dear friend of mine who had come back from Melbourne for a short break. Somehow the topic veered to Instagram. He told me about how in order to get likes, you need to just like everyone else’s photos, and they will like yours in return.

It’s like the golden rule, but with photos. Who knew that the ultimate lesson in getting along with others would be finally taught through a photo-sharing site?

I also realized something else: Instagram is just like Alcoholics Anonymous.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, you join them, you tell them your story, and at the end, everyone gives you a round of applause. In return, when someone else tells their story, no matter how corny it is, you applaud them as well.

On Instagram, you join them, you share your photos, and everyone gives you a “like”. In return, when someone else posts their photo, no matter how corny it is, you give them a “like” as well.

And there we go.

Even after this startling realization, the question that again came to me was “But why?”. Which was when I realized that my priorities are so different from the average Instagrammer that I cannot even empathize with their value system.

And I realized that I am already a complete dork, even with Instagram.


290. You’re A PC, You’re A Mac

And I like one of you a lot more than the other.

Every day, I find new reasons to hate using a mac. It started, on the first day of work exactly 2 weeks ago, with the mouse.

I don’t know which engineering genius decided that the a little… nub-thing… was better than the standard scroll wheel. I must admit, the squeeze buttons on either sides of the Apple mouse was a touch of genius; unfortunately, they are also just about the only thing I like about it. The little nub that passes as the scroll wheel is nigh impossible to work, and it upsets me that it’s easier to scroll up than to scroll down.

What irks me to no end, still on the topic of the Apple mouse, is the right-click. I use it on a link, sometimes it opens a standard drop-down menu; sometimes it opens the link in a new tab; sometimes it opens the link in the same tab; and sometimes it reanimates the dead. There’s just no telling what it will do next.

(for that reason, I will take to calling it “George Martin” from now on)

I also don’t get why, when I click the little red button on the top-left corner of a window, it doesn’t shut the program down. It closes the window, yes, but I’ve found that the program is still running – on standby, but still – in the background. And I have to command-quit for the thing to actually shut down. It doesn’t irk me as it does strike me as strange; I’m just used to accepting that, as far as computer applications are concerned, if I can’t see it, it’s not there.

The Mac users around me insists that it’s a more intuitive sort of OS. To which I say: intuitive, my ass.

(or maybe I’m just not the kind of user they were preparing the OS to be intuitive towards. Either way, screw y’all)

Allow me to tell you a true story:

I was pretty excited when Half-Life 2 came out. With the release of Half-Life 3 set for a couple of days after the second coming,┬ámost of us will just have to content ourselves with it. Now, one of the things that the game boasted – and reviews raved – about was the “intelligent AI” that was built into Alyx’s character. Myself, I thought it was a pretty cool idea, and went on to try the game out.

Soon after meeting her, as she was giving some expository lines, we were supposed to step into a lift that was supposed to take us to “Dog”. Being me, I was getting Gordon Freeman to jump all over the place, and I guess I must have missed some sort of cue; because when I eventually got around to stepping into the lift, Alyx just continued to stand outside, looking at me, and reminding me every once in a while to get into the lift.

I went out of the lift. Went in. Went out. Went in. Attempted to push Alyx into the lift. No avail.

I couldn’t move another step further into the game because nothing would happen until Alyx’s “intelligent AI” told her to get into the lift.

(I would have threatened her with physical violence as well, but Gordon Freeman didn’t even have his trusty crowbar at that point of the game)

See, if you want to create a program that’s intelligent, or intuitive – make sure you get it to work for all kinds of people, not just people who work in a certain way. It’s why I loved Elizabeth in BioShock Infinite: she got out of my way when I needed to get things done, and magically teleported to wherever I was so that we can get on with the script. That right there – that’s brilliance.

Somewhere, someone is saying, “Well if you don’t like it, don’t use it then. No one’s forcing you. You don’t have to be such a whiny asshole about it.”

Oh, but I am. I am being forced to use it.

It’s apparently the only acceptable OS for use in the office. I offered to bring along my trusty laptop (which is lagging beyond reason) to work, but the boss said to use the Mac, since it’s just sitting there anyway. And also because all the computers in the workplace are linked, and it’s easier done when they’re all Macs.

iPhone. iMac. Next thing I know, I’ll be carrying around an iPod as well.

God save my soul.

255. Plot Twist!

Life is full of surprises, isn’t it?

Take today, for example. I woke up At 9.30A.M. after snoozing my alarm 5 times and lumbered downstairs, had some breakfast, drank a cup of hot milo, and sat myself down in front of my laptop, intending to get some writing done. By that time, I had about 1.5 hours until I had to go to church for music practice.

When after 30 minutes nothing was done, I shrugged and thought that a little sleep wouldn’t hurt. So I laid down on the couch and slept until 11.30A.M., then went off to church.

After music practice was a meeting over lunch, in which I ate a hearty Indian meal of rice, curry, fried fish, and fried chicken (I’m still convinced they come from fried eggs). My carecell leader stared at me as I ate the meal, and took the chance to remind me that I’m growing fat.

Well. Thanks for that.

So I said I’ll go to the gym after. Just then, it started to rain.

No worries, right? Gymming is an indoors kind of things. A little rain can’t stop anyone. I parked my car, went inside my house to change, and thought that a little sleep wouldn’t hurt. So I laid down on the couch to wait for the rain to ease up a little before I head off to the gym.

There I slept until 10P.M., when gunshots from the Hong Kong movie on TV woke me up.

I guess you could say that sleep is the bane of productivity. I don’t disagree. The good book says in Proverbs that he who loves sleep will come to poverty. But what’s a man expected to do when it’s raining so heavily outside, and the sky is so gloomy?

When I woke up, there was a notification on whatsapp from the church worship team coordinator, telling me that there has been a last-minute change in the Easter service program. So I’ll be leading worship on Easter morning as well.

All I could reply was “\o/”.

(“\o/” is the new “lol” – versatile for any situation. It can be taken to mean “yay!” or “well, what can you do?”, or even as far as “Praise the Lord!” or “whatever. whoopee-do”. Also, it looks like a “lol” with spread arms)

Life is full of surprises. Some of them more pleasant and welcome than others.

Earlier this week, a friend of mine bought a new smartphone at a bargain price. Unsure of what to do with his old iPhone 4, he decided to let me use it until I get my own.

I was perfectly happy with my Nokia, of course. But eh, free iPhone. Why not?

(that’s the Chinese in me talking. Remember the rule about cheap things no good, good things no cheap; but free things are always good)

And now I have been inducted into the smartphone family. I’ve disabled just about every unnecessary (as of yet) function on the phone, and I’ve downloaded a grand total of 2 apps for it. I think I’ll get into the mood of things in good time.

But for now, since I cannot go back to sleep, I think I’ll go do that writing I was supposed to do this morning.

71. Family Group Chat

After typing about 3,000 words for Johann’s Fantastic Adventures Through Time earlier this evening in the university library, I thought that I’d retire early as a reward for being so productive, and go and have a nice meal at Betty’s Midwest Kitchen.

However, upon reaching the place, my heart sank when I saw that the place was closed – and I had to hit myself when I remembered that Betty’s is closed on Mondays.

So I had to settle for the friendly mamak man’s cooking.


(really though, I’m amazed at how many words I had managed to type between 5P.M. and 7.30P.M. I would say that I deserve an award or something, but the world record for typing speed is 216 words per minute – that dude can do what I did in 2.5 hours in 15 minutes. Day ruined again)

The trouble with your whole family getting smartphones begins when they figure out how to create groups on whatsapp. Right now, I have been dragged into 3 family group chats: one for the immediate family; one for the extended family on dad’s side; and another one for the extended family on mom’s side. All in all, that makes for endless notifications, and gems like:

(concerning dinner)
Where is everyone??

TTDI (30 kilometers from home)

Raub (200 kilometers from home)

Sandakan (1000 kilometers from home)

(24 hours later)

(while having dinner with mom)
Now in OUG.

And things like:

Anyone seen my pass card? It looks like a dirty white solid rectangle card attached to a dark blue string with a silver thing near the knot

(still 1000 kilometers from home)
Nope never saw it

Seriously, though. I’m resisting the urge these days to just go ballistic and scream in the group chat “SHUT UPPP!!!” every single time the notification goes off. I guess I should have seen this coming.

When I got my very first smartphone in early 2012, I knew that I wanted to get one what can support whatsapp, mainly due to the number of friends I have who were migrating and/or studying overseas.

I had wanted a Blackberry Bold, because the shape and feel of that thing just screams manliness. Also, its impressive note-taking ability gives me about enough space to craft a whole novel on the phone itself. Unfortunately, the thing cost about as much as a brand new laptop. I mean, really – the laptop that I’m using is actually cheaper than it; and that’s after adding in the repair costs it had incurred over the years.

So I had settled for a Nokia Asha 303, which had whatsapp conveniently pre-installed on it, and could even access the internet! I could reply emails on the go! When reading the user’s manual for whatsapp, however, it warned me that I will not be able to switch the application off if I’m installing it on a Nokia device.

And of course, I went, “What? That’s no problem. I welcome messages from anyone, anytime!”

Then here I am today.