Archives 2020

Hedonic Adaptation

I had this conversation with someone recently and she said, “I would love to be happy more frequently.”

It reminded me about this book I read many years ago that discussed about happiness set points. I recalled enjoying the book a lot because of how it explained that we tend to find happiness by improving our circumstances.

I will be happy if/when _____________.

I will be happy if I can get off work early today. I will be happy if I can have a really good dinner tonight. I will be happy when I buy a new car. I will be happy when I can marry the girl of my dreams. I will be happy when I can move into a new home. I will be happy when I win the lottery. It is an endless list of possibilities.

But the important truth is,
What we think will make us very happy for a long time,
Will only make us a little happier for a short while.

The author explained this effect is known as hedonic adaption.

Circumstances that change our lives and make us happy, helps us to achieve that desired effect of happiness. We are happy when we start to drive around in our new car. We are happy when we wake up everyday in our fully furnished new home.

However, because humans adapt both physiologically and sensory into their new environment, our lifestyle and habits shape around the new circumstances and then our happiness level returns to the same set point as before.

And now we are back to the cycle of seeking greater happiness again because, what we have now doesn’t make us as happy as how we think it would, and then we are not satisfied with what we have.

I think the key point here is that, we keep trying to find what will make us happier, and we don’t spend enough effort to hang on to the happiness that we already have.

The biggest lie we can tell ourselves start with,
I will be happy if _________________.

I think what the author wants us to understand is that,
if you’re not happy today, then you won’t be happy tomorrow, because happiness is not out there for us to find. Happiness is inside us.

My copy is more than 10 years old. I bought her a new one and I hope it helps her find happiness as much as it helped me.

Dyson Pure Cool Link TP03

I was looking around for air purifiers to use in my room. After reading reviews online, I decided that Novita and Xiaomi are the best wallet-friendly brands for the budget-conscious. You can get a really good one for just $100 to $200. However after heading down to Courts and Best Denki, and surveying the various units available, I realized that they might not be too ideal due to their bulky nature. Their box-shaped body takes up too much space and my room isn’t that big to begin with.

I have walked past the Dyson booth many times but it has never crossed my mind to even consider such luxury product. I personally feel that their vacuum cleaners and hairdryers are overpriced even though some of my friends swear by the brand.

All of that changed when I did a simple search on Carousell and saw multiple accounts trying to sell their brand new, sealed units of Dyson TP03 purifying fan. Apparently there was a Robinsons promo/sale last week and many of them got it for free after spending more than $1500 at the departmental store.

You know when too many people want to sell something that isn’t in demand, you can try to find a desperate seller and use some persuasion skills. I managed to convince a seller to deal with me for $380 and therefore I headed down to his place to collect it. True enough, it was still sealed like it just came out of the store.

I compared the TP03 to other air purifying fans and a lot of reviewers commented that the TP03 fan power is really weak and it gets noisy when switched on at higher speeds. To be fair to the reviewers, the fan noise is indeed really loud if you were to blast it at the maximum speed of 10. I use it at around speeds 6 to 7 and there is a little bit of noise but it is at a very bearable level. Normal fans also have sound when oscillating so it is impossible to expect the Dyson to be silent.

It comes only in one color so not much of a choice there, but what I love about it is that aesthetically it looks more appealing and also more compact. The TP03 comes with a built-in wifi feature so if you connect it with your smart phone application, you don’t really need the remote control anymore. On top of that, it shows you the current air condition, temperature and humidity levels in your room.

When I first started using it, it showed my room’s air as “fair” with a yellow background. It switched to “good” with the green background after about 30 to 40 minutes of usage. I am not sure if that’s because of the air purifier doing its job or is it just a gimmick, but having paid only $380, I don’t have much to complain about.

CTDI Singapore

I was told by Google online support that my phone was still under warranty, and no appointments were required, so today I made a trip all the way down to Kallang Avenue. I walked into CTDI, located on the third floor of the Aperia Mall.

The lady at the reception counter ran some online checks and asked me for my original proof of purchase. I told her that I have deleted the original email that Google has sent me, but I still kept a screenshot, to which she actually gladly accepted. What happened next wasn’t that pleasant though, she told me that the warranty for Pixel 3 is only for 12 months so that would mean that my warranty has already expired.

I explained to her that Google online support has assured me that my phone was still under warranty, otherwise I would have looked for more convenient options than to come all the way down. She insisted that my phone’s warranty has already expired and hence for them to fix my faulty power button, it would cost at least $300 for original parts and replacement.

It didn’t make any sense to me so I walked out of the repair centre, with my phone in the same condition that I brought it in.

I still love my phone a lot. The phone itself comes packed with features that are amazing, and the camera is still hella exceptional. I could probably continue using this phone for the next 1-2 years if both hardware and software work properly.

But, when it comes to product support and after-sales, I am sorry but Google falls incredibly short in this area.

18 Months With Pixel 3

It has been 18 months since I have made the switch from iPhone to Android, and Google has also released the Pixel 4 just a few months back. I was expecting the Pixel 4 to be a better version of the Pixel 3 but unfortunately I was left disappointed. There was no doubt that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way because Google didn’t do very well with the Pixel 4 sales.

My Pixel 3 is also starting to come up with several hardware issues, like a wonky power button. It seems to be a common issue as I searched for it online and there has been numerous reports. What happens is that the power button gets very sensitive, even a slight touch triggers it. I removed my case because of this because as the case wraps around the power button, it gets pressed for no reason at all.

Even so, sometimes I give the power button a slight push, maybe to take a screenshot, or when I really have to restart my phone, the power button still remains pressed even though I have already released it. I have had my phone in endless restart loops because the power button is stuck. I had to knock it really hard, like against the corner of my table, to get it back working again.

My phone is still under warranty so why don’t I just get it fixed, you might ask. Well, there is only one service centre in Singapore and reviews about them are quite mixed. Fellow Pixel users have highlighted that process to get your phones checked and repaired can take quite long even with minimal queue.

I tried contacting them once, hoping to resolve my power button issue, but they send me an email informing me to prepare my original proof of purchase. I bought this online from Google Store and I have deleted the email a long time back. I didn’t bother replying them but I would think that Google Store probably still have records of my purchase should I really need to retrieve it.

Other than that, the phone works fine. I am not a gamer so considering the small RAM, I really don’t know how fast can the phone go on a memory-consuming app. I hardly use the speakers but when I did, I was quite amazed that the front-facing speakers actually sounded great. The feature that I really love on the Pixel 3, that you probably can’t find on any other phone in the market right now, is the wide-angle front camera lens.

The latest iPhone 11 and Samsung S20 models do not come with it. Speaking of which, actually even the Pixel 4 does not have the wide-angle front camera lens. This is basically the only reason and also the best reason why I am sticking to my Pixel 3.

The Pixel 5 is expected to be announced later this year, and let’s wait to see what it will come with.

MacBook Pro 13″ 2020

It has been a long time since I did my research on laptops, so when my MacBook Air crashed on me last week, I was kinda stuck I had no idea which were the latest or most competitive models in the current market.

I was contemplating if I should go back to Windows, and probably get a PixelBook Go to complement my Pixel 3. However there was a lack of reviews online and I could not find much (local) support to help me with my choice.

My MacBook Air lasted me 8+ years. I got it midway during university and I still have all my projects saved on it. Throughout the 8 years I only had to get it fixed twice. Once was for a hardware issue and another time was because the battery totally died. I could not get the machine running without directly connecting it to AC power.

My youngest sister bought the latest MacBook Air recently and I thought of doing the same. My previous machine could last me 8 years so I was rather confident that my next purchase will be reliable and durable enough for quite a long time. All retail stores are currently closed due to Singapore Circuit Breaker so my only option was to make my purchase online.

The Apple MacBook Air costs $1449 on the Apple Online Store. It is the base model that comes with dual-core processor, which is good enough for light usage. The quad-core processor costs an additional $150 more, which brings the total to $1599. I added the item to cart and proceeded to do my online check-out when I looked at the price tag and paused for a moment.

The 13″ MacBook Pro costs $1899 which is only an additional $300 more. The base model itself already comes with a faster quad-core processor and a better display than the MacBook Air. There is also a slightly annoying issue on the MBA. I encountered quite a number of times on my MBA when I open multiple tabs or run different apps at the same time, the machine heats up and the fans will start spinning wildly, generating a bit of noise. To be fair, it’s not really a big deal but when it comes to comparing the two, I think this means the MBA will be more prone to overheating issues.

So the choice was clear, I emptied my cart and added the 13″ MacBook Pro instead. I gave Apple hotline a call for them to prioritise my order. They gave me all the standard replies but I requested for my order to be expedited so at least I have something to stay at home with, especially when my old machine died.

It was delivered within 2 working days.

(Never ever leave your laptop on the bed. By doing so, the battery at the bottom is unable to dissipate heat properly and it will cause the machine to overheat.)

First look, space grey looks really metallic and sleek. The keyboard has a nice springy touch and makes typing enjoyable. The Touch Bar is annoying because if I want to adjust the brightness or volume while I’m in the midst of something, I have to to look at the Touch Bar to scroll and adjust. Previously on my MBA, I could just randomly hit the F1 F2 or F11 F12 keys.

USB ports are no longer the norm, so now I have 2 ThunderBolt/USB-C ports of which 1 will be used for the charger. On the other side is a standard audio jack.

I guess there are a lot of new norms now. I just bought a new $1899 laptop without first trying it at a retail store.

Chiang Mai 2020

I decided to spend 48 hours in Chiang Mai despite just having visited about 3 months ago. Everywhere seemed much quieter this time round for obvious reasons. Flights and hotel prices have dropped drastically. The roads are less congested and malls doesn’t see much human traffic.

Which is also exactly why I thoroughly enjoyed myself. There was no need to queue at popular eateries and cafes are empty for picturesque moments.

For lunch, I decided to pop up Khao Soi Mae Sai. It is a small family operated eatery that probably has about 15 or 20 tables. You write your order on a small paper and pass it to an aunty whom I assume to be the mother, and a young man (I assume son) is the one preparing the orders beside all the large pots of gravy.

Each bowl of Khao Soi is filled with both flat and crispy noodle, and comes with a chicken drum stick. Although the servings are small, the price was very affordable. I could finish 2 bowls by myself. The 3 bowls together won’t cost more than $6. I planned to visit another Khao Soi restaurant for lunch on the second day but I was so satisfied with this and ended up returning here again.

Another place worth visiting is Lert Ros Restaurant. My friend recommended it because it is said to be a legendary haunt in Chiang Mai. I was quite puzzled when my Grab driver dropped me there because it looked to be in the middle of a neighbourhood. There was no store front or signages. My Grab driver then explained that the restaurant itself is actually inside the owner’s house. I walked through the living room and was greeted by a grandpa watching TV. He smiled at me and told me to go straight, walking past the kitchen and was led to a large dining area on the balcony.

I felt that the prices here were slightly on the higher side. It’s the kind of prices you would pay if you were dining in an air-conditioned restaurant in Bangkok. Nonetheless, it was still affordable. I recommend the black pepper crab and also the garlic pepper crayfish. They don’t serve the entire crab but only the pincers and the meatier parts. I guess some people prefer it this way because it’s less messy and easier to peel.

There are plenty of new cafes in Chiang Mai. I think there is at least a new one popping up every corner every week. The ones I went to are not new, but I have read reviews that they have good coffee and it is undeniably so.

Khagee is my favorite. It is also the smallest among the three that I’ve visited, but their coffee is amazing. Did not try anything from their bakery but they are apparently very good too.

Until next time.