Online takeaway delivered!

As a busy professional, I sometimes just do not have the time to put a meal together. In Singapore, there is an awesome food delivery service called Deliveroo. There app is available on the app stores for both iOS and Android. Based on your delivery location, they’ll allow you to place an order from local restaurants which will deliver freshly cooked food from their menu to your doorstep in approximately 30 minutes.

Get $10 off your first order

Sign up for Deliveroo now!

I’ve had a really good experience with Deliveroo so far. They have been my go-to option every time I have been under the weather, or just too busy to stock up for groceries.

My most pleasant interaction with them was on one evening when they were 9 minutes later delivering my food. I got a call from them minutes after receiving my delivery where they apologized for being late, and voluntarily offered me a $15 credit towards my next order. Now that is what I call service!

If you’re new in Singapore, I highly recommend using their services. They also operate in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, , Spain, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates.

Sale season in Singapore

Shopping is a national past time in Singapore. It is so popular, that the country celebrates a major sale twice a year. When June arrives, it is time for the Great Singapore Sale. Retailers from every industry will cut prices to encourage shoppers to spend. This year, sale season started with the Singapore Consumer Electronics Expo at Suntec city convention centre.

Spread out over three days, and hosted in one of the largest conferencing facilities in Singapore, this is one of the most popular major retail events in the season. By the time I arrived there at 2p.m., the floor was packed with shoppers looking for bargains.

They were a few very attractive deals going. The one that really caught my I was in Microsoft surface pro for that was fully speced out going for SG$2,458. That’s $400 below regular retail price. I didn’t see any drones on offer, which was a bit disappointing for me.

Last year, I picked up a robot vacuum there for about $300 less than retail price, and my DJI Osmo for $200 under retail price.

The Singapore Consumer Electronics Expo is a great opportunity for buyers to pick up a great deal. Your biggest challenge will be working your way through the crowds. If you’re in Singapore at this time, I highly recommend visiting.

Samsung Galaxy S7 32GB Dual SIM – first impressions

A few days ago, I ordered my Samsung galaxy S7 handset. It was delivered yesterday and is replacing my iPhone 6S.

I have multiple SIM cards and multiple handsets to separate my personal life from work. Now having relocated overseas, I find myself having two sets of SIM cards for both Australia and Singapore.

I’ve been an Apple iPhone user ever since the iPhone 3GS. I really wish Apple would make handsets that support multiple SIM cards. Sadly, they still don’t make one.

When Apple released iOS 10, I upgraded the software on both my iPhone 6S Plus, and my iPhone 6S. Everything worked perfectly on my iPhone 6S Plus.

Unfortunately, my iPhone 6S began to experience the fast battery drain issue. It also started having issues with the lightning cables — even the original ones sold by Apple. Now having done some research, I’ve discovered that this is a fairly well known problem that affects a very small number of users. This is software related, and was apparently first seen after one of the updates that Apple released shortly after iOS10 was launched. Apple usually fixes these in subsequent releases.

However, in the meantime, I needed a functioning phone.

I figured, if I was going to get one, I might as well get one that supports 2 SIM cards. I’ve previously test driven the Galaxy S6, which I was impressed with. I’ve heard good things about the Galaxy S7, and at first glance, would have to say that Samsung have done great job on their flagship phone.

What I like about the phone

This is a well built device that has a nice solid feel when you hold it.

Samsung have retained the fingerprint scanner that makes it easy to unlock your phone.

It supports two SIM cards, which is great for someone with two phone numbers or who travels internationally a fair bit and likes the flexibility of being able to add a second SIM card into the same device they use all the time.

The Android operating system integrates seamlessly with all my Google services, Which gives me a unified view of all the information that I regularly use and need at my fingertips. This includes my address book, calendar, appointments, weather forecast, and flight details. The integration of the “OK Google” voice recognition function makes it easy to search for information.

The phone also comes with wireless charging as a standard feature.

What I think they could have done better

When I bought this, the specifications said that it had 32 GB of storage. It also said that I could add a microSD card for additional secondary storage.

This is true.

What the specifications were not explicit about was that you could either use a second SIM card, or secondary storage. You can’t have both.The slot for the second SIM card is the same slots for the use of microSD card.

The Best Improvements

The UI and overall customer experience is definitely far more improved then the Galaxy S5.

Samsung did a lot of work in improving the user experience when they launched the Galaxy S6. They’ve carried this trend forward with the Galaxy S7.

The battery life has been impressive, with the phone supporting two SIM cards on roaming lasting the whole day on a single charge with about 40% remaining at the end of the day.

Final Thoughts

If I didn’t already have an Apple ecosystem at home, it wouldn’t take much for me to switch all my devices to the Samsung S7. However, I still like my Apple devices, and unless Apple seriously impacts my overall experience with all their products for the worse, I do not see myself giving up the convenience of iOS and OSX keeping all my data in sync across all my devices.

The Galaxy S7 is priced at a very reasonable SG$800. This is Hong Kong stock to specifically get the dual SIM model. The capability to add additional storage is a huge plus for this phone, though you’ll need to choose between extra storage or an extra network.

If you’re looking for a reliable phone or an alternative to iOS, I’d definitely recommend considering the Samsung Galaxy S7.

Scenes from the Singapore MRT

Coming from Melbourne and living in the inner city, I’ve never really used the train system. I lived in the free tram zone and got around easily on trams whenever I commuted, or drove whenever it was a little farther off.

Life in Singapore is a bit different. For a start, a vehicle is ridiculously expensive, and perhaps somewhat impractical for an expat. But more to the point, unless you’re regularly ferrying children around town to extra curriculars or have a job that requires you to get around quickly, having a vehicle in this city is somewhat of a liability, especially given that they have such a super-efficient mass transit system.

Singapore’s MRT has six primary lines – an east-west line, a north-south line, a circle line, a north-east line, a downtown-line and an east-coast line. Trains here are as frequent as two or three minutes apart. They are generally automatically driven (they do not have train drivers) and are all underground in the inner city area (although they do surface in the outer suburbs). Platforms at the stations all have safety barriers (sometimes referred to as suicide stoppers in certain parts of the world).

The stations and the trains are impeccably clean. They do not permit eating and drinking on the train or on the railway premises. This includes water from your own water bottle. (I have witnessed a young man being ushered not to drink from his water bottle by a co-passenger – a conversation that ended without any drama). There is surprisingly little seating within the carriages, which allows for plenty of room for commuters to stand.

As the trains pull up into a station, an announcement can be heard over the PA system that sounds something like “Happy happy!” to the untrained ear. It threw me for a loop for the first few days until I realised that what they’re really saying is “Berhati hati di ruang platform” – Malay for “Please mind the gap between the platform”.

Singapore’s authorities do a lot to repeat a lot of messages that have a social impact on society. This set of posters is something that I have seen at a few MRT stations which I found very touching. They touch upon single fathers and children being raised by single parents. I feel that it is fair to say that single fathers rarely get much consideration when they take on the role of primary caregiver as well as being the breadwinner. This is the first campaign of this nature that I have personally seen anywhere in the world and got me thinking about how societies are adapting to the changing face of family structures.

Some of the messages inside the carriages are quite empathetic. This series of messages inside a train compartment on the north-south line brought a smile to my face, and gave me a sense that humanity still exists in the world. The messages touch upon being mindful, and not taking out frustrations on innocent strangers, colleagues or loved ones. Once again, I am yet to see similar messages like that anywhere else in the world. (The young man in the foreground was not aware that he was in this image. He appeared to have finished work on Friday and was either making his way home, or heading off to catch up with friends. He was busy looking at his phone when I took this shot).

The MRT does lead to some fun places. The Chinatown MRT leads to Pagoda Street and the Tintin shop. Tintin was a big part of my childhood and has remained a part of my adulthood too! The store has a changed a bit since my visit in 2013.

Smart City Solutions for the Aged

Singapore has ambitions of becoming the world’s first true smart city. This is evident from the things that one experiences in everyday life here. Its mass transit system operates off a single unified electronic ticketing system that provides feedback to its infrastructure planning department on how many people use a particular route at a particular time so that they can optimise services to ensure that its citizens have a comfortable ride. Its immigration system offer a seamless process of scanning your passport and fingerprint at electronic turnstiles for all Singaporean nationals, permanent residents and long term pass holders. All its residents are issued a national ID which is associated with all their government services.

A few nights ago, I ventured out and saw this at a crossing which really impressed the thought that has gone behind this. Singapore issues senior citizens with a concession card. Holders of these cards can swipe them against a scanner at pedestrian crossings on major roads when they push the button to cross. This triggers the system to allow a longer crossing time to allow the elderly and mobility restricted a little extra time to safely cross the road.

How’s that for empathy for people who really need it?

Social Media and Me – the love hate relationship

I’ll start off by saying that I was very late when entering social media. It wasn’t until 2010 (April 9th to be precise – I looked it up!) that I joined Facebook. I had resisted the urge to have a social media presence till then. My logic was quite simple about this… I didn’t feel the need to publish every detail of my life on a shared online medium. This is a bit of a paradox, since I have had a homepage since 1995 (starting off with my presence on the now defunct Geocities, before finally getting my own domain name in 2001).

During the early days of the Internet and running your own domain, there were a few key differences from the Internet and social media today. Back then…

  1. I took full responsibility of the content that I chose to share online.
  2. The content was only put online when I chose to manually create an HTML page (or a database entry).
  3. People could reach out to me via guestbooks and feedback forms, and I could respond to those messages that I chose to at my own pace without being bothered during times when I would rather be doing something else.

Being somewhat introverted, I am not big on socializing. Don’t get me wrong, I like meeting people as much as the next person. However, I do like my quiet time, and there are occasions when I would rather spend time alone reflecting on life, or thinking up solutions to simple problems or challenges that I am faced with.

So why did I join Facebook in the first place?

There were a couple of factors that led to this.

  1. I had moved to another country, and didn’t anyone there. It was a trying time in my life. I’d used Facebook as a tool to stay in touch with the people whom I knew and were far geographically away. This helped me through this difficult time.
  2. It was a great way to see pictures and share videos among long lost friends.

So what changed?

Well, everything!

The Internet as we know it has changed in the last few years at a scary pace. All of a sudden, social media platforms were popping up all over the place. Mainstream websites encouraged engagement by associating your participation with a Facebook profile. Some of them went further to where you could log into a website using Facebook credentials. It was all too easy!

Enter the smartphone

Then the stakes just got higher.

Social Media wasn’t just there for you to log onto via your PC. It was with you all the time in your pocket. It would allow you to document every single thing in your life that appealed to you and share it with the world… all with the convenience of a finger swipe across the screen of a device that lay in the palm of your hand.

It still seemed pretty cool, and for a while, I participated, sharing stories of when I climbed a mountain or checked in at an airport. It became easy for me to let the people whom I cared about know where I was in case in ran into any strife.

Somewhere along the way, the lines of convenience began to be eroded with the information that I was parting with.

You see, social media platforms operate by knowing as much as about the user as they can. The engineers running these platforms build algorithms to serve you with the content that they deem is what you will want to see.

The initial annoyance

I’ve always resisted parting with what I consider too much information on any social media platform. What began to bother me was that every time I logged into Facebook, questions about my date of birth and religious and political views would however subtly, be in my face. They sat there in the corner with suggestions about how my profile could be better if I answered a few of these questions. That subliminal suggestion of how I needed to provide these details remained in my peripheral vision, and it began to annoy me.

I persisted. I pretended that it wasn’t there. I felt that as long as I didn’t provide them with the details, everything would be fine. Then came the updates to the mobile apps.

OK… now we have a problem

One fine day, I noticed that the Facebook app update had a clause that stated that the app needed to be able to read my text messages, and listen to my calls (I do read the terms of service.).

At this stage, it was officially creepy. I’d decided that I had had enough and promptly uninstalled the app from all my mobile devices (in the plural… I used to have a few as a result of my job back then).

But hang on… there was something amiss here. There are some devices from where you cannot uninstall the app! Now that left me particularly peeved! You see, as a customer, when I purchase a device and/or software product, I believe that I have paid the manufacturer to compensate them with the right to use the said device or software as I see fit to meet my needs as bound by their terms of service. Their needs from me (i.e. harvesting my information) are not of my concern. So why can I not uninstall the offending app from my smartphone, I wonder? Having done the research, I am yet to find the answer to this.

With that said, it set me thinking…

Why do I not need a social media account?

Before I could effectively answer why I needed a social media account, I first needed to asses what I didn’t need a social media account for. This is what I came up with.

I do not need a social media account to stay in touch with loved ones.

Really, I don’t.

I actually reach out to the people that I care about. Having grown up in the pre-Internet era, my friends, family and I stayed in touch with long-time old friends by writing to one another. There’s a charm in receiving the single photograph in an envelope accompanied by a hand-written note. General etiquette demanded that you respond within a reasonable time.

While e-mail has killed the art of hand-written letters, it has allowed us to stay in touch with friends and still share images with a lot more speed. The reality is that my friends do not have the time to look through 20 pictures from my lunch with a group folks whom they may not know. They do however have the time to look at the odd picture of me in a new place, and reflect on how I have changed. It is the personal relationship that I share with them that prompts a meaningful response and keeps the friendship together.

I find that I can stay in touch with my friends just fine by dropping them the odd email, calling them, or even sending them a postcard (yes, I am old fashioned). I did not need social media to do this.

I do not need social media to remember birthdays and anniversaries.

Really, I don’t.

This is just me, but I actually remember the birthdays of the people that I care about.

And just as a safety net, I have them programmed into my calendar, which gives me a pop-up on the morning of their birthdays and anniversaries which prompts me to write a personalized note them in the event that I have forgotten. The ones whom I am really, really close to get a handwritten card in the mail, or a phone call, or both. I would rather not extend empty greetings just because I happen to see someone else wishing them on my feed.

I do not need social media to make a long time relationship last for a lifetime.

Here is the reality: everything has an expiry date, and that includes the best of friendships. Having gone to primary school, middle school, high school, undergraduate school and graduate school in different parts of the world, I made some great friends. Most of them have done well in life, and have settled down, started families, and have their own thing going on. The space between us (with me living on a different continent from them) results in us not being able to relate to each others’ lives over time, and results in a natural process of growing apart.

This is not to suggest that I have fallen out with them. I believe that the true test of any relationship is your ability to let go of one another so that you can live your lives to the fullest. It is a matter of respecting that life goes on, and that you both have the right to make the most of it without looking, judging or reflecting on things or situations that you may not fully understand. And in the off chance that you happen to be in the same vicinity, a phone call or an email is all that it takes to organize a catch-up so that we can relive old times, reflect and share a laugh over now.

I do not need a social media account to document my life.

Four things key things rang out to me.

  1. Documenting ones life takes time – something that I am in very poor supply of. (Remember that thing called “Second Life” where people lived an alternate life in a virtual world? I barely have enough time for my real first life, leave alone a virtual second one).
  2. My life is pretty boring. There is little purpose behind documenting my life online, and even less for people to read it.
  3. Rather than spending time documenting life, it is perhaps a better idea for me to be living my life and enjoying it.
  4. Last, but not the least, if I want to share things about my life with the people that I care about, I will call them, or write to them. I did not need to be putting it onto a platform which will mine that information and use it to market products to me.

I do not need a social media account to get my news.

I am somewhat old fashioned.

Plus I have a set of bookmarks that are my regular reading list for the news that I am interested in.

Having this in social media just ends up mixing the news content with non-news content which makes it annoying for me to read, and assimilate. Maybe that’s just me, but I believe that there is a time for serious content, and a time for light content… and mixing the two ends up frustrating me.

Facebook has news updates in the corner, right next to the ads, which puts me off.

So in a nutshell, I was pretty clear about what I didn’t need a social media account for. Having gotten that out of the way, I proceeded to consider…

What do I need Social Media for?

Here are some of the common things that I do find it useful for.

Keeping up with my favourite bands and performance

I like going to concerts. Living in When I lived in Australia, we didn’t don’t often get treated to the best bands that tour North America and Europe. When they did do come to town, they sold sell out very quickly. Social Media allowed me to receive updates on when they are going to be in town.

Interacting with people over a common interest

In my case, that is photography. The well-established photographers have their own websites. A lot of photography enthusiasts who are up and coming do not. Irrespective of this, they use social media to share images that they create. It also allows me a platform to share my images and short films with a large audience.

Keeping up with the industry in my line of work on which skill sets are in demand for the next role that I am looking for

This is where something like LinkedIn comes in handy, where I can regularly receive content that I consider useful for consideration in day-to-day assessment of career choices. I typically wouldn’t use Facebook for this.

Keeping up with local events in town

My local city council have Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts where they announce local events. Melbourne is particularly good with this, as it always has something or the other going on in the city that is worth visiting. And a lot of the events are free. You get the latest news directly delivered to you.

So now that I have ascertained what I needed social media for, and what I didn’t need it for, it was time to decide…

Which social media services do I needed, and how was I going to use them

  1. To stay in touch with people that I care about, I have chosen to revert back to emailphone callsletterspostcards and even personal visits. For me to be truly social, I decided to embrace the notion of investing the universal life currency of time into the relationships that I value. I feel that it is the most genuine way to nurture the relationships that I have. So from now on, there will never be another personal update from me on social media.
  2. To share the knowledge that I have gained from life experiences, and being technically savvy, I am reverting back to my own website. I am not inclined to make a living out of sharing life’s little lessons so that other folks may avoid angst. By correctly coding my web pages with the appropriate keywords and meta-tags and ensuring that it is search engine optimised, the information that I share ought to make its way to people who are looking for it. And if a reader finds the content useful, they are always in a position to share it via their social media channels.
  3. To share videos and short films that I create, I will continue to maintain presences on YouTube (which is a Google service) and Vimeo. Both services make it easy for me to integrate content into my website.
  4. To share my best photographs, I have decided to go with 500px. It is a photography focussed community with devoid of Internet Memes and Cats. It also allows me to interact with other serious photographers, and will allow me to automatically integrate my content to other social media platforms. (Yes, there is also Flickr… it’s not my cup of tea).
  5. To maintain a professional presence, I will continue to maintain a LinkedIn profile with the very basic details. Recruiters, hiring companies and entrepreneurs who are interested in my skill sets, they can get in touch with me directly via LinkedIn.

So what about my Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounts?

That is going to require a bit of clean-up.

Twitter

I never manually post to my Twitter account. I’m no celebrity, and I never really caught onto the concept of posting a comment on the Internet which in all likelihood will never be read. I reckon auto-posting from my website to a Twitter account after a post has been carefully constructed, with best efforts having gone in to ensure that it is relevant, responsible, respectful, and representative is the only purpose that Twitter would have for me to reach an audience.

On the flip side, it does help me stay up to date with my favourite bands – so I guess I will be following them… on my terms.

Killed! The account has been deactivated, and will never be resurrected. End of story!

Facebook

It has been retired permanently. While Facebook have mined whatever personal information of mine that they have, it will at least not be visible for the rest of the world to see.

Google+

Being a newer social network, this one has worked quite well for me. A lot of this is as a result of me being very careful about whom I follow. This one will stay put (for the time being), as it allows me to share relevant content with a relevant audience without being besieged by content and Internet Memes that I am not interested in. It also gives me enough updates of the bands that I follow so that I can catch a concert in town.

My rules for social media mobile use

I will never again install a social media mobile app on my mobile phone or tablet. The reality is that I can wait to get my social media fix when I get online. It really isn’t that important for me to have it on my mobile, and for it to be a distraction throughout the day. It is perhaps more beneficial for social media companies than it is for me to have their apps on my mobile device.

I will also never share personal information on social media again. I know that the more I share means that the service can be tailored more to meet what I might be interested in. That’s ok… the less than perfect social media experience will not decrease the quality of my life. Real socialising happens in the real world.

So what does it mean for you and me?

For my friends with whom I share a mutual connection, we’ll stay in touch via email, phone calls, or better still, in real life. It is my commitment to making time so that we can continue to stay in touch. I can understand that it might mean that you might not be able to make time to write regularly – and that’s ok. You have a more important place in my life than merely being part of a social media feed. There will be real birthday, anniversary and holiday cards and phone calls from a real human being who took the time to remember and drop something in the mail that you can hold in your hands.

The reality is that social media is here to stay.

I choose to control how I use it, and not let it control my life.