Tuesday, March 24, 2015

On the passing of a legend (Mr Lee Kuan Yew)

My facebook feed has been flooded with status updates, profile photo changes, and various shares and comments following the death of Lee Kuan Yew on 23 March 2015. As I was reflecting on some of this bombardment on Monday night, the first two lines of this poem formed in my mind. I then decided to try to build upon it, and what follows is a rough draft (which, in all reality, will likely never be worked on again) of some thoughts on the passing of a legend.
A nation mourns, a people cry
The death of mister LKY
I knew not he whom people grieve
Just that in him they did believe
Right man, right time; met SG's needs
#NoYewNoUs, their hashtag reads
By world's standards he's done a lot
His deeds and words won't be forgot
His legacy: this li'l red dot
Up in the world it quickly shot
I wonder what the future brings
A new world now, who'll be its kings?
Like all who live, his journey ends
His resting place, on God depends.
I was a bit hesitant about sharing it, given it was composed in all of about 15 minutes, and some of it felt a little bit forced. Plus, I'm hardly an authority on the man's life and history, so part of me was wary of coming across as ignorant / too simplistic. But hey, it's a poem, and there's poetic licence, and actually I think there's sufficient ambiguity in what I've written that it's not so easy to immediately pigeon-hole me into a particular camp when it comes to the spectrum of feeling about LKY. I will say this though, (and it's perhaps a bit of a random analogy, but I've been watching The Walking Dead, and there's some parallelism in the thought that) you don't get to lead (and keep leading with majority support) in difficult times without ruffling some feathers, getting some people off side, and making enemies. Of course dictators and despots could also fit this description, so I'll just leave that thought hang (and no I'm not saying that's what he was)...

Anyways, I posted it on facebook, and so far have gotten a number of likes, including from various Singaporeans in my network. I'll take that as some validation that the poem is not rubbish :p

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Brisbane parking

I have a general aversion to paying for parking, so it's good that I don't often have to think about parking in Brisbane's CBD or surrounding areas. But when that need does arise those few times a year, it's a bit of an endeavour to figure out where best to park, balancing distance from where I want to go, likely availability of spaces (for on street parking options), and the costs. In the past I've used a combination of the app or website, and google street view to look at on street parking signs. The latter is not always reliable as the information may be obscured, not clear enough to read when zoomed in, or plain outdated. This ipark map of all of Brisbane's parking meter locations would have saved me a lot of time and effort!

Another potentially useful resource is the Brisbane Parking Guide, where you can find information on parking deals and a map of (commercial) parking stations.

Brisbane recently conducted its "first comprehensive review of on-street parking management" and the report of this review and its recommendations are available (pdf) here. I've only had a brief skim, but it seems to be heading in the direction of good improvements. Part of the special offers flowing from the review is the availability of $5 evening and weekend parking at the two council operated carparks (King George Square and Wickham St). This is almost as good as the $4 offers available to RACQ members at Secure Parking locations, and the availability of such options makes a trip into the city more viable.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

CTP (for QLD) revisited

It's been a while since I last looked at CTP, and the associated at fault driver protection policies. It's also been a while since I blogged, but that's a different story. I recently came across this deal on OzBargain whereby QBE is offering up to $50 for people to switch their CTP to them, and someone commented that Suncorp has a similar offer. So I thought it's time to re-survey the landscape. Here are some things I've noticed:
  • There are fewer CTP providers since the last time I looked; AAMI and NRMA are no longer in the game.
  • Not too much has changed in terms of the things covered by the various at fault driver protection policies.
  • It's still difficult to find the full details of the policy QBE offers. I ended up calling them and had a copy emailed to me.
  • RACQ still offers significantly less 'bang for buck' compared to the competition, who are all fairly neck and neck, with Suncorp being a nose in front.
Here's a summary side by side comparison based on my skimming of the various policy documents, with the pricing from the MAIC CTP calculator. The providers are listed in best to worst ranking (by my reckoning).

QBE will only give me $25 for switching to them, so that's a $12 overall benefit if I change from my current provider Suncorp. Assuming Suncorp still has their offer next year, I should be able to switch back to them and save another $50. Based on this, and assuming that things stay more or less the same in the coming years, I could just rinse and repeat this process for some easy savings... wonder why I didn't work this out earlier!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

rethinking facebook usage

In case this embedding thing doesn't work, basically read this post and the articles linked there in: Post by Nathan Campbell.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Self building lawn chair (and how it was done)

This is just a little bit ridiculous (in a good way). Firstly, see this stop motion story of a lawn chair getting built (seemingly without any human intervention):

Then, watch the video about how the stop motion video was made:

The woodworking for the chair itself was enough to impress me (I got as far as making a chopping board in my high school manual arts class). The stop motion video presentation of the chair getting made just took it to another level or three... bravo!

Friday, July 26, 2013

To do: find replacement to do app

Being forced to replace an app to which you've grown accustomed is, on the one hand, a first world problem, and on the other, a genuine frustration. Particularly so if the app works just about perfectly for your needs. Exhibit A: Google Reader. It wasn't that long ago I made the move to feedly, and whilst it wasn't all smooth sailing I've adjusted to the post-Google Reader/feedly way of life. Now it's Astrid's turn for retirement, and the hunt begins for a suitable replacement.

Features I was looking for:
  • free
  • support for recurring tasks by due date and completion date 
  • notes for tasks (ie separate notes field / additional to the task title/name)
  • reminders independent of due date
  • sync to cloud / PC / other devices (I currently sync between Google Tasks and Astrid on two devices)
  • automatic backup, restore, and export (see next point) 
  • data compatibility with other similar apps (ie in case need to transition again) 
  • (optional) priority levels
Some of my research:
My shortlist of candidates and selected findings:
  1. Gtasks
    • syncs with Google Tasks 
    • does not support recurring tasks in free version
    • the above limitation pretty much killed it for me, so I uninstalled Gtasks after installing TickTick and importing from Gtasks to TickTick
  2. TickTick
    • based on/evolved from Gtasks? No longer tied to Google Tasks.
    • can import from Gtasks, but sync is with own cloud
    • reminder/alarm is tied to due date
    • cannot set recurrence by completion date (only due date) 
    • cannot set recurrence by more than 2.5 years (30 months) - I currently have one task that I want to recur every 5 years
    • overview screen/list only displays 1/1st line of task title
    • the combination of the above few limitations meant my search was not yet over
  3. Wunderlist
    • can only import from
      • I wasn't using, but could do a one off sync from Android to, then use to do the import into Wunderlist - this produced duplicates of everything, but otherwise worked fine
    • sync is with own cloud 
    • can maintain multiple lists 
    • can set reminder separate from due date 
    • email notification setting done via website seems to apply for normal reminders as well as what the website suggests (other things)
    • cannot set recurrence by completion date (only due date) 
    • overview screen/list only displays 1/1st line of task title… (but at least this is denoted by "…" cf no indication of more text in TickTick)
    • selected sort order (eg by due date) does not autorefresh after changing a task's due date (or it might take a minute or more, which is a bit off-putting)
    • reminder notification cannot be persistent (as Astrid's could be) 
I liked the cleanness and simplicity of TickTick, but it was lacking in some features I wanted. Wunderlist is in some ways more complex/more bloated than what I need, but it offers some features that TickTick doesn't. Wunderlist also has a much larger user (and fan?) base and potentially greater likelihood of sustained future support.

I also briefly considered how I might extend my use of Evernote, or play around more with Google Keep, but they're notetaking apps and not to do apps. I also subsequently found out I could keep using Astrid offline / syncing only to Google Tasks (which was my syncing regime in any case), but figured I didn't want to be 'stuck' with old and frozen software.

So, Wunderlist it is... but I am going to miss Astrid.