Casey Johnston in Shopping Sucks Now:

The internet has created a tyranny of perfect information, so there is more to know about which thing is the right thing to buy than any human can comprehend.


This infinite-market stuff was all well and good when being able to buy almost anything was an opportunity, but now that I can consider everything in the interest of saving time and money on buying subpar stuff, it’s an obligation I can’t ignore. But then I inevitably end up wasting a lot of time and money trying to save that time and money, making everything about this my fault.

I wrote about the same sentiment way back in 2013. It has only got worse with now omnipresent direct to consumer brands.

I need to talk about dance.

Dance is the surprising and wonderful delight I found in 2018. It all began with when a friend suggested we did something new and tried out a hip hop dance class for a Saturday morning. That was fun, I thought. I went back the next week, the week after, and the week after that… Before I knew it I joined a performance workshop, danced with some most amazing instructors and students, and met many wonderful people that I now call friends.

I’m by no means a natural dancer. One would think dance is a just another form of sport that takes some adjustment and technique learning. Well it was not. Shocker. I received really great feedback from some dance friends. One said my shoulders were not open. Another said I forgot that I had arms when I danced. You see the idea. Groove? I don’t have. Isolation? Not really. It took me three months to really understand what people meant when they said I was moving my shoulders when I was supposed to move my chest. None of those mattered though. I still found so much joy in it. I stayed. And I’m probably going to stick around.

The type of class I partake the most is usually referred as urban choreography or urban dance. Here is a video attempting at explaining what it is. The first 30 seconds is pure comedy gold if you already have an idea about urban choreography, which is more of describing an activity than a certain dance style. It’s the practice of people coming together and dance. It’s about building a community. While commonly hip hop, the instructors come from all kinds of dance background and employee different styles to express what they see and feel in the music.

It has been an unreasonably stressful year and dance provided me tons of positive energy to push through. I was so lucky to take class from incredible local talent such as Sila Poe to shiny stars such as Larkin Poynton and Ellen Kim. I sort of performed on the same stage with Les Twins, Kida the Great, and Chris Martin. My YouTube homepage started to fill with dance videos. I started to deliberately look for bass and snare when listen to music. It was wonderful and I’m grateful. I understand I need to foster a better relationship with myself and destress myself from the inside but dance has given me so much while I learn to do that. To much more dance to come.

Dec 5, 2017

We love email. We hate email. We deal with email everyday. Through out the years I’ve tried many ways to keep my mailbox sane. Many seek for help from a task management system. Often with this method, people track emails as todo items and treat emails themselves as merely reference material. Some email clients have taken that even further by making the client itself a hybrid task manager, popularized by Mailbox and its peers.

A rising amount of email clients started to automatically process and organize emails on user’s behalf, employing machine learning and alike. The processing may be based on an email’s type, priority, and other criteria. Such feature is sometimes called smart inbox. Spark and Inbox are two notable contenders. Even traditional email clients such as Outlook are exploring this option.

I personally do something much simpler. For that at the end of the day, email is just another communication channel. First of all, I separate my work and personal email entirely—different addresses and different clients. I don’t even have my personal account set up on my work machine and vice versa. When I absolutely need to look something up in my personal email when using my work machine, I use the web interface. Having the physical separation helps me build a clear mental separation. The cleaner context is defined, the better. The less context switching, the better.

I only subscribe to a minimal amount of newsletters. All the unsolicited ones are unsubscribed mercilessly. Marketing and promotion emails? Gone. Useless notification emails? Gone. For the ones I can never seem to find a unsubscribe button, I simply set up a rule to delete them upon arrival.

Notification. The single most distracting invention in history. To minimize the amount of notifications, I use rules to automatically mark the emails that I need but don’t need to be notified about as read. For example I do so for the newsletters I subscribed to.

I triage my inbox in batch using a GTD inspired method. If an email can be responded within 2 minutes, I usually do that right away. Otherwise I leave them in the inbox to response at a later time, and again in batch. When a long response is needed, I most likely write the response in a writing app instead of directly inside the email client. Once I respond, I archive them. I flag the sent items that I’m waiting for a response for.

I use exactly one folder besides Archive and I don’t use tags at all. The folder is called Saved, where I store things needed for upcoming events, such as concert or flight tickets. Once they are used, they go to Archive.

I believe the best way for anyone to manage their email is the way that makes them feel in control of their inbox rather than the other way around. Mine makes me feel so.

Oct 22, 2017

Who doesn’t love a good day? Everyone longs for days when everything just seems to go their way. However sometimes we focus too much on the wanting part and forget that a good day doesn’t just come by itself—it requires work and specifically, preparation work.

Go to sleep early. Prepare the clothes you need for tomorrow. Prepare breakfast as needed. When the morning finally comes, you wake up full of energy, jump out of bed and put on the clothes you’ve already decided on last night, and eat a hearty breakfast. From there, you are probably going to have a good day.

Tomorrow starts tonight. Want to get up early? Go to bed early.

Jun 16, 2017

Friends don’t let friends keep redesigning their website. I apparently need better friends.

This site was previously powered by FarBox, and with a little help from CloudFlare, it has been reliable, fast, and securely served via SSL.

Farbox was one of the best contenders from the wave of Dropbox synced blog platform. Their marquee feature was that posts were synced through a Dropbox folder where files were stored in Markdown format plus some necessary meta data. This made publishing and content management extremely easy and accessible, especially when on the go. This was all great, but I wanted more. I wanted a site that I can (almost) fully control.

The idea of having my own corner, a place where I share my words with the world, on the sea of internet has started forming ever since I subscribed to a blog via RSS for the first time. Plus I really wanted to use those Markdown writing apps that I read so many reviews about.

After the journey of the initial a few months of Tumblr, Scriptogram, and FarBox, now allow me to introduce the whole new – a Hugo generated static site hosted with Netlify. I picked up a theme that had the style I had in mind, and tweaked from the layout to styling to make it look exactly the way I wanted. Feel free to grab my fork and play.

Netlify made the deploy process extremely simple. All I had to do was to connect my site’s source code repo to Netlify and specify the build command. The continuous deployment requires zero configuration. Once the site was successfully built, Netlify automatically rebuilds every time the repo receives a new commit. Netlify also takes care of HTTPS and the rerouting between root domain and www subdomain if you’d like.

After the new design was done, the migration was a matter of reformatting meta data, as both FarBox and Hugo build pages from Markdown files. What took the longest was by far evaluating all the blog platform and hosting options. Nothing is absolutely future-proof, but I’m really glad to have found for now the perfect combo of Hugo and Netlify.

Working Copy screenshot on iPad

Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now. Pardon me for some Hamilton pun, but pause and think how crazy it would be if someone’d told you that Git operations could be done on your mobile devices just a few years back. What a time to be alive.

The star of today’s post is Working Copy. It’s not just a Git client on iOS; it’s one of the best Git GUIs I’ve ever seen, on any platform.1 To get started, you can either clone a repo from a remote server or initiate one locally. Besides from popular services such as GitHub and BitBucket, you can clone repos from any server you have access to (via SSH). Once you have a repo inside Working Copy, you can freely navigate around the repo, make changes, and commit (or discard) those changes. Working Copy provides a basic text editor with syntax highlighting. Thanks to iOS share sheet, you can also edit the code in your favorite external editor. After committing the changes, you can push the code back to the remote server if you wish. You can browse commit history with ease. Tap on a commit and you are presented with a side-by-side diff view. You can check out, tag, or even cherrypick the commit if needed. Commit history can also be presented in a tree graph which can be accessed from a repo’s summary view. Other operations that Working Copy supports include fetching remote changes, resolving merge conflicts (it has a great diff tool), and branch management (creation, merging and deletion). As a bonus, Working Copy provides a JavaScript console and HTML previewing, which really come in handy when it comes to web development.

Working Copy is an excellent tool for your Git needs on the go. In my opinion, it’s especially helpful when you have the need to review code, resolve merge conflicts, or make small changes when you are out and about. The developer also smartly worked around App Store’s trial restriction by making the app a free download with no function limitation except that pushing to remote servers requires an one time in app purchase. You should grab a copy.

  1. I highly recommend you check out GitUp on Mac. [return]

I wrote most of this short piece a year ago, and it only took me a year to post it. Ironically, it’s about a book that took me a year to finish.

This is not a review. This is nothing more than a man writes out his nostalgia.

I first opened Robert Galbraith1’s The Silkworm last September, and it took me nearly a year to finish. During the time I had read many other books. The Silkworm, on the other hand, progressed but slowly. As a result, this thick book moved with me from one coast of the continent to the other. Almost like an old friend, it was always there for me. I remember when I was in elementary school, finding a good book to read was the happiest thing for me. Knowing there was a good book awaiting at home filled me with an excitement which I couldn’t contain. I felt a big loss every time I finished a book. Kind of like breaking up I guess. I haven’t had a similar feeling for so long, and I miss it a ton. If this is the price of growing up then it’s too much a price if I had a say.

The Silkworm didn’t have a fast pace you would normally expect from a detective fiction. However I thoroughly enjoyed the characters’ daily activities, even when they were dull. There were many scenes that existed purely for character development, and I couldn’t get enough of them. When reading Harry Potter, I wished there were chapters that were just about their lives in Hogwarts and had nothing to do with the plot. What did they do on a weekend when they were not trying to save the world? Did they steal pumpkin pasties from the kitchen after a late night session even when they didn’t need the help from Dobby? Tell me more, please. Maybe the Strike series is a belated fulfillment for those wishes.


I read the next installment in the series when the post lying in the drafts folder. From time to time, I almost felt I was reading text from a Harry Potter book, catching a glimpse of a younger self’s mind. Thank you, Rowling. Please keep writing.

  1. A.k.a J. K. Rowling [return]

Can’t believe it’s 2017 already. I only felt how the past years flew by when I stopped and looked back occasionally. The last time I had a new year post I was still in college. Now I’m older and, well, probably not any wiser.

The last new year post was a retrospect. As much fun as I had to look back and reflect, I want to do something different this time. I want to look ahead, as how I like my 2017 to be like.1

In 2017, I want to write more. Considering that’s exactly what I’m doing right this moment, I think I’m having a good start. I always like writing, but writing in English intimidates me for various reasons. Writing in a second language is hard. I feel my thoughts are constraint. I feel I don’t know much about anything (I probably really don’t anyway). I feel the lack of confidence. Fortunately, new year is the best time to step out of the comfort zone. I’ve made some good progress in the past year regarding stepping out of my comfort zone—more on this later in another post. I’ve, obviously, not done so well regarding writing. My goal for 2017 is to publish at least 5 posts on this blog. It’s a very small goal—certainly not a 50,000 words NaNoWriMo challenge—and I very much intend to accomplish it. I’ve incorporated Ulysses (a Godsend) into my writing toolbox, hoping a writing app I enjoy will encourage me to write more. I tweaked this blog’s style sheet for better code snippets displaying, so expect some technical posts to come as well. The game is afoot.

Similar to writing, I want to watch more movies and read more books. In the recent years, I didn’t watch nearly enough movies or read nearly enough books as I’d like to. I ended up many shows and news articles. Shows can be great, but they are not movies to me. Movies bring me so much more emotions. I watch shows and I let myself immersed in movies. A few days ago, I watched What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, which had probably stayed on my watchlist for the longest time. When the screen went dark and the credits started rolling, I couldn’t stop thinking that I hope they never stop making movies like this. The same goes for books and news articles.

I would also want to play guitar regularly. I played guitar on and off (mostly off—especially the last two years when I didn’t have one with me) since 2009, but all I can do are still songs with extremely simple chords. The silver lining? I love music too much and I want to play the guitar. I finally got another guitar not long before the holidays, and I want to play it patiently and constantly this time around. I plan to practice 5 to 10 minutes of scale exercise daily if possible. Learn more chords one at a time, making sure I find them quickly and press with just the right amount of pressure. Ultimately, learn to play 5 (hopefully many more) songs.

There are a few more items on my list ranging from making faster decisions when shopping online to resisting the urgent of doing something when I can clearly do better the next day when I’m rested and when it’s not 2 am in the morning. They are in general a little trickier to track, but hard, I will try. As for everything mentioned here, I look forward to reporting back in December. Happy 2017.

  1. One thing I have to mention about 2016 is that Hamilton was my most surprising and amazing finding of the year. [return]

When it comes to working with APIs, a classic tool loved by many is the legendary cURL. cURL is cool, powerful, and in the meantime, maybe intimidating. The fact that it runs through the command line might scares many non-developers away. However many designers, researchers, and just anyone who works with data and the internet might have to deal with APIs at some point. Luckily, for those who prefer a GUI, there’s an awesome app called Postman.

A Chrome app1, Postman, can pretty much run on any platform. The basic usage of Postman is as easy as filling in the API url, choosing a method, and clicking send. Postman will then connect to the API and display the message and/or data sent back from the server in a format that’s easy on the eyes. You can even log in a server by hitting the authentication API and perform calls that require an authenticated user.2 Postman can definitely cover the majority’s needs for exploring APIs.

I recommend anyone who works with APIs give Postman a try if you haven’t already—even if you are comfortable with your current toolset, you might still find some hidden gem in Postman that will make your life a little easier.

  1. Now also features a standalone Mac app! [return]
  2. And of course there are many advanced features for power users. [return]