Recently I (shamelessly) read a young adult book, The Fault in Our Stars, and really enjoyed it—it has a beautiful story and it brought me back to the middle school/high school days, which I loved dearly.

Last night, I found Ed Sheeran, one of my new favorite singers, had a song for the movie adaptation. If you are like me, who get really happy about such small, random things in life, you could probably imagine how excited I was.

Clicked play. The chills. Oh how I love the chills. I knew exactly what needed to be done. I turned off the lights in my room and closed my eyes…

I saw the stars.

Now I really need to watch the movie. Hope it doesn’t suck.

All of the Stars

Jan 17, 2015

So I’ve been quite quiet since my last post here almost a year ago. I’ve actually drafted quiet a few since, but none of them made it to the site for various reasons. Today I all of a sudden really, really want to put something here, so I picked one from those drafts, did some light editing, and here we go. :)

“How can you not get tired of learning English?”

A friend asked last night while we were having Macau Doulao. “Don’t you get frustrated that even though you study your ass off, your English can’t even be as good as that of a high school student from the US or another English-speaking country1?” he continued, “Don’t you get tired of spending thousands of hours on learning something that millions of people born knowing? And plus if you want to watch a TV series or read a book that’s in English, why not just simply wait for the translated version to come out.”

Exactly. Why not?

I couldn’t give my friend a satisfying answer immediately, but here is my reasoning after I thought about it a little bit more.

Well, the answer is simple: English happens to be the language spoken by people from different areas of the world. I remembered an story I learned in one Chinese class in middle school. It was La Dernière Classe (The Last Class) by Alphonse Daudet. The story was about the last French class in a small French town, as the Prussians would soon take the town and there would be no more French class allowed. In the story, M. Hamel, the teacher, told little Frantz, the student and the main character, to never forgot French because language was the key to a culture. This is exactly what English is now. On so many levels, English is the key to the culture of the world.

Millions of people speak English. When you know the language that is spoken by millions of people, you get the freedom of confirming information by yourself instead of doubting if the translator did a good job. You get the freedom of talking to anyone you want to as long as that person is also one of those millions. You get the freedom of voicing to the world without depending on someone else to translate for you. Admittedly, when speak English, I can’t construct my sentences with eight adjectives and six adverbs, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use it to tell the others and to tell the world what I think. I can’t choose verbs as a wordsmith does, but that doesn’t mean I can’t tell a beautiful and touching story about eat, pray, or love2. You get the chance of dating that cute girl from Czech Republic because you like each other and you both speak a little English. You get the chance to talk to that Indonesian guy who sat next to you on a flight about that grumpy cat picture from last night because you both speak a little English. You get the chance to discuss how big a part Matthew McConaughey’s thick accent plays in True Detective with people (well, or dog, if you have to) on the internet because you all speak a little English.

So no, I really don’t. I don’t get tired of learning English. I don’t get frustrated by the fact that my English might never be as good as a native speaker’s no matter how hard I try.3 But learning English is not about mastering. It’s also not about not valuing one’s own language. Not even close. It’s about a great communication tool. It’s about a language that is spoken by people all over the world. That language happens to be English.

  1. To be fair, this might not be the case for people who speak a Romance language as their native language. [return]
  2. The name popped up in my head and seemed fit, so I shamelessly borrowed it, though I have to admit that I have no idea what the book is about. [return]
  3. Realizing that did hurt a little… [return]

Feb 7, 2014

When I get bored,1 I write. For most of the time, I don’t care about the content. I just write.

I love to write on iPad. Editorial, Byword, iA Writer, Daedalus Touch… You name it; I have it. Now, I’m writing in 1Writer, which recently got an awesome update. Sometimes I hook up my iPad with a keyboard; sometimes, like now, I just type on the screen.

Speaking of writing on iPad, I love new technology, but I wouldn’t call myself a tech savvy. I’m far from being qualified. I barely know anything about programming. I can’t even make an AppleScript by myself. However, all those rocket-science-look things don’t scare me off. I love playing with them. I set up this blog on, a Dropbox based blog service. With zero knowledge, I tweaked the site’s HTML and CSS by guessing, trusting my gut, and searching online (thanks, kind people on the internet), trying to satisfy my aesthetic as much as I can.

And speaking of this blog, I’ve never promoted it—I don’t even posted links on Twitter. The reason? I’m not sure. Maybe I just don’t feel like to.

Pretty pointless, huh? Isn’t my kind of writing a waste of time, time that can be used for something more important in life? But who can say for sure what are the “more important things” in life? I know I can’t.

So write, I do.

  1. Or maybe not. [return]


Got something new for my CDs and old iPod nano.

Jakub Arnold in his How To Teach Your Girlfriend Programming:

I wanted my girl to be the person I go to whenever I find something new that excites me, and I wanted her to understand it.

I don’t know about programming, but neither is this about programming. I hope when I get excited about some music I just listened to, a book I just read, or a movie—or even a basketball game I just watched, she can be the one that I can go to.

Does social media actually work? The answer depends on what you consider social media’s job (besides making money) is. For me, one important job for social media is helping people stay connected with their friends. And yes, social media does that job quite well.

The most basic action that you might take on almost all kinds of social media is posting. You go on social sites to post things, things about yourself. They can be words, photos, videos, or links—all kinds of stuff. What you post keeps friend updated about you, the current you. Via social media, your friends get to know about your new haircut, your new baby dog, the crazy party that you went to last Friday night, the song that you are insane about recently, the new movie that you went to theatre for and considered a total waste of two hours, and the Europe traveling you are planning on…

But why is it so important to tell your friends something about you? Or why would they give a heck about my crap, you might ask. They will, because they are your friends and they do give a heck about you. You meet friends in different life stages—high school, college, different jobs, and so on. But you and some of yours friend might be lack of topics to talk about after a while not seeing each other, and gradually you are less of friends. You don’t want this to happen; you try to make things like you were still living together (just like in school). So you call your friends, text them, and email them. But still, gradually, you don’t know what to call about, to text about, or to email about. Soon, you know less and less about your friends, and so do them. Sure you can just let things go and maybe cut these friends out eventually. But what if you don’t want to? What if some of them you treasure too much to lose? And of course there are some. That’s why you were trying to do all those calling, texting, and emailing in the first place. As you can see, keeping your friends informed via call, text, or email is something really hard (and almost impossible) to do in the long run. You need to know your friends enough to keep those phone calls going. But you don’t. You don’t know what happened to them recently. Social media helps solve this problem (not entirely, but still).

Besides, traditional methods require you and your friends to be involved at the same time. However, your friends don’t usually have free time when you want to call them. Social media, on the other hand, can be used by you and your friends at different time. You post a photo of your new baby dog while you’re walking him in the sunset, and your friends can see it and maybe reply to (or comment on) during their tea break the next day. To some degree, traditional methods are instant while social media is idle.

People used to lose friends because of losing connections. But with the development of modern technology, what happened doesn’t necessarily have to happen again.

Title: Evernote’s One Thing Date: 2013-06-05 00:00 url: evernotes-one-thing

Many people praise apps that focus only on doing one certain thing. QuoteBook, for example. They believe focusing only on one thing gives the developers the ability to make the app do that certain one thing really well.

Evernote, on the other hand, sometimes is criticized for being “too big” or “too heavy.” But from another perspective, can we say that Evernote focuses only on one thing as well—letting users put everything in it?

Everything is Evernote’s one thing.

Just a little story.

I found out that Amazon Prime was a charged service after I had been using it for about five months. I didn’t realize I was charged until a friend told me about that. I guess I didn’t notice its price policy when I first signed up for its one month trial and I just forgot about it. Anyway, I was thinking about writing an email to Amazon to ask about it. But don’t get me wrong, I like Amazon Prime; it’s a good service. I just feel kind of deceived (but I wasn’t: it was me who didn’t realize the service was charged in the first place.) However, I got an email from Amazon which said they had already cancelled my Amazon Prime membership and I would get a full refund in days within hours I clicked the send button.

I became an happy Amazon Prime member again soon after. How could I possibly think of a reason not to use such a good service from a company with such fantastic customer service?

This is probably the way how good business is done.

I love social media, and I still do. They pull the world closer to me. They keep me connected with my friends. They inform me in ways never before.

I have to, however, admit that regardless all these benefits that they give me, social media also have some side effects on me. On some days, they take me too much time. On other days, I’m afraid of missing out on what’s happening in the world as well as I’m afraid of missing out on what’s going on with my friends.1 But the worst part is that I’m afraid of all those unread counts: 100 new posts on Twitter and, 70 unread items from the RSS feeds I subscribe to, and another 100 unread count from…insert another social site here. Those unread counts freak me out. They are like some tasks down the street waiting for me to accomplish. The moment when things become tasks is the moment when things become not fun any more.

So I guess it is time for me to do something about my fear. I didn’t find a good way to solve the problem until all of sudden, I realize that I don’t really need most of the information. The earth won’t stand still because I missed that kangaroo news. My friends’ life won’t be messed up because I missed one of their food photos on Instagram. The only thing that I might miss out because I stopped checking the news is probably the chance of missing out some precious real life moments because I’m too busy checking the news. Most of the time, news is irrelevant. This is it. Once I realized this simple truth, solutions are jumping out themselves. Here are things I’ve done so far:

  • Unfollow all the news accounts that I’m not interested in on Twitter.
  • Put people that I’m following on Twitter in different lists, so I don’t feel obligated to read all the unread tweets all at once.
  • Unsubscribe all the news feeds that I’m not interested in in my RSS reader.

These three things were pretty easily done yet they are now working great for me. Now whenever I refresh my RSS reader, no more hundreds of unread items waiting for me but a few things that I actually enjoy reading. So is my Twitter timeline. Nothing big has changed about yet. But that’s OK because I just no longer force myself to read everything.

Once again, checking social media becomes something that I’m happy and welling to do without causing me too many troubles.

  1. Update: Apparently, it’s already a thing, FOMO. [return]