@watty_io came first in a competition


Last October I got a bunch of congratulatory tweets meant for a Swedish internet of things startup. I noticed that they have gotten some good reviews and attention for their product.

Seems like they won something again. My twitter notifications blew up that they came first in something at the annual Sthlm Tech Fest that was held in Stockholm over the past few days. It’s described as the biggest tech startup event in Sweden where

[e]very startup founder, investor, designer, developer, and journalist comes together to share, be inspired and meet the whole startup ecosystem, and welcome visitors from 20+ countries.

I congratulated them and they tweeted me back that they love my handle, hahaha. So I DMed them to ask what actually they won and their response was that it was “a flic button competition or something like that.” Interesting. So it seems that flic is a smart bluetooth button that can be used to control all sorts of devices and apps. Wow, the more I delve into these startups the more impressed I am. I’m glad that through a shared name error, I’m learning so much and can watch so many cool products develop peripherically.

At least I’m not the regular person behind famous twitter handles like @coke or @bmw.

family & bbmm day

Met Uncle P for lunch at queen’s café. Old styled “western” food like borscht and skewers and beef strogonoff. He brought a copy of the photoessay book he’s been working on. Photographs from the 1970s to 2000s. I really like the theme and the photos are of course top-notch. Tried explaining the concept of crowdsourcing to him but I think he prefers the traditional publisher route.

Everyone had plans afterwards so I met up with mm. Hot day, walked a little then found a happy hour place. I was going to have beer but had a glass of wine instead. Korean bbq for dinner although we didn’t eat that much.


She was telling me about her supervisor who got her PhD in 2.5 years and is able to read 11 pages of academic journal in 2 minutes. Sounds really smart. So we were texting afterwards and we were both googly eyed. I was also trying to use the wordflow keyboard that I downloaded. I tend to type one-handed and thought the curved keyboard may help. Gave up after a short trial. I can’t figure out where to get stickers quickly. It wants to capitalise the first letter even though I turned it off. And I don’t like predictive keyboards. So three strikes and out.

4 second boomerang videos

A video posted by invisiblecompany (@mal088) on


Been playing around with boomerang, a new app from instagram that takes a burst of photos and stitches them into a forward and backward 4 second video. It’s quite silly but fun. There are other apps that does this; I was looking into one called phhhoto–I think I didn’t like the lack of privacy in that one.


A video posted by invisiblecompany (@mal088) on


And this one is the guitar player at the school fair over the weekend. I think there’s lots of potential for silly gif-like pics.



Originally mm and I were supposed to meet up for lunch, but we decided to postpone because of the poor weather. Instead, I spent the whole day playing plague. I’d played a free copycat, infection, and decided to spend 0.99 on the better original. The aim is to infect and kill the entire earth population before a cure is found. The plagues progress from bacteria to bio weapon and within each plague category are different difficulty levels. The trick is to figure out the best way to win: infect everyone with low grade symptoms first; go for lethal symptoms quickly; transmit the disease through air, insects, blood; which country to infect first; how to deal with difficult-to-infect countries. Lots of possible strategies with different outcomes.

What makes it addictive is the seemingly endless possibilities, and each game can be finished in about 15-20mins. It’s a world domination sim game that makes you think, and the game has even attracted the attention of people at the CDC, who invited the developer to visit and talk about the game,

as a tool to teach the public about outbreaks and disease transmission because of how it uses a non-traditional route to raise public awareness on epidemiology, disease transmission, and diseases/pandemic information


The game was released in 2012 and has been downloaded millions of times, so I’m way behind the curve. I working my way through the standard plague types, hopefully the special types will unlock without needing to pay.


There are also many achievements to earn, which affects strategy. Combinations of symptoms, killing everybody under 365 days, cause a nuclear meltdown are just a few of the achievements.


Random popups give news or are important hints to get achievements. The Olympics get cancelled, then reinstated, and people in the UK are infected. Apple$oft (snerk) introduces iCure. Victory isn’t always guaranteed either. One advantage of coming to a well-established game late is the number of tips and cheats posted. Lots more hours of play until I get bored.

flickr 4.0


As I was uploading trip pics I noticed yahoo rolled out yet another new look for flickr. The main photostream page still isn’t as good as the original layout, but better than the horrible 3.0. Less cluttered with sharper, cleaner lines. Can sort by date taken or different permission views. The set (sigh, album) page looks cleaner too, although I’m still not a big fan of infinite scrolling.

The two major new features are auto uploading and auto-tagging for a more powerful search.

At 1TB, flickr offers more storage than dropbox, icloud and many other storage sites. Free. I’m not even at 10% of my capacity with 27k images so there’s no danger of running out (nor any desire to renew my pro account). The new uploadr, plus the 1TB storage, lets people dump all their images into flickr automatically from computer and smartphone. No need for there to be pics stored here, there and everywhere. We can still use instagram or vine or fb, but now flickr can act as central repository for all our image files.

Will I use uploadr like that? Yes on mobile, no for computer. I already use flickr as my image repository, but I go through the process of sorting and organising before uploading. Imagine uploadr taking all 3267 trip pics and uploading into one album for me to organise—-no, no, no. I want to control how and where my pics are uploaded, even though it takes me longer.

It’s a different picture for mobile. I’m pretty good at sorting my iphone camera roll, I review and delete pics that are duplicate, poor quality or temporary. Currently, I use dropbox to transfer to the mba (yes, I know I should be using pushbullet) then manually upload to flickr. If I can skip the dropbox step it will be a time-saver. It took the app a few hours to process my iphone camera roll, but going forward it will be quicker. Liking the app too, used to be clunky and non-user friendly, now I may start using it more.


The other major new feature is a powerful search engine using image recognition algorithms that sees the content of an image. As an example, I had basic tags to this pic of an Assisi chimney, the flickrbots are smart enough to add building, architecture, roof and outdoor tags:


Some users are up in arms about this, because they want control over their tags. I’m fine with the concept.


Another example: this week’s photofriday challenge is “detail” and when I plug that in as a search term, I get fairly interesting results, and advanced options to drill down into colours, dates etc. Before the update, I’d get an error or a no result page because I haven’t tagged any pic using the term detail. This is an improvement.


Where all the new features come together is the camera roll. I can set it to display by the traditional, boring method of date taken. Or I can use the new magic view which sorts my pics into, well, tags. Magic view shows my pics under common criteria, when I select pattern from the sidebar, it shows patterned pics (although I wouldn’t necessarily include the pic of the space needle). I can’t stop playing around in magic view, it really is magical.

Another new feature is bulk processing: bulk download, bulk sharing, bulk editing, bulk delete. The downloading feature is one that has been requested for a long time, it’s not relevant to me but may be for people who use flickr as triage.

Not everything is positive in the update. Thumbnails are too large. For a time all my pics defaulted to family & friends instead of public. All my sets in organizr are called auto upload. My biggest complaint is that getting the html link involves a popup lightbox as opposed to a simple hover menu before. I can’t get the html code for videos. Notes have been discontinued. They are moving in the right direction for a change. The Verge has a good summary of the new design:

What’s impressive is what it’s doing for free: backing up a terabyte of photos from your main computer and your mobile devices, then making them easily searchable in the cloud. The rest of Flickr is still there: you can still follow great photographers, browse beautiful photos, and showcase your own. But among the solutions for backing up your photos online, Flickr has moved from the back of the pack to the front.

#zombiesrungame v4.0 or how not to roll-out a software update

Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way first. I love the zombies, run app; I paid for the all access pass, it’s my most expensive purchase in the app store; if Six to Start claims there are 1 million users then I’m one of a million.

So I should be all over the new version, right? Existing players instantly get seasons 1-3 plus interval training plus race missions. Prettier interface, recaps of prior missions, autoplay next mission, spotify support, adjustable chases, integration with healthkit. All sounds fabulous.

zombiesrun401 zombiesrun402 zombiesrun403

I expected great things when I opened the updated app, and it did look pretty. But I was quickly disappointed. Many many issues, and from fb / twitter it seems like I’m not alone (phew, I guess). Here’s a quick summary:

the good

  • brilliant graphics — the old app was pretty, the graphics on v4.0 really popped
  • time based missions — big improvement on before when the duration of a mission was a) based on the normal or long setting; b) a guessing game on exactly how long. Now I can see that a mission is 40mins, and I can set the intervals of the clips (announcements) to fit a mission into my run
  • most of the other functionalities seem to be there, plus some new ones
  • my township hasn’t changed, although the old-styled graphics aren’t up to par with the new design


the bad

  • space hog — its easily the app that uses up the most storage on my iphone, aside from music and photos. I remember i had to delete apps and mp3s from my old iphone 4 because I was running out of storage space
  • pay-to-play — a legacy runner would have paid around US$25 if they’d purchased each module at full price; an all access pass up to season 3 was $18 full price or $10 if we were lucky enough to get it during one of the sales. The new pay-to-play costs $20 a year (or $8 for legacy runners) and includes all modules up to season 4. This means a dedicated user, having spent $25 already, will need to pay an extra $8 a year. A new player only needs to spend $20 this year. Doesn’t seem very fair to legacy users. That said, the other option is to not get sucked into the subscription model and wait for each mission to be rolled out. I’m only at season 2, so I’m perfectly happy to wait it out, by the time I reach season 4, most if not all the missions would have been rolled out
  • missions reset — this was the biggest shock and frustration in the new version, to see that I’ve been reset to s1m01. The odd thing is, my run log shows my runs so it means the data is there somewhere and they haven’t ported it to the new version. Why they would do that, it’s puzzling
  • all settings lost — had to redo settings like units, not unusual when there are new features but not good from a customer experience point of view
  • had to redownload all missions — I think it’s related to the data migration, I have to download all missions from scratch, it’s very annoying
  • missions after May missing — more data migration issues, the zombielink webpage is down, and they say it’ll be back soon. Again, it means the upgrade to v4.0 was not seamless and actually was a backwards step
  • many report of crashes — the first few days over the weekend the fb page was full of reports of the app not opening or crashing. Fingers crossed I don’t have that issue, I feel sorry for the people experiencing the problems
  • music cut off for mission clips — this is supposed to be an improvement, but it’s proving to be a bad user experience. There I was, happily listening to music while running when it suddenly stops and I hear silence for 5 seconds, then the story clip plays. At the end of the clip, there’s again silence before music plays again. In prior versions, clips played after a song finishes, not in the middle of a song, it’s jarring and very annoying, especially the silence. Music fades when we pick up a supply or material, why can’t clips play with the music faded in the background?
  • story clips not audible — the volume is set too low or something, I can’t hear the clip properly, I want to listen to Sam and Janine and everyone
  • radio abel — doesn’t play after mission is completed
  • new players get 3 materials per mission vs 1 for legacy players — small gripe, typical of new versions of games, new players always have it easy
  • fewer chases — in prior versions, there were about 2-3 chases every 30mins, now there’s a good 30-45min gap between each one. I don’t always use chases, because I may be stuck at a traffic light when a chase is on, but it can be an issue
  • automatically continues to next mission, no radio abel — this is what I read on fb, I don’t know if turning off automatic continuation will solve this

the ugly

  • lack of response on issues, FAQ not updated — aside from a few lame “sorry about that, please log in again” replies, the devs have not responded to the majority of fb and twitter comments, the FAQ has a known issues section, which hasn’t been updated. Most of us are used to updates and glitches in software, where a company succeeds is when they are upfront about the glitches and at the very least acknowledge that there are issues and they are working on it
  • product rolled out without proper testing — seems to be a classic case of a product rolled out without adequate testing. Whether or not it’s due to commercial pressure or what, we don’t know. I’ve been involved in implementing new software, upgrading software or introducing new features into software, and the number one most important thing before approving a rollout is that the product has been tested to death. Rolling out a snazzy looking new version that forgets a user’s progress, especially in something like running training, is a fatal error. Are the devs runners themselves? Do they use the app? Did they take it out for a run during UAT? The issues like crashes and progress reset would have been blindingly obvious if they’d beta tested properly. Remember all these bad software updates? Yep, people still remember them

It’s the worst thing, when data is migrated properly everybody starts where they left off and all is good. If they are still working on data migration now, what will happen to runs and missions while the migration is taking place? Will new missions be merged or overwritten? I didn’t want to randomly select a mission, or even pick up where I left off in season 2, so I did a supply run. Worst case scenario, I lose the supplies I picked up. Again, it’s okay for a running app, imagine it’s people’s finances or a company’s HR roster. If a bank rolled out a new version where people’s bank accounts are reset to zero balance, they would be out of business by the end of the week.

If all this sounds negative, it’s not really. It’s one person’s account of experiencing an update. My app works, I have a workaround and it’s not the end of the world if I have to restart from s1 or hold off building my township for a while. I’m okay about waiting till data is ported over. Like one fb poster who put it succinctly:

just embracing the chaos

mum’s new tech toys, ice cream


Spent most of the day setting up mum’s new ipad. Her old ipad (my original gen 1 ipad) didn’t have that many apps on it, so I thought it’s simpler to download new apps fresh from the app store. Ended up getting her new apps like bbc news, travel, tv guide, games, dictionary and the new flickr app. Since she uses yahoo, I got her the yahoo mail app instead of the native mail app. And since she thinks the google.com page is a browser (and I’ve given up trying to explain the difference between browser and webpage) I replaced safari with google app.

After setup, we went to the computer place to get a cover and screen protector. She took a liking to the girl who sold us the screen protector and after browsing around other stores, went back to the girl’s shop to get a cover.

While we were at it, I got her a mifit step/sleep tracker, it’s now even cheaper, more like USD15. I set up the mifit app for her on her phone, and told her to wear the band to bed. Let’s see how it tracks her sleep.

One good thing about all this setting up, I’m a little bit more familiar with android than before.

We met up with my dad at the food court near the computer place for dinner. For all my efforts today, I thought I deserved a little reward. There’s this ice cream stall that sells 5 scoops of ice cream for USD1.50, so the 3 of us got 5 scoops to share. Chocolate, chocolate banana, mint choc chip, tofu, sesame. The scoops are small, which we liked. In terms of taste not stunning but not bad either. Definitely good value and worth trying again.

instagram twitter 001

As instagram overtakes twitter by reaching 300m mau, it’s worth looking back to my first posts on both services. Joined twitter august 2007. It’s easy enough to find a user’s first tweet through twitter’s discovery service. Not much meaning to that first tweet, which means I used it for the correct purpose, hahaha. I use twitter primarily to record my running and workouts, and for the longest time it was pretty much the only things I posted. I’m trying to vary the content a little more nowadays.


Joined instagram july 2011 and the first pic was of my kettle. Very mundane. Most of the instagrams in the first few years were of food, and like twitter I’ve tried to diversify somewhat lately. Most pics I take on the iphone get instagrammed, and as new filters are announced, my view of quick pics has changed. I took pics of the recent pannacotta I made on both instagram and my camera and as I was photoshopping the camera pics I was looking for the effects I’m getting on instagram.

All my instagrams are automatically posted to twitter, and all tweets are automatically saved to a google docs spreadsheet; the automation achieved by IFTTT recipes. Because of IFTTT I don’t have to pick any one service, they seem to co-exist quite happily. I have mostly different followers so there isn’t so much overlap.


running 07-dec-2014


9.02km 1.18.34hr 8.42min/km

This is the longest I’ve run since I started the 52 week marathon training program. End of week 8 already. I haven’t followed the plan exactly. I’ve run fewer days but longer distance each run. Week 8 weekend run is 4 miles (6.5km) and total for the week 12 miles over 4 runs. I did 15 miles (24 km) over 3 days this week.

I’m trying not to get too unhappy about the speed, or utter lack of it. My baseline is 6.42 and I’m two whole minutes slower. I have only myself to blame for losing my fitness level, so I’ll have to get over it. The good thing is, I ran all 9km. The only stopping breaks were at traffic lights to cross the road and a couple of stops at the water fountain. So if I don’t have my speed back, at least I’m working towards getting my endurance back.

There’s a long way to go yet. I should get started on hills or strides soon. I’m using the zombies run app so there is an element of intervals. It really is a very good app, I paid $9.99 for an all access pass when the offer was on, and it’s money well spent.  

fun with wine apps

Downloaded a few wine apps for fun.

First, a couple of wine scanner apps. Both vivino and delectable recognise wines from a picture of the bottle’s label. They then give information about the wine, region, vintage, pairing and ratings from other users.


I grabbed a random bottle, a fuzion tempranillo 2012, and both apps got the brand and country right. Vivino got the vintage exactly right, but it’s pretty subjective. Both offer additional features, users can buy directly through delectable and vivino gives a list of places where the wine can be purchased. That said, when the correspondent at the washington post tried to find stores near to him, vivino told him to go to mcdonald’s.


Both apps encourage users to connect via social media, in fact delectable won’t let me proceed without signing up with facebook or my email address. I can use vivino as a guest, and this is the big reason why I’m keeping this app and I’ll probably delete delectable. I don’t want to be tracked or receive notifications thank you.


From wine scanners to a new app wine4me, yet another wine discovery app. This one creates a wine profile based on my preference of type, region, country. I entered a few like rioja, oregon, alsace and it gave me a profile and a list of wines it thinks I may like. As I add more wines that I have tasted, the app is trained to fine tune more choices. It’s good for casual wine drinkers but I find that it skews towards new world wine and doesn’t have my all-time favourite chateauneuf-du-pape (buried in southern france) or current favourite cabernet franc.


Finally, one that is a bit different and sort of fun. The WSET wine game is offered by the wine & spirit education trust who provides education and qualifications on wine. The aim is to place 10 bottles correctly in their country of origin. Level 1 even gives the region (eg central otago) and the challenge is to click on the map fast enough. It’s pretty much a simple game to market the WSET school and qualifications. Quite fun for a few minutes.

imogen heap run time song and app

via giz

Imogen Heap is awesome. Not only is she a great musician, she is also working on an app called Run Time that customises a run. It takes ambient sounds like breathing, footsteps, traffic and even birds and layers them with a pre-recorded electronic track. The best thing is that the runner can adjust the tempo of the music according to stages of a run: slow warm up, walking, running, acceleration and deceleration. She demonstrates this perfectly in her video.

Run-time, the song is based on the app. The album Sparks will be released on 19 August.

The app is still in development. Depending on how much it is, I will likely get it. Although, I won’t lope around NYC like a crazy person the way she did.

old games

gameipadslay01 gameipadhampstead01

Playing a couple of old games that have resurfaced in the app store. Slay was a game I used to play on mum’s PC in the 1990s, I think I have the 3.5” disk somewhere. It’s a simple strategy game where the aim is to move soldiers and occupy as many hexagons as possible. No bells-and-whistles graphics, just pixelated men with moving arms and hexagons in different shades of green. The trick is to link patches, put down towers, stop trees from spreading and make sure you have enough land to maintain different levels of soldiers. Oh, and attack other hexagons.

The graphics have stayed decidedly 1990s in the iphone/ipad version, which makes it kinda cute. The soldiers still yell “oh” when they are attacked, the attackers still have this evil laugh and dying soldiers scream as they turn into graves. I think I paid for the windows version, and I paid again for the app store version. It’s addictive nostalgia.

A game that predates Slay was Hampstead, a text game for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. I read that it’s been revived and available on the app store, free. So I downloaded it pronto. The idea is to move out of a filthy council house and get loadsamoney eventually moving into a mansion in Hampstead. Pure satire.

Love that these older games are coming back. Next on my list are the Sierra games like Police Quest, King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry, all have been ported to sarien’s mobile site. There’s a strategy game similar to Slay I used to play on my old macs, I can’t remember the name so I can’t search for it, sigh.

best smartphone pic

Lifehacker asked, what’s the best picture you have taken on your smartphone? Interesting. Mostly I use the iphone to instagram food pics so there are not that many that I would say come under the “best of” category.


One of the few unedited ones I have. Coast scenery whilst on a walk with mm. Nice colours and composition but, gasp, it’s vertical, ugh.

emptypianostage inst001kettle

Of the ones on instagram, the piano at concert has atmosphere and the kettle (instagram #1) has a still life quality to it.

zombies run mission 1.4

5.12km 39.05min 7.33min/km (12.15min/mi

I downloaded the run, zombies app because I hadn’t been running and needed some serious motivation. The idea of the app is to run through missions (30 or 60mins) that roughly follow a post-apocalyptic story — run to pick up items, escape zombies and help a survival township. It tracks progress via GPS, there’s a radio operator to guide the runner and it plays music in between tasks from a specified playlist.

I tried it on the cruise, and it was really great. The 30mins went by extremely quickly, both when I ran on deck and at the treadmill. I had to manually enter the distance of course. The run today (mission 1.4) was the first with GPS, and I had to escape zombies by increasing my speed. The first couple of times I didn’t realise I had to run faster, but I got it when they came after me the third time. Overall speed of 7.33 is still a minute from the 6.30-6.40 baseline I’m used to when I’m marathon training but a lot better than the 8.00 I’ve been clocking (hence the demotivation).

I spent most of the flights in and out to the cruise watching the entire season 3 of the Walking Dead, and it’s telling how the app is so similar to the walking dead storyline. Gives the story even more of a context and now I can’t wait for the next run/mission. The app is also integrated with the web which gives a nice breakdown of the whole run. Lots of stats and pretty charts. I was also able to run nikeplus in the background so it’s tracked in both places.

paper discovery

With some fanfare, facebook launched a new app, paper. US app store only, but for the impatient there is a simple workaround. My itunes account has always been in the US so I was able to download the app without problem on Monday.

Positive reviews all around. The best facebook app, the future for facebook and facebook replacement are some of the accolades being thrown all around.

First impressions, clean interface and yes, very flipboard-like. It’s obvious they built the app from scratch rather than use the existing problematic facebook app. There are 2 sections, the top is the cover of different categories (or papers) I set up; the bottom shows the individual posts from that category.


I don’t mind that I must have my fb newsfeed as a category, it looks way better than both the webpage and the old app. Here the top is a pic recently posted by my friend Rachel, and the bottom shows recent timeline posts by other friends. For a start, no game posts, yay. I tap on the pic and it expands to full page so I can view, like or comment on it. Same with the timeline posts, I swipe up and then sideways to navigate through the posts. No refresh needed, new posts populate live.

The other categories I can choose include the usual broad categories such as news, tech, sports, food, home and design. One complaint is that there is a limit to the number of categrories (I have to start getting used to using the term paper). The good thing is, fb hasn’t limited my subscription to only the pages I liked—tech has posts from ars, cnet, sfgate etc and news has articles from BBC, NYT etc.

The most direct comparison is with flipboard. Even the use of gestures is similar. I haven’t been using flipboard long, and I’m still getting to grips with the concept of magazines. There are more options with flipboard—I can see what’s going on in my twitter feed, tumblr follows and google+ universe—these competitors will probably never show up on paper.

There are some negatives. It loads slowly, I guess it’s because many people are playing with it. What’s available in each category are the usual big name sites that dominate everywhere; it would be nice to discover smaller, individual pages the way tumblr radar works. I’m subjected to the same stupid pictures of people’s dogs that I am on the regular site, and I can’t immediately find a way to get rid of them the way I can hide or report that post on the web app. Only the main timeline is shown and there doesn’t seem to be a way to read by custom list so I have to see posts by people I have no interest in reading (but don’t have the heart to unfriend). And I’m just waiting for the inevitable intrusion into my privacy, forcing me to read what they think I should read, and the ads, oh the ads are definitely coming.

All in all, it satisfies my need to find things to read as well as keeping up with what is happening with my online friends. I’ve already replaced the traditional fb app with paper on my iphone. Why it works for me is that although it is an app by facebook, it’s not a facebook app—if that makes sense. I can see that I’ll use it as a fb replacement at the same time as complementing flipboard, feedly and the occasion foray into digg reader to find new things.

iphone temptation

Last week we went to the apple store and got mm upgraded to the iphone 5s, from her iphone 3g. It’s really light and very sharp with the new case we found. My target upgrade is the iphone 6 or 6s, perhaps even 7 if my iphone lasts that long. The reason for waiting is I want to get an ipad mini first, and I’m not one of those recent apple converts who need to own every idevice.

That is, until I start spotting cool things and apps that are only compatible with iphone 5 or 5s.

This lightstrap cover is a new kickstarter project, and is basically a flash built into the case. A bit expensive though, and I don’t understand why the lower donation amount gives earlier access to the product.


Like many people this Christmas, I’m on the hunt for an activity tracker, and was thinking of getting either a fitbit or a fuelband. The fitbits and newest fuelband sync through bluetooth, which requires iphone 4s, sigh. And the nike+ moves app, which doesn’t even need a band, needs the iphone 5s’ M7 processor.

Argh! May be I’ll just go to the sports store and get an old fashioned pedometer for the time being and stop thinking about iphone 5s stuff.

lunch buffet video

We had a curry buffet lunch at dickens bar, one of the old school pubs at the basement of a hotel. Not a fancy hotel buffet with lobster and movenpick ice cream, this one is solid with salads, 3 different kinds of curry, turkey (thanksgiving?), pasta, fruit, cakes and a too-dry chocolate pudding. Had a 25% discount with one of our credit cards.

I was there early so I was able to survey what was available before everyone rushed to the buffet counters. Perfect opportunity to instagram!! Tried out the video function for the first time, to test against vine.

Vine came out in the beginning of the year (I think) and was hailed as the instagram of video; no surprise that instagram itself added video around June. Both are dead easy to use and, by the large number of videos already posted on both services, will only grow and grow and grow. Lots of informative comparisons abound, and techcrunch kindly gave us a nice table:


What I like about these apps is the ease of use, and because of the short duration, it’s almost essential to pause then move onto the next frame. Pausing on video function of a camera means a second file and you need to use something like iMovie to edit sequences together. Although I ended up editing 3 instagram videos together, it’s not the usual thing to do, just like it’s not usual or necesssary to photoshop instagram photos.

At first glance, there are no fundamental differences between the 2 services, however, because of the way they evolved historically, the user base seem to be slightly different. Techcrunch again,

Where Instagram’s user base is mostly made up of people documenting their feet, coffees, and pets, Vine has attracted a group of users who are pleased by the challenges set forth in the app

Interesting observation. I must admit most of my instagrams are of food, so I sort of fall into that stereotype. Contrast to my first vine of engrish subtitles on a korean drama dvd, which falls into one of those “so bad it’s good” categories. This spontaneonity is what I like about vine, but I’ll probably end up using instagram more — I’m already ingrained into its ecosystem, and its ability to edit, add filters and delete frames is useful; plus I’m not into the instant sharing culture of vine and twitter. Definitely don’t like the gif-like constant looping of vine videos, videos that autoplay are a pet peeve of mine.

I’m quite pleased with this first effort on instagram. The filter, graininess and choppiness give it a vintage feel, almost like watching an old 8mm reel.

nike plus 4 years


5.80km 43.13min 7.27min/km (11.59min/mi)

I dragged Mum to the park so I could run on the track there and she can play on the all-weather gym. Not a very fast run, still a ways to go to get back to fighting fitness.

What was nice, was the badge that came up on nike+. I joined 4 years ago, logged 420 runs totalling 3,473km (2,158 miles). I’ve run 3 marathons, 4 official half marathons (not including 13.1miles run during training runs) and quite a few 5/10k races. My longest run came at 5hr 45mins (first Chicago marathon, I think), my fastest mile was 5.41mins and there’s a lot more running still left in me.

bad piggies

Mum and I went over to Sis’ place to pick up my niece, who is coming over for a night. She has my ipad but she isn’t allowed to play games on it, and out of all her immediate family, I have the most games on my iphone. So I introduced her to bad piggies, and she raced through the first level. She’s 10, it’s second nature to her.

angry birds jedi


The folks at Rovio, of angry birds and bad piggies fame, are planning something nefarious. Their first tumblr post has just a gif and a place/time: Times Square, New York, October 8th, 10am EST. There’s also a hint, to head to Toys’R’Us at 8am.

Sounds innocent enough? Except it’s Angry Birds. And the image is of a figure hidden inside a jedi robe holding a LIGHTSABRE. Angry Birds Star Wars! Wow. I need to stop hyperventilating. Now why did I leave NYC again?

lego life of george

I bought this fantastic lego game life of george for my niece. No idea why the name, but it doesn’t matter. This is the future.

The box comes with 144 standard lego bricks and a small board with grid markings. Before playing, I downloaded the app. The app gives pictures of what to build, the idea of the game is to build the same model using the physical bricks within the time allowed, then take a picture with the iphone. Scores are based on accuracy and time.

There are different levels, single- and two player modes and we can even create our own models. I wanted to get this a while ago, and had been waiting for my US trip, the price difference ($29.99 vs £29.99 — seriously) made it worthwhile to wait. We had a lot of fun, my niece and I. She’s much better at creating models and I’m better at making according to the pics.

picnik gone


A sad day indeed, when picnik closed. I’m not going to want to go into the trouble of logging into google+ to use it, I want a browser based editing tool that is easy to use. A couple of ex-picnik engineers did and for similar user experience, it’s great. I’m temporarily using it as my picnik alternative. Another one that will hopefully launch shortly is ribbet, which has been touting itself on a picnik alternative facebook page for a while. A quick google gave me mashable’s 7 alternative. Looks like we won’t be left out in the cold, lots of people are racing in with their own product.

nike plus first run

5.16km 32.42min 6.20min/km

Middle of February and I finally got a run up on nikerunning. I left the sensor in the shipment so the (very few) runs I did for the first 6 weeks of the year were in the garmin, but not on nike+. The run last weekend couldn’t get uploaded because of my crappy connection and the huge amount of crappy flash on the nike site.

So now I can get going with peeling away the 687km I need to get to purple level. 426 miles. Hmm. Not impossible for this year, if I focus and not get lazy or sidetracked. Chicago is once again the goal. I registered already.

nike+ gps app


My nike+ sensor conked out, which is very annoying cos it’s less than a year old and already the battery is gone? So instead of getting a new $20 sensor, I spent $1.99 on the new nike+ gps app. I’m going for a 20-miler tomorrow, so I took it out for a test run today.

It doesn’t need the sensor, and set up was a breeze. The gps signal picked up quickly and I was on my way. At the end of the run, it synced to my nike+ account automatically without needing to go through itunes. The stats were all there, as well as my route. It’s well worth the price, and then some.

Apparently the gps is quite a drain on the battery so I’m worried about the iphone lasting the whole marathon. Let’s see how it shapes up on the 20-miler tomorrow.

hunch twitter predictor game


I love hunch. I haven’t used it that much to ask questions, cos I don’t have a lot of decisions such as “what should I do during my commute?” or “which space heater should I buy” to make in my life. I answer all the questions though. So last week they released the hunch twitter predictor game whereby hunch will guess the answer to a series of questions based on who you follow on twitter. It guessed pretty well so far.

star wars weather


This fun star wars weather tool shows the weather around the world in terms of star wars places. So like it’s cold here in Chicago, but it’s much more fun to say it’s like Hoth. The description goes, “cold, ice, freezing desolation. you may have to climb inside a tauntaun for warmth.”

A little view page source tells me there are 9 places:

  • tatooine — hot, dry, occasional sarlacc — utinni!
  • dagobah — hot and wet and not in a good way — Yoda might be hiding somewhere
  • yavin 4 — hot and cloudy — bits of the Death Star might fall on your head
  • endor — temperate, grey and cloudy — stick around and you may get your own animated series
  • bespin — fog, mist, cloud, can’t see a thing — Lando is going to betray you.
  • kamino — wet — there’s also a significant chance of unconvincing CGI aliens
  • naboo — temperate, dry and pleasant — meesa like-a the weather these days
  • hoth — cold, ice, freezing desolation — you may have to climb inside a tauntaun for warmth
  • alderaan — huh? does not exist

So Hoth isn’t good, we should aim at Endor or Naboo.

[via giz]


I’ve been playing with hunch, a new startup from Caterina Fake that

helps you make decisions and gets smarter the more you use it

What is it? It’s a “decision engine” — I ask it a question, it asks me several related questions, then it gives me answers based on my answers. There’s also a big list of 70+ questions that i can answer that educates hunch about me.

So far, hunch has told me I should get the iPhone 3GS and not the Palm Pre (like, duh); that if I were to visit London I should stay at the Blake; and that I should try deep water aerobics as a fitness program. The last one is, well, pretty inaccurate — and I get a chance to disagree. It’s still a work in progress, there are not so many questions, but it’s fun.

new iTunes

I bought a new external hd, a small 320gb one for travelling. It transferred the mp3s alright, but when I opened up itunes somehow it was still wanting to locate the files at the old drive. So I did something drastic and deleted the whole library (keeping the files of course). What i forgot was to take a copy of the library database file, so i lost all my playlists and more importantly, play count, import date and ratings — the soft data so to speak. Sigh.

I guess it’s no big deal, some of the playlists date back to my first ipod, and are ratings really that important? I’ll just treat it as a new beginning.

At least it’s good news that drm is coming off itunes soon.