Read to create

Whenever I felt the need to read a book, I ask myself "What can I write?"

Reading puts my mind into passive mode. It's spoon feeding my mind.

Writing is creating and it's not easy to start. I had countless times used books to procrastinate writing my next line of code or blog post.

If I want to learn something new because I'm curious - and not for the sake of creating - I'm procrastinating.

There's never enough to learn.

Try to write down the problem you're facing. Write what do you want to know and how you'll apply it to your problem.

Often times you'll come up with your own way of solving the problem - just from the writing down your thoughts.

Read for the purpose of creating. Prioritize producing rather than consuming.

May 29 2020

Buying a house for investment is a poor choice

Photo by Thomas Ehling

I said a house, not houses.

"I bought a house and I've to work for another 30 years to pay off the mortgage" is not investment. It's betting.

If this property crashes, you're out of the game.

And you're betting that this property will increase in value compared to the thousands and millions in your city and country.

This applies to investing too.

S&P 500 has 500 companies.

If you can tell me, everyday, which company will be the top gainer for the day, you're my new religion.

If not, just buy S&P500. You'll have the average return of 500 companies.

There's no shame in being average because professionals have trouble beating the average too.

And you won't be paying huge fees by buying index funds or ETF.

Now, buy more averages.

Average of Brazil.

Average of metal prices.

Average of bubble tea companies.

Nov 07 2019

Why are toilet bowls white

and why are toilet plungers black?

Photo by caseywest

Whenever I hear people giving verbal MTV cribs description of homes, I always wonder..

Is their toilet plunger black and where is it hidden?

A house without a toilet plunger isn't wise.

Because shit happens.

My hypothesis on the color is this:

Toilet bowls are white because shit tells you about your health.

But if it doesn't go away after inspection, you better turn off the light and hope your plunger doesn't glow in the dark.

When times are bad, everyone reaches out for the plunger.

C'est la vie.

Nov 05 2019

The second hardest question your 9 year old will ask you

Photo by Hannah Tasker

The hardest question is "Can I have a phone?"

The second hardest is "Can I be a YouTube star?"

Gone are the days where children attend school and wait till university to figure out what to do.

Never in the history where parents had to answer these questions.

And the choices made by parents today will only show results years later.

Can I have a pet ant?

Game streamer, ant pet channel, kids washing toy cars...

These are 'occupations' that we would never imagine be possible in our lifetime - and we're still alive.

Most sane parents would have said 'no' if their child asked to do this 5 hours a day.

I asked for a mice pet when I was 12 and it took me 2 years to convince my parents.

My question to the million parents-to-be who watched Diana washing toy cars:

What will you say if you child wants to have a Youtube channel on chicken eggs?

It's so mundane that you wouldn't think having 1 million views is possible - until it happens and covers your child's university fee.

Or do you encourage them to play Dota v99.1 every night in hopes of hitting the jackpot?

Nov 04 2019

Starcraft: we programmed a world only to be beaten by programs

Painting by VonSchlippe

Put 1000 people to battle Starcraft.

Only 2 will win.

If the 2 players continue to fight the AI, they will eventually face a defeat.

The AI learns from every play. Emotionlessly.

Is the AI cheating? That's our response when we're beaten.

But 'cheating' has no meaning to the AI.

If the players cheated, the AI will learn the cheats and cheat them back.

The AI had no one to complain.

My career path to e-sport pro is doomed?


Perhaps in the future, e-sport is where humans let their AI battle out.

Chess, Go, Dota...

There's only 1 goal for everyone in the game - to win.

There are limited moves that one can take. Millions maybe, but not infinite. It's a closed-loop system.

AI can perform better than human in all closed-loop system.

Here are some closed-loop systems I can think of:

  • Finding items in a warehouse.
  • Maths problems you learned during the 12 years in school.
  • Driving, if the AI has spent enough time in Vietnam.

Problems like "what to eat for dinner" may take longer for an AI to figure out.

Nov 01 2019

Postcard obsession

Photo by Elena Ferrer

Remember e-greeting card you used to receive in your email?

Dancing sheeps with a short note from your friend.

Wonder if those e-cards are still in your inbox?

It's so easy to text a heart. Sending a postcard takes more steps than putting an elephant in a fridge.

And that's why it matters.

Slow down and write a postcard

Thought of an old friend? Send them a postcard.

Write to the grandma you stayed with in your last AirBnB. That'll make her day.

And to your loved ones...

Text history gets wiped off.

Your xoxo are just a scroll away.

Why not write about how good looking they are and quietly throw the postcard into their bag.

It might take days for them to notice your note.

But they'll remember it for life.

P.s. If you want to randomly receive postcards from me, email me your address. I'll send you one in my next destination.

Oct 31 2019

A week of typing torture led to 10x editing speed - Vim

It wasn't fun at first.

Learning Vim was on my new year resolution list for almost 5 years.

The 'HJKL' keys replace your arrow keys.

That change alone had me gave up every time I tried to use Vim.

You won't get anything done when you're starting to learn Vim.

...until you saw ':21,30d [enter][ctrl-o] p'

Those are the keypresses for "Cut line 21 to 29 and paste here".

My mouse had not moved during the entire time of typing this draft and posting it.

Vim is addictive.

You'll want to 'HJKL' in every program after learning Vim.

I now write, code and browser the internet without touching the mouse.

If you work with text all day, pick a weekend, install Vim and vimtutor. Treat it like Tetris.

Oct 29 2019

Life principle of finding 'how-tos' online

I was searching for how to brew pu-er tea.

Videos after videos, I was taken down a rabbit hole of tea sets, glass kettle and other shiny tools.

And there's a guy who said he won't drink water without a bamboo water filter.

"Oh, this must be life changing. I should look up at it."




30 minutes later, I snapped out of it.

I don't need all this. A cup of tea is just hot water and tea leaves.

And there I added this line to my life principles notebook:

Looking to 'how-to' advice: Stop the person who says you need to buy stuff to do this. You want to know 'why' and 'how', not 'what'.

I don't need this

Whenever I feel the urge to search something online, I start by repeating "I don't need this" 3 times.

I also practice this when a question pops in my head and I feel the urge to find an answer.

"Qwerty vs dvorak keyboard"

"Hidden waterfalls in Malaysia" (although I had no plans to visit anytime soon)

I didn't need to know the answer. I'm fine with not knowing.

Meditation apps

Searching "how to meditate" will lead you to the same rabbit hole I went through.

There are apps and Instagram posts of people sitting with two thumbs touching on their knee.

I wonder how many times they opened their eyes and retake the shot.

Soon you'll be comparing guided meditation apps rather than meditating.

The idea of meditation is to do nothing. To have nothing and be present.

You don't even need to sit in that posture.

Waiting at a bus stop? Just focus on your breathe and notice things around.

Eating alone? Feel every inch of your taste buds react to the taste and texture.

You don't need anything to get started.

So, how to brew pu-er?

Right, back to my findings.

  1. Use 100 degree Celsius water.
  2. Rinse the tea leaves once to clean and loosen the leaves.
  3. Steep for 5 minutes.

The amount of leaves or steep time doesn't matter. I'd sip the tea every minute and taste the difference.

There's always a better way to brew, but it's not wrong. Even if I decide to chew on tea leaves, it's not wrong. The first person who made green tea cake isn't wrong too.

Oct 26 2019

The first thing to do when learning Japanese... to install a Japanese keyboard in your phone or laptop.

And it's not by spending days memorizing the alphabets.

I speak from experience of learning Korean in less than 3 months.

Now I'm learning Japanese and I'll occasionally write my thoughts on language learning.

Why should I learn this way

From a kid, we've been taught to follow systematic syllabus.

You were forced to solve the maths problem with the way your school taught you.

Any other shortcut is not permissible - even though you're right.

Same goes to learning a language.

Alphabet, grammar, vocabulary,...

Is this the sequence to learn quickly and be able to talk to people?

The goal is the chat

You don't learn Japanese alphabets by writing it multiple times.

Who's going to reply to your handwritten letter?

With Twitter, you're able to get into their world and start chatting.

Reply a short "good" to a trending picture in Twitter. A quick search shows one way of saying is "いいね!"

Don't copy-paste. Type it. That's how I learned the alphabets without memorizing.

Is that the right word to use? Maybe not. I don't know and there's no shame in making mistakes when learning a new language.

There's no shame in searching and translating words.

It's okay to rely on autocorrect.

Typo is fine. It's okay to sound like a child. Even if it's the wrong word, you might make other people laugh.

What's next

The next step isn't to read a grammar book from page 1 to end.

For me, the next step is to grasp the patterns of Japanese language.

Patterns that will allow me to start tweeting sentences.

When I learned Korean, I used 15 sentences to dissect the language and understood its structure.

I'll do the same with Japanese and report back here.

Oct 22 2019 | language, japanese

Prediction. I rather hear your reaction

Many people got famous on being on the right side of their prediction.

The election result - even though it's a coin flip probability.

Is the economy bad next year - unless there's an alien invasion, economy doesn't turn when you wake up tomorrow. So most of the time, you could sense it.

Some fund managers made their name by making correct predictions.

Some top earners answer "I don't know what will happen."

What will you do

I rather hear 2 things:

  • What you'll do when it goes right
  • What you'll do when it starts to turn bad.

I don't care if your prediction made you millions.

Keep your prediction about the election to yourself.

50% of the world population are guessing correctly.

Nothing glamorous about it.

Oct 18 2019