Category Archives: Diary

iPhone Diary Day 1 – Setting Up My 14 Pro Max

As someone who has used Android phones for 12 years, switching to iOS is quite an experienced. iPhone as an hardware is pretty expensive compared to Android phones. But as I’ve mentioned in my previous post, Android comes with its baggage. Cost aside, how do you put a price tag on a photo like the one below?

Bailey loves attentions.

Once DHL Express dropped the new iPhone to my doorstep, I visited the nearest authorised Apple Store to install a screen protector. I have already ordered a case from Casetify a while back. I am ready for action!

The initial set up is easy. Reinstalling apps is also straightforward. The painful part is to log into all the apps with different user ids passwords. Some apps I couldn’t remember the user ids as it could be my email address or my mobile number or even Google id. Someone smart would need to think of a way to solve this ’world’ problem.

After all the hassles, when I finally got my new phone to a MVP, I discovered that WhatsApp doesn’t readily share the Android backup with Apple’s! I have to reset my new phone and use the Move to iOS app to migrate the chat. At that point, I’ve decided to just forgo what I had and start anew. WhatsApp may one day shutdown. It is better to be less reliance on these free services.

It takes me a while to get used to how iOS works. Swiping seems intuitive and I think in due course, I will get the hang of it. I can’t wait to do some camera testing and that’s the story for another day! Stay tuned.

PS. What’s up with the double spacing that I have to manually delete while writing this post on my iPhone?! It is either the Apple default keyboard or Safari browser or both.

What Would A Really Good Video Game Be, If I Were A Game Designer

I am a gamer at heart. When I was a young boy – early teen – my dad got me into video gaming. For more than three decades, I have never looked back. I played so many video games that I initially created my own YouTube channel as a social experiment. But it turns out to be a hobby. My creative outlet. A unique way to connect with like-minded people.

Inevitably, some would ask, if I would have to create a video game, what would that be?

Before I answer that question, I would like to share with you a design philosophy behind a game called Risk of Rain. It goes something like …

  • Design a game that is randomly generated every play-through, to keep replayability high and fresh.
  • Time = difficulty. The higher the in-game time gets, the harder the difficulty gets. Keeping a sense of urgency keeps the game exciting!
  • Be enjoyable, regardless of whether you win or lose. No more fussing with complex and non-intuitive gameplay patterns. Players should not blame the game for their loss!

Personally, I thought it was really cool, pretty close to what I would envisage the design of my own game be.

Having said that, I would take it further.

  • The graphic doesn’t define a game. Game-play does.
  • There has to be an element of randomness. Better still, user-created content.
  • It has got to be easy to pick up, and challenging to master. Way too many games that have no depth or a few rare gems that are challenging to master, but way too difficult to pick up. We are humans. Most give up easily.
  • Sandbox or a good degree of freedom to achieve user-defined goals is important. Being too prescriptive can be perceived as linear. Life is a journey. Let gamers play the game they enjoy playing.
  • There should be a good balance of quick wins versus time-invested rewards. We love it rough. But not all the time. There must be an alternative path to the same goal.
  • Revival is key. Stagnancy is the culprit of a game on the decline. Fresh content. Change of meta. People need to keep playing, for good reason.
  • Listen to feedback. Active listening, I mean.

Bailey, Not Again!

I am speechless. Bailey did it again. It must be me.

I took Bailey to meet Axel, my friend’s puppy.

As the story goes, my friend, SF, needed Bailey to help lead Axel to a street he always fears of. Also, it has been a while since Axel met Bailey.

After work at six, I took Bailey into the car and drove to SF’s place nearby. As before, I walked Bailey to the slopy green field next door after parking the car. Axel arrived shortly and in some strange ways, the two didn’t really play much with each other. After some warm-up, Bailey was able to lead Axel into an area Axel fears visiting (for what reasons, I cannot fathom).

SF and I walked along the river, let our dogs socialize with other dogs. SF picked a restaurant and we tied our dogs to a tree. All was well until …

“Your dog,” said SF.

From where we sat, with the plants blocking the view, I couldn’t really see our dogs. When I heard SF saying that, I looked straight and saw a scene I could not comprehend.

I saw Bailey, looking at me, with his tongue stuck out, without a harness, without a leash …

… I quickly stood up and called Bailey. By then, he turned and ran. So fast around the playground, dashing from dogs to dogs. I forgot where my mask was (around my neck), I was doing my best to chase after him. It was dark, in the evening. The very scene reminded me of that memorable morning when Bailey broke off his leash and ran amok in a park.

Bailey was too fast. I couldn’t catch him. I tried and fell onto the concrete ground (fortunately, this time, I did not injure myself). One dog owner, an Indian lady, tried to lure Bailey with a bag of treats. It wasn’t that successful as Bailey was going crazy with her dog and I could tell that she was quite frightful of Bailey.

I don’t blame her.

Anyways, she passed me her bag of treats and asked me to get Bailey’s attention. It worked, in front of a very big crowd, I hugged Bailey firm across his chest, not letting go. SF came by with the harness. I was so thankful that I did not lose Bailey this evening.

So much drama. And he did it again.

Sigh.

14 Days Full-Time Dog Sitter

Under the same roof, we have Cynthia and me and a dog named Bailey. In Bailey’s eyes, it is without a doubt that I am not the dog owner. So when Cynthia has to return to Indonesia due to a family emergency for 14 days, I knew I was in for an unforgettable adventure.

Chinese New Year and Bailey’s Instagram account managed by Cynthia needed a photo. So I took one on her behalf. Photo taken with Nikon Z6.

Oh My Routines!

Most people whom I talk to would not truly relate to what “dogs need routines” mean. They would go, uh-huh, so what?

Well, dogs need routines. In Bailey’s case, since he doesn’t like to pee or poop at home (and therefore, no way to even train him to do so), he has to take his walk in the morning at 7-ish.

Every day.

Rain or shine.

In sickness (of the owner or the dog-sitter) and in health.

That alone is a pretty big commitment if you chew on it.

To make sure that he has his morning walk without fail, he would bark in the morning as a friendly reminder. I try not to respond to his barking immediately. That would reinforce his behavior thinking that barking equates to a voice-controlled door that opens when he barks.

At times, he would bark before 7 in the morning because he heard other dogs bark on the street (dogs’ roll call, as some may say).

I am not someone who wakes up early in the morning. Having to dog-sit Bailey for 2 weeks temporarily made me one.

Then he needs to be fed at 8 am. A bit of playtime and cuddle moments in between his naps. Between 5 to 6 pm, Bailey would expect his evening walk. At times I walked him in the neighborhood. If there isn’t much rain, I would take him to a dog run nearby so that he can run freely, without a leash. If I have the time and energy, I would take him out somewhere further with a car. Before midnight, he would need another short walk to, again, pee and poop.

3 walks. 3 pee and poop sessions. From 7 am to midnight.

That Walking Feeling Is, I Believe, Mutual

It is obvious that Bailey doesn’t enjoy walking with me and the feeling is mutual. The constant pulling. The ongoing picking up of rubbish to swallow and the refusal to obey my “leave it” command. Zero to little engagement even as I bring along treats. Sudden jump onto random pedestrians (one morning I had to apologize to what seemed like ten people of which, one jogger nearly fell onto the ground as Bailey made an attempt to jump onto her). Towards the end of the walk, Bailey would refuse to budge. He wanted more walking and more socialization with other dogs. To me, once I have collected his poop, the walk was done. Obviously, we were in constant disagreement.

According to Cynthia though, Bailey doesn’t behave like that. Hence, it must be just me and him. The feeling is mutual.

What Recall?

This is partially my fault. It was the Chinese New Year holiday period. My condo was quiet in the early evening. I have decided to walk Bailey up the stairs. Since he was so much faster than me, I took off the leash and let him run ahead. At the top of the stairs is a link bridge. From a distance, I saw a small dog with its owner.

Uh-oh.

I quickly ran to Bailey trying to catch him. He also saw the dog and he quickly ran to the dog with overwhelming enthusiasm (which, unfortunately, the dog owner with colored hair saw as aggression). Bailey outran me, of course. I tried calling him back. But my recall failed.

Looking back, I am still unsure if that dog owner was traumatized by a charging dog from behind or I, the dog-sitter was traumatized by Bailey’s behavior. I apologized, in a weaker voice than usual, and quickly removed Bailey from the crime scene.

To have a reliable recall, there must be a higher value than what distracted the dog in the first place. Unfortunately, neither my praises nor my treats work.

Prey Drive Not The Same As Aggression

Unless you have a dog that has a certain degree of prey drive (and hence read more into it), most people would think a dog is aggressive when they go after other dogs – especially smaller ones – or small animals with such vigor.

In short, prey drive is an instinctive behavior. Aggression is associated with emotions such as fear. They are different. It is easier to correct or subdue prey drive than aggression. Because in the latter case, you would need to resolve the emotional issue first.

Bailey has a medium prey drive. He likes stalking smaller animals and he likes to chase after them. He doesn’t hurt and he doesn’t kill.

I thought it was a good idea to bring him to Botanic Garden. Poor Bailey saw all the chickens roaming freely in the garden but could not give a good chase. He must have been feeling frustrated. Poor me with my arm ached from all the pulling. No, it wasn’t a good idea.

A tired dog is a happy dog. Bailey loves excursions. A successful one is the one that Bailey would sleep in the car. Photo taken with a phone.

Big Brother Role

My friend SF brought home a 5-month old Golden Retriever named Axel a couple of weeks ago. I was with my friend the day she brought him home (she lives alone and needed help). Axel is different from Bailey. He is shyer and he needs a lot of encouragement to even step out of the house. And when he does, he prefers to stick to the green field right next to the apartment not wanting to go further. So we thought, why not bring Bailey and see if he can ‘pack-lead’ Axel?

Bailey and I arrived early and we were playing at the green field next to my friend’s apartment. Shortly, Axel and SF joined us. I did my best to tone down Bailey’s enthusiasm. And it worked. I am pleased.

Bailey and Axel play well with each other. Photo taken with a phone.

As we led our dogs out of the green field, I noticed that Axel refused to move. In fact, he seemed disturbed by loud noises such as cars and motorcycles. He looked frightened.

SF tried to use kibbles as an incentive to get Axel to move one meter by one meter. Unfortunately, that also attracted a lot of Bailey’s attention as Bailey is highly food motivated.

That didn’t work. After barely moving for 20 meters, I suggested to SF not to use kibbles. Just let Bailey does his job.

True enough, Bailey walked in front – like he always does when walking with me unless he is really tired – Axel followed. What a beautiful sight to behold! Once Bailey realized that we were in a pack, he constantly checked back at us. I thought that was pretty cool.

Good job, Bailey!

Bailey Met His Nemesis

Only when you are a dog would you understand the draw of a dog run or a dog park.

I like bringing Bailey to a dog run. He can go unleashed. I don’t have to deal with the pulling. It is a good way to burn down his energy. He loves it. I love it. It is a win-win.

Walking to the dog run is often a challenge for me. He is constantly distracted by other dogs on the street, constantly distracted by the rubbish on the ground (even kibbles for cats). But as we approach the dog run, the scent of other dogs – whether present or not (as dogs leave marks or pee mails) – grows. Bailey would pull stronger and stronger until he totally forgot about me.

One day, like any other day, I would command Bailey to sit between the double gates, calm himself down, before letting him into the dog run. On this particular day though, even as I opened the inner gate, Bailey ran back to the outer gate instead, not wanting to enter.

I was puzzled. As it turned out, he was not pleased with two of the dogs inside. One of them had injured him in the past. Bailey would stand near the gate not wanting to play with his other friends. Although to him – and I know – I am merely a vending machine for food and drink, my pawrent instinct kicked in. I took Bailey to a far corner and played fetch with him, keeping an eye on the whereabouts of the two dogs. I just don’t like how they play with Bailey. No means no.

I rarely see Bailey burying his face into the curtain. Kind of cute I must say. Photo taken with a phone.

Jogging & Bailey Took the Blame

Bailey and I played fetch when we were inside a dog run. That is one good way to burn down his energy. Outside the dog run though, he needs to be on a leash. To achieve a similar outcome, I would prefer jogging.

It is rather fun jogging with Bailey. It is a mix of a slow jog, sprint, and sudden stop.

I enjoy walking Bailey on a rainy day. Because most dog owners would not prefer to walk their dogs in light rain or on wet ground. I like it because lesser distraction means lesser pulling.

Anyhow, one morning, I was jogging with Bailey in a park. As I turned into the park, I stepped onto a wet metal grid on the ground. It was slippery and I fell on my butt. My right forearm was scratched. My palms were bruised. I had minor bleeding here and there. One stranger asked if I was okay. She thought I fell because Bailey was pulling.

While yes, Bailey was ahead of me, it was totally my fault.

A Park Full Of People Thought I Did The Unthinkable!

Here in Singapore, we are not allowed to unleash our dogs in public, except dog runs or dog parks. It was in the early morning. The weather was lovely. One-third of the park was occupied by elderly dressed in uniform standing one meter apart exercising with music played in the background. Some rested by the benches. Others took a stroll on the pavement. In the middle of the park, there was a large patch of green grass. Ginger, the Singapore Special (an actual local breed name) was with her owner’s helper.

Ginger is a rather unique dog. Inside a dog run, she would observe other dogs and play with a selected few. Bailey is among the ones she called friends.

With a leash though, Ginger behaves rather differently. She would still play but when she becomes frustrated (I would presume with the leash), she would bite her own tail.

Back to that one fateful morning, Bailey was playing with Ginger. It went well until he pulled too hard. The leash broke!

All hell broke loose.

Imagine a fast-running dog, unleashed, dashing across the park. Everyone was looking at me running like a mad man trying to catch Bailey. They probably thought that I was the one who unleash the dog in public, the irresponsible one who jeopardize everyone in the park.

Bailey, predictably so, ran back to Ginger. I tried to catch him but I failed. He ran away.

In his second rendezvous, I made a mental commitment. I had to catch Bailey. I threw my body onto him, grabbed him with a good and firm hug, rolled onto the wet grass that I know, and everyone knows, is soaked with dog pee. The helper asked if I needed to borrow her spare leash. I politely declined, tied the broken leash onto his harness, took him home and have the leash replaced, and brought him down in time for the “school bus” that transported him to the dog school.

Till today, I am still keeping the broken leash just in case someone that day took a video and sent it to the police. I swear. I am innocent.

What Else?

One fine day, Bailey has destroyed or shredded my T-shirt in the morning and the floor mat at night. On the other day, he has destroyed his bed made of canvas, shredded a hole in the middle. I tried to brush his teeth every night. It was an interesting experience having my fingers right inside his jaws. I have risked losing my fingers trying to stop him from eating a discarded chicken drumstick in bone (and I succeeded). While some dog owners may frown upon him thinking that Bailey is too aggressive, it was heartwarming to see Bailey playing well with dogs with the same energy level (Luna, Whisper, Ole, and Bella). I tried cleaning his ears once and got my face and body covered with the fluid he shook off. I bathed him every week. I bought a trimmer online and shaved his fur around his paws (not good for his hips in the long run). I don’t necessarily enjoy the process of being a dog-sitter. But I must admit, there were moments I enjoyed.

Common Grill by Collin’s – That Weird Moment When Staff And I Locked Eyes

I have lived in Hong Kong for 17 years, Singapore for 26 years. I can tell you with certainty that Singapore cares less about customer experience. In Hong Kong, I feel that customers are kings and queens. Here in Singapore, I feel that those who are taking my money are doing me a favor. I have to bow and beg as I am spending my hard-earned money, for food and what not.

Seriously.

It sucks.

Picture this.

Tonight I craved for steak. But I didn’t feel like spending a fortune for one. Just a good-enough steak. So I headed to Common Grill® by COLLIN’S® @ 26 Jalan Membina. 8 minutes walk from my home. S$20 for a ribeye steak at a hawker center. Outdoor, literally just next to a drain, with old men drinking beer playing loud Chinese music. The ambiance is – for lack of a better word – shit. Yet I endured. Collin’s is a decent brand here in Singapore with outlets dotted throughout the island. Personally, I feel that they charge way too much at such an ambiance.

Whatever.

I was alone. After placing my order, I bought a bottle of beer. Seated right next to Common Grill® by COLLIN’S®. I have got a digital device upon placing my order. One that would ring when my food is ready for collection. I was literally just 2 steps away from the stall. As seen in the photo below.

Err … not ever I wanna revisit.

Super long queue, so I waited patiently. Halfway through my beer, the digital device rang. To be honest, I was so tired of waiting whereby I didn’t even notice the device was ringing. Next table, one old Chinese man was playing some really loud Chinese music through his phone. I waited so long till I was near death from my hunger, mummified.

Such a strange moment. My food was ready at the counter. The two staff were just looking at me, and the digital device that rang. We starred at each other. They knew that it was my order but did nothing. If I were one of them, I would have served the food – despite the fact that I was supposed to collect my food at the counter – to score some positive client experience, in the hope that the same customer may visit again soon.

I mean, I was just a stone’s throw away.

Even shorter than that.

But alas. Here in Singapore whereby positive customer experience is at the bottom of the list. Really. Think about it. It is us to be blamed.

Because?

Because we Singaporean and residences accept this sort of lousy customer experience and yet, throw money at them.

Well, Collin’s. Let me tell you this. Your steak sucks. It is dry. Thin. Chewy. Not medium-rare as I have ordered. Cost way too much when I have to eat right next to a drain.

And ya, your service is terrible too.