31st December. This is probably my favorite day of the year. The end, the feeling of completion and a whole brand new year ahead. It’s good to take stock of what has transpired over the course of the past 12 months. So much has happened in 2012 and many steps forward were taken.
The biggest personal hurdle I got past this year was to finally lose the excess weight that built up gradually over the years. I never had a successful weight loss regime that I could adhere to without falling sick or just not keeping up with it. Maybe I needed to be in the overweight category to finally push myself on but I’m both relived and glad to lose that extra fat and finally be back to a normal healthy weight. Through this, I rediscovered a strange affinity for long runs especially in the night. There’s something mentally gratifying about hitting 4km in 3 stages – an unlit (and maybe dangerous) park, outskirts of Jurong Lake and finally along the roads. I look forward to running and was surprised to be able to keep up the schedule even during hectic days at school.
Clearing A Difficult Semester:
The second semester of this year is and will probably be the toughest semester I have ever faced. I took the heavy honors modules at one go and fought to stay on track and in focus for the entire semester. Getting positive results on the day after Christmas is probably one of the biggest reliefs of the year. I was helped along by excellent project team mates and helpful professors. In the semesters before, I felt little need for external support but this semester pushed me beyond my limits and many helpful hands were there to see me through. I am tremendously grateful.
The first of three ‘technical’ related projects at home centered on measuring the power consumption of every electrical device. The results were interesting and the online community made full use of them. It wasn’t a difficult task, just one that needed time and patience guided with a proper methodology. It also did put to bed some arguments at home on which device was the power guzzler.
As I looked at the physical data lying around at home, the geek in me wanted to digitally preserve as many things as possible. The first would be the rather large collection of over 425 CDs that my dad has. He loves music and has an entire room dedicated to a proper sound system. The massive CD collection took decades to build and I wanted to make sure that everything was backed up verbatim. Converting all the CDs to FLAC took time but what was more difficult was ensuring that all the metadata was accurate. The result? The family now has a fully searchable online database of music that can be streamed to any device at home. My dad also gets an easier way to listen to his music in full quality.
Archiving Physical Photos:
With music settled, the final piece left was a collection of 2300+ photos that were taken between the 1970s and 2000s. Photos taken before I was born were treasured pictures of my parents’ childhood in the Red Cross Home for Crippled Children. After that, my dad’s toil to capture photos of my birth and as many family functions as he could finally paid off. The entire process of scanning, sorting, editing and filing the photos made this project the toughest and most time consuming of the year. But it was well worth it. Our photos were kept in big old albums that were stored in the utility room. No one really ventured to view them as they were well tucked away and really dusty. After digitally archiving them, family and relatives spent happy hours going through the extensive photo collection. This has turned out to be also the most rewarding home project of the year. I will cover the process in detail in a coming post.
Going full sized 30″:
I listed the Dell 30″ Ultrasharp U3011 as my biggest and most significant tech upgrade of the year and it remains so. Nothing improves all aspects of computing than a huge high resolution screen. It’s one of my best buys of the year.
Moving to Android:
On the mobile front, I decided to move from iOS to Android after not being too impressed with Apple’s showing on the iPhone 4S and iOS6. Android has been a step up in features and functions. Encased in the One X, this is the best phone I’ve ever owned. Android is not perfect but has allowed me to do a lot more than iOS can offer. On top of that, I made a huge profit on the upgrade as well.
Fibre Internet Connection:
I was purposefully late into the fibre game the same way as I plan to be late on LTE. This year, I felt that fibre connections in Singapore had finally reached a satisfactory performance level with an equally good price value. I would have preferred to move to MyRepublic, but SingTel allowed me to upgrade with 6 months remaining on my ADSL contract to a higher speed plan at a slightly lower price. Speeds have been excellent and I am pleasantly surprised by the PACE router that they provided. I have heard horror stories but its working like a charm here. Wireless coverage of the entire house is better than what my previous routers – Linksys WRT54G and D-Link 655 could offer. Moving to fibre also opened up the world of cloud storage and backup for me. Having terabytes of data accessible at any location is in one word – awesome.
Retiring from WoW:
I left the World of Warcraft for the second time in February this year. It was the end of the Cataclysm expansion and I could no longer commit as much time to gaming as I could before. Multiple real life commitments pushed me to call time on what was a rather interesting time raiding and performing different roles. The guild went through an incredible dramatic change and the experience was just something you will never get out of other games.
Not Really A Gamer Now:
I tried getting into other games that didn’t require much time commitment. It didn’t work out. I tried Diablo 3, Guild Wars 2 and some indie games but I just didn’t have the interest to carry on gaming. What kept me interested in WoW was not the game on its own but the friendships formed with real friends within the game. The same group of friends played D3 and GW2 but it wasn’t on the same level as WoW was. Also, my difficult semester ensured I had little time to spend on games. For now, whenever I have some time to kill, I’ll fire up Team Fortress 2 or FIFA 13. Short games that are nothing serious and in TF2’s case – full of laughs.
As an Arsenal fan, the final half of 2011-2012 and the first half of 2012-2013 could not have been whackier. Consistent ups and downs made Arsenal games a spectacle. We’ve gone from showing hints of championship material to looking completely listless and bored against bottom teams. The Arsenal of this season have scored more goals than the last, hitting last season’s February’s tally well in December. But the shape of the team is still being tinkered about and the three new core players are still finding their feet. Whatever happens, there’s never a dull moment as an Arsenal fan. We’re always in a crisis or in a goal scoring heaven (or a conceding hell).
I have been able to write a lot more than I thought I could. Each piece on this site is about a thousand words and I just love writing. It is pretty clear my pet topics are technology and economics. I use this site as a way to write things I believe would benefit the online community and to air certain perspectives of mine. A lot similar to running long distances, writing on this site allows me to unwind and piece my thoughts together. It has been a blast updating this blog.
I am also very humbled to see the monthly readership of this site skyrocket from thousands to hundreds of thousands within this year. This blog gets no more than 15 articles a month and I am simply glad that you have found the content useful and hopefully enjoyable.
What A Year That Was!
2012 has been a packed year with many ups and downs. It is great to end the year on high and it is the difficulties faced during the year that has made such highs enjoyable. 2013 will be a transitory year. Unlike 2012 which more or less sees the beginning of the end of my time in university, 2013 is expected to throw up multiple fresh challenges like getting a good job and making some interesting changes within the family.
It has been a great year and here’s wishing you an awesome 2013!