Subscribe

I caved today and resubscribed to Medium. My rationale is that it’s like paying for a magazine subscription, but you get to choose what you want to read in every issue. 

Some of the writers I most enjoy reading are on Medium, behind a paywall. Many of the newsletters that I get share articles from Medium, that are behind that paywall as well. 

This got me thinking about premium media and how media companies are putting paywalls on their news sites. 

Although I will pay for media, seeing paywalls on certain sites just makes me bounce. Why?

I was attracted to the headline, yes. But I haven’t seen enough of the article (or other articles) to know if a subscription is worth paying for. 

And if it’s a media company that’s covering an issue that’s already been covered before, why would I want to pay for a subscription?

Also, why would I want to pay for a subscription to the entire site, when I’m only interested in one topic? 

Lately, when it comes to developing my own media businesses, I’ve been more attracted to the idea of small niches, with highly engaged audiences. 

Perhaps to be more profitable, media needs to stop being mass. 

Apps

Since I’ve been writing a lot more lately, and referencing a lot of other articles while I’m at it, I’ve found myself craving an app that could help me with indexing my reads, as well as generate citations in customised formats. 

Thinking about this, reminded me of a post I said I would write for a friend. It was meant to be a list of ideas for apps I’d like to use. 

So here goes: 

Fitbit for dogs 

So I can track my dog and see how he’s doing even when I’m travelling. Must be non-invasive.

Indexing app

That pulls all my highlights from all the different places that I do my reading — Kindle, Medium, other articles, books etc and generates citations in a format that I specify. 

A multi e-wallet app 

In which I can top up any of the e-wallets I use, as well as use the e-wallet at any merchant that accept them (or the connected card). There are so many e-wallets in use in Malaysia, as well as overseas. I’d like to have less apps on my phone. Please, thanks!

Investment app

For me to keep track of all my investments in one place (and give me feedback) so I don’t have to disturb my advisor all the time. Must be very secure, of course. 

Voice to text to-do list

That formats properly. Right now all my to-do lists involve me having to type. Google Keep has great voice recognition but I still have to tap on the screen etc. 

If any of these already exist, let me know! 

Remotely

I began a short experiment with working remotely earlier this week and thus far, there have been hiccups. 

I’m across the world from home now on a trip I didn’t pay for, being a part of something that I didn’t think I’d ever be a part of. It’s exciting, and before I took off from Kuala Lumpur, I decided that I’d use these two weeks as an experiment. 

It’s easy to work remotely in Kuala Lumpur, where I have everything I need. But when you’re traveling, I realise that there are other things to consider. 

#1 Jetlag is real

Due to my spotty sleeping habits, I’ve never truly experienced jet lag. But after flying about 30 hours to a country where you’re 12 hours behind your usual timezone, there are some effects. I’ll admit that my brain isn’t operating as efficiently as it should after all that. 

A possible solution to this is probably to not schedule multiple meetings — both on-site and via call on the first day you arrive. 

#2 Internet connectivity isn’t the same everywhere

If your work involves having to be online — video calls, live videos and such — make sure you have access to better Internet connections. 

Although the hotel here has wifi, it’s not as decent as what I have back home. I’m currently using my travel wifi and it’s alright, but there are moments when it’s as if I’ve been taken back to the days of dial-up Internet. 

But I have one more week of experimentation. Let’s see how it goes!

Personal

I remember how I first started coding. 

In Form Five, I built an Angelfire page that consisted only of Johnny Depp pictures that I found around the Internet. This was before the word “google” became a verb and I still used a search engine called Searchalot. (I googled and it still exists!)

I didn’t know any frameworks, and my HTML-only site was ugly af by today’s standards but the feeling of creating something of my own, just the way I wanted it, was magnificent. 

When I discovered blogging, my fascination with the Internet grew. It didn’t matter that barely anyone read my writing. It was enough that the people who did, were engaged. We had conversations

In his article on the value of personal websites, Matthias Ott writes that “the primary objective still is to have a place to express ourselves, to explore ourselves, a place that lasts while the daily storms pass by”.

He calls a personal website a “place to tell your story” and suggests that we find ways to create connections between a large range of personal sites so that we still have our personal spaces, while being a part of wider conversations.

For the last month or so, I’ve been weaning myself off social media. Writing here and having longer conversations via email / chat with readers has been far more edifying than the likes or comments on social. 

I’m using WordPress.com now, which I chose because I wanted to just focus on the words. But as a coder, I’m starting to feel its limits.

Let’s see how far I take this feeling.  

Nouveau Riche

In The Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss and How to be a Capitalist Without Any Capital by Nathan Latka, they both talk about what it means to be part of the New Rich.

It’s not so much about having billions of dollars. It’s more about being able to do the things you want to, experiencing the things you want to, owning your time. All while seeing your bank balance grow.

I’ve been told that many of the tactics in those books are not applicable if you’re a resident in a Southeast Asian country. (Some of the tactics actually do talk about outsourcing labour to Asians, which is cheaper because of the currency advantage.)

But I’ve learned a lot from these books. It’s not about blindly following tactics. In order to be a member of the New Rich, it’s the endgame that we need to focus on.

How do we make more money, while spending less time on things that we think of as work?

How do we make more money, while doing the things that we enjoy?

How do we make our money work for us? How do we make it work even more efficiently? How do we use that money to get the most value out of life?

Flying

I don’t enjoy flying. But I get some of the best sleep on planes.

My body loves the motion. And in those brief hours, my mind is still. There’s nothing I can do on a plane except be present in the moment.

It’s easier to be stoic on a plane. It’s a place where I have an undeniable lack of control over my surroundings.

On the ground, there’s the illusion of control to contend with, when the fact is that it doesn’t exist either.

On the ground, I am constantly in search of motion, trying to do more, more, more. Constantly trying to bend the world into my desired shape. This effort is futile.

The Universe gives what it will. And I’m learning that all I can do is be ready to catch whatever it throws at me.

Up in the air, it is more obvious that there is no point regretting the past. It has already happened.

It is obvious that there’s no point being anxious about the future. We don’t know what’s in store.

So my mind rests. My body quiets. And all there is, is the steady motion of flying.

It’s like being a child again, being carried, rocked to sleep.

Journaling

One of the best habits I managed to cultivate this year is blogging daily. 

Besides being a great way to solidify my thoughts, it’s also taught me that even on days when it feels like there are no words, no ideas, if you squeeze yourself hard enough, there will be some. It’s taught me to hit publish even when I lack confidence in my writing.

One thing I’d like to start practising as well is interstitial journaling. 

In his article on Better Humans, a publication on Medium, Coach Tony suggests journaling every time you transition from one work project to another. 

“Write a few sentences in your journal about what you just did, and then a few more sentences about what you’re about to do,” he says in the article. 

If you’re the sort who works on different projects throughout the day, doing this serves two purposes. 

One, it helps your brain switch off from the previous task. Just like how taking a picture of something outsources memory to your camera, doing this offloads information to your journal. Your brain energy can now be used to focus on the task ahead. 

Two, it helps set your course for the next project and what you want to accomplish from the task you’re about to undertake. It makes you more focused and your work more efficient. 

At least, this is my hypothesis. And I’ll start my experiment in June.