March Update

A plate of realistic fruit-looking choco desserts~

Thank god it’s March already.

WAIT what do you mean it’s March already? The first quarter of the year is almost gone? Noooooooo!!!

^ That up there describes my feelings as I’m writing this post. The period after Chinese New Year has been quite the polarising time for me. I have a sensation of staying in place while running around madly at the same time.

They say the more things change, the more they stay the same.

As March draws to a close, I’ve made peace with a few things in life. Or rather I’ve closed the door on some things for now and opened others.

Shot of a plane wing while in the air

Let’s start from the most recent series: I just came back from a whirlwind trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was a work trip and I got to meet with my colleagues from Australia, Manila and Ho Chi Minh. It was also a very exhausting trip because it was a “fly in Monday, fly out Friday” kind of schedule.

We were very packed all throughout. There were many one-to-one reviews, workshops and on top of all that we still needed to get our regular work done, though my bosses and team leaders were really excellent at ensuring we didn’t have a crazy load of things to complete on the trip. Being able to sit with my colleagues to have discuss things in person rather than through a call was really great too.

Hanging out with the locals really made a difference, because my Vietnamese colleagues brought us to places I’d have never realised otherwise. Something momentous – I found a beer I actually liked the taste of, though that was merely a sip instead of a full glass. HCM’s craft beer scene is pretty fun.

That said, the trip was very exhausting, and it didn’t help that the red tide made a visit after I came back (that was considerate, at least). I have been spending the last one week recuperating from it, hence low energies and a sort of apathy that’s only beginning to lift now.

Shot of East West Craft Beer's Saigon Rose

We also moved locations in the office into another spot, and with it my poor money plant suffered. The move happened about a week before the trip and I couldn’t find a new location for it before we flew, so when I came back, it was very yellow, almost white. I’ve found a new location where it can be sunned, and since then I’ve been leaving it there for a few hours at a time. Leaves are now turning that palest shade of green, so I have hope!

I have also picked up brush lettering, though what I am doing now a lot is mainly practising strokes. If there is anything I have learnt, it is that I am extremely lacking in discipline and perseverance. Routine is something I struggle with, in the sense that the time period between novelty wearing out and second nature taking over is the most sensitive of times.

On the weight front, I am gaining and not losing. Considering how things have been I am not surprised. There’s a lot more work to do especially with the next weigh in coming this Friday, but I will count myself as doing well if I can lose even just one kg more.

Getting back into the routine is probably going to be the hardest for me, but I am thinking of switching things up. Specifically I am probably going to change gyms for a bit and see what that does to my brain. I also need to keep a closer eye on my sleeping habits – they’re currently a bit shot from the Vietnam trip.

Looks like a pear, tastes like chocolate

All these have led to me dropping a few things. I’ve decided to drop podcasting for the time being. While I have a bunch of things I want to say, the last two weeks have been a struggle for me to get to the editing stage. The quality is not where I’d like it to be, and I have to admit it is partially due to me feeling that what I have to say is really nothing much in the scheme of things.

It makes more sense for me to take a step back when I can and reconsider where my time can be put to better use. I like podcasting though, and I will go back to it, but I don’t think it will be anything in the next 3 – 4 months.

Which has led me to the next realisation.

I do best when I have clear goals and a sense of purpose (who doesn’t?). In my line of work this manifests when I have a clear brief with questions. Otherwise it involves me doing quite a bit of work for research. Thing is I have fallen off the wagon recently, and a lot of it is due to facepalming and not wanting to dig beyond the surface.

Yes, there’s a barrier I did not realise that still existed in my heart. Now that I know it’s there, I can formulate a plan to face it head on. This doesn’t just apply to work though – I had the same issues with wanting to write for pleasure.

I seem to have lost the spark to imagine things, to make things up and write a lot of things randomly. A lot of the work I have done in recent years have been very reality-based. My flights of fancy have been grounded. There are reasons for this but I know I am capable of much more.

Sleeping cat

So part of the goal for the next few months is to focus back on my foundations. I’ve begun refilling the creative well but it is very slow going and shallow when you are only drawing from one source. Currently I am only reading light novels but I think I can soon start drawing from physical books again soon.

I am also planning to start playing computer games again. There’s also Netflix, which I intend to subscribe to next month. It feels a lot like I can breathe and look forward to the future again now, at least once I’ve written this out.

Thank you for reading this long-ass update. I’ll see you all on the next one.

Pre-CNY update

… Yes, January was nuts for me ahaha. Then again most of last year was. Spent it head down in work, reading, and just dealing with several personal lifestyle changes.

On a nicer note, I’m going to be leaving some small positives for myself so I don’t quite completely lose track of the year like I did before. Here goes:

Scheduling habits

Been trying to put some systems and habits into place to accomplish some New Year’s resolutions. For the podcast, I seem to be heading on track – I’m about an episode ahead now, and I think I can continue this momentum. It’s fun!

On the downside, getting the gym schedule to work is still hit and miss. I had two massive flu/allergy attacks that pretty much sapped me of will to continue during the last few weeks, and now that I think about it, both coincided with visits to a particular gym. May need to switch even if it means going further but we shall see.

Benefits of applying for an all-pass yo!

Podcasting experiences

So the podcast seems to be doing swimmingly. It’s got about 5 – 6 listens an episode, with some higher and some lower. I think I may have made a mistake by creating a new website for it instead of using RealName site, so I may move things back over to RealName site and just do a straightforward redirect.

This would help me build RealName site more and probably benefit from SEO. I am still considering this.

Also: Tiny win for me – I HAVE POSTED MORE EPISODE SUMMARIES on the podcast site. Been procrastinating so yes this is a tiny win for me.

Decluttering project

The initial declutter sprint went well, but now I have to continue. Holy crap do I not want to. The fun thing is that the schedule is also meant to help with this. I think I can do it, but it is a matter of building up the willpower.

Work nail bites

My one to one review will be up next week. I am not looking forward to it.

Fixing missing 5GHz network issues

Blog header for Missing 5GHz network issues on laptop

So, over the holidays I bought myself a HP Envy x360. It’s a beast of a machine but is also fairly light. I got the AMD version with SSD, so it’s exceptionally quick but can be noisy at times (which is quite manageable and easy to fix).

After almost two weeks of using it though, I realised that the WiFi card would not see specific WiFi networks. Specifically, I had issues with 5GHz networks – some would appear, some would not, and the most irritating of it is that my phone and the Bear’s could detect those networks easily but Envy (yes I am calling her that) could not.

As it turns out, this was a software issue that affected the Realtek cards. The good news? HP or rather Realtek has issued a fix, but getting it is a hassle. This is what HP doesn’t tell you in the forums.

Diagnosing the Realtek RTL8822BE

Follow these quick steps to check if you have the same problem as I did.

Required items
Your laptop with the Realtek RTL8822BE card (or a Realtek RTL8xxx card in general)
Phone/other 5GHz WiFi enabled device
Access/control over the router

Test this:
1. Look for a 5GHz network on your HP laptop/device.
2. See if the 5GHz network appears on your phone.
3. If the 5GHz network appears on your phone but not on your HP laptop, log into your router.
4. In your router, set the assigned Wifi Channel for the 5GHz network to any channel between 36-48.
5. Restart HP laptop/device if required and check if you can see the network now on your HP device.

If you can see the network, congratulations, you have the same issue as I did.

Fixing the Realtek RTL8822BE unable to detect 5GHz network issue

Note: Until the driver download website is updated, you will need to contact HP Support to get the updated driver for the network card.

  1. Plug your machine into the charger.
  2. Download and update the latest BIOS firmware from the official HP site.
  3. Once completed, install the driver you got from HP Support – they may send you a FTP link to download it.
  4. Go through the Diagnosis steps mentioned above to confirm it’s fixed.

And that’s it. The most tedious part of the process is actually talking to Tech Support. They actually Remote Desktop’ed into my machine to check but from what I could see, most of it was unnecessary, if you knew what you were doing. Good luck!

[Review] 13 Stages Malaysia

Photo of 13 Stages' versions of coffee from Johor and Terengganu

So, in the forever quest for dinner places, the Bear and I hit Paradigm Mall last night. We ended up at a place called 13 Stages, which turned out to be a Singaporean-based brand.

What pulled us into 13 Stages were their claims of serving coffee from all 13 Malaysian states. However, when we went there for dinner, not everything on the menu was available – there were quite a few items that were listed as coming soon (including mini buttered mantou).

Tasting the food

image of a steamed chicken thigh with drumstick covered in a layer of ginger
I had the Imperial Chicken Rice (I think, forgot to take the name down properly). The rice is well-cooked and fragrant. It goes well with the sauce from the chicken. The chicken thigh was very soft and tender – I could tear it apart easily with my fork and spoon.

Despite its looks though, it was a little bland for my taste. I was actually expecting the smell and taste of the ginger to be stronger. However, this turned out to be a plus for me – for the first time I was actively mixing ginger into the chicken and rice and the flavours were very filling. It’s not as spicy as Bentong-style ginger chicken but it’s good enough.

Grilled tomyam chicken rice

This was an interestingly-flavoured dish. The chicken was crispy and served warm but the rice was a little cold. Despite its name though, the tomyam flavour was… missing. It was a bit spicy yes, but it lacked the tang and kick you would expect out of tomyam. The Bear found it so-so only.

Coffee verdict – Terengganu vs Johor

This was a very interesting matchup. The Terengganu coffee ended up being stronger in taste without the smoothness of milk that the Johor coffee had. Johor coffee, despite looking extremely milky, was actually very smooth and easy to drink, like a far better quality of the canned Nescafe coffee I usually have. Maybe the next time I’ll try the Perak coffee.

With that said, I ended up falling asleep easier than I expected so I’m not sure if the caffeine was too mild or is it my body acting weird… (I tend to stay awake far too late if I take coffee anywhere remotely near bedtime).

The menu in Malaysia and Singapore are named slightly differently. I noticed when researching that the Malaysian kitchen offers fried chicken, which isn’t talked about in Singapore, so I assume they don’t have it. 13 Stages Malaysia is also a full-service restaurant (somewhat) compared to the self-service places in Singapore. You sit down, write your orders on a piece of paper and then give it to a server (basically the same as every other HK-styled restaurant).

For the price and location, it’s actually pretty decent. Would I go again? Sure, it’s near me and it’ll fulfil the chicken rice craving when I don’t want to slog through the traffic to get to the Jalan Gasing chicken rice shops.

Would I recommend you coming out of your way to try this? Not right now. While the coffee is great, it’s not something you’d battle crazy traffic for. If you’ve got a few hours to kill or if you just wanna hang out with friends it’s a pretty good option though.

One great thing about the bill though: No service charge or tax (for now!).

As 13 Stages has only been open for a few days since I wrote this, I will probably check back again to see if they’ve improved. They have a lot of potential, but will definitely need to tweak the flavours to appeal to the Malaysian market, especially in a competitive foodie mall like Paradigm (can’t believe I just wrote that).