How to be a better macbook user

OS X is a great operating system. Its UX is craftly designed for intuitive use. Its robustness provide users with true productivity and peace of mind. Nonetheless, some knowledge of its functionality could lift your macbook experience even higher.

Power Management

Unlike PCs, macbooks have only one energy-saving mode i.e. sleep mode. Sleep mode is triggered by closing the lid. This is a natural design since closing the lid is what you do when you finish using macbook. It is the best practice to put macbook in sleep mode after use instead of powering off because the machine will wake up faster from sleep mode. Macbooks are designed to be able to stay in sleep mode as long as one month before the battery runs out. 

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When a macbook is connected to a projector, OS X is smart enough to detect this and therefore does not go to sleep. However, problems arise when you need to listen to iTunes music with the lid closed. In this case, you have to use third-party application such as InsomniaX (free) to control the lid. Otherwise, simply leave the lid open.

Also, In some cases, you need to download large data from the internet overnight. Again, you have to keep the lid open (or use InsomniaX). PowerNap feature could not solve this problem because PowerNap only do tasks related to synchronisation and backups. In fact, I personally do not enable PowerNap.

Virus Protection

I once believed OS X was virus-free.  After using it without protection for two years, I installed a anti-virus software and found some tens spywares/malwares on my macbook. Hence, it is recommended to install some antivirus software on your macbook such as AVG antivirus which is free. In addition, if possible, install softwares from Apple App stores. They have tested those softwares vigorously to ensure us safety.

Backup and Recovery

The best way to backup your macbook is through its Time Machine. With time machine, you can recover specific files as well as the entire system. In order to perform full recovery, restart the machine and hold down Command R at startup to fresh install OS X. Your macbook will download OS X media directly via the internet. In case you also need to reformat your hard drive, you have to create a bootable thumb drive first using DiskMaker X, a free utility. 

I strongly recommend every macbook user to invest in a Time Machine. It is truly a great design because 1) it backs up your data on different physical drive, 2) it backs up incrementally, not congesting the network and 3) it backs up everything.

Alternatively, you can rely on iCloud to back up documents, photos and application settings. However, iCloud don’t support third-party documents and application. Furthermore, if your photo and movie collections get very large, iCloud could become impractical and expensive backup solutions. 

Speed Up OS X

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Finally, after long period of use, your hard drive could run out of space and your machine could get slower. To fix this, first of all, go to System Preferences > Users&Groups > Login items and uncheck startup programs that you don’t really need. Then use third party software such as OS Cleaner Master (free) to investigate your hard drive and get rid of unused data. Do these tasks once in a while to keep your macbook in decent shape.

The Quest for the ultimate filter

In the digital age, all of us are overwhelmed by information. How do we filter them perfectly?

We tend to assume that the higher our living standards, the more idle time we have.

But what everyone is experiencing is that we are getting short of time. IT has liberated us from many tedious tasks, but we tend to fill those time with media consumption. The rise of the internet has driven down the cost of information to almost zero. As such, we end up with overwhelming information and not enough time to consume it.  

It would be ideal to have a technology that has the ability to guess what information we want to consume and filter out the rest. In fact, this has always been the passion of all major internet companies.

In the past, web portals such as Yahoo! were one of the earliest attempts. However, they were mostly done manually by a group of editors. Amazon has been trying to recommend the books you might want to read based on the buying decision of other customers who bought the same book as you did. Google ranks the search results based on hundred of parameters so that the most relevant ones show up on top. Recently, Facebook is trying to filter the news feed to give us the ultimate place to consume online information effectively.

Personally, I find Facebook filtering technology disappointing. They are trying to automate the mechanism too much that the quality of the contents are being ignored as the primary filtering parameters. The fact that I have engagements such as liking or commenting with a status update does not necessary mean that I value their contents any more than status updates that I have no engagements at all other than merely looking at them. Furthermore, things that are most obsessed by my family members are not necessarily more interested to me than those of my friends and colleagues. Facebook is encouraging media to produce contents that will attract the most likes such as celebrity gossips rather than contents such as articles on sciences or history.  

Recently I have decided not to rely on social media to filter information for me. I visit brick-and-mortar bookstores more often to find new books to read. I search out articles on the internet by typing keywords on the search engine by myself and tell google not to do personalization. I have no idea about the social media in the future, but for the time being going back to the old ways happens to give me a better management of information and a better peace of mind.

 

The Age of AI

It would be weird for bloggers these days not to write about Artificial Intelligence.

There has been some concerns that someday AI or robots will take over all human jobs causing massive global unemployments. For me, I think the world will reach that point for sure. It is just a question of when. There is no need to prevent or delay it.

Instead, what we need to do is to make sure not just the rich but everyone would benefit from this phenomenon. We tend to think that the economy is healthy when full employment is reached. In fact, full employment is not the true goal of healthy economy but the highest level of living standards possible. So, it is a blessing not a curse that robots can do everything for us. But we need to find a way to ensure that every human affords robotic services.

Indeed, this could means giving every citizen basic income to pay those services. It might sound fiscally irresponsible, but if the world has reached that point, the world should be able to afford it. At that time, we should be able to produce energy almost at no costs (solar, wind, etc.). Those free energy could drive robots to work for us 24×7 at almost no costs, too. So, I don’t see any reason why we can give everyone basic income in the future. Now we just have to gradually move along that path.

Let’s cross our fingers.

 

 

The Prospect of Freelance Economy

In the U.S., one third of the working population has already engaged in some types of freelancing. By 2020, the number is expected to reach 50%. In this regard, the freelance economy is becoming the norm.

Freelancing does not mean having to quit full-time job. On the contrary, most of freelancers have multiple sources of income. Many of them do not quit their full-time job. In fact, the so-called “Moonlighter” i.e. those who work full-time job during the day and do the second during the night (and/or weekends) are going to be the main types of freelancing in the future.

In the past, freelance opportunities are limited to professional or specialised tasks such as computer graphics, web design, screenwriting, engineering project managements, etc. With the advent of Uber and the likes, freelancing is now open to almost everyone, skilled or non-skilled. You can work for a company during the day, drive Uber at night and host a group of backpackers at home during weekends.

In Thailand, I don’t see as much enthusiasm as it should be regarding freelancing. People tends to think of stock investing or starting up a business when it comes to earning extra incomes. I personally think not quitting your current job and find some freelancing activities is much more practical for average persons to earn more than those popular choices. It could be because of our own culture that drives people to pursue the more glamorous but less probable paths.

(image by telegraph.co.uk)  

Me-too Startups

When Facebook took off, a lot of people wanted to start a social network site. When Uber took off, a lot of people wanted to start another taxi-calling app. We get sick of these me-too startups.

Bill Gross , founder of idealab (not the same person as the famous fixed-income fund manager) systematically analysed key success factors of several highly successful startups in the past (Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, Google, etc.) and found that the most common key success factors of these unicorns was not ideas, teamwork and so forth but timing. The right timing actually explained the highest chance of success for startups. Steve Jobs failed once with Newton, but he got successful with iPhone because wireless/mobile network  technology was ready when iPhone was invented. Uber would never be successful without mobile apps.

He made me think twice about those me-too startups. Perhaps when the first unicorn of a type of business has taken off, it means that the timing of that type of business is just about right. Perhaps those me-too entrepreneurs might not be terribly irrational, after all.

 

Fin Techs of Thailand

Here are a few interesting fin tech I encountered in Startup Thailand 2016 

We have a few kickstarter platforms such as Dreamaker crowdfunding or sinwattana.com . The former has gone live for quite some time. The good news is Thailand SEC is pushing the concept of equity crowdfunding and is supposed to get materialised by 2017. This is actually one of  my dreams. Let’s cross our fingers.

A startup called DeepPocket is solving the problem of the youths who need to buy online but do not have a credit card. They can deposit money with DeepPocket and receive a virtual MasterCard numbers to buy anything online. Previously, this problem was addressed by True money. Now they have a rival.

Coins.co.th is a Thai bitcoin dealer in which you can buy and sell bitcoins with them starting at just 100 baht.

There are many others fin techs and startups in this event as well. Anyway, the one I was anticipated but missing from this event is a P2P-lending company. This kind of fin techs must have a very very big potential in Thailand, but I guess the biggest obstacle must be the Bank of Thailand.

 

 

 

Migrating back to iOS camp

I used to own iPhone but got sick of iOS closed system, so I went to Android several years ago.

Recently, I decided to move back to iPhone again but now I own a Mac, an Apple TV and an Airport Express. So I bought an iPhone 6s. After using it for a while, here are my views.

I used to love iOS because of its minimal GUI. Years gone by. iOS does not look clean to me anymore. It now looks as messy and complicated as Android. On the other hand, iOS seems to be less dependent on Desktop iTunes. So, it is getting more open which is good.

In terms of productivity, I love Touch ID so much. This is the smartest way to unlock the screen which is very important because you have to do so hundreds of times per day. Using the Touch ID feature is really convenient. Anyway, the part I don’t like is how to get to WiFi settings which seems easy as you can use swipe up the screen, but the problem is you can only turn on/off WiFi. If you have to select WiFi networks (which in many cases you have to), you still have to go several steps which is not the case for Android.

I loved the silent toggle button and still love it. It is a clever idea to have a physical button that silent it all especially when you are in a hurry. Regarding this, I prefer a physically BACK button that Android has. In iOS, the programmer must soft-implement a back button on every screen and it is never consistent. I constantly have a hard time finding a way to go back to previous screen. And when you get to the main screen of an App, you have to push home button instead. In Android case, you can simple keep pressing back buttons to get to the top.

I am so impressed with iPhone 6s battery. It lasts very long and it does not drain quickly while sleeping. I think iOS has a much smarter power management than Android. I am also impressed by its camera having auto HDR mode and very fast auto-focus. I don’t know about the latest Android phone, but iPhone 6s is must better than Note 2 that I used regarding battery and camera.