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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Anime Review: Bamboo Blade



I was stuck with nothing to do for three days while I was in the hospital so I decided to watch anime to pass time. The title is Bamboo Blade focused events within the Kendo club in Muroe High School.

At the beginning there was only the coach and one student; everybody had left the club because two of the members (who are no longer active) took pleasure is hurting and bullying new members. The coach who was always broke made a bet the coach (Ishibashi) from Machido High kendo club that if his team (Muroe) is able to defeat Machido’s club, he will get to eat sushi in Ishibashi’s father’s sushi restaurant for a full year. However, there was a problem the match requires five girls in the team. This triggered the search for new members for the club and how the club grew from a nameless club to one that successfully entered the national kendo competition.

Most of the credit goes to Tamaki, a first year student who initially did not want to join the club. However, she decided to join the the two bullies challenged her while she was at the club to try out. She felt that the club needed a hero to protect it, just like her hero like her idol Blade Braver, a TV superhero.

This is a story of teamwork (with two male students who continue to support other members of the team even though they could not participate in the main competition. It also takes us through the growth (in terms of skills and maturity) of each of the students as well as the coach. Tamaki’s sense of honor also helped her to defeat her opponent even after she was badly hurt through some dirty tricks.

Tamaki started out as an invincible player, her weaknesses were later revealed (like the memories of her mother cause her to freeze up when her opponent uses a certain stance, or her lack of social interaction with others).

I am glad I chose this anime to occupy my time in the hospital - it was entertaining with a few emotional parts.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Multiple User Accounts on Android Phone



The ability to create multiple user accounts (I shall refer as profile to avoid confusion of accounts for apps) on Android phone was introduced in Lollipop but I could not find it until I started using OnePlus One. This feature is disabled in brands like Samsung, Xiaomi and Asus. I think this option is enabled for Sony Xperia. Multiple user account option is enable if the Users option is available in the Android settings (see the picture above).

This is an excellent feature that allows me to separate my office information from my personal information; I do not have to worry about the enforcement of policies required by my company affecting my personal user profile. I tried Samsung Knox briefly but did not like it because the Google policy still had to be enforced on the main account and also Knox consumes a lot of memory (since it is running with Android on my main account) and makes the phone very slow. With the multiple user profile, I can decide which one to use (and less memory is consume.

With multiple user profile, only one will be active at anyone time (similar to what happens on Windows). This means if I am playing music on the one profile, it will stop when I switch to a different profile. The same goes with the Bluetooth connection, my Bluetooth headset will disconnect when I switch to a different profile.

The main account is the one that is automatically created when the phone is first configured. All other accounts are secondary accounts. Secondary accounts have limitations in terms of the configuration options such as a button to synchronize all (one time synchronization) for the Google account or displaying the battery percentage. I have not found all the limitations but noticed a few. If you install an app in the main profile, you can add the same app to the secondary profile without reinstalling the full app (i.e. the app is shared, so it will not consume unnecessary storage). Accounts added to the main profile and the secondary profiles are independent.



Switching between profiles is straightforward, just touch the user icon on the top right hand corner of the screen and then select another profile.

Do not set the "Do not disturb" mode and switch profile. I did this once and found that I was not able to disable that option with the button when I switch back to the profile where the mode was set. The "Do not disturb" mode is enforced for the phone, not just the active profile. I found out, after much research, that the do not disable mode can only be disabled by turning the volume to zero first.

By default, the Google account added to the secondary account is set to auto synchronize. I turned off the auto sync to avoid draining my battery.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

Two weeks ago, I went to see an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist after having my cough for more than a month (and consuming two and half course of antibiotic).

After examining me, he concluded that the problem was with my sinus, and it will continue to cause me problems if not addressed. A CT scan was performed to verify the extend of my sinus infection and the scanned confirmed that most of my sinus cavities are filled. I was admitted to the hospital and administered intravenous antibiotics over the weekend and scheduled for surgery on Monday.

The surgery was carried out on Monday, May 15, 2017, at 8 am. I had to fast from midnight so that I would not throw up during the surgery. The procedure was called functional endoscopic sinus surgery (also known as FESS). According to the doctor, he used a scope and laser to remove the polyps and widen my nasal passages. The whole procedure took about 45 minutes due to the number of polyps that had to be removed. I was under general anaesthesia and so did not feel anything during the procedure. I was still sleepy when I returned to my room after the procedure.

After the surgery, I could breathe better; no more congestion. I had to perform regular nasal wash to remove the blood crust building in my nose. Initially, I could feel strong taste of blood in my throat and some blood crust and stains was visible when goggled or perform the nasal wash. The doctor sucked up some blood crust and phlegm (which the nasal wash could not remove) during my follow up visit.

This was the first time I have heard of this procedure. I found out that one of my friends had gone through a similar procedure last year. I was surprised to learn that there is a simple way to perform the nasal wash. According to my mother, previously, the doctor was the only one who could perform the cleaning.



I am glad I went through the procedure.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Anime Review: Assassination Classroom Season Two




Assassination Classroom (also known as Ansatsu Kyoushitsu) season two continues with the second term for E Class. This anime took me through an emotional roller coaster from joy, fear and sorrow.

There was a part when the teacher forced the whole class to help out at a preschool after they accidentally injured the elderly principal instead of studying for their midterm. This provided an opportunity for the students to use the skills they had to do something other than killing and also made them realize that they can do more with the skills they acquired in the past six months.

This was followed by the kidnapping of all the students by the assassin known as Reaper. The situation appeared hopeless for the Koro-sensei and his students, especially with the betrayal of one of their own ~ Karasuma (one of the teachers of the class).

The rivalry between the top class of the school with E class (the worst class) intensified in the second season especially after E Class managed to defeat A Class in the sport festival’s pole-toppling event despite the fact that A Class having the clear advantage (transfer students who are bigger and stronger, more students). This let to the involvement of Gakuho, the principal of the school. Gakuho’s twisted educational method and his directive to make the end-of-year exams very difficult was not enough to defeat the students of Class E (all of whom achieved the top 50 positions in the school). Gakuho, frustrated with his failure confronted Koro-sensei with an almost impossible situation. During the confrontation, the similarities between both teachers were revealed; their love of education and their early experiences in the field.

In order to maintain the trust of his students, Koro-sensei told the story of his origin, how he gained his powers, why he had chosen to be the teacher to Class E, the story behind the destruction of the moon and the reason the deadline of his assassination. The story deeply affected everybody in the class and made the final confrontation extremely emotional.

I had intended to only watch the first part and the last part of the second season but was drawn into the story and watched all the episodes.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Movie Review: The Founder



I heard of Ray Kroc when some people approached me to join a multi-level marketing group, using him as an example how networking and franchising can help make me rich. I joined the group for a short time but was not really successful in it.

As a result of the above experience, I was intrigue when I heard of The Founder, a movie about Ray Kroc. I was able to identify with him the challenges of trying to sell five-spindle milkshake maker, the frequent rejection he had to face (but I did not find his sales pitch that convincing). His experience with the slow service and wrong orders at the various dining establishments are still present today.

It was incredible to see how Dick was able to remove all things that did not add value to their business and developing a process that made their restaurant very efficient while maintaining quality and consistency. However, Ray Kroc found more value in the brand name.

One of the things Ray learned when he recruited franchisees was that middle-class investors who are willing to put in the effort are more successful compared to the wealthy investors who do not want to bothered by the day to day running of the business.

Another thing learned was that it is difficult to run a business if you charge too little. The 1.4% royalty he charged his franchisees could not cover his running cost and he was running out of money even though his business was striving.

I could understand some moves he made in order to make the business successful, however, I am not happy with some things he did, such as:

  • Divorcing his wife who has been supporting him for many years.
  • Cheating the McDonald brothers of the royalty for their ideas.

I do not know whether what is depicted in the movie is true and if it was, Ray Kroc is not a nice person. I liked the movie for the business and life lessons it teaches.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Book Review: Blink



I just finished reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It introduces the theory of thin slices where attention of details performed within a second or two can tell us a lot.

One of the examples provided in the book involves a marble known as kouros. The problem was first identified by Federico Zeri, an Italian art historian. He could immediately see that the kouros did not look right but was not able to articulate the problem. The next person was Evelyn Harrison, one of the world's foremost experts on Greek sculpture. In both cases, it sounds like intuition. This was confirmed much later that the kouros is fake.

The gift of reading deeply into the narrowest slivers of experience is incredible and is present in many professions. Imagine making quick and accurate decision using this approach and if this is part of what it means to be human, the potential is immense. Our unconscious thought process is more superior when the choices become more complicated (and we have to juggle many variables).

The decisions and conclusions that we make are influenced by words, situations and circumstances we are in when making those decisions.

This is what I took from the book, we can take use blink if we have the following:

  1. Deep knowledge in the topic we are trying to decide on.
  2. We are calm when making the decision (emotions may create false clues or input that affects our decision-making).
  3. Personal prejudice may affect our decision (so we need to take steps to remove it from the decision-making).

The book provides some great ideas and examples of uses as well as failures (and potential causes). It was a bit confusing towards the middle but overall I thought it was a great book.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Willpower

I lost 20 kilograms within nine months in 2005 using willpower and determination. I learned a lot from the experience, losing weight is not a simple process of exercise or just diet; it is a combination of both. By 2011, I regained almost all the weight loss and now weigh more than when I started. I tried the process again but have failed multiple times.

I know I have strong willpower but that is not enough because I have to think about it and make conscious decision like what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat. It takes too much mental power to do that and there is always the urge to skip one day and then skip one week.

There has to a better way. It is time I created a process that I can follow without making much decision and turn it into my routine. The routine will need to:

  1. Ensure that the calories in my food intake does not exceed the calories I will burn daily.
  2. Have enough exercise so that I will continue to be strong and flexible.
  3. Get enough sleep. I had not noticed this earlier, the amount of sleep also helps in my body weight management.

I do not know if this will work but am definitely going to try.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Potential

I recently noticed something in the bible that I had not noticed before. Adam lived to the age of 930 years old, Noah until 950 years, and Abraham until 175 years.

It made me wonder why our lifespan has decreased so dramatically and seems a bit strange that there are increasing articles regarding increasing lifespan due to advancement in Science and Medicine.

I wander what determines the lifespan of a person, is it their lifestyle, diet or sense of purpose. If given a chance to grow that old, would I want to? Is growing old a curse or a blessing? What if everyone in the world has the potential to live that old, what is the implication of on food supply, resource availability and living conditions. The problems with overpopulation in certain parts of the world have shown us the potential hardship it will bring.

I do not have any answers, just questions.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Anime Review: Your Lie in April




The anime is also known as Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. This is the kind of anime that you either love or hate. It was hard to see the suffering the protagonist had to go through as his friends try to support him but were not able to reduce his pain. The following are the characters in the anime and my thoughts:

Arima, Kousei is protagonist who was known as the human metronome because of his piano playing ability at a very young age. He was unable to hear his own music soon after his mother passed away. He has given up playing the piano but held on through his assignments in school.  As far as he is concern, he has no other skills other than playing piano but he has lost that due to his disability. As the story progress we are given a glimpse of his tortured childhood where he is forced to play piano and nothing else. He started taking up piano again after much pestering from Kaori Miyazono.

Miyazono, Kaori is a free-spirited violinist introduced to Kousei Arima by his childhood friend in what was to be a double date Tsubaki was to introduce her to another friend Watari. However, the first meeting did not start well when Kaori mistook Kousei as a pervert. Her style of play went against what the judges were looking for in her first competition but she did not care as long as those who heard her would be moved and would remember her. It is later in the story that we see that she had an ulterior motive, to get Kousei to play again. She was moved by Kousei first public performance and had set a goal to get her idol back into music but her time was limited.

Sawabe, Tsubaki is Kousei neighbor from childhood. He always declined her request to play because he had to practice piano. Together with Ryouta Watari, the three of them were close friends. She treated Kousei as her dumb big brother and hated music because she did not understand it and felt that music kept taking Kousei away from her. She is more physical and is the captain for the baseball team in their school.

Watari, Ryouta is close friend to both Kousei and Tsubaki and is the boyfriend to Kaori. Even though Kaori is his girlfriend but it looks like Kousei spends more time with Kaori because Watari is busy with his duty as the captain of the soccer team in school.

Seto, Hiroko is a close friend to Kaori’s mother. She is famous pianist and feels guilty for the Kaori’s suffering because she is the one who suggested to Kaori’s mother to make him a pianist. She returned to Kaori’s life after Kaori made the first appearance in a piano competition.

Igawa, Emi a capable but emotional pianist. She was the main competitor to Kaori. Takeshi was inspired to compete after seeing both of them in a competition. She has a goal to surpass Kaori.

Aiza, Takeshi is a very capable pianist with the sole goal of surpassing Kaori. Takeshi, Emi and Kaori were always in the top three in all the competitions they participated in but the top prize always went to Kaori. Kaori was always unreachable because he left immediately after each competition without waiting for the results. Takeshi considered Kaori his hero.
Aiza, Nagi is Takeshi’s sister and idolizes his brother. She asked Hiroko to teach her how to play piano but was assigned to Kaori instead. The training paid off when she successfully played a duet with Kaori in which Kaori challenged her while she managed to keep up.

There are a few other support characters like Koharu Seto and Nao Kashiwagi. I liked how the stories developed between the episodes as well the connection between the characters and in the end the love of mother and child and how this was not communicated (and in the end misunderstood).

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Destruction of Our Way of Life



It saddens me to see that our way of life is being destroyed. We had a culture of harmony and peace, nobody worried about what races and religion or offending each other; there was always mutual respect.

We are now under attack from within. When somebody tries to be helpful, we question their sincerity and look for ulterior motive. There are boogie-men everywhere. There is increasing distrust between brothers and sisters because of their race or their beliefs. Foreign cultures are adopted, replacing the beautiful cultures of love and beauty. Unfortunately, no one dares to voice out for fear or being attacked and chastised by so called religious police and non governmental groups.

Do we have so little regard for our culture and our way of life that we allow the few in power to destroy our culture all in the name of religious harmony. Can a simple sign or words cause people to change their beliefs and convert to a different religion? Do the way we dress turn normal citizens into sexual predators?

Why has all this paranoia surfaced in recent years? We consider ourselves cultured but our actions show that we are becoming more and more uncivilized. There is an invisible force at work trying to instigate us, separating us so that the few can stay in power. We need to stay united, remember what we had and reclaim the peaceful way of life we had since the founding of our nation. We, the silent majority need to claim back our way of life. Do not allow the selfish few rob us of our past and destroy the future of our children.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Anime Review: Handa Kun



Imagine being in high school and believing that everyone hates you - that is what Handa Kun believes and as a result he has creates a wall between him and everybody else in school.

Due to his paranoia, he was unapproachable and those around him mistakes his actions and get the wrong impression about him. The story takes us through his experience and how those who felt threatened by him ended up becoming his fan. As his fan base grew, our hero is totally unaware and just see more and more threats. All these events makes for a very funny anime.

Some examples of the situations are as follows:

When one of the girls in his class tried to confess to him, he thought the letter was a chain letter like the ones he used to get and refused to read it. When he threw the letter away without reading it, another classmate (the best friend to the girl who wrote the letter)  scolded him and then pushed the girl to confess to him. Instead of confessing, she asked him to see him after class in the gym. He thought the girl was calling him out for a confrontation. His attempt to pass a message to avoid the confrontation resulted in both girls competing for him.

In another episode, he was sent to get a truant from his class to return to school. The truant was bullied previously and had dropped out from school and bulked up to avoid being picked on. After that, the truant decided that he did not need school anymore and decided to be the neighborhood protector. Handa actions during their first meeting convinced the truant that he is much stronger than him (not really true) and pledged to be his protector.

Things I learned from this anime are:

  1. When people do not know the facts, their imagination will create stories that are often bigger than life.
  2. Our unproven beliefs can enslave us and make us suffer unnecessarily.
  3. Imagination can make people act irrationally.

There is a lot of lessons to be learned from this anime. I feel a bit guilty laughing at the suffering of the protagonist.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Just Do It




Whenever I have a decision to make but do not know what to do I have to remind myself to just take action. I may not have all the answers or information at the moment but too often the delay will make things worst. I realize that taking immediate action may result in making taking the wrong choice but I found that the odds are more positive than negative. There are also times when doing nothing may be better. Therefore, before taking action and making the choice, it is important to look at a couple of things:

  1. What do I know about the different choices?
  2. What are the known risk with each choices?
  3. What would happen if I do not decide?

If the risk is high then more information or some delay is necessary. Talking to some friends may also help. In the end,  I will still need to make the decision. Once the decision is made and the action is taken, everything needs to be done to increase the chances of success, this includes:

  1. Follow through. If I start but take the action half heartedly the action is doomed to fail.
  2. Reduce the risk. Identify potential risks and take steps to mitigate the risks.
  3. Keep your eyes open. Yes, I have taken action and am fully committed to the choice, however, I need to continuously have checkpoints and see if changes are needed or evaluate the soundness of the decision.
  4. Keep the faith. Lack of confidence and experience makes it difficult to move but believing that I can will help.
  5. Failure is an option. Sometimes, the decision is not the right one so I should allow ourselves to fail and admit that the decision is wrong, I just need to make sure that I do not admit defeat too early. A lot of results need time and if I quit too early, then I will never see those results.

I still have to remind myself to take action. How about you?