Recycling your stories, yes or no?

If you are a writer who’s any good, you’d probably accumulate a huge pile of writings. And maybe up to ninety percent of those have been published somewhere.

Then there comes a day when you realised the message you wanted to share with the world is really done. Done as in you have said your piece and there’s nothing more for you to share. Or maybe you are just suffering from a serious case of writer’s block.

Now, during your journey as a writer, you’d probably also come across the suggestion of recycling what you wrote in the past and publish them again. I’ve seen other writers done it. And there’s nothing wrong with it.

From a practical standpoint, it make sense. By recycling it, you allow your new readers to get new content while you don’t need to put in any effort to write anymore. At least until you found another message to share with the world. That way, you remain relevant in today’s highly noisy world in terms of the amount of content created and published online. This is where the 80/20 rule comes in. You put in barely any effort but you get the maximum reward because you could get new followers and you remain visible.

Isn’t that a good trade?

But from a moral or ethical standpoint, it’s probably doesn’t feel right. I know because I’ll definitely feel that way. It’s like selling people old stuff. So unless you are at a thrift shop or a place that sell pre-owned goods, chances are you want what’s the latest or new right? Well, in hindsight, I suspect it’s probably the only valid reason that one have when trying to justify to oneself they shouldn’t do it.

However, we should all remember that people do have very short attention span. There’s just so many things in life to distract us. Our memory can get fuzzy too. Unless the readers are your number 1 fan, or with a lot of time on their hand to dig out all your old articles, no one is really going to notice you put out a piece of old content. Hell, I didn’t even realise I read an old post that was recycled until I notice the comments in the comment section is several years old. And yet, I realise if the person hadn’t recycle that content, I won’t have known such a great piece exist.

So the answer is yes. Recycle your old stories whenever you feel necessary. It’s also a useful course of action to take to fill in the lull period until you find your groove back.

P.S. In fact, I almost wanted to do the same thing because I don’t have anything else to share for now, but the realisation that I didn’t write any decent piece of content in the past that warrant me recycling them forced me to find something to write about instead. So I shared my thoughts about recycling old content.

My take on the future of gaming

Video games have come a long way in how they look, how they are delivered, where they are played and how they immerse players.

Let’s begin with a quick history lesson.

Initially, games released in 1950s had only simple 2D graphics that didn’t move across the screen and no sound. Those games were a novelty, not meant for consumers and ran on mainframe computers the size of rooms.

Then the 1960s and 1970s saw games developed that featured moving 2D monochrome graphics and basic sounds running on machines ranging from arcade-sized to home consoles no bigger than your modern day consoles. Games of that era are delivered via cartridges, which are clunky and prone to loading issues.

After that, games went from 8-bit colour 2D graphics to 16-bit colour 3D polygon graphics as the processors powering the game consoles and computers became more powerful and can support complex operations between 1980s to 1990s. At the same time, storage capabilities were also improving as games went from using cartridges to CD-ROM. That means games can be bigger, look better and sound better.

However, the handheld consoles didn’t progress as far. They used technology that were at least one generation behind. For example, the Nintendo GameBoy featured an 8-bit Sharp processor running at 4.19MHz with 8KB internal S-RAM whereas consoles like the Super NES featured a 16-bit CPU, a set of graphic processors called Picture Processors then and at least 64KB of main RAM. That mean the early handheld game consoles could only handle moving black/white 2D graphics. But that didn’t matter. The device was popular enough with consumers for at least a decade.

From 2000 to 2010, the gaming industry saw the release of sixth generation consoles and then the seventh generation with games using bigger disc size due to their better game assets, textures, and cinematic video. During this timeframe, the handheld market expanded. And those consoles featured better hardware that allowed games running on Nintendo DS and Playstation Portable to have the same graphics fidelity found in the yesteryear consoles like the original Playstation, Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn, etc., which were considered pretty good considering the small-form factor and the use of batteries.

With the arrival of the 2010s, smartphones and tablets joined the home game consoles, PC and handhelds as another viable gaming platform. Both of the smartphones and tablets soon establish themselves as the more compelling platforms than the handheld consoles because of their flexibility. They allow users to download games from the Internet via their respective App Stores. Not only that, users can also use the same device to watch video, listen to music and communicate with people. This meant that dedicated handheld gaming machines like the Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita would have a hard time on the market because they can’t do what the smartphone can.

To add salt to the injury, the rapid hardware improvement of the smartphone and tablet also meant that developers could now put in better looking game assets, implement complex game logic and gameplay and have better sound that were unheard of in a handheld console. Not only that, handheld consoles are like the home consoles where it could take a while before the software library grows big enough to entice consumers to buy, creating a chicken-and-egg problem. Smartphones, and to a lesser extend tablets, can see more triple-A games due to the open nature, proper SDK support, and larger market share. One good example of triple-A game for smartphone and tablet is Fortnite.

And that’s probably why the Playstation Vita didn’t quite achieve the same level of popularity as the original and the 3DS suffered lacklustre sales initially when they were released during that period.

But it didn’t stop Nintendo from releasing Switch in March 2017. Despite featuring hardware that was a couple of generations old when compared to iPhone 7 and the iPad Pro in terms of performance, it was successful because it can be used in handheld-mode and docked mode, making it the first of its kind. That means gamers can play their beloved games on the same console in either mode without much hassle. Not only that, it has a good support from game developers, which translates to better quantity and quality of games.

One thing to note is that while the game graphics on Switch don’t come close to what the Playstation 4 and Xbox One could do due to its hardware, it is good enough since its smaller resolution can free up more GPU resources to render the game world at a higher fidelity. And some examples of triple-A games that took advantage of that are Doom, Wolfenstein 2: The Colossal Order, Gear Club Unlimited.

While the Switch is the gaming console that run best in handheld mode, Apple’s iPhone and iPad can be argued as the best platforms for mobile AR gaming due to the power of their A-series SOC. Their latest A12X Bionic in the iPad Pro is as powerful as the processor found in a gaming console like the Xbox One while consuming a fraction of the power. With that kind of power, game developers can develop not only graphically intensive games like Infinity Blade 3 and Grid Autosport but also games like The Machines, ARZombi, and AR Dragon that could allow players to interact with overlaid 3D game assets displayed on their mobile devices, depending on where they point their devices, without needing extra equipment or add-ons.

Other than AR, VR is the other thing games took advantage of. Sony released the Playstation VR in 2016 that was well received. Multiple game developers are actively developing games for it which allow players to immerse themselves deeper into the game by having them wear a special headset that project the game world into their eyes and putting them at the center of the experience. A similar effort can also be found on the PC with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive but that require more powerful computer hardware that put them out of reach for most gamers.

As you can see, the gaming industry does seem to be heading into different directions based on the different platforms. But one thing is clear. Mobile gaming is here to stay. So is living-room gaming.

Then it begs the question, what’s next?

I believe the tenth generation of video game devices would ultimately converge into something that combine hybrid nature of Nintendo Switch with AR capabilities of the iPhone/iPad. The physical device won’t be much larger than the current Nintendo Switch because of fatigue when using as a handheld. It will also come with some kind of dual camera system that allow for correct depth processing and rendering of overlaid graphics.

In terms of technical specification, these game console would most likely have at least eight cores and 16GB of RAM providing to 1.2x the performance of the ninth generation consoles slanted to be released by Sony and Microsoft in the near future. With that, the default resolution of games running on such devices will be at minimum 1920 x 1080p. 4K gaming would also be a breeze for such devices.

Furthermore, VR will also be an integral part of the tenth generation consoles through the use of VR glasses, which will definitely be smaller as compared to the current generation of headset. And despite the advantages of a touchscreen, physical joysticks and buttons won’t go away since they offer better tactile feedback and control. The experience of playing a racing game using virtual joystick on a touchscreen vs a physical joystick is just completely different. If you have sweaty hands, chances are the game won’t register your actions very well.

On the software front, the devices will come with basic internet browsing and media playback/streaming capabilities. Games will be predominantly delivered via the App Store and disc versions probably would give way to the use of game card like what the Switch uses with storage capacity achieving at least 128GB.

My unboxing of and initial thought about Nintendo Switch

As a gamer, I rarely consider Nintendo gaming platform at the forefront of my thought. Microsoft Xbox and Sony Playstation have always been the platform that I’ll go for because of the more mature, serious games that are available. Nintendo has built itself to be the family-oriented gaming company. The games running on its platform are generally playable by everyone.

And today, I went and get Nintendo Switch because of how I felt when I was spending the past few days, playing Command and Conquer: Rivals on my phone. I came to the realisation that I never quite like gaming on phones. Despite the power of iPhone X’s 5.8 inch OLED HDR display, I found it to be too small. And iPad as a portable gaming machine is too big. Hell, even the iPhone Xs Max is too small as a gaming machine. And no, I won’t even go into Android devices because I don’t like Android as a platform.

Before I start mentioning about my thoughts about the console, let me show you what I got.

Nintendo Switch on my bedroom floor.

I also bought the official Nintendo storage box for the Switch so that I can bring the console out safely in a bag.

And two games that I want to play for now. There are some other games that I’d like to play but there aren’t any stock.

Now let’s get down with basic unboxing.

When you first open up the box, you are greeted with the Joy-Con controller and the main device wrapped in plastic. When I bought the device, one of the shop staff helped me to install the screen protector. So the plastic wraps were undone. If it’s a new set and never been open before, you probably won’t get them in this state.

After taking off the plastic wraps, here are the Joy-con and Switch exposed.

Look at how adorable those Joy-Con. And definitely way better than Wii Remote.

Now, I didn’t go with the red and blue Joy-Con because I prefer a simplistic, one colour design. It’s the minimalistic mindset in me.

I didn’t take any more picture of the unboxing process. Instead, I dived in to grab the power cable.

After fitting the JoyCon onto the main display, holding it in my hands for the first time, it sure remind me of the original Sony PSP that I got at least ten years ago. It’s definitely feel just right. Not too big, not too small.

And I’m sorry Apple. Despite me being a fan of your products, the iPad with its fancy AR capabilities just don’t cut it for me. I prefer a specialised device with 2D dimensional display. If you spent the attention and money to making a pure gaming device, I’m sure you would outdo the competition.

But, I digress.

So after I pressed on the power button, I realise the battery was running a little low. Plugged in to the power socket it went. And I decided to charge it on my bed since I’m out of power sockets on my desk. While it was charging, I also updated the OS to the latest version.

And here is the device on my bed connected to the USB-C charging cable.

The 6.2 inch display at 1280×720, though not comparable to an iPhone display, it’s wide enough for me to enjoy games without me needing to put the device close to my face.

Also, the graphic and text didn’t look too blurry. You can make out the words on it just fine. It’s acceptable to me considering I play games on my Xbox and PS4 at 1080p instead of 4K.

The colours definitely didn’t look like it’s the best in the world but it’s also fine by me for a simple gaming device.

I have yet started gaming on it because I was spending my night writing this article and watching some anime on Netflix. So I don’t have any comments on the gaming aspect, the audio or how the controls feel.

And I decided to go back to do a quick unpack of the main stuff. Here are the charging grip and docking station.

About those two items, I doubt I will use them because it’s my intention to play my games on the go. If I want to play games on my TV, it probably means I want to do some serious gaming and I got my PS4 and Xbox for that.

We are all slaves

We are all slaves.

We are all slaves.

We are all slaves.

Now repeat after me.

We are all slaves.

We are all slaves…

What do I mean by that?

You seek external validation in order to feel good about what you have done. It could be about a piece of work you created, a decision you made, or the words you said. You can get upset because of what someone else did or said that has nothing to do with you. You are a slave to external opinions.

You work hours after hours neglecting your health and your relationships, accumulating massive amount of debt, so that you can buy that house with more bedrooms and bathroom than you can count with your hands and feet combine, buy that car that can go from zero to 60 in under 1.2 seconds, or buy those branded goods to make yourself feel good. You are a slave to material possessions.

You have to do that. You can’t do this. You should do this and that is a bad idea. If you are this kind of person or think this way, you will be imprisoned. You should keep quiet. You are a slave to rules that are generally in place to ensure conformity and structure because anything else is scary.

You go to work everyday despite you hating your job to the core ever since you joined the company. You make yourself miserable and didn’t want to quit because you needed the money. You keep looking at your bank account and keep feeling that you don’t have enough. You are a slave to money.

So when will we stop being a slave?

We stop being a slave when we turn the attention inwards, develop the skill of self-awareness, and self-actualized. The moment we start being ourselves, ignore external opinions, decide what we want in life and take conscious actions to make those dreams and ideas come to life, we are free.

So be a maverick.

Or maybe not. Because you should ignore my views and don’t be a slave to it.

What happens when you abstain from caffeine

If you have been drinking coffee or any caffeinated drinks on a long term basis and in higher than average quantities, you come to depend on it for your daily activities.

The moment you stop taking it, you find yourself unable to function. Your mind goes through some kind of slow motion process. You feel tired. You get upset and maybe even angry as the day goes further.

How I know?

That’s exactly what happen to me every time when I stop drinking caffeinated drinks abruptly. I become depressed, almost non-functional and angry without caffeine.

Although it’s a painful process to stop taking caffeine, it is necessary if you want to live a better life. It has definitely helped me.

I suffer from hyperhidrosis for more than half of my life. Hyperhidrosis, for the uninformed, is excessive sweating even in conditions that don’t warrant it. It is caused by hyperactive nerves.

By not taking caffeine for several days, my nerves are no longer overly stimulated, which translates to lesser sweating. It doesn’t mean I don’t sweat more than normal people. I still get clammy hands and feet but at least, it is not dripping wet. I also don’t sweat that excessively all over when walking even a short distance and have my clothes drenched in sweat. Yikes.

I am also a highly-sensitive person. I get overwhelmed by life and work more easily. I also have higher tendency to suffer from anxiety attacks. Without psychostimulants like caffeine coursing through my body, I am calmer and less agitated. my mind doesn’t go into overdrive mode. It allows me to process my environment more deeply, absorb more, and think more deeply. It definitely help with my learning process, which is important when you are a software engineer.

Last but not least, abstaining from caffeine also helps me to sleep better at night because my circadian rhythm get reset back to normal. With that, my body starts to operate as how it should. I will get sleepy and tired after a heavy lunch or a long day of work. That’s what I call normal. At least it means your body is reacting to the natural biochemical changes as you go about your day. It also reduce my chance of suffering from insomnia.

So start making your life better by reducing, if not outright stop, your consumption of coffee. Instead, find other ways or means to stay awake. Or you can just listen to your body and take that nap when you need to.

**This post was originally published at Medium.