Blue Light Menace

I don’t think I’ll ever be truly able to escape the clutches of my smartphone. Even after divesting myself of social media and games, there’s still a huge chunk of my day-to-day activities that’s tied to the system, not counting the actual phone calls and text messages. For one thing, I do my daily expense recording on my phone. For another, that’s also where I do my language learning — currently French and Mandarin — especially handy to have during the down times. And finally, my podcasts and audiobooks. I tried switching to a dumb phone but it didn’t take.

Still, I have made some changes with my relationship. I don’t keep my phone by my bedside anymore. Before I turn in, I leave it in the living room to charge, right beside my tablet. Now it’s no longer the last thing I see at night nor the first thing I see in the morning.

The benefits were readily apparent. I’m able to sleep quickly at night, and soundly, too. When I wake up in the morning, I am more reflective and calm. There’s that feeling of peace when you’re all alone with your thoughts, nothing nagging and persisting for your attention.

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Currently reading: In My Father’s Court

Now that I’ve extricated myself from my social media addiction, I’m slowly regaining the pleasures of reading.  My nightly ritual involves taking in a couple of chapters of In My Father’s Court by Nobel Prize-winner Isaac Bashevis Singer before turning into bed.  The book has been on my backlog for quite some time.  I got it from Book Sale at P60 last year and I went through the first few chapters before putting it away.  Now I’m hooked and I have something to look forward to at the end of the day.

In My Father’s Court is Singer’s memoir of his childhood in the Warsaw ghetto.  The title refers to his father’s occupation as a rabbi often called to mediate in disputes, what is called the din torah.  The stories are episodic, not always with any concrete resolution, very Chekhovian in flavor.  That put me off at first, but then the simplicity of style in which the character of the people come forth really won me over.  This is a book I’ll be keeping and rereading for a long while.

Currently reading: Westward the Tide

On a lark I picked up an audiobook copy of Westward the Tide Louis L’Amour. I’m still in the first two chapters but I have to appreciate the deftness with which L’Amour tells a story. He easily shifts between points of view and you hardly notice when he does. I thought he’d be all rip-roaring black-and-white action but there’s a fair bit of social commentary, too. Let’s see if I can see this book to the end.

Digital Detox

Now that we’ve started in the season of Lent, perhaps now is a good time to think about a digital detox: to reduce or even give up altogether our social media addictions.

First, we need to ask if this is really an addiction. Only you and those around you can really answer that question. Has social media become something you think you can live without? Is your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or what-have-you the first thing you check when you wake up in the morning? Is the glow of your phone or tablet the last light you see before you sleep at night? How many times in an hour do you check your timeline? It doesn’t matter what reason you concoct — even if you claim that you’re checking for orders or inquiries (have you ever worked this hard in your life, that you have to constantly check for orders on your phone?) — if your life is tied to your social media account, then you’re an addict. Only ruthless self-examination can reveal the truth to yourself.

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My first 3D printer

Tronxy X1 3D printer
Tronxy X1

I have made it a point to avoid posting pictures on this new blog but for this I am making an exception. Presenting my first 3D printer, the Tronxy X1!

This has been on my bucket list for a while. After holding off for so long I finally took the plunge. My work colleague had some experience with these from school and the prices from China factories had dropped to under P10,000.

The final hurdle was the perceived risk. Would the merchant deliver? Would customs slap me with outrageous tariffs? Would the product work?

I ordered the printer on January 26. It arrived on February 9. Two weeks! Not bad, not bad at all. Customs just charged me their usual holding fee of P112 (total of P224, though, because the printer and the filament came separate.)

Does it work? Yes! We assembled it today, and it took about 6 hours, my friend doing most of the work. All the parts were present, the only hitch being ill fitting corner posts (fixed with washers from the neighborhood hardware store.) We did our first print right after, a sample pillar.

More to come Monday!

Children and Technology

My wife told me the story of a friend who took her family on vacation to Japan. As is quite common with many affluent Filipino families today, their two-year old had her own iPad, the modern-day equivalent of a pacifier. The mother recounted how the Japanese reacted to the sight of a toddler with her own iPad with astonishment. Such a thing simply wasn’t done in Japan!

There’s different ways to view this. One, we could say that Filipino children are more technologically advanced than the Japanese. I mean, look how they swipe and navigate through the iPad with ease! Japanese children can’t do that! So hooray for Pinoy Pride! Or two, we could step back and ask why they don’t give toddlers access to mobile phones and tablets in Japan. (Or three, maybe it was just the community they were visiting that resisted this trend.)

Unfortunately I don’t have yet data on the extent exposure of young children to technology in Japan, nor of prevailing attitudes. Maybe some further research in the coming weeks will reveal this. But what I do have on hand are the parenting philosophies of the top minds of tech.

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The Absurdist

A Mr. Beluga (pronounced Bel-yoo-guh) belted out the Tom Jones classic Delilah straight-faced while he played jacks and hopscotched on stage. It was strange, it was hilarious. The judges, a flamboyant gay host, a generic beautiful actress, a slurry spoken action star, and a corporate media boss, didn’t get it. Such a shame. It was great comedy and could have been much much more.

The Social Media Cancer

I get it: it’s hip to be railing against social media now that everyone and their mother is on it. That’s conventional wisdom anyway. But what if, just what if, there’s really something wrong with social media and we’re just ignoring the signs because we think we can’t do without it?

What if it were the people who started social media — who made social media what it is — already warning us about its adverse effects? Surely that deserves a hearing?

Sean Parker, creator of Napster and one of Facebook’s first investors, made a bit of a splash in the news back in November 2017 when he announced that he had become a conscientious objector to social media. After achieving much success, Parker began feeling the pangs of guilt. Parker confessed that the design of Facebook was “to consume as much of your time and attention as possible.”

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