Typora

Markdown has recently become the quintessential tool for writing, at least for me. I use it extensively at work, to highlight important points when doing code reviews, as well as to format documentations and wiki pages. During my personal time, I blog using Markdown as well – its fuss-free syntax has won me over from the typical rich text editing that many have gotten used to. I encourage everyone to try Markdown whenever they write – I would gladly rewrite my thesis in Markdown. Okay, I do not want to rewrite my thesis, but I would like to try writing a long article in Markdown.

Which brings me to the topic of this post – I’ve been looking for a nice Markdown writer and I stumbled upon Typora, and I’ve been in love with it ever since. Here’s why.

  • Inline syntax highlighting – WYSIWIG (literally!)

    inline syntaxcredits: typora.io

    Typical Markdown editors have a writing pane and a preview pane, which to me really defeats the purpose of Markdown; I would like to focus on my writing, and not look back and forth between the two panes to see whether the formatting is correct and pretty.  

  • Distraction-free by design

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    The first time I launched Typora, I was surprised at how clean it was. There’s really nothing to learn (except the Markdown syntax, of course) – just start writing

  • Free! (for now)

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    credits: typora.io

    Typora is currently free. It’s definitely not bug free – I still have trouble getting it to auto-indent my paragraphs in between lists properly, but I expect myself to pay for it after it comes out of beta. Currently I’m really happy with using it as a free app and it allows me the flexibility of evaluating it for a longer period of time without the initial investment after any trial period.

I share a lot of the sentiments with the author of the app, and you can find the rest of his thoughts in the link. He also discusses some of the drawbacks of this approach, and argues for the compromise.

In conclusion.. Try it!

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Bye Atom, back to Sublime

I’ve been using the wonderful Atom code editor for the past two weeks for my Python + Django adventures, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. Its ease of use, beautiful package management and customizability are probably what won many fans over. However, recently after careful consideration I’ve decided to bid goodbye to it and move back to Sublime Text, at least on Windows. Here’s why…

Cross-platform Compatibility

In general, I felt that most users of Atom are on the Unix platform – many packages I tried to install (a few Git ones, for example) were only compatible on Linux and OSX. I do have a Mac myself, but my workstation is in Windows (hopefully that’ll change soon), and that meant that I can’t take advantage of these packages.

Unknown CPU Usage

For Python development, I’ve installed the packages autocomplete-python. Not sure if it’s the package’s issue, but I have to restart Atom several times a day due to it hogging my CPU with 100% usage on my i7 machine. It might be the packages’ fault, but there are certain features I can’t live without and I’ve tried to remove most of my unused packages.

Slow Function Lookup

Again, this might be a package issue, but using Ctrl-Alt-G for function name lookups proves to be much slower on Atom compared to on Sublime Text with anaconda.


I will definitely miss Power Mode (Sublime enthusiasts, where is an equivalent package?!), but for now, Sublime still seems to be the code editor of choice to me.

Legends of Tomorrow, and why it needs help

warning: spoilers for the season finale of Legends of Tomorrow, as well as plot points from Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

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Credits: serietotaal.nl

This week, fans of the much hyped Legends of Tomorrow TV series were treated to some awesome potential superhero connections during the season finale – namely the appearance of the Hourman and his affiliation with the Justice Society of America (JSA). The potential connections to the other reaches of the DC Universe seems promising, and it was a convenient addition seeing that the Flash was a member of the JSA. While many diehard comic fans would be rejoicing with excitement, I wasn’t impressed.

Why we don’t need more superheroes in the show

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Daisy (Quake) in Agents of SHIELD, which has become a better show over its seasons. Credits: follownews

Marvel has one-upped DC by keeping most of its visual properties together in the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). There are minor references at least from the TV series to the films as well as propagations of events from the films into the TV shows (see how Captain America: The Winter Soldier made Agents of SHIELD, well, no longer agents of SHIELD), as a way for Marvel to remind us that we are indeed being told stories in the shared universe. These references are however minor at best and does not do much to bring about big disruptions to each show’s own plot that it focuses on.

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The chemistry is.. powerfully lacking. Credits: afterellen.com

And that brings about my point – the way Marvel has handled character development in its TV series (especially the Netflix ones) is superb. The storytelling in Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and its reflection to issues in real life, really sucks me in and makes me ponder about your opinions towards societal issues. The various life experiences of the superheroes constructs the empathy I have for them when these experiences fueled their choices in different events. It’s how Jessica Jones went from I don’t care to I want to help to it’s time to end Kilgrave’s life. How the Punisher justifies his killings for the greater good. The conversations about difference in ideology between Daredevil and the Punisher in episode 3 (which is my favourite scene from the second season) is an example of a well constructed storyline. It is what a good quality superhero show should have, in my opinion, aside from well-choreographed action scenes.

Legends of Tomorrow has neither.

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Always awesome to see Sara Lance enjoy a good fight. Credits: thetvaddict.com

The lack of exciting fight scenes may be attributed to a lack of budget (correct me on this) or the nature of the superheroes in question, but there is really no excuse in dishing out a forced romance between Atom and Hawkgirl and not having a convincing backstory and / or experiences in the two characters. I watch Legends of Tomorrow because of my emotional attachment towards some characters from other shows in the Arrowverse, such as Sara Lance and Captain Cold (why did he have to die?!), but the lack of a good plot is really making me consider dropping the series if it still doesn’t recover. (I’m looking at you too, Arrow.) Vandal Savage, who is supposed to have amassed thousands of years of experience in deception (and also has the gift of immortality), doesn’t seem to be using his skills well, as compared to say, Wilson Fisk who really uses his power and influence to great extents in Daredevil. And the only reason that Savage took 16 episodes (and more from the Arrow / Flash crossover) is because of some stupidity in Kendra’s actions. All. The. Time. But coming back to my topic of contention..

Why are more superheroes bad?

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Remember how excited you were one year ago? Credits: mtv.com

Sure, Rex Tyler is definitely gonna spice up CW’s DC Universe more, but let’s consider the fact it will be really difficult for bigger named superheroes (who, let’s face it, are those that you subconsciously relate to when the JSA was mentioned) to make their appearance in the shows. Green Lantern? Wonder Woman? Shazam? What we need, instead of these, is a better storyline. A better plot that gives more sense to how the characters (so many of them in Legends of Tomorrow) behave. A way for us to make an emotional connection to them. It’s how we will care for, and subsequently be interested in what happens to, the superheroes. I pity the Punisher for what happened to him and I subconsciously do not judge him for his actions, even though it is probably morally wrong.


Without a solid plot, I’m really apprehensive about the direction of Legends of Tomorrow. Let’s hope that Rex Tyler brings the team to fight with either some really badass-powerful supervillian, or with some crazy-scheming villian that plays them like pawns.

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Oh and did I mention that I’m so happy about Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s departure from the team? Yes I just did!

X-Men: Apocalypse

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warning: spoilers ahead!

After I left the theatre, the sense of satisfaction of watching an awesome movie didn’t hit me.

I really love the movies in the Marvel Cinematic universe, and I believe the main reason is that as someone who have actively sourced for and viewed the TV series and movies, I have an emotional attachment to the characters in the show. That’s why I liked the after credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier; after the struggles that we’ve seen the Winter Soldier go through, I get a sense of relief knowing that he’s learning all about himself again in the museum.

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That’s not to say that I have no empathy when it comes to characters from X-Men: Apocalypse. But Magneto has been dwelling over this kill-humans-because-they-don’t-care-about-us issue for, like, 3 movies? Granted, he has really lived a tragic life, but I expected the writers to be able to come up with something different instead of using this convenient excuse to spur him into the dark side. (The Star Wars reference was quite funny though.)

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The introduction of Wolverine for a short cameo seems unnecessary to me as well. I felt that his appearance did not help the story in any way (maybe only as a means to set up a sequel), and he was really just.. brainlessly killing people.

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And as for the four horsemen.. I am not really buying it when there is such a high level of difference in power between them – Archangel is essentially just a normal human fighter with wings and metal projectiles, compared to Storm and Magneto. Granted Apocalypse didn’t have the necessary connections (ha ha, networking is important in our lives people), but he should have been able to find better servants?

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The major annoyance I have with the show, though, is just how powerless Apocalypse is during the climax of the fight. Although he was able to defend against so many mutants at once, the visual effects did not convince me of the amount of power he has – after all, if he is able to amplify others’ abilities and have taken countless mutants’ powers, surely he should be able to thrash away everyone else with a flick of his finger, or something? (Except Jean Grey, of course) But instead, the show chose to extensively ground him at the same location defending against our good guys’ advances instead of showing how potentially powerful he can be. All that setup at the start about his worshipping were for naught.

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That being said, Quicksilver’s scenes were a joy to watch, just like in Days of Future Past. He really provides comic relief to an otherwise tense movie all around, and the interaction between Cyclops and Jean Grey was subtle but nicely captured as well.


It’s a pity that the movie that built so much hype was consumed by its own overarching plot and unconvincing villians. Or maybe because everyone would be comparing it to Civil War.

Reading

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Credits: lifehack.org

I read self-improvement articles. Not a lot of them, but I do read from time to time. It’s not the most interesting thing to do (compared to the many addictive things you can do on your smartphone, like Candy Crush, Facebook.. too many that I can never finish naming), but I do it because I believe that they make me a better person in various aspects.

Of course, it’s not everyday that you get the drive to read someone else’s blog post, or an article with the scroll bar so small that you have trouble clicking it with your mouse. There’s just too much distractions – think about the last time you wanted to read an article about the psychology of social interaction, only to catch yourself laughing over BuzzFeed’s 22 funniest animal moments. I experience that all the time. But recently I read an article (luckily, when I am in the right mood, haha) that gave me an epiphany – to quote from the author,

“Most of us seem to tacitly believe that our emotional state has to match the task at hand. [But that’s just not true.] I have to recognize that I’m rarely going to feel like it, and it doesn’t matter if I don’t feel like it.”

Here I offer my own interpretation based on other articles I read.

People may think that the most successful people in life are able to achieve their goals because they are so passionate about what they do that they do it everyday. It’s really not the case; it’s not everyday that people have the motivation to do what they need to do. The difference between successful people and the others is that even on days where there is no drive, the successful people do it anyway. They persevere despite their emotional interference and continue practicing their craft.

And that’s what made me force myself to continue reading more and more.

House Renting Essentials

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Credits: uwlax.edu

The lease for the house rented by me and my housemates is ending next week, thus recently we’ve been busy going through potential flats to stay in for the next few years. As we are preparing to move into the place we settled on, many issues began to surface and plague us – from the lack of certain basic necessities to rooming arrangements, etc. And as a way of reminding myself not to commit the same mistakes again, I thought I’ll share a few pointers on house moving just so that people who stumble upon this post might find it useful.

1. Location

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

In most cases, everyone will have different notions of how much distance to deem as far or near. In this light, it is recommended that every housemate visit the location of rental at least once, at the very least, to get a feel of how far the house is from public transport / carpark. If not possible, someone should record a video to approximate said distance, preferably using an action camera or a fisheye lens (if recording from smartphone).

2. Space, ventilation and feel

Credits: mackforgovernor.com
Credits: mackforgovernor.com

How large is each room and how many people will be staying in it? How large is the kitchen with respect to each housemate’s culinary requirements? How large is the living area for everyone to not feel claustrophobic? How hot is the house during a sunny day? These are all the questions that should be asked when visiting places for rent. There might not be a quantifiable answer, but it is important to get a general sense of how each housemate feels about these issues.

3. Make a checklist of basic necessities

Too often we take for granted many basic household necessities in our daily lives, only to complain about them when we move to a new housing environment. The following checklist might look obvious to you, but we actually did miss a few things.

  • Ceiling fans
  • Room lights
  • Air conditioning
  • Window curtains
  • Fridge
  • Washing machine / dryer

Do request for these optional items if necessary:

  • More cupboards
  • More bed frames
  • Microwave / Oven

In addition, the following should be checked before moving in:

  • Are the locks of each door in the house working?
  • This includes the main entrance door and the toilets
  • Is each power point in the house working?
  • Are the household appliances listed above, if not newly purchased, in good working condition?

4. Internet

This is a painful one especially if the house requires additional setup for fibre speed; it’s both a time and money penalty on new renters. Do arrange in such a way that internet connection can be set up not too long after moving in, and look for internet service providers who offers waiving of optical network installation fees. (Singtel currently has an online promotion!) Also, take note of where the position of the internet port should be, in order to place the router at the optimal location for the entire house to get good wi-fi access.

5. Help the main tenant

Credits: themotherco.com
Credits: themotherco.com

Many times, it will be the main tenant of the house who liaises with the agent / landlord for the above issues. It might seem trivial, but it’s really not – these are mundane things that takes a toll on the main tenant’s energy. Do offer help in the above areas, it definitely eases the burden on the main tenant and improves housemate relationship.

Moving house is really not an easy feat when you have these issues to look out for. Hope this will help someone! 🙂