Best TV Series of 2018

I can practically call this one the best Netflix TV series of 2018 since each and every one of them are available on Netflix. It’s not that there are no other good TV series on other streaming services, it’s just that many of them are the sequel to previous year’s series. Plus the fact that I can easily and legally watch only Netflix in this country. Sure there’s Amazon Prime now but the content selection is not so desirable compared to Netflix. Maybe once Disney+ comes out later this year, Netflix will have a run for their money. Without further ado here we go - the best TV series of 2018 according to me. In no particular order.

Star Trek: Discovery
After after a long 12 years hiatus, the long awaited Star Trek made for TV series is finally here (remember Star Trek: Enterprise?). Set a decade before the events of the original Star Trek series, Discovery explores the Federation-Klingon war while following the crew of the USS Discovery. In this series, apart from travelling with warp drives, they also travel using spore drives. An organic propulsion system to make instant jumps across the mycelial network. Sounds preposterous? Hey in Star Trek, no technology is beyond reach. This show features Malaysian-made, former Bond girl star - Michelle Yeoh. Ask me a nerd who does not love a Star Trek series and I’ll show you a liar.

Queer Eye
A reboot of the popular hit series Queer Eye for the straight guys, aired about a decade ago I think. The new Queer Eye features the same fabulous 5 gays giving decor & fashion advice to hopeless Americans. I know everyone have the hots for Jonathan Van Ness right?

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
If you grow up watching Sabrina The Teenage Witch, whether the original 70s series or the 1996 remake, you’re in for a shock with the 2018 reboot. Chilling Adventures features a darker more sinister theme compared to the 2 previous editions. If you remember Sally Draper from Mad Men, she’s almost grown up now and took a leading role in this chilling teenage drama series.

The Good Place
Where do people go when they die? Many believe one will either go to heaven or hell depending on how good or bad they’ve been on earth. The Good Place tackles this question in comic kind of way when Eleanor Shellstrop was mistakenly sent to The Good Place after she died when she clearly did not deserve to go there in the first place. Why was bad girl Eleanor sent there in the first place? Did The Management screw up somewhere? Is there really is a Medium Place? Watch The Good Place on Netflix to find out!

Kim’s Convenience
Kim’s Convenience is a heart-warming Canadian comedy series based around the lovable Mr Kim and his family. It’s funny and witty and if you did not fall in love with Appa by the end of the show, there’s clearly something wrong with you.

The Haunting of Hill House
This series is not your typical jump scare horror flick. There’s something deeper behind the haunting of Hill House, something to do with the history of the house and it’s former residents. You’d thought the haunting would stop once they moved on with their lives right? Well apparently not and things started to get scarier once a family member returns to the Hill House and die there. It’s a horror series with a lot of twist and turn and the ending will shock you!Look out for the bent neck lady!

The IT Crowd
The IT Crowd is a ridiculously funny British sitcom originally released over two decades ago but I only cared to watch recently on Netflix. Being an IT guy myself, I can totally relate with this series. Too bad there’s only about a dozen episode of the IT Crowd on Netflix, not the total 25.

Marvel’s Iron Fist
The first of the many Marvel made for Netlfix series, if you’ve read Marvel comic books before, you’ve probably heard of Iron Fist. Danny Rand, a survivor of a plane crash which killed both his parent, returns to New York from a mythical place called Kun Lung with a fiery fist and some badass kung fu moves. Like Bruce Wayne, Danny inherit his parent’s riches but (naturally) he has no interest in the family billions but dedicates his life with fighting crimes and saving lives. Iron Fist was cancelled after just 2 seasons.

Marvel’s Daredevil
After Iron Fist, I was enticed to watch Daredevil. To get a little bit of backstory, I watched the movie first which starred Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. After being involved in an accident with chemical spills (a likely story), Matt Murdoch lost his sight but enhanced his other senses and also he could see via sonic vibrations (like a bat). Apart from that, Daredevil is your typical crime-fighting vigilante who kick bad guys asses but also run afoul of the law.

Marvel’s The Punisher
The last of Marvel’s made for Netlfix and also cancelled superhero series, The Punisher tells the story of ex-marine Frank Castle who seeks to avenge his wife and kid’s death and also taking law in his own hands. Despite possessing no extraordinary superpower, Frank Castle could really take a beating which would have finished lesser mortals. Jon Bernthal is made to play Frank Castle and I’m really sorry to see this show ends.

Narcos: Mexico
After 3 seasons of Narcos: Colombia, Narcos: Mexico is a companion series, different from the parent show. Like its namesake, this one focuses on the illegal drug trade in Mexico, how the Guadalajara Cartel rose to power and the beginning on the war on drugs. I enjoyed this thrilling show just as much as the one with Pablo Escobar and the Cali carteleee.

Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father
Comedian Jack Whitehall travels to a few Asian and European countries with his conservative father to comic effect.

Money Heist (La Casa de Papel)
What happens when a motley crew of seemingly ordinary criminals try to rob the Royal Spanish Mint? A lot actually when they’re guided by a criminal mastermind called The Professor. Watch the thrilling twist and turn as this series go. One of the few good Spanish language series on Netflix.

Anti-ICERD rally and the perils of misinformation

Image from Malay Mail Online 

On December 8th 2018, about 80,000 people thronged the streets of Kuala Lumpur in protest of the government plan to ratify the International Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Yes you heard that right, the malays in Malaysia is protesting against the end of all kind of racial discrimination in the country, meaning these lot surely love their discriminatory policies here.

A little background story. ICERD was initiated by the United Nations (UN) in 1965 to deal with global racial intolerance but in Malaysia, it was perceived as a threat to bumiputra special privileges (Article 153) and Islam. Malaysia is one of only 18 countries in the world that have not ratified ICERD which include the likes of North Korea, Myanmar, Angola, Bhutan & Brunei. In the muslim world, all muslim-majority countries have ratified ICERD, except two which are you guessed it, Malaysia and Brunei.

On September 2018, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad addressed the UN General Assembly where he said the government has pledged to ratify all remaining core UN instruments related to the protection of human rights. Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin raised concerns about ICERD’s impact on bumiputera privileges in Dewan Rakyat. He questioned whether different rights or special status of bumiputeras will cease to exist after ratifying ICERD? Khairy’s comment was picked by Utusan Malaysia which reported that ICERD would threaten the special positions of Malays and Islam in the country. What followed was a series of protests that brought conservative forces together and culminated with UMNO and PAS announcing a mega rally against ICERD.

While several ministers stressed that “reservations” can be made to preserve Article 153, the idea that ICERD would overwrite Article 153 had become public perception. ICERD Article 1(4) specifically say
Special measures taken for the sole purpose of securing adequate advancement of certain racial or ethnic groups… shall not be deemed racial discrimination, provided they shall not be continued after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved.
Countries are allowed to ratify ICERD with reservations, which works like a caveat. Some countries have made reservations so that the convention would not supersede their constitution. Thailand for example does not interpret and apply the provisions of this Convention as imposing…any obligation beyond the confines of the Constitution and the laws of the Kingdom of Thailand. Nepal meanwhile stresses that nothing in the Convention shall be deemed to require or to authorise legislation or other action by Nepal incompatible with the provisions of the Constitution of Nepal [source: UN Treaty Collection].

Given the examples, Malaysia can ratify ICERD with similar reservations to put to rest concerns that it would affect the Federal Constitution. Muslim majority countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Iraq & Afghanistan that practise syariah law but have ratified ICERD. Some countries have also made a reservation so that ICERD cannot supersede its syariah law.

So the crux of the matter is, ratifying ICERD should be a non-issue since it can be implemented without affecting bumiputra special rights (read: crutches) that they seems to love so much and even more so the position of Islam as the official religion. However UMNO, PAS and other far right groups have hijacked this issue and manipulated the sentiments of conservative malays for their benefit and score brownie points for their cause. And I am ashamed to say that my in-laws have fallen hook, line and sinker to this ploy where they wholeheartedly supported the protests against ICERD. Some even took down to the streets of KL that day for absolutely no good reason.

I suppose for simple-minded people without much exposure to the global effort to end racism and discrimination, having certain parties playing on their racial and religious sentiments is all too easy. They have this unfounded fear that the malays will lose their special rights - university & housing quotas or even more ridiculous - the position of Islam itself will be threatened when ICERD is ratify. Tell that to Saudi Arabia for goodness sake. I’m sure not many of them actually looked into what ICERD is really all about and just follow the herd mentality to simply oppose for the sake of opposing. This is especially true for my PAS card-carrying members in-laws.

So children, the moral of the story here, don’t just oppose or join something without knowing in depth what are you fighting for. I actually rolled my eyes when they claim this anti-ICERD rally is not much different than the Bersih rallies that I had attended before. How a rally for a clean and fair election is similar to a pro-racism rally is beyond me.

While the government in its wisdom finally decided against ratifying ICERD, the damage is already done in term of the country’s reputation in term of eliminating racial discrimination.

This post features excerpts from The ICERD Outrage article on Malaysiakini.

Port Dickson short getaway

It does not feel right for us to let 2 months of school holiday go by without taking the kids somewhere nice (our hometown does not count). But the thing about last minute reservations is, they are always more expensive than early bookings. Like it or not, that’s the way it is. The small 2-bed room at Corus Paradise Resort in Port Dickson cost us around 300 ringgit for this Christmas eve trip.

Living further south in Semenyih, the journey to Port Dickson (PD) took us just slightly over an hour. The parking lot was crowded with tenants but we managed to squeeze into a parking spot. As I said the room was tiny, just enough to fit 2 queen-size beds, a couple of chairs and that’s it. Not ideal for our family of 5 but we had to make do. It’s the only hotel with a beachfront and swimming pool. We’ve looked at a few AirBNB place but none were actually right beside the beach or the ones that do is beyond our budget. After checking in, the kids did not waste time getting into the swimming pool. Later we had a little swim and dip in the sea just outside the hotel.

Port Dickson beach does not exactly offer sandy white beaches or crystal-clear water but the beach is relatively clean with the odd rubbish here and there. The water is mixed with darkish sediment but it is still swimmable. We frolicked around the beach until sunset before returning to our hotel room.

In the evening I took my wife out for dinner in PD town. There’s a few place to choose from but we ultimately settled for a regular tom yam restaurant near the PD waterfront area. The food not bad but not exactly stellar. On the way back we say a fun fair that looks pretty interesting to especially for the kids. However after some quick calculation, the rides are going to cost us at least 20 ringgit each, that’s over a hundred ringgit for all of us. Wish we had some money to burn but it is the week before the school reopens and you know how much that’s gonna cost. So we decided to skip it altogether. Perhaps another time.

The next day the kids went for another round of swimming and bathing in the swimming pool. As always, Linda and the girls took the free breakfast buffet while Adam and I drive around PD town looking for a breakfast place. There’s no way I’m going to pay 32 ringgit for a lousy hotel breakfast buffet. It would be a great dishonour for my asian values. We did found a decent restaurant just outside town and it cost half what the hotel charges.

Before going back, we stopped by the army museum along the main road going out of PD. You can’t miss it, it’s literally at the main junction between PD and Teluk Kemang. There was a steady stream of visitors to the museum, not exactly crowded but alive. There was no entry fee whatsoever which probably explains the poor upkeep of the place. Some of the exhibit rooms have no functioning air-conditioner or proper ventilation making them really hot and stuffy, not conducive to visiting at all. As a result, some visitors (ie me) would not want to spend too much time in the building as we quickly make our way out to find fresh air. Honestly I think people would be more than willing to pay a nominal fee to keep the place running better and more visitor-friendly. It’s a shame really because there’s much to learn from many of the historical and informative exhibits.

And that conclude our short holiday getaway to PD. To be honest, I will not be thrilled to visit the town again any time soon. There’s simply not much for us to do except bath in the sea water or swimming pool. Nothing much to do that do would not cost us an arm and a leg to be precise.

Serene Heights beginnings

Today marks our one month anniversary since moving into this new house. I still can't believe we're able to afford this but here we are, living in this relatively expensive new home. One which is triple the price of our former home. I suppose if we really want something, we will find a way.

We've been slowly moving some of our things to the new house about one month before, bit by bit, one Alza trip at a time. We got the grills installed and lighting and other electrical fixture installed just 2 weeks before moving in. The grills was acceptable, could be better. We got the cheapest quotation for the lights and electrical wiring and the wireman had this habit of scratching our walls and leaving dirty prints everywhere while doing his work. How do you politely tell someone to keep his damn dirty fingers off our walls and be careful when cutting holes on our plaster ceiling? Other than those the wireman did a pretty decent job but for his nonchalant attitude when it comes to cleanliness and craftsmanship, I simply can't recommend him to anybody else. And typical smoker, he literally throw his cigarette butts all over the house including above our porch. I actually had to climb over the porch in the hot sun to remove those cigarette butts.

As always, we booked our movers a week in advance. But to our dismay, on the day we're moving out, the mover decided to do a no show on us. I whatsapped, texted and called a dozen times but the lady in charge decided to go into hiding. I didn't know what were their problem but I suspect they were overbooked and elected to take the more lucrative offer, which if it's true I would like to say damn you. Fortunate for us, I got a few other movers number on hand and one agreed to help us for an extra cost of course. It took them an hour for this 4 man crew to load up their truck with 8 years worth of our stuff, all in the pouring rain. When it’s finally done, the truck was surprisingly only 3/4 full. My wife drove the car along with the kids while I had to ride my bike from Casa Riana for the last time.

At the new house in Serene Heights, it took just 30 minutes for the movers to unload our stuff. I cringed quietly every time the furniture scratched some parts of our wall during the transportation. Rather than lecture them on the spot and annoy everybody, I’ve decided to let it pass. Can always repaint the walls afterward. So we spent our first night away from Casa Riana and in Serene Height for the first time that night. The kids slept on their own brand new beds. Adam was still away in school. As for my wife and I, we still don’t have any new beds yet so it’s just the mattress on the floor. Our old bed was reassigned to the guest room. Yes it feels strange to be sleeping in a new place but satisfying and a relief at the same time. Downstairs in the living room, there’s not much new furniture to show for. All that we have are mostly old furniture from the old house. We can’t afford to buy shiny new things unlike our wealthy neighbours. For one thing it is much more spacious, our new home. One of the reason we bought the house in the first place. Casa Riana is fine as it is, strategic location, cool neighbours, variety of shops and amenities around the neighbourhood. But our main grouse was lack of space. 813 square feet just wouldn’t cut it for our ever-growing family.

How do we come about buying a home in Serene Heights? You can thank my wife for that. She’s been actively looking for a prospective house for a while now. I thought our existing house at the time was fine so I didn’t do much searching. But the thing about marriage is, once your wife made up her mind to buy a new house, it’s only a matter of time before you’re dragged into it. Our main reference was the billboards along the PLUS highway that we occasionally drive on. There were a few housing projects that caught our attention and we visited some of their show galleries. The ones that we really liked were either too far away or priced out of our budget. The ones that were somewhat affordable to us were in an area that we thought were too secluded. Serene Heights were one of the last show gallery that we visited. It ticked some of the right boxes although the price tag of 640k is still intimidating for us (especially for me). As I say once my wife made up her mind, very few things could change her conviction. It is build by a reputable developer (UEM Sunrise), it is located next to Bangi and more importantly, the developer was willing to facilitate our EPF withdrawal to pay for the deposit. Some developers like SP Setia demands 10% upfront, cash. The fact that the show house is so well furnished an the park around the gallery is quite inviting also helped to sway our opinion in favour of the project.

So how do we find living in Serene Heights so far? One month is still a short time to reflect on the whole experience. One thing for sure, travel time to school and work is slightly longer for all of us. In the first week, my journey to work consist of a 45 minutes ride along the PLUS highway via the Seri Putra exit. When it rains, it’ll be extra long (not to mention extra cold), and it’s been raining a lot this rainy season. Getting the kids to school is another one hour plus another 20 minutes for the wife to get to her office. Since it is almost the end of the year, it’s a bit pointless to switch schools now and we might as well do it next year. Sending Adam to school? Now it’s a 90 minutes trip instead of the usual hour. After I found out about the Alam Sari shortcut route though, I saved about 5 minutes of my journey to work plus riding through the trunk road for the first 10 minutes does not feel as tiring as riding on the highway. My wife also saved at least 10 minutes of her commute time by using the Alam Sari route. Truly this Alam Sari shortcut road is godsend. At the time of writing it is not open to the public yet this back road and residents of Serene Heights need to get a special pass issued by the developer to use the road. Alam Sari next door is actually located in Bangi proper and it’s a wonder why we never heard of that housing project before.

As for our neighbours I would say only around 30% of them had actually moved in to their new homes. The rest are still vacant, either working on their renovations or waiting for the right time to move in. I’ve met a few of my immediate neighbours during my occasional run. Didn’t have the chance to talk much yet (ha ha sure) but most of them are about my age. Early forties with young kids. Running from my house to the Alam Sari show gallery is a 5 kilometre round trip route so it’s perfect for my routine. And since the area is still relatively new, there’s sparse traffic and well-lit road at night.

Since the loan tenure for this Serene Heights unit is 35 long years, it is most likely to be our final resting place until we retire and die. Yes most of the basic amenities like schools, kindergartens or shops are still lacking and public transport is totally non-existent but surely they will gradually come as the area progresses. At the moment, this housing area is still its early phase and the construction of the next phase currently ongoing featuring new units such as Dahlia and Eugenia. I would say the entire township is only 1/3 finished and when they finally do, we’ll have a proper upscale neighbourhood complete with all the modern amenities and facilities. Yes 640k is a lot to pay for now but wait till you see the house prices in the next decade. I daresay landed properties will start upwards of 1 million since despite what the naysayers or experts are saying, properties price will never go down. This is an investment for our future as well as our children’s future. They will be thankful to us for this one.

Adira's wedding

It's finally time for my youngest sister in law to get hitched this month. I for once is relieved to know that this will be the last wedding in my immediate family that I had to attend. That is until the rest of my adolescent cousins started to get married. At least I don't have to worry about that for a while.

Anyway, the lucky man of her choice was a lad from Taiping, Perak and they met at the National Service camp that they both attended a while ago. From going steady to getting engaged and now married, they've been through a lot in all those years. When many others break up and found other love, this one survived the test of time. For the bride's wedding and reception ceremony, they rented a hall next to a restaurant called Selera Tepi Sungai not far from her home. The food and the hall was okay although many would agree that the emcee should have done better than to misspell the bride and her mother's name a few times.

For the groom's side, we had to travel all the way to Taiping. I don't believe I have ever been to that town before. Taiping is an idyllic town on the northern part of Perak, famous with its lake gardens, Maxwell hill and Taiping Zoo and Night Safari. The groom graciously rented a homestay for all of us to stay at although there's not enough room for everybody so my family and I had to sleep in the living room. At least it was air-conditioned. The wedding took place at the Taiping prison rest house which you guessed it, next to the Taiping prison. Apparently it is a popular place for a wedding do in the area.

Everything goes well that hot Saturday afternoon. We had our wedding lunch, hung around for a while and then left to visit the Perak Museum. The museum - first of it kind in Malaysia or so they say offers a pretty modest exhibit. About 1/5th of those in the National Museum. We get to see a seasonal bee exhibit, stuffed animals and the usual cultural artefacts. For 2 ringgit entry fee, I can't really complain much.

The next day we didn't miss the chance to visit the popular Taiping Zoo. I always insisted that we visit during the day because there's nothing much to see and snap at the night safari. We got a discounted locals ticket thanks to our new brother in law. Now Taiping Zoo is a proper zoo and place of interest. There's a lot of live animals to see from all parts of the globe - tigers, lions, elephants, giraffes, rhinos and zebras just to name a few. We really got our money's worth at the Taiping Zoo. Had time permitted, we would have hiked up Maxwell hill (Bukit Larut) next door. But it's a 6 hours return trip and we had to choose between that and the zoo. In the end the zoo wins because kids.

To my beloved sister in law Adira, congrats on your wedding. Syakir looks like a really nice guy. Polite and hardworking. I'm sure you'll have many happy and blessed years together.

iPhone 8 Plus review

The iPhone 7 is one of the best smartphone that I have ever used. It comes in the matte black color that I like, it is water-resistant and it is an upgrade from my previous iPhone 6S. And then the new iPhone 8 and X comes out. I jokingly tweet - can’t wait for the iPhone 11 to come out so I can afford the iPhone 8. Which is not far from the truth. New iPhones are always more expensive and way out of my budget that the only time I can afford them is when a new model comes out a year later and the existing model’s price comes down.

That said, the iPhone 8 and X has a new really compelling feature that I love - wireless charging. Coming from the Samsung Note 7, wireless charging is the best thing since sliced bread. I mean you can simply place it on the charging pad and forget about it until it’s full. Gone are the days when you actually have to pick up the charging cable and plug it carefully into the charging port. I know right, such a chore. I wonder how you guys do it day in and day out before the advent of wireless charging. Sure there’s tonnes of wireless charging capable Android phones before and Apple is pretty late to the party here but who would actually want to use an Android phone when you’ve got an iPhone?

Fast forward a few months later when I have saved enough cash and sold off my trusty iPhone 7. It is inevitable though that I will get my hands on the new iPhone, it’s only a matter of time. The only question is - is it going to be an iPhone 8 Plus or an iPhone X. The regular iPhone 8 is not much of an upgrade I thought since it’s basically a newer iPhone 7 with wireless charging added. Same screen size too, just upgraded internals only. The iPhone X however is really tempting but the 4,000 ringgit plus price tag was a real put off. So that leaves me with the iPhone 8 Plus. Bigger form factor and screen, wireless charging and yet much more cheaper than the iPhone X.

My first impression - the glass back looks quite fragile I should think. I don’t think it will survive a drop test without any casings on (obviously). But the glass back is a necessity for wireless charging and it still looks beautiful and classy. I appreciate the bigger screen real estate although the iPhone X actually has a slightly larger screen size - 5.8” compared to 5.5” on the 8 Plus. They look smaller just because the X has a lot smaller bezel and 80.93% screen to body ratio.

Performance-wise, it feels much faster than the iPhone 7, naturally. I always expect new iPhones to operate smoothly without any lags or god forbid, crashes which I occasionally experience on my previous Android phones. The screen and colors are still beautiful despite the fact that it’s still IPS LCD display and not OLED. This is my first dual-camera smartphone and while the portrait mode doesn’t really compare to a professional DSLR, they’re getting there. For a trained eye, you can surely see the artificial background blurring and software created depth of field effect. But they’re nice nevertheless. Up there along the Pixel and flagship Samsungs in the market. Other than that, the bigger battery last a bit longer and charging time slightly longer too.

I don’t have much complain about the iPhone 8 Plus apart from the fact that it is a tiny bit heavier than the iPhone 8 or X and it still retains the old form factor compared to the notched iPhone X. That is the trade off I got with the price point I guess. Put on a genuine Apple-made leather casing and it looks really nice in your hands and your eyes. I don’t really miss Face ID that much because I can imagine it can be quite a hassle to always look squarely at the phone whenever I want to unlock it. Touch ID is fine by me for now. Bigger size and weight however means that I’m not comfortable bringing it along with me on my jogs and runs anymore. Unless I’m putting it in a fanny pack, it will only bounce around a lot in my pocket and I’m mortally afraid should it suddenly bounce out onto the ground/road. I had to buy another smaller size Android phone just for the purpose.

Would I recommend this phone though? Bear in mind by the time I finish writing this, the new iPhone 11 or whatever they’re gonna call it has probably come out so the price of the older iPhone X will definitely come down, significantly if it’s a second hand unit. If you don’t mind the notch (which basically every flagship phone nowadays appear to have one) than the iPhone X is a much better choice. Also the 8 Plus’ slightly heavier weight must be considered when making the choice. If you don’t care about the old form factor or the weight though, then the iPhone 8 Plus might be a good choice for you especially since it’s still going to be slightly cheaper than the X. All in all, one year later I’m still holding on happily (grudgingly?) to my iPhone 8 Plus. As much as I’d love to upgrade to the X, I have other more important priorities to spend my money on (we’re moving into a new home soon) than upgrade my current iPhone.

And that’s my long-winded, very personal review of the iPhone 8 Plus.

Nikon D3200 review

As a self-professed photography enthusiast, having a DSLR camera of my own has always been a long time dream of mine. I started with the basic point and shoot, upgraded to a mirrorless camera and now I finally got myself a decent DSLR camera, the Nikon D3200.

The D3200, launched in 2012 was an entry level DSLR camera for beginners. It features a 24.2 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor and Nikon Expeed 3 image/video processor. I don’t want to bore you with the geeky details but suffice to say, the D3200 with it’s affordable price range (RM650 secondhand) is more than enough for a budding photographer like me. I have always been a fan of Nikon since the beginning so it’s the obvious choice for me instead of Canon or Sony. Besides, Sony cameras are always more expensive.

My 3200 comes with the standard lens kit which is in most case, sufficient to take every day pictures. I can get a decent amount of depth of field and a tiny bit of bokeh if I aim my camera right. That said, I did get a thirdy party prime lens from Yongnuo which capture even better pictures but only at a fixed length (no zoom). Of course I dream of having more advanced lenses, something with larger aperture size and shutter speed. A bigger, wider telescopic lens maybe. But those are way beyond my budget right now plus taking pictures is still a hobby for me so I can’t justify spending a fortune for better lenses.

So far I’ve been pretty satisfied with my first proper DSLR. It is not too big and yet it is bulky enough that most times I’m reluctant to carry it everywhere unless it’s a special occasion like a holiday trip or a wedding event. I’m not making it a habit to carry my DSLR everywhere I go, it somehow feels awkward. The battery life is pretty decent. I can take hundreds of pictures for 2 or 3 days straight before needing to charge. Taking videos however will shorten the battery reserve considerably.

I’m still learning the ropes at using a DSLR camera and there is still so much to know and learn about. The benefit of using one is that you can always upgrade to a new, better lens and you can choose from literally hundreds of lens size, feature, quality and make out there unlike a regular point and shoot camera where you’re stuck with the same fixed lens.

You can see the sample photos I’ve taken with my Nikon D3200 with standard lens kit below. If you have limited budget like me, I would totally recommend this camera. The D3300 if you have a little bit more money to spend.

Spectacle app for Mac OS

This is a pretty short and sweet post about one of my favorite app to use with Mac OS. It's one of the first thing I install everything I'm working on a new Mac. Before Mojave, there's simply no way for you to arrange your Finder or any application window say side by side, top half or bottom half, maximize the screen but not make it full screen. Here's where the Spectacle app comes in handy. After installing the app, you simply press the pre-determined shortcut keys to arrange any active application windows in a number of ways that you like. Plus this free app lets you customize the shortcut keys to your heart's desire. I'm so used to having and using Spectacle app on all my Macs, I can't imagine what I will do without it now.

Download the free Spectacle app here and don't forget to donate to the developer if you find them useful (you will).