Simpler Photo Food Logger

Sometimes just a little extra awareness of what we are eating is all we need to eat healthier. For those who prefer simplicity over precision, this app is for them.

Another great feature of this app is logging IBS symptoms. This app will let you log your IBS symptoms such bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc. You might be able to see a visual pattern in timeline or report view. And that might help you identify problem foods.

Report view is an innovative feature that will let you see one week’s worth of data easily.

 

Times Square at Night

You don’t need a web developer

Occasionally, when people find out I am a programmer, they ask me if I will build  them a website or an app on the side. As I spend all day programming at my work, I rarely have motivation to continue programming after work.

However, talking to most people, I realize they don’t need a programmer; most of their needs can be met by a simple SaaS solution. Recently, I directed a few friends to WordPress.com, SmugMug, Shopify, etc. They all were happy with the results and ease of use. Also I am glad they talked to me because one guy was ready to spend a few thousands on a developer for a WordPress-based site.

Here is my recommendation for various SaaS solutions for various business needs:

A website to show business information

WordPress.com

This is my number one recommendation when the goal is simply to show simple business information. Sites hosted on WordPress.com as opposed to self-hosted version cannot install custom themes or plugins. But in exchange you get one of most stress-free website for as low as $36 per year.

Squarespace

This is my second recommendation especially if you want visually modern looking website. Its visual editor let anyone customize beautiful themes. Highly recommended if you have large beautiful pictures of your place of business.

A website for photographers

SmugMug

For a photographer, I recommend SmugMug. Though you can also use SquareSpace or even WordPress.com if your goal is to only show off your portfolio.

But SmugMug provide additional photographer centric features such as private galleries, ability to order prints, and even sell digital prints.

A website to sell

Shopify

It seems that Shopify is gold standard when it comes to ecommerce SaaS solutions. Also it provides beautiful templates and a lot of customization options. And when your business grows bigger, there is a huge community of Shopify developers who can help you integrate your online store with your back-office systems such as ERP, CRM, etc.

BigCartel

Personally, if I was selling something online, I would start off with BigCartel, mostly because it is cheaper and seems to provide as many options as Shopify for new online businesses.

Email Collection for Marketing

Mailchimp

Email is still one of most effective marketing medium. You should be collecting email addresses of visitors to your website. Mailchimp provides very clean and easy to use interface for collecting emails and sending out newsletters.

Good news is that Mailchimp has integration for all of above SaaS website solutions except SmugMug.

When You Really Do Need a Developer

Ok sometimes you really need a software developer or developers. Here are some reasons when you should look to contracting or even hiring developers:

  1. Your product is a software, a website, or an app. If you are selling such a product you probably already know that you need programmer or multiple programmers.
  2. You want to build iOS or Android app. A lot of people in service industry have asked me for a simple apps for their businesses, such as appointment schedulers for a hair salon, or a simple app to show special menu for little mom n pop restaurants. Personally, I haven’t found any easy way for business owners to create their own.
    1. NOTE: Most businesses don’t need a simple app to show just information about their business. Instead focus on a good website that is equally useful on cellphones as on desktop.
  3. You want to integrate your website with ERP, CRM, accounting software, etc. I have worked on Magento integration with various systems. Let me tell you, it is not easy or simple. Even as a developer, I was pulling my hair out.

 

 

 

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico Trip 2017

Beach San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal View of Old San Juan from Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Soldier's Quarters at Castillo de San Cristóbal Soldier’s Quarters at Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal View of sea from Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista Cathedral of San Juan Bautista

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico

Island of Maui from Plane

Maui 2015

Island of Maui from Plane Island of Maui from Plane
Just Beach - GoPro Photography Just Beach – GoPro Photography
Driving in Maui Driving in Maui
Sheraton Maui Resort Sheraton Maui Resort
Ziplining in Maui Ziplining in Maui
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Sunrise at Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Sunrise at Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Driving from Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Driving from Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Drums of the Pacific Lu’au Drums of the Pacific Lu’au
Whale Watching Catamaran Whale Watching Catamaran
Whale Watching Catamaran Whale Watching Catamaran
Whale's Tail Whale Watching

Exchanged MacBook Pro with Touch Bar for One without Touch Bar

It didn’t take me long before I started to miss function keys. Yesterday, I exchanged my laptop for MacBook Pro with Function keys. So far this is my favorite laptop.

The main problems with Touch Bar are:
  1. No tactile feedback. While Escape key is always visible and easy to press but without tactile feedback, you are never certain if you pressed it or not. I am so used to certain key combos in vim that without physical Escape key, my fingers could not even find regular keys without me looking down at keyboard.
  2. Cannot adjust brightness of Touch Bar. When working in dark at night, Touch Bar is too bright and distracting.
  3. Drain on battery. Finally, online reviews show that MacBook Pro with Touch Bar have shorter battery life than the one with Function Keys.
  4. Cost – after dealing with above issues, I didn’t think it was worth spending extra $300 for Touch Bar and small performance improvements.

Here is blog post of another programmer who did same exact thing as me because lack of function keys on Touch Bar model.

Pros of Touch Bar

However, I was really impressed with some of the functionalities of Touch Bar. I just wish Apple had included functions keys along with Touch Bar.

  1. In Photos app, you can see and scroll through your photos. I think it was easier and more natural to use Touch Bar for this.
  2. It shows slider when watching YouTube videos. Again it was more natural to use slider on Touch Bar than use slider with mouse. You can also perform various actions like liking a video there.
  3. While typing it shows possible word choices, I can see it increasing typing speed, at least for me.
  4. And of course, login with Touch ID is awesome.
MacBook Pro with Function Keys

Now I have slightly slower MacBook Pro without Touch Bar. I got the base model with i5 2.0GHz processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD.

However, in my usage so far I haven’t noticed performance difference. During initial setup, beach ball appeared more often on the current MacBook without Touch Bar than the previous one. However, I was able to render 5 minute 1080P GoPro video in less than five minutes. About same speed as my i5 2.9GHz MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. This is no scientific measurement but good enough for me.

My big concern now is SSD space. With only 256GB, it will require me to think about what to store on this laptop. However, I have rethought how I store data. Most of my data is in the form of photos and videos. Perhaps I should start storing these in external harddrives. This might be useful in long-term as then I can upgrade my laptop without thinking much about how to transfer my data.

UPDATE 3/27/2017:

Last Friday, I dropped my Macbook Pro damaging on corner a bit. As you can see it below. Luckily, it still works. But I guess now I am officially stuck with this computer as the resale value of is shot. And while Apple’s Return Policy is only 2 weeks but I still had option to sell it if it was not working out.

Laptop Trial #3: MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

In last two months, I have tried 2 different laptops, and now I am on my third laptop, 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

The first laptop was Surface Pro 4. I really loved it. It was perfect balance of power, size, and cost. I loved writing on it with stylus. But its biggest flaw for me was flimsy keyboard and its lack of “lap-bility”. (My Surface Pro 4 Review).

Next I decided that maybe mobility was not that important to me. I decided to go for max performance and ordered Dell Inspiron i7559 (Affiliate link). It is a gaming laptop with i7 and powerful GPU. Rendering movies on it was a pleasure, small 5 minute clips rendered in less than a minute. But it was too big. It also felt cheap and uninspiring. I ended up returning it too.

Finally, I decided to give 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar a try. I spent a lot of time comparing Touch Bar version with Non-Touch Bar version. The performance difference between two versions is less than 5% according to Geekbench scores (reference: the Wirecutter). But the price difference between two versions is $300. That seems like too much money for Touch Bar and two extra USB-C ports.

But I played with Touch Bar in Apple store.  While gimmicky, it seemed useful in many applications. As a user of Lightroom and Photoshop, I can see how this can be very helpful. In Photos app, it shows photos, you can scroll and select photos from there. I just wanted to try it.

Then MacBook Pro with Touch bar uses faster RAM and slightly better GPU. I believe Geekbench tests memory but not GPU. So actual performance might be even better.

——

UPDATE: However, I missed functions keys more than I though I would. So I exchange this MBP for one without Touch Bar.  New blog post: https://chaosplay.com/exchanged-macbook-pro-touch-bar-one-without-touch-bar/

Honolulu Trip December 2016

Aloha, Welcome to Hawaii

We went to Honolulu, Hawaii in December for our 5 years anniversary.

Ocean view from our hotel balcony

We stayed on Waikiki Beach. It was very touristy area but it was not too crowded.

Manoa Falls Trail

We went for hiking at Manoa Falls.

Waiting for T-Rex at Manoa Falls Trail Danger at Manoa Falls Another view from our hotel Sandy Beach Park Waves at Sandy Beach Park

I really enjoyed waves at Sandy Beach Park.

Rabbit Island and Bird Sabctury from Kaupo Bay

NYC 2016

Here are some of my old photos from New York trip in summer of 2016. All of these photos were taken with Sony NEX-3N camera.

View from our Hotel. Freedom Tower in the background.

View from our Hotel. Freedom Tower in the background.

View from our Hotel. Empire State Building in the background.

View from our Hotel. Empire State Building in the background.

Times Square

Times Square

The world’s largest and original Macy’s

The world’s largest and original Macy’s

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Flatiron Building

Flatiron Building

Church at the end of Wall Street

Church at the end of Wall Street

Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower

More photos at my flickr.

Vitruvian Lights 2016

Full size photos at Flickr.

Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4 for Programming & Photography

I am always looking for lightweight laptops. For last few years, I have been using Chromebooks. Chromebooks are great; I can log into my servers using shell and work with most code easily. But lately, I have been playing with Android and there is no practical way to code Android on a Chromebook.

So I had been eyeing new laptops for a while. Final showdown was between Dell XPS 13 and Surface Pro 4 (Affiliate Links).  The specs were i5, 256GB, 8GB. These specs are probably bare minimum for a PC. Both, Dell & Surface Pro 4, with these specs were priced around $1300. I was leaning towards Dell XPS 13 as it is a regular laptop. But then I found Surface Pro 4 with Type Cover at Target for almost $400 cheaper. It became hard to justify spending extra $400.

So I purchased Surface Pro 4. So far I am liking it. I really love the size and the screen. Surface Pen & OneNote are really great; I didn’t think I would care about them, but now I am a fan.

Programming Performance

Performance is not bad at all. I am able to open two Android Studio sessions, Android emulator, Chrome with several tabs, Cygwin windows, and Task Monitor. Also I have, Dropbox, OneDrive sync, Google Hangouts, Windows Defender running in background. At this point, I am using almost all 8GB of RAM. Music or videos playing in Chrome might stutter during compilation. But there is no slow down in Android Studio. CPU is usually not even more than at 10% until compilation. Of course, during compilation CPU is 100% or close to it.

I haven’t tried any other IDE yet but I am going to test Netbeans and PHP Ed soon.

I use Sublime mostly these, it runs great on Surface Pro.

Photography Performance

For photography, I use Lightroom. It loads fast with no issues. One thing though it may take half a second or so before a new photo is fully rendered. My five years old i7, 8GB laptop with SSD takes the same amount of time to render each photo. I was hoping that Surface Pro 4 would be faster but it is not.

Also photos appear a bit too small for me in Lightroom with default panels around it. I can make photos bigger by hiding panels and then I can easily work on them using keyboard shortcuts.

Battery Life

Battery life estimates are usually around 3-5 hours when I am working on Android. I have been charging it at night and then using it throughout day like I would normally use it on weekends or in evenings. So far, I haven’t gotten close to battery dying on me.

If this was my main laptop at work, then I will be carrying charger with me.

Type Cover

Type Cover keyboard is not bad at all. In fact, I really like it. When resting my hands on it, it feels like that I am bending it but if it breaks, I can replace it easily.

Issues

Right now, my biggest issue is that I cannot use it in my lap easily. It is not impossible but it is not comfortable. Also when in bed or on uneven surface, it is really hard to move around. You almost always need to use both hands to move it, versus one finger for laptop. When working on it in bed, I am using lap desk.

Lastly, I was hoping to read books on it is a tablet too but I think it is just too heavy to hold in your hand for more than a few minutes. I will stick with Kindle for book.