Striking the balance between positive and negative encounters

I’ve seen a recurring pattern this past few days. I would count the number of times that I will have a poor encounter with someone. It does not have to be a person I know, but just a tally of the people giving me grief on particular day.

Say for example, yesterday. From the moment I woke up, up to the point that I sit down on my chair at work, I tallied about 15 encounters. Out of the 15, 8 or 9 were negative encounters. The rest were posiitive, or average, at the very least it was not unpleasant.

So what is a negative encounter? It can be as simple as someone cutting you in line, or that bus driver doing a trollface when you ran up to the bus stop only for him to close the doors and leave when you get there. In my case, it was a bit worse than that. I won’t go into the detail as that’s not the reason why I’m posting this.

Striking the Balance

I always believe that what we do during trying times shows our worth as a human being. It could be quite the challenge when everything isn’t going your way. It’s never easy.

Getting used to the pressure is one thing, letting it happen all the time is another. What I have tried to do is to learn from each encounter. The first thing that comes to mind when I get a silly encounter is “Why is this person being horrible to me?”. From there making a decision on how to handle things is quite easy, most of the time.

Usually, this person is just passing a negative encounter they’ve experienced themselves. They do this unknowingly. There are various tell-tale signs that you can use to find out if this is the case. Sometimes a little probing will give many answers. “How’s your morning going?” or “How are you doing today?”. Your delivery is of importance, you don’t want to sound like you’re asking the question just for the sake of asking it.

In my experience this past week, the reason was more personal. We recently lost a colleague in the office, and it was a shock to all of us. His death came as a shock, and truth be told, I wasn’t close to the guy, but I miss his presence already. He was a part of the office, part of the family. Today was his funeral, and as much as I wanted to go, I’m never good in situations like that. I opted to distract myself.

So for the first reason, it’s a negative emotion that they usually received from someone else, or from an event that causes stress and sadness in itself. What’s the second reason why someone would treat you horribly?

It’s simple really: They are naturally horrible. There’s no two ways about it. There is almost nothing that you can do to change the way they are. It’s like the “stupid people” argument. They try to drag you down to their level, and beat you with experience.

With these kind of people, the solution is much easier: I just leave them to it. I will not spend a moment longer with them that I have to. I will LEAVE them as they are and will not get involved as much as possible.

These kind of people will drag you down. They will try to inject you with some negativity that in some cases might cost you your job. You do not want these kind of people around you.

Going back to the main topic at hand. Striking the balance between these encounters is all about getting some positive encounters to counter the negative ones.

I wrote this post not only because I am sharing something that you may find useful, but in hoping that you in turn can provide me with ways of getting some positivity my way. At the moment I feel like I am running on empty, with the score heavily in favor of the negative side.

Please feel free to drop some comments, or drop me a message on Twitter http://twitter.com/opethian or on Google+ http://gplus.to/opethian if you have some ideas on what to do.

The Evil That Men Do

The Fields of South Kenton

There are many events in history that have caused pain and suffering for a lot of people. Sometimes such events were caused by a single person. What is often overlooked, is the reason, as to why these people were driven in to a corner, and were forced to commit such acts of atrocity.

All it takes is a single gesture, a glance, an evil act towards that person, for them to plant a seed, an idea, and to hang on to that idea. It becomes their very reason for existing.

An Unkind Act

A child may have been the favorite but when a younger brother or sister is born, almost all the attention is now given to the new child. Often, this would be a temporary thing, but in worse case scenarios, babies sometimes die due to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). I wouldn’t be surprised if in some cases it was because of the older kid.

A person develops a strong friendship towards another human being. This friendship, in turn becomes something more. A simple act of betrayal in the simplest sense, a white lie or even a secret not meant to be known by anyone, can change that friendship into something ugly.

A husband has a stressful job, uses all his energy to be positive through out the day, comes home and is spoken down to by his wife. He is treated coldly, to the point that this has become the norm. But is it? The last straw was when he noticed that she couldn’t look at him anymore when she was talking to him. When was the last time that the conversation was a two way street?

All of these are but examples to what drive people, of any race, culture, or background, to commit atrocities. They were driven to a corner. Treated poorly.

Planting Ideas and Emotions

All it took, was for someone to plant a seed. This seed of negativity can easily be nurtured. One of the worst things that a human being can do, is to nurture negative thoughts and feelings. But it is also one of the most basic of actions that a person can do when they are cornered.

Nurturing this negativity is what makes the pain seem like a normal thing. It becomes a friend. This person, a child, a random person, or even this husband in my example, develops this sense of security. This ugly black hole, becomes the closest thing they have, it becomes their reality.

When that point comes, what prevents them from committing crimes that will shock anyone? Are they the only ones to blame?

The very people who directly influence these poor souls to commit such acts, will almost always get away with murder. They will continue living their lives. Whilst the poor chap who as a boy, never received the right guidance from a grown-up, did the only thing that he knew, that will make him feel alive. And that was, to kill himself.

Me and my Negativity

This will probably be the most sombre post I’ve done since I’ve blogged. And it looks like it won’t be the last, since I’m getting plenty of resource material to work on.

I’d like to say that all of us, are responsible with regards to how we treat each other. A little kindness goes a long way. Each action we do, to our friend, to our relative, to our partner, will bounce back to us in greater proportion.

Try it sometimes. Try making someone happy, and often you will find yourself feeling better than the person you tried to help. The same goes for negative energy. Karma can be a bitch sometimes.

So I now ask you, who is this person that is directly influencing you to become a better (or worse) version of yourself?

Fyrtek | Helping you go online.

Finally after much careful deliberation on whether I should proceed with it or not, I have taken the plunge and have started my own technology news and support site, namely Fyrtek (http://www.fyrtek.com).

Technology has always been a fascination of mine as early as I can remember. At the age of 7 I can remember asking my father to buy me a computer, mostly to play the latest games, but most of all to find out how it works.

Fyrtek will be the place where I will be posting news and my thoughts regarding technology. It will have reviews, news, and hopefully in the future, an online community with like minded individuals.

In the meantime, it’s nowhere near as complete as I will be updating the site with articles while continually configuring it. Have a visit, drop a comment, and thanks for looking!

Fyrtek | Helping you go online..

My Fascination with Photography (Part 3 of 3)

My wife’s pink DSLR.

In the fourth quarter of 2009, I was finally successful in reuniting with my wife Ayin and son Therion. I was able to bring them with me to the UK. There were a lot of sacrifices but it sure was worth it in the end.

During the years that I was in a different country, Ayin was able to show an increasing similar passion towards photography. It started off with my Olympus C-740, on to a Casio Exilim point and shoot camera. The fascination was there, and it was great to see how the world looked through her use of the camera.

I consider Ayin to be one of those people who are simply gifted. She can draw, and she can play music. Although we share the same frustration as not being able to have the time to explore our ideas more, we also share the same goal of eventually trying out as many things as possible, together.

Last year alone, Ayin went through several cameras (a sure sign of an enthusiast if any!). There was a Pentax, a Canon, and at the end of it all, she was able to purchase a Nikon Coolpix bridge camera. I must say, the technology has sure surpassed anything that I was expecting.

It wasn’t until I got her a pink Pentax K-r that things became apparent. Ayin and I shared the same passion for photography.

It’s not the equipment, but there’s a psychological balance to it.

I believe that the equipment plays a major role on how you can make the photo. It however, does not fill in the role of image maker. It will always be the photographer that will make or break a photo. No matter how expensive your gear is, if you do not have the eye for a good photo, you might as well look for someone to donate that gear to, and get yourself an iPhone with Instagr.am.

With that said, your equipment does do one thing to help you make that good photo. With the right equipment, you gain confidence, and inspiration to go out and take that shot. My Samsung GX-10 is a weather-sealed camera. I’ve taken it out many times in the rain and haven’t worried at all if I was going to damage the camera.

My wife’s pink K-x on the other hand, may not have that weather-proof feature, but it has outstanding low light capabilities. And because its the colour pink, it helps her be more in her comfort zone, in effect giving her more freedom to make the image she wants.

I must say, she has some fantastic photos in her collection now. Eventually we both will setup a gallery of sorts!

Looking forward. – What I would like to do and my dream equipment.

Believe it or not, it’s not going to be a Pentax. Well, not at the moment that is. It’s simple really. If I was more of a strobist, I’d go for a full frame Nikon with a variety of fast lenses and flash equipment. But I’m no strobist. My fascination at the moment are landscapes. Sceneries and nature in general.

It’s going to be a Canon. Not because I’m a big fan of Jackie Chan and he’s like the spokesperson for Canon in Asia, but also because their L lenses are really the best quality out there.

But at the moment, I am very happy with my aging Samsung GX-10 (Pentax K10D). It has served me well, and I’m nearing a fourth of it’s shutter count life. It will still serve me well in the next couple of years I believe. Until then, I’ll just keep on taking photos, and that occasional lens purchase.

My Fascination with Photography (Part 2 of 3)

Deciding to move on to a DSLR

It was not until I left Manila and moved to London that I finally was able to start my move towards a DSLR setup. It was one of the many things that I was saving up for. There was a need for me to get started on proper photography so I decided to weigh my options.

I think I remember opting to locate a point and shoot bridge camera at first. I was a fan of Canon’s value cameras, although quite dissappointed with the lack of an able zoom. The highest affordable camera at the time only had 5x zoom. Once you’re used to the reach of at least a 10x zoom, you will always want that capability.

Long zooms are pretty much useless in low light. In broad daylight however, there are some serious cropping potential that can be done. Also, my philosophy about taking photos, is that I’d rather have a crappy photo, than none at all.

I decided to just forget it, and instead do my search on the next level. I was going to purchase a camera and it’s going to last me for at least 5 years. I heard of Canon producing a sub-$1,000 DSLR camera sometime ago and that’s how I started my search.

Why Pentax? – Why not Canon or Nikon?

The road I took towards getting my first proper DSLR camera was filled with a lot of turns. First off, now I don’t know why I’m like this, but I decided not to go with the most popular brand out there, Canon. It was a given for me, not to go with Canon. I’ve always hated to be a conformist to what’s popular and that is a big turn off for me. so what was available?

The Nikon D80

Nikon. The Nikon D80 to be specific. With the Nikkor 18-200 VRII lens. Thanks to Ken Rockwell (http://www.kenrockwell.com) for this one. I was looking around and at the time, Nikon was climbing next to Canon in terms of popularity, and boy did they impress with the lighting system that they had.

So for the longest time, I was sure on getting a Nikon system. Every night before I went to sleep, I’d read up about Digital Photography. Read up on Nikon, and primarily go through Ken Rockwell’s site. What would happen next was totally unexpected.

It wasn’t until I started joining in on various photography forums that I started thinking my preference on Nikon might be wrong. I have to say it now, but Nikon fanboys are probably the second worst type of aficionados that we have on this planet, only second to Apple fanboys.

I cannot believe it, but these users, primarily those fanboys who frequent DPreview, Digital Photographer Philippines, and Photo.net single-handedly showed me how unwelcome it was to be associated with their brand of choice. Quite ironic considering that their photos at the time were mediocre at best (photo of me and my mum, oh wait, I forgot to turn off the flash). Those with excellent photos were either a) couldn’t be bothered or b) weren’t social enough.

It was thanks to the Pentax section in both DPreview and Digital Photography Philippines that I got introduced to this groundbreaking DSLR camera, named the Pentax K10D. It was a camera that had everything I needed, and was very competitively priced. It had more features than the Nikon D80. It had built-in shake reduction, and apparently, I can buy cheap old manual lenses and use it with the camera’s in body shake reduction system. Excellent stuff!

Samsung GX-10

Topping that off, the community of Pentax users are the friendliest I’ve ever come across online. Civil, mature, and they knew what they were doing. And so with that I went ahead and got myself what I felt was the best deal at the time, a Samsung GX-10 which essentially is a rebadged Pentax K10D.

That’s been my camera ever since and it looks like it’s going to last me for another few years before I decide to upgrade to a better camera/system.

The last post of this series on my fascination with photography will end with details on my wife’s pink (!) Pentax camera, and what my future plans are.

My Fascination with Photography (Part 1 of 3)

How it all started. – A Brief History On My Fascination.

Photography has always been an interest of mine. Ever since I first got hold of my father’s old Nikon film camera, that was it. I never got to use it though, but I knew what it was. I think I was 5 years old at the time. It had a telephoto lens that was almost as long as my arm, and I think I broke it (!). If you’re reading this, yes, that was me Pa. Sorry!

Mount Fuji (Stock Photo)

Another factor that got me extra curious about photography would be my auntie’s Japanese ex-husband. He came to visit from Japan one time and he brought with him a lot of items, one of them a photo of Mount Fuji in it’s splendour set against the cherry blossom season in Japan.

As a kid, I remember telling my parents that photography was something I wanted to get into. Apparently I wasn’t too convincing as I never really got anywhere with my . I was also brushed off when I wanted to get into programming. Thinking about it now, I wonder what my parents wanted for me.

It wasn’t until I got my first “bridge” camera that I really considered photography to be a part of what I am.

Olympus C-740UZ – My First Official Camera

This was the camera. The first one. In all honesty, I can say that I loved the thing. I was able to capture quite a few good photos with it, most of which have been immortalized in the pages of my DeviantArt account.

Failing Light

What is a bridge camera? It’s basically a digital point and shoot camera that has that extra “oomph” factor to it. One can even say that it’s got introductory features of a full DSLR, “bridging” you towards one. A lot of people are content with bridge cameras. A lot more, like me, outgrow them and do the upgrade to a DSLR eventually.

Listing the features of a bridge digital camera, first off, it will usually have an extended zoom. Some have a wider angle than others and we will have a long zoom. But what separates it from the rest of the market (pre-DSLR) would be the extra manual settings that you can configure. It’s no longer about just “point and shoot” but about tweaking the settings to produce what you want it to.

At the time, the Oly had a market leading 10x optical zoom and it had a good heavy feel to it. The only drawback was that even if it could do video, you couldn’t do video with sound. I know, it was such a glaring drawback, at the time Olympus thought they could probably get away with it.

From the get go, I never was one to go with what the crowd wanted. I do my research, and I look at what’s available. Same reason I use an Android powered phone and not an iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy S Initial Impressions

Samsung Galaxy S

Samsung Galaxy S

Only a few weeks ago, one could say that I was a “crackberry”. RIM managed to create a device that makes one person (me) depend on it so much. It’s like an extension of you. Unfortunately, things turned sour and I wasn’t happy with the unstable OS releases the company was providing. Sold the phone online and jumped ship to Google.

Truth be told, Google is my favorite company. Ever since I got my invite in Gmail several years back, I decided to choose them as my internet “portal” company of choice. It’s been a few short years but Google in general has given back much to a lot of it’s users. Other companies look pale in comparison in terms of giving me, as the user, a platform that I could work on.  Google may be my favourite company, but I don’t think I can call myself a Google fanboy. Not yet.

So the platform that I’m on now is Android. The device that I chose to succeed over the BlackBerry Bold 9000 I once had is from Samsung and it’s the Galaxy S i9000.

Several factors came in to play with regards to my decision:

1. First of all, the cost. I’m not much of a Gadget freak to be in a position to be buying a new phone every year. But I wanted something new.

2. That leads me to my second point. I wanted something new and in terms of gadgetry nowadays new essentially equates to something that was released not more than 6 months ago (some even consider anything older than 3 months is OLD). At the same time won’t make me feel lacking in terms of wanting to upgrade already after only a few short months.

3. It needed to be something that could do what I needed and wanted. I need something that has an always on connection to the usual forms of communication I use, wherever I may be. So that’s phone, SMS, MMS, email, Facebook, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, and Windows Live Messenger. BlackBerry PIN Messaging is something that I may miss, then again, it’s another platform in the already big market. I want something that will enable to me to use social media easily. I got Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare covered in that respect.

4. I needed a stable, powerful platform. Android fits the bill here, but just almost. It still has the drawback of a modern mobile OS, in that too many apps may cause slowdowns and all (rarely a crash, and I’ve never had to reboot the device yet from a system hang). But if you know how your phone works and what to expect with what you do, the Android platform will serve you fine. It is, after all, backed by Google. Android offers true multi-tasking.

5. After sales service and support. Samsung is like Sony, only Korean. I have a Samsung GX-10 DSLR that’s been working like a tank for many years now and I haven’t had bad experiences with the brand so far. There’s also a lot of online communities that support the Android platform, including XDA-DEV, and for the device alone, there must be at least three dedicated forums to just Galaxy S range of phones.

6. The device simply has new tech others don’t have. Super AMOLED namely. The screen is just beautiful. Backed by a nicely named powerful “Hummingbird” 1GHz processor and plenty of memory (2GB ROM for apps, 8GB internal for “stuff” and the usual MicroSD slot), this device wants to be used to its full potential.

Therion with Mum

7. A good camera. This device can record video in 720p and it records it well. It’s a 5 megapixel shooter with lots of bells and whistles, even an auto-panorama mode. There’s a few apps in the Android Market that does the job, and one of the standouts is “Vignette”. I wish there was the QuadCamera app I used to have on my old iPhone for Android too but Vignette does the job fine for the moment.

8. A modern media player. This device plays DivX, FLAC, and OGG out of the box.

9. Finally, one of the biggest factors, is that I don’t have to use iTunes whenever I want to do something with it on a computer. I copy files to it, and off I go. Everything is synced to the cloud. List of my apps is handled by AppBrain. My contacts are synced through Google and so is my calendar. I’m hoping to have Google open up something that lets me sync my notes, but in the meantime, I’m sticking with Evernote for important notes.

Samsung Galaxy S

So there you have it. I pretty much tried to argue why I would instead want an iPhone 4 or a BlackBerry Bold 9700 (these are the other two only phones I would consider). The benefits outweigh the negatives greatly. Especially at the price point O2 offered me on my purchase.

I feel that the iPhone platform is excellent, but paying for so much money for it is a sick joke. BlackBerry on the other hand are too corporate to realize that they’re getting left behind. When I say too corporate I mean it’s all about “profits”. Where’s the innovation?

We got modern versions of the smartphone platforms in the form of iOS4 and Android 2.2 but RIM is still stuck in some land far away. Both Apple and RIM have devices that do work well, that I know, but the overall package for the type of user that I am is with Android.

There are things that make me unhappy about the platform and the device (lack of convenience keys for one), but at the end of the day, I’m glad I chose Android and the Samsung Galaxy S.

Blogging with WordPress on Android

image

This is the first post I’ll be creating using the WordPress app for Android. The last time I blogged from a device was using the WordPress app for the Apple iPhone. It’s been over a year now since I used it and now I have jumped ship using a totally different mobile OS.

After the Apple app, I had a go at the Blackberry version of the application. Definitely out of the three, the Blackberry device rules just because of the keyboard.

After getting used to the Apple keyboard, I could say that it was more of a draw. It could become quite tiring typing using the keypad on the BlackBerry. Using a touchscreen on the other is a lot less accurate but definitely less strenous on the wrist.

Swype is fantastic, but I think typing with two hands is still much a faster. The Samsung keyboard is actually good on the Galaxy S. Although there’s one caveat, comma’s and apostrophes are not on the same keyboard and require going into a sub-menu. But other than that, I can see myself geting used to it.

- This post was written using the Android WordPress App

Exit Stage Left BlackBerry, Enter Stage Right Android

Android

It was a long good ride RIM. It was very productive while it lasted. And while I still think that your devices are the fastest and most efficient in terms of business use, I have grown and had to move on, and you haven’t kept up with the times.

I was first introduced to the use of a BlackBerry when it became an obvious necessity in my line of work. Back then I was working for the Carphone Warehouse and having a BlackBerry device enabled me to be up to date on what’s happening at work.

The most fascinating thing about using a BlackBerry device is how everything is just INSTANT. Someone sends you an email, you get it within ten seconds on average. Instant messaging on the platform is even faster. Conducting several benchmarks confirmed that the use of instant messaging on the BlackBerry with any of the popular clients (Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger) proved to be consistently faster than SMS.

When you needed to share something, you would be able to do it fast, and without a 160 character limit which SMS had. This is very good technology that needs to be implemented everywhere. Now of course, big corporations who do not have access to the BlackBerry servers (like Nokia, Apple, Samsung, etc.) will need to make use of the fastest tech they have in terms of messaging, and that’s SMS. RIM wouldn’t be able to compete with £10 phones.

There it is. For the good part of the last 5 years I was a BlackBerry user. And I depended on it. During that time, Apple hit the earth with the Jesus phone and the smartphone market hasn’t been the same since then. I still think that the iPhone wasn’t a smartphone until they introduced copy and pasting into its OS.

I was once also an iPhone user, but when it came to deciding which device I would NEED, it was either the iPhone or the BlackBerry Bold back then, I had to choose the Bold. T-Mobile and Orange here in the UK just then released their PAYG BlackBerry plans and for £5 you could get “unlimited” BlackBerry service for a month.

I am a heavy internet user. I don’t care much for SMS or voice calls. I send instant messages a lot. Email people sometimes 20 times in a day. I like how email keeps record of everything. And the keyboard won me over the touchscreen. RIM produce the best keyboards out of any other device out there. They were engineered for SPEED.

Now my topic here is about my transition to Android. It’s only been a few days since I’ve been on the Android platform. Old habits die hard, and even if there were a huge list of reasons for me jumping ship, there was still a lot of things that BlackBerry spoiled me with. I liked the battery life of the BlackBerry. Call the OS ancient or whatever, it was very efficient. Sure it’s butt-ugly and looks like a Nokia S40 device from the past but it got the job done.

When the realization of me clinging on to old habits kicked in, I saw things differently, and that’s when I accepted the fact the Android was the platform that I was waiting for.

Only a few weeks ago I was really hoping to get an iPhone 4. But antennagate left a sour taste in my mouth. I would go to the shops and try out the iPhone 4 a week after its release, and the feeling that a gadget geek apple fanboy would have had upon seeing the first iPhone wasn’t there. It was glass. It was small. Small? Well, thanks to HTC with their release of the Touch HD2, I couldn’t see myself using a small screen again.

Samsung Galaxy S i9000

The very main reason for me abandoning BlackBerry was that the latest OS, version 5, just wasn’t up to spec. It would consistently make the device halt to a standstill. Installing a few apps would make the device unstable. The main reason I fell in love with a BlackBerry was not there anymore. RIM gave in. Throw away efficiency and stability for a few bells and whistles. What’s up with that App World? Even downgrading back to version 4.6, did not solve the problem.

It’s going to be a while before I write about Android. I need to thoroughly test the device. I may end up unhappy about it. But at the moment, the Galaxy S is my communications and media device and I hope Samsung+Google will make me a happy bunny, something that RIM once did, but eventually failed in maintaining.

Poladroid – Falling In Love With Polaroids Again

My Nephew Tyler

Thanks to my wife’s recommendation, I recently came across this fantastic program called Poladroid. As the name suggests, it’s got something to do with the classic Polaroids. Here’s a simple review that I hope you find useful.

Poladroid is a free program that makes digital Polaroid photos from your existing ones. What makes it fascinating is how the overall experience is when using the program.

You start off by downloading the program off of their website and installing the software on to your computer. It has both Windows and Mac versions (sorry Linux fans!) as well so it covers a lot of ground.

Running the program, you’ll see a Polaroid camera floating on the desktop. Using it is as simple as dragging the photos on to it and essentially waiting for the program to “process” it. This “processing” involves the program taking a few seconds to apply the necessary filters after which it then places the photo/polaroid on to your desktop.

Ayin and Therion

Take note however that the program acts like a real Polaroid camera. After taking photos, you will need to wait for a minute or two for the photo to “develop”. You have the option of getting an early still from the development process by right-clicking (on Windows) on the photo. Another thing is that you can only drag up to 10 photos at a time to be processed. The reason being that this particular Polaroid camera only has 10 shots before you need to replace the cartridge!

I’ve never had a Polaroid camera, but I’ve always wanted to have one. I’ve always been fascinated by it. It’s one of those things that just looks good. It’s an icon. Easily identifiable, and pretty much anything taken on a Polaroid automagically (that’s not a word) looks cool.

Almost the same applies here. Photos that I throw at it come out looking very good. So much that my Flickr account’s recent photos consist of only these renders. I recommend anyone try out the program, and join in on the growing community backing this fantastic piece of software.

Poladroid – http://www.poladroid.net

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The Opethian Blog

This is Alan Gurling's official blog on the web. He also loves Metal, in which he has PinoyMetal.org as his music blog. check it out.