Sunday, 5 July 2015

Injury layoff

Injury is such a drag.

In all the years that I have played basketball I have not had a serious injury (touch wood).  Of course excluding sprained ankles, jarred fingers, pulled muscle.  The last one was probably a small lower back muscle strain - leaving my back in spasms for about a week or two.

So it certainly came as a surprise when I was playing basketball a few months back and I dislocated my pinkie.  It definitely looked out of place and I think I was in a a bit of shock as I saw the position it was in and that as much as I wanted to, I could not bend it.  Instinctively I grabbed it with my other hand and my thoughts after I didn't feel too much pain was to put it back into place. Didn't think it would be too bad, but I pulled it up over the other bone.  My thinking was - isn't this normal as people just pop back their shoulders, right?  Having not had such an injury before, I tested my finger was bending ok, telescoped it to check if there was any pain and then taped up the finger to continue to play.  The finger did feel rather weak though (could not pass or shoot), so after around 10 more minutes, decided to wind down.
 Not thinking too much of it, the finger did swell up and by the next day, the bruising was quite apparent.  By then I was unable to bend my finger and I was worried about tingling sensation - was this because of the swelling or had I misaligned it and was compressing a nerve?  Perhaps a younger me would have shrugged it off, but I thought better of it.....after I heard from a doctor friend that it was best to get an X-ray.  Awesome.  By then it was later in the day and so I had to get myself to a hospital with outpatient service and managed to get in - after a long wait due to number of people and prioritisation.

The X-ray cam back clear and the doctor even asked, "Did you take a photo of the finger at the time of the incident?".  As politely as I could muster I said ""  Unfortunately this could be because the doctor believed that the finger positioning was not quite right.  I eventually left with a brace and wore that for a while and then buddy taped my finger.

A month later, I saw a GP as the joint was still swollen and stiff - but mentioned that it was likely due to lack of movement and stated that I could play some basketball and maybe some light gym work. Also suggested to keep moving the finger and other areas to restrengthen my finger and associated muscles.

It's been two months and it is still not quite right yet - but perhaps age is slowing that healing process!  Played basketball again and managed to jar that same finger again.  What a drag!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Small Form Factor

Not sure what the useful life of a computer should be, but I have had a my laptop for a few years now.  I know some of my friends have cycled through three laptops in the space of same timespan!

In any case, it was getting to the point that I felt it was time to upgrade.  With file sizes and resource usage increasing it was time for some new hardware.  In terms of using the computer, I wanted it to be able to play some of the more recent games (though I have not really been a PC gamer much before), and be powerful enough to take on some of the more complex tasks required (whether it be for work or some video/photo processing).  Whilst I had really enjoyed my laptop, there were three main reasons why I decided to explore a desktop:
  1. Power vs cost: While the computing power in laptops has certainly been increasing, even the more basic video cards are on par with the more expensive mobile versions.  Furthermore, the smaller footprints make heat dispersion more challenging and currently places limits in terms of pushing the hardware.
  2. Upgrade and fixes:  the lack of ability to upgrade is also a bit of a problem.  Some vendors at least allow the simpler hardware to be upgraded (e.g. RAM, HDD) but changing the CPU, graphics cards etc are typically much more challenging.  Furthermore, to me at least, I don't have as much competency in fixing laptops!
  3. Static:  There was a time when I took my laptop around - trying to be hipster sitting in a cafe....  But seriously, that was prior to tablets and large screen phones.  For the most part, the general web surfing and videos can easily be satisfied through other more lightweight means, which leaves really only the intensive applications to the laptop.  The laptop had been confined to just sitting at home these days, so portability was less of a factor to my mind.

So the challenge for me was to build a PC which would not be a hulking beast, but something which would fit within a small space but still have be punchy enough to churn out things quickly.  Which led me to the space of small form factor (SFF).

I did some research in the area and used the very hand resources of PC Part Picker and the Whirlpool forums.  What I liked about PC Part Picker, was the fact that a lot of contributors posted photos of the their builds which gave me much better knowledge of what was possible (or not) and at least brace me for potential issues.  This is particularly important when it comes to SFF as one needs to be aware not only of parts compatibility, but also whether it would even fit into a particular space - and each SFF case would be slightly different!

I went with a case which is only 21cm high and 28cm deep!  The reason I chose this one is that it is small but with decent airflow the the front fan and supports a full sized power supply unit (which allows me to reuse and has more options).

It was definitely a tight squeeze in terms of fitting all the parts in there - it was like playing Tetris and I had to be very mindful of cable management (cable ties definitely came in handy).  All in all, I have been very pleased with the result which took almost two nights to complete (tip: I had troubles with the length of the video card which just fit).  I managed to cram a whole lot into it:
CPU: Intel i7
GPU: GTX750Ti 
HDD: 250GB SSD and 2TB HDD
PSU: 550W Modular ATX

I have been loving the fast boot up times, responsiveness and ability to have the more up to date software.  While there are still expansion slots, the space is so tight, I doubt there is even any room to add anything!

Sunday, 25 January 2015


Another year another post it seems.  The early months in the year always start with such good intentions but seem to fade so quickly!

Reflecting on my single post last year, 2014 definitely ended up being a travel year.  I went to new places in Brazil, Indonesia and squeezed in trips to Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia!  Hopefully get time to look at some of the photos too!

Can't believe that I have been to the gym for a year.  I definitely feel that going has it's benefits but with a hectic year (hey when is it never) it was harder to watch improvements as consistency was a factor.  Definitely requires some discipline so hopefully something to work on in the coming year.

It was funny how I mentioned the potential for upgrades last year and definitely I could sense a theme there.  I did decide to upgrade my computer to a new small form factor (SFF) computer.  While I did do research for a while, when it came down to executing the trade and buying the equipment I ended up being quite decisive - quite a first for me actually!  So here I am typing this up on a (relatively) new computer.
My PS3 refused to accept my tender loving care of a DIY job of opening it, cleaning it and trying to fix the flashing red lights.  The equipment required to fix it was a heat gun which would have been a quarter of the cost and so the cheap me decided to use a hairdryer.  A travel hairdryer.  It certainly did not reach the requisite temperatures (I would have no hair if that were the case) and as such the fix was temporary in that it lasted it mere month.  Fortuitously, one of my friends was upgrading to a PS4 and as such his PS3 was on the market which was great for me. It was an easy decision as there were still a few games on backlog and helped me hold fire on the PS4...for the time being.

If it were not obvious, I often like to hold onto things.  I had some pairs of shoes which had long been worn out but I had gotten them repaired multiple times - and the repairs were only lasting around 6 months.  It was time to clear those out and actually start using my new shoes.  These new shoes had been sitting in my cupboard but I didn't want to break them out until my old shoes were worn out.  
I also needed a bit of a work clothes refresh. Why?  Well the gym sessions accompanied a change of diet and I actually could fit back into the suits which I had tailored around 7 years ago (I like to hold onto things, remember?). Boy was I proud!  These were the first suits I had tailored! As one can imagine, those seven year old suits had taken quite the beating.  The subsequent suits I had made were ill fitting now as I had lost a fair bit of weight.  So it was time to get with the times for a bit of a threads update and it has definitely been a learning experience!

During last year I had also made a few purchases in the photography equipment and accessories department.  Hopefully I can put together some more information of the different items to document all the progress!

Enough about 2014. 2015 is what I should look ahead to right?  Apart from a continuation of activities from last year of course.
For me, it will be interesting as I have decided to play competitive basketball again and want to get fit enough to be competitive.  More motivation to learn
I still have an eagerness to learn and so want to really keep up with the photography.  Think a language will be handy so learning a new language will be good too!
These days I certainly don't read and write as many novels as I used to and that will be an area of focus moving forward. Perhaps more blogging will help? My record would suggest otherwise though!