Wednesday, November 29, 2023

shower thoughts

 an sms I sent an hour ago has not been delivered.

it's because the messaging app used RCS by default.

I'm not sure why it's set to do so, but I guess nobody would actually use RCS unless it was turned on by default. 

nobody cares if a message is sent over RCS or SMS as long as it gets to its destination.

these days, everyone has data on, unless they've turned it off, in which case they probably don't want messages either - so that's an advantage.

wonder what other advantages RCS has.

I assume, unlike MMS, there is no fallback system for RCS (MMS used to send you a SMS with a link as an alternative to downloading the MMS itself on the phone).

so RCS probably is completely carrier independent and should be free/unlimited.

can RCS have a fallback like MMS did?

that would require the messaging client to support it over SMS.

any client side SMS to RCS bridge needs an intelligent client, but there is no guarantee of that. after all, you could be sending a SMS to a 25 year old phone.

25 year old phones are interesting. they had a strange sort of data connectivity, WAP.

I wonder how WAP actually worked. it definitely wasn't regular TCP/IP, and while the pages looked like very basic HTML, I'm sure there was more to it.

I wonder what's the application protocol part of WAP. could there be applications other than a browser on WAP?

MMS is an application, in a sense.

If there could be other applications on WAP, I wonder why I never heard of them.

I'm sure if there was a way to use WAP to chat, yahoo and msn messenger would have developed an app.

man, yahoo and msn messenger on WAP was crazy!

remember hitting refresh every 5 seconds to check for new messages? and the contact list that sorted itself by time seen, with online, idle and finally offline sections?

I think there would be an asterisk next to the name of the contact who had an unread message waiting for me.

unvisited links would be blue. visited, magenta.

I wonder how big each page was. definitely under a kilobyte. but they still took time to load!

I guess mobile Internet was so slow and limited back then that there was no point counting data. if you could find a way to use more than what would be considered fair, knock yourself out!

it's so hard to come to terms with that until WiFi came to phones in 2008, the only way in was via mobile networks.

2008 is not that long ago. broadband was pretty fast. MP3s were 10 years old. YouTube existed! and yet the only way to get something on your phone was mobile data or the memory card/USB port. and only data could be realistically called online communication.

it's now November 2023. so that was 15 years ago. my second phone.

my first phone was purchased in February 2004!

i wonder what was the date I purchased it. it definitely deserves a commemorative blog post. 20 years of smartphones!

I know exactly where it would be. my old blog!

ah, my old blog. back when I blogged and nobody read it because nobody around me knew what a blog was.

it's so much easier to blog now.

I miss my old school, hand-crafted blog.

I don't need to miss my old school, hand-crafted blog.

I am going to revive my old school, hand-crafted blog!

I wonder if it'll be safe to run ASP on a windows 2000 VM and expose it via my dynamic DNS.

Nope, definitely won't be safe!

Let's just stick with old school and forget about hand-crafted.

If it's a good platform, I should be able to import all my old posts into the new blog.

wouldn't it look weird? a post a day (or a couple a week) from 2003 to 2006, and then suddenly we jump to December 2023?

actually, it won't be weird. I'm sure I'm still almost the same.

I should take the images from the original website and stick them on the blog though.

"welcome to Kristopher's corner of the world wide web" - it doesn't get more late 90s corny than that!

I remember the font. my favourite font.

did the font make Kristopher look like krist0ph3r?

if it did, I now know where I got my inspiration from.

I must blog this on my main blog. 

Sunday, November 12, 2023


Last week, we spent 5 days in the sunny (and occasionally - but only very briefly - rainy) Dominican Republic. It was my first time at an all inclusive tropical resort, and the sort of thing I wouldn't have planned myself, and definitely not in the part of the world I'd have usually considered for a holiday either. It was all thanks to Nisha and Pieter deciding to celebrate their pandemic wedding with a proper party! They picked a splendid resort, the Excellence Punta Cana, and going by reviews, it could very well be the best resort in the area. 

Punta Cana fits the definition of a tropical paradise to the letter, and after all the planning and booking and the long flight we landed at this quaint airport which even has a thatched roof!

Through the airport, we were at the spot where we were supposed to get our pre-arranged airport transfer. The staff were very courteous, the transport felt exclusive (a massive 7-seater Chevrolet Suburban for just the two of us, seems every group got a suburban to themselves, even though it was just 6 of us on that flight to that resort!)

Champagne at the resort gate while our bags were unloaded, we were escorted to the front desk where we were given the all important WiFi details (no password even!), key cards to our room, and the link to download the app through which we could get all the information we could need - restaurant and bar timings and menus, dress codes, etc. We were told what's included (basically knock ourselves out with the mini bar in the room, everything in the fridge, 24 hour room service etc.) literally everything!

It's a strange experience, when you can eat and drink everything on offer. Don't like something? Ask for something else. Can't decide what to drink? Order both! 5 or 6 restaurants, 3 or 4 bars, 3 swimming pools, Jacuzzi, a private-ish beach (open to the public, but there's no other resort around so it's pretty much exclusive). Sun beds, staff walking around to make sure food and drink is in constant supply. Courteous and attentive staff. Your belongings are safe anywhere you choose to leave them (and you obviously don't even need to carry anything besides your room card around). Shruti had looked up the menus of all the restaurants and made a list of what we should eat at which one. A list of cocktails/drinks we should try. At some point I stopped caring. The food was all passable, but nothing was truly great. Some of the drinks were uniformly good, others were hit-and-miss. There were so many activities, but at some point I wasn't really feeling like doing any of them. I realized it had reached a tipping point when there was a game organised in the pool where the staff threw dominoes into the pool and people took turns to fish out as many dominoes in a single breath (ie without surfacing) - something I'd normally love to do, but I just didn't feel like it it. I literally stood by in the pool for 15 minutes and watched people give it a try. 

Of course, I did enjoy the company - it was great to spend time with Nisha and Pieter, couple of their cousins I haven't met in decades, a few of their friends who we got to know over the period, interesting conversations, including one night we were up till 3am because the conversation was so interesting we lost track of time! But generally, by the end of the 5 days, I think we were ready to leave. I guess the only event we really enjoyed was the "Dominican Republic festival" they had one evening, which was a buffet of local dishes, with a live band, some traditional dances - I would honestly have preferred to eat local food every day, but there was no such option (except for a few measly offerings at the buffet restaurant which seemed neglected by everyone I saw!). My only regret was not eating at the Mexican restaurant which actually seemed authentic - it seems Shruti didn't really look at the menu when she was planning our meals, or maybe I didn't sound very enthusiastic about Mexican food when she read the menu out to me the weekend before we flew?

By the end of our stay we stopped eating lunch and instead would snack on coconut pulp from the fresh coconuts we were regularly drinking - something I noticed most people weren't doing. I stopped trying new cocktails or even looking at the menu. 

I realized I was eating and drinking way more than I should - not more than I used to say 10 years ago, but more than my body is currently used to. But given there was nothing much else to do, I had no way to assess how happy or unhappy my body was with the treatment. I felt mentally un-stimulated. I was feeling like taking naps instead of lazing in the pool. 

I felt a bit of guilt about being in this centrally air-conditioned room with the thermostat set to a cool 20°C while the rest of the country suffers from blackouts that lasted hours. Of drinking bottled water because that was the only option. I felt sad about having staff at my beck and call, doing everything to make my stay enjoyable.

When we were in the taxi to the airport, I was excited to actually be able to see the country outside of the resort.

I thought to myself - that one experience was enough for me. An all-inclusive resort certainly made it stress free when it came to organising and spending time together, but I definitely don't associate it with travel or a vacation. It's hard to put a name to the feeling, but I somehow feel like I must put some effort in order to enjoy things... in fact, I don't think I can fully enjoy experiences if there is no degree of discomfort involved. Maybe that's why I enjoyed my first night the most (if you disregard the wedding evening itself, for obvious reasons), because we were exhausted from the flight and I felt some discomfort in pushing myself to attend the "silent disco" after over 16 hours of travel!

Anyway - one more experience ticked off my list. Next up: Puerto Rico! 

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

hello? fresh?

three weeks ago, I signed up for hello fresh under strange circumstances: a guy knocked on our door, right when we were going through a food crisis. the crisis was brought on by a throat infection that was so bad I was struggling to even swallow liquids. as I got better, I was still extremely weak from a week of quite literally shutting down: I had been spending over 16 hours in bed, and my only activity was trips to the doctor.

this guy was in the right place at the right time. the offer of meals we could cook with minimum fuss and no grocery shopping (this was before I had purchased the motorbike, so I was relying on a friend to drive me to the shops, or picking stuff up on the way home from the doctor). the 40% (he claimed - I didn't check) discount made it seem on par with our regular grocery shop.

and so, I signed up. he stood at our door while I created my account, and applied his referral code and paid for my first delivery of 5 meals for 2 people each. he explained everything about how it worked, which was good (but nothing we couldn't have figured ourselves) and left.

in my excitement I posteda status about it on Facebook, and that when I had my first misgiving: the 40% discount was actually not 40%, and it certainly wasn't the best discount we could get: referrals could even get free meals, and a neighbour gave us a referral which would have given us cheaper meals than what we got for more weeks than this referral (and all for first time users). so, that's that. I hope this was actually a hello fresh employee and not a random guy, because if it was a random guy, he has my email address and some numeric account number thing 🤦‍♂️

anyway. later that night, I picked our meals (seems they auto select meals, and that's what you get if you don't remember to change the selection). similarly, you get signed up for every week with the same quantity, and you need to manually skip a week. I can see where their approach comes from, and it might be a good experience for some people, but doesn't work for casual users. anyway.

they only offer deliveries on Wednesdays and Thursdays in my postcode. I picked Wednesday.

that's when I had my second revelation... they may call themselves hello fresh, but if its going to be delivered once a week, you're eating food up to a week old 😂 but sure, it's paid for and on its way, and it's not like I'm well enough to go grocery shopping, so I really need it!

Wednesday morning, a large cardboard box was delivered at our doorstep. I completely forgot about hello fresh and was surprised to see the box there on my way to office. Shruti had to unpack it and sort it into stuff going into the fridge and the rest. She wasn't involved in the meal selection so she had absolutely no idea what was in store for her 😁

Wednesday evening, back home from work (my second day in office after my illness, new motorbike, and recovered from the infection... yay!) I came home to see Shruti already busy in the kitchen. she had picked an Asian style stir fry, a favourite for both of us, and something Shruti is already pretty competent at making 😉 This was definitely the first time we were making one with a recipe, or even a plan more specific than "chop stuff, toss in pan, add vaguely Asian sauces, eat". the recipe said 20 minutes cook time, but it took two people an hour - and I think I even forgot some of the steps and added some of the sauces late 🤦‍♂️

either way, we made it in the end... and it was good! tasted great, looked great, and even used a sauce we've never used before! the addition of carrot strips was also a good idea, healthier than just noodles in the stir fry and a good way to get one of your five a day 😁 (or as I'd say: #healthgasm 😂)
I realized I really struggle with using a recipe.

the next day, working from home, I had a look at all the refrigerated ingredients (basically, the chicken and meat) and realized they actually had very close "use by" dates - we had to finish everything by Monday! so much for freshness 🤦‍♂️ #fail

anyway, we now had to plan our meals by the use by date of the ingredients... which is pretty much the way we'd do things when we weren't using hello fresh, except that Shruti had a say in what she'd want to eat when (unless I took the decision when shopping without consulting her 😉)

by Sunday we had all 10 meals cooked (by the end of the weekend, we were beginning to mix and match meals - Sunday's dinner was us eating 2.5 people's portions, and 1.5 portion was left over for my Monday lunch!). But to even things out, Saturday's dinner (burgers, chips and slaw) was so large we saved up the leftovers, which were most of the chips and slaw, and Shruti polished them off for breakfast! 
Sunday evening, I logged in and ensured it was registered that we're skipping the next 2 weeks, and we set it to skip the 3rd week as well.

Shruti was very clear: she did not want to eat hello fresh meals again! She felt they were too "heavy". I didn't find them "heavy" myself. They certainly were close to restaurant grade, and that might lead one to conclude they had restaurant-y in ingredients, but given we've cooked them ourselves, it's clear they didn't! I on the other hand did find the recipes too constrained for my style - I really struggle to follow a recipe, and I do manage to get passable if not good results anyway! And then there was the cost. We could try signing up for a fresh account and getting a free week (offer valid till December) - who'd pass up on a shot at free food!

It's not all bad though. I learned to cook with new ingredients (I am definitely going to stock up on Sambal paste!), learned a few new techniques - carrot strips with noodles, cooking rice without fuss. Shruti has decided to save up the recipes, and it's clear to me why - her style of cooking is very different from mine, Hello Fresh recipes are of consistently good quality, the portion size means no leftovers (and Shruti hates leftovers, especially when I get the quantity completely wrong). We cooked together, which is something we never do when we're cooking without a recipe, and something I really enjoyed. Having 5 meals meant there was always a plan, and no snacking on junk because the portion size was spot on or very close.

Still. My conclusion is, hello fresh is good, but not good enough for us. I might give it another go after a few weeks (if it's free 😉), and I'd definitely go for it if I'm alone (and I have a feeling Shruti will too!) 

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