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Monthly Archives: December 2017

This year saw the birth of our third child, a girl named Katana. She arrived in March and has grown past most of the trying and smelly baby stuff. Now she’s crawling and can kind of defend herself and/or steal toys from her brothers. Her looks and development are similar to when Apollo was a baby but in a more girly way (might be the clothes).

The boys play with her sometimes, but they are mostly occupied with themselves as they are now best friends. They play and fight together all the time while we tend to the baby or do other household things. In the beginning of the year, it was all about Paw Patrol (carry over from the year before), but now Apollo has moved on to Pokémon while Jovian loves playing with cars (both Lightning McQueen and the general variety).

With three kids now, we are probably done family building (never say never…). Our house is packed with miscellaneous stuff that a family with kids will have (like toys, random outdoor/sports equipment, etc) and there is a never ending process of churn as the kids grow out of items (clothes, toys) that need to be donated/thrown out, and new stuff comes in (either through gifts or purchases). We can manage for another year or two at our current place without any major changes.

We had one big trip with all 3 kids this year (to Japan) and a bunch of short trips. We managed to travel light on these trips, even though there are always a bunch of items that we have to bring (baby carrier, snacks, emergency diapers, etc). Most of our trips involved museums or theme parks and vacation planning now involves finding activities for the kids, and then slotting in places to eat around that. It’s an evolution of how we travel, and I don’t mind it that much as it keeps everyone happy.

This year I played 3 different games. On mobile, I continued to play Star Trek Timelines and while it is starting to get a little boring, I don’t see myself stopping soon (also I spent about $100 in IAP on it across the year). On desktop, I still play Hearthstone. However, I’m straining under the expansion release schedule (3x a year), and so I’ve dialed back on trying to collect cards in it. In the first half of the year, I also played Heroes of the Storm frequently (a couple of times a week). But then I went on vacation and didn’t keep up with the new heroes release/changes in game play so I just dropped it.

Like Twitter in previous years, I noticed that I spent less time reading social feeds this year. This year’s casualty was Facebook. I used to check it several times a day but now I might even go through a day without opening the app. I think a big reason for this is because the News Feed has too much stuff that I don’t care about (maybe an acquaintance liked something and it showed up on my feed). Toward the end of the year, I am feeling the same thing about Instagram (especially because they inserted a big recommended photos/videos section into the feed).

I had similar amounts of work travel this year as last year, except for a big break between Feb – Jun where I hardly did any traveling due to Katana’s birth. A change this year was that I consolidated my flights and loyalty plans and used Air Canada as much as possible (previously I flew whatever was available and collected United points). Even though I missed a couple of Korea trips, I made it to Altitude 35k for the first time, so next year I will have status with Air Canada! One of the reasons for work travel was to go to a bunch of conferences. I attended 4 this year, including CES and Google I/O (first time at both). I also went to the Samsung Developer Conference (first time) and FITC (which was local in Toronto).

I don’t think I did any development this year at work, although I still did technical stuff (product-related work, management and a little housekeeping here and there). My career is also in a transition stage as this is the second year where I have been mostly removed from writing code. This year I spent time on other disciplines like design and strategy, but I guess I need to decide which direction I should go for the next rung of the career ladder soon.

Our “old” friends (e.g., pre-kid friends) have started to collect enough kids now that we are finally having kid-based gatherings. That’s good news for us since we have common topics and can hang out with them again (instead of passing on clubbing or karaoke). Still waiting and wondering on a couple of friends as to whether they will have kids now.

Every year when I write my yearly recap, I have difficulty weaving the thoughts and points into a story. Is the recap supposed to itemize the major things that happen this year? Or is it more about the mindset? The way I look at it is if I come back in 10 years and read the recap, will I have a good sense of how I was feeling in this year? That’s difficult to capture because who knows what ends up being important.

I’ve given this some thought over the last month, and I suspect that what will be important is that 2017 will be seen as an inflection point year. If we backtrack 5 years or so, I knew we were about to have kids so there was a plan on how that would work out (budgeting etc). Now we have 3 kids and, especially because the older two are school age, I believe that my life will be changing so that it is more routine (on a macro level, on a micro level it will probably be chaotic) and household oriented. So while 2016 felt like a waffling continuation of the previous stage of my life, I think 2017 is the end and 2018 will be the start of a different way of living. Interestingly enough, what this was an independent thought, it reminded me of my previous blog about age milestones. So we shall see what the next group of years will be like.


Another year, another bunch of trips:

  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Las Vegas, NV, USA
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Dallas, TX, USA
  • Sunnyvale, CA, USA
  • Boston, MA, USA
  • Rochester, NY, USA
  • Manhattan, NY, USA
  • Osaka, Japan
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Erie, PA, USA
  • Grove City, PA, USA

Here’s the full list: 2006 (10), 2007 (8), 2008 (13), 2009 (10), 2010 (15), 2011 (18), 2012 (8), 2013 (10), 2014 (5), 2015 (14), 2016 (11),


This year I started getting tired of KPop. The music started sounding the same so I didn’t stay up to date with it that much, nor did we listen to it much in the car. Instead, we went back to listening to top40 radio. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds, and there were some good songs in the first half the year. The last quarter of the year, surprisingly, was a clunker where most of the new songs were pretty bad.

One interesting thing about the list this year is that all the songs are pretty close together. If I had to rank them, it might go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and then a 10 way tie for #6.

  1. Charlie Puth – Attention

    Ever since I discovered Charlie Puth, I’ve paid attention to his singles. His style of music currently lines up with the pop music I want to hear. Attention was released around April, and I’ve been waiting for his second album to be released, but apparently it won’t hit the streets till 2018! He released a second single towards the end of the year which is decent, but not as great as Attention. This song has a great hook and it is #1 because this is the style of pop I love listening to.

  2. 종현 (Jonghyun) ft 태연 (Taeyeon) – Lonely

    Taeyeon and Jonghyun had a good duet a couple of years ago, and this one is a continuation of that partnership. The song is decent and finally we get a Taeyeon ballad! It was tough ranking this song at #2, but what made it better than the rest is because this is a piano ballad and Taeyeon’s singing.

  3. 볼빨간사춘기 (Bolppalgan Puberty) – 나만 안되는 연애 (Hard To Love)

    Bolppalgan Puberty (now goes by Bolppalgan4 which is slightly easier to remember I suppose) was a chance discovery this year, and I’m glad I found them. This is the first song I heard by them and it instantly caught my attention because of the sound of the lead singer. They’re not your typical KPop (in fact I don’t even find them attractive) but the entire album is great (although not to the calibre of the two songs here or Freesia).

  4. 볼빨간사춘기 (Bolppalgan Puberty) – 우주를 줄게 (Galaxy)

    Like Taeyeon’s Why and Starlight, both this song and Hard To Love are really hard to separate in terms of greatness. They are quite different in style as Galaxy is more upbeat and Hard To Love is a ballad and more soulful; but I don’t think Galaxy will have as much longevity and impact because it is not a ballad, and yet isn’t dance-y enough. That is not to take away from how good this song is still though – this track was the 2017 song of the year at the Korean Music Awards (not fan voted).

  5. Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean, Migios – Slide

    It’s tragic that there was no video for this song but I wonder if it’s because the label didn’t want to make one or one of the artists didn’t? This song played for a little while on the radio and then went away, and it’s too bad. The beat is catchy, Frank Ocean sings well and makes me want to listen to more of his music, and Migios has a great hook. This an Passionfruit were two standout Hip Hop tracks for me this year, when I don’t enjoy listening to Hip Hop.

  6. Julia Michaels – Issues

    I have a feeling Julia Michaels is going to be a one-hit wonder, and she’ll go back to writing great songs for other artists. This song works because there is a movement in pop to a stripped down sound, and this is a great example of that style.

  7. Drake – Passionfruit

    Well, it looks like this song doesn’t have a video, and there are no performances or etc on YouTube. I guess Drake has a (not a) thing for posting things online, as the last video on his channel is Hotline Bling. So you’ll have to live with this cover. There are very few Drake songs I like because I don’t like the way he raps or the instrumentation in his songs. Passionfruit is an exception because of the driving beat and I guess because his singing is less soulful.

  8. Bruno Mars – Versace On The Dancefloor

    Bruno Mars has three great hits on his latest album, and unfortunately this is the one that didn’t get a lot of radio play. I wouldn’t say this is the best, as all three tracks had their merits. However, Versace On The Dancefloor is another recent song that channels the 80s/Michael Jackson era (see The Weeknd). If this song saw as much play as I Feel It Coming, it might be just as popular. It is a worthy ballad.

  9. 수지 (Suzy) – 취향 (Les Préférences)

    Suzy released an EP but this wasn’t the single. However, I discovered this song when I listened to her problems for that EP – and it’s actually better than everything else on the EP (or more fitting to the style of music I like).

  10. 태연 (Taeyeon) – I Got Love

    Taeyeon release an album, and then a month later released a deluxe version. Fortunately, I waited until the deluxe edition is out to buy. I’m not a fan of the genre of music that is on the album – not a lot of ballads, but a bunch of throwaway dance and easy rock songs. This song is one of singles and has a catchy and unique beat. Like Versace On The Dancefloor, the video is too distracting and takes away from the song.

  11. IU ft G-Dragon – Palette

    IU released two albums this year. One was a sequel to her remake album (more remakes) and one had original material. Palette was the single off of the latter. Both albums were OK, as I am a fan of her songs. Nothing was as super-catchy as 23. The live promo choreography of this song is unique in that it uses 80s style – the generation I grew up in is finally retro!

  12. Calvin Harris, Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Big Sean – Feels

    Crazy all-star cast for this song which is kind of a departure for everyone. But I guess they banked that this would be a hit single – and it certainly feels like it. Katy Perry is unrecognizable until I heard mention of her name in the credits. Pharrell sounds typical. Big Sean has a retro beat for his rap that sounds like it was C+P from a Puff Daddy era song. And Calvin Harris. I’m not sure what he gets credit for? I guess for pulling everyone together.

  13. 소녀시대 (Girls Generation) – All Night

    The last (?) Girls Generation album came out this year and it was a clunker. All of the songs were unremarkable and forgettable except for this one, which has a great stuttering hook. With 3 members not signed to a contract, everyone approaching their 30s, and basically every member having a try at a solo career. I think this is it for SNSD and it sub-units.

  14. Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like

    This song and 24K Magic are prototypical Bruno Mars songs/hits. It’s catchy, and a great pop song. Nothing much to say except the formula works for him.

  15. Niall Horan – Slow Hands

    I’m not a big fan of Niall, 1D, or any of the other members’s songs. But Niall had a good song with This Town and this one is even better. Great pop song, but probably will be forever stuck in 2017.

  16. Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You

    Song came out early in 2017 (I think it was part of last year’s Grammy’s) and I’m kind of tired of listening to it (I even blogged about it). But it should remain a top Ed Sheeran song in my books.

  17. Taylor Swift – Ready For It

    I think Taylor Swift is the top female singer in pop today but I’m not a huge fan of her. She had a couple of releases this year and the last one is the best. However, I feel like she released half of this song previously as Wildest Dream. This was the one song in the last part of the year that I liked.

  18. 윤아 (Yoona) – 바람이 불면 (When The Wind Blows)

    With SNSD breaking up on hiatus, I think Yoona’s angle is to start a solo career in China. She had a Chinese EP last year and this song was a dual Mandarin/Korean release. I think she’s an underrated singer and if she gets a decent and fitting song, then it’ll do well. This song is not a hitmaker, but it is OK and she carries it fine. In fact, this song kind of reminds me of Taeyeon’s 11:11.


It’s been two years and a bit so it was time for a new phone. Although my OPT was showing it’s age, it wasn’t pressing that I update. The usual problems had starting occurring; most notably the beginning loss of battery life, and slowness (especially since I use my S8+ half the time while travelling). But there hasn’t been much hardware advancement that required me to upgrade.

While choosing a phone to upgrade too, I looked around a bit but settled on the 5T. While it has gotten a lot of excellent reviews (great phone for price), what made me buy it is that it is the only major phone on the market that has dual SIM support and community (if I ever need it). I think the only other option was a Huawei which is difficult to buy. I looked at a lot of flagship phones (S8, Pixel2, Essential, etc) and even if they were great, their lack of dual SIM eliminated them as choices.

One advantage of the 5T over the OPT is that both SIMs can be active – meaning you can call out or receive calls on both SIMs at once (on 3G). This was a problem I had previously so I’m glad that it is fixed. Everything else that is relatively important is good enough (camera, Android OS, hardware, etc).

One thing that irks me (although not a fault with OnePlus) is that while the new phone has a NFC, I can’t use Android Pay because I OEM unlocked the bootloader.


As I’m writing my Top Music of 2017 blog, I realize it might be interesting to see how rankings change over time. For me, top music should be an indication of longevity – how will I still like the song after a few years. So here’s the list from 2005 (12 years ago):

  1. Annie – Heartbeat
  2. Gwen Stefani – Cool
  3. Feist – Inside & Out
  4. Coldplay – Speed Of Sound
  5. Sum 41 – Pieces
  6. New Order – Krafty
  7. Franz Ferdinand – The Fallen
  8. Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone
  9. Sufjan Stevens – John Wayne Gacy Jr
  10. Jimmy Eat World – Work
  11. Kathleen Edwards – Back To Me
  12. The Decemberists – Sixteen Military Wives
  13. The Bravery – An Honest Mistake
  14. Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc
  15. Imogen Heap – Hide & Seek
  16. Embrace – Gravity
  17. Tegan & Sara – Speak Slow
  18. Kylie Minogue – I Believe In You

In my re-ranking, I have an arbitrary cut-off where I don’t think a song should be on the list (kind of a 3.5 star line on iTunes). And then I just re-ranked everything based on how I like the song now. Also I didn’t add any new songs since I don’t remember what came out in 2005.

  1. Feist – Inside & Out
  2. Annie – Heartbeat
  3. Kylie Minogue – I Believe In You
  4. Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone
  5. Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc
  6. Imogen Heap – Hide & Seek
  7. Gwen Stefani – Cool
  8. Sum 41 – Pieces
  9. Jimmy Eat World – Work
  10. New Order – Krafty
  11. Embrace – Gravity
  12. Tegan & Sara – Speak Slow
  13. Kathleen Edwards – Back To Me

So 5 songs have dropped of the list, and I think there’s a couple of clear tiers. Songs 1 – 4 are still great, 5 – 7 are decent, and 8+ fill out the catalogue.


I started November with a quick trip to Dallas. Dallas is a difficult destination to get to from Toronto because there’s only a couple of non-stop flights each day, and most of them don’t really fit with working hours – meaning I have to spend an extra day or night there. In any case, it was a pure work trip where I was just at the hotel or the office. That was good because it was 30°C+ there (new November record for them).

After that, the main thing on my mind was trying to get organized for Christmas seeing as December is usually full with events. We also planned to go to the US during American Thanksgiving to take advantage of Black Friday, so we had to plan that as well. We ended up driving to Pittsburgh to visit the Children’s Museum and Carnegie Science Center (both free due to reciprocal admission). We did stop for some shopping but didn’t really do a lot or take advantage of Black Friday deals.

The weather has been surprisingly cold for November. There was some snow and the kids had to wear snowpants to school for a couple of days. Aside from that, it was the usual classes and what not during the month.