Author: Mark

Residents fight Council over school road closure

Residents fight Council over school road closure

It’s the road closure that divided a suburb, and the Brisbane City Council is not budging with their decision.

From the 15th September, a section of Illaweena Street in Stretton in Brisbane was closed for two years.

It’s all part of a plan to upgrade parts of the Logan Motorway and the Gateway Motorway – a greater project called the Logan Enhancement Project.

It sees upgrades to two of the busiest intersections of the Logan Motorway – Mount Lindesay Highway near Browns Plains, and Wembley Road near Drewvale.

That’s where the community issue lies – Illaweena Street connects the southern part of Drewvale, separated by Karawatha Forest and the Logan Motorway, with the rest of the suburb.

Residents were concerned that the closure of this street would impact their access to vital services, such as the nearby Stretton State College.

What should be a 10 minute drive, according to residents, ends up being a 45 minute drive during the morning peak.


In the map above, the red line is the current section of Illaweena Street that is closed due to upgrade works.

The purple line is the previous route parents were able to drop off their children at Stretton State College, which takes around ten minutes.

The green line is the current route parents are forced to take, which depending on traffic, can take around 45 minutes. The Mount Lindesay Highway is a major section of road linking Browns Plains to Brisbane City and the Logan Motorway, and the school run is mixed in with the everyday congestion of the road.


Their concerns were ignored by Council, who ordered the closure.

State Member for Stretton Duncan Pegg has taken on board the role of convincing the State Government to pressure the City Council to overturn their decision.

Mr Pegg has noted discrepancies between Transurban’s assessment of the road, and City Council’s.

“(Transurban) says they can keep Illaweena Street open on school days, and they consulted with the community,” Mr Pegg says.

However, there was a last minute change of heart.

“The Council decided to come in and decide there was a full closure – with limited notification to locals, and virtually no consultation with the school community,” he says.

Mr Pegg has organised various community and social media campaigns.

One event was a community protest at the corner of Gowan Road and Illaweena Street, on the first day back of the September school holidays.

Rainy weather on the day didn’t hamper the spirits of Mr Pegg, and a handful of parents who showed up to support the issue, and lend their voices to the suburban controversy.

“It’s having a huge impact on locals who need to get to work, and of course – very importantly, on the school community,” he says.

“The most ridiculous part about it is…the only reason given by the Council for fully closing Illaweena Street was to stop queuing at the Gowan Road intersection.”

On the first day of school back from holidays, the City Council’s reasoning was quickly debunked.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Before the school start time of 8:45am, lines of traffic were seen from the school entrance, all the way down Illaweena Street – across the intersection Council sighted as an issue.

Some commuters who were unaware of the changes, made illegal u-turns at the Gowan Road/Illaweena Street intersection.

Hear how Duncan Pegg plans to get the State Government involved below.

Parents of students are also upset about the road closure.

Stretton State College P&C President, Louise Nann, says the closure affects the students and their parents.

“The additional traffic on the road means there is a bank back up Illaweena Street towards Beaudesert Road,” Ms Nann says.

She also highlights the safety issues of having a construction site next to a school.

“They’re not used to having young kids on the road…some of them are quite young…so they don’t understand that it’s a 40km/h zone,” she says.

“We’re concerned that kids may get hurt.”

Hear Louise Nann’s concerns over Council’s decision below.

On the Brisbane City Council side, Councillor Angela Owen is the representative for Calamvale Ward.

Both Ms. Nann and Mr. Pegg claim Cr Owen has not been responding to the concerns over safety and accessibility of residents in Drewvale.

QUT News contacted Cr Owen for a response, but the request was denied, with a Council spokesperson issuing a statement.

“These construction works involve demolishing and rebuilding overpass bridges for the Gateway Motorway, which travel directly above Illaweena Street,” Council says.

“Council assessed the possibility of intermittent closures of Illaweena Street, however, traffic information shows that traffic control would result in queuing through the Gowan Street intersection, impacting traffic and student safety around Stretton College.

“Stretton College remains fully accessible via road, for both the community and emergency vehicles, during the short-term closure of Illaweena Street.”

QUT News also reached out to Transurban Queensland, the contractor responsible for the upgrade works – and their spokesperson issued a single sentence statement, blaming Council for the debacle.

“Brisbane City Council, as road authority for Illaweena Street, issued a permit that requires a full closure be in place along the section of Illaweena Street between Gowan Road and the Stretton Recreational Reserve car park,” Transurban Queensland says.

In the meantime, the residents, parents, the State Government and the City Council are at a stalemate over whether to re-open access or to leave the road close.


Sources:

Duncan Pegg
State Member for Stretton

Louise Nann
Stretton State College P&C President

Spokesperson for Cr Angela Owen
Brisbane City Council

Spokesperson for Transurban Queensland
Developers of the Logan Enhancement Project

“The Newsroom” Sums Up Journalism Today

“The Newsroom” Sums Up Journalism Today

I’m technically on a digital detox from social media this Easter weekend, but I couldn’t help posting this after rewatching Season 1 of The Newsroom.The show has been a favourite series of mine since it first aired, but being a journalism student now, I have a completely new lens to watch this series from.  The struggle of commercial pressures vs the responsibility of the fourth estate is an issue that continues to plague our industry today. This video sums it up perfectly.

Image source: HBO.

Rewriting My Story

Rewriting My Story

Well, here’s a song that caught me out from left field. I’m procrastinating my assignments, and decided to watch Smash Season 2 (which is great by the way, despite what the critics say). Anywho, the song in the show is part of the musical Hit List. However, looking through the lyrics, I realise this song perfectly describes my life so far.

After being stuck in a job I hate, a job where I had no passion – I was desperate to restart my life.

Someone tell me when I can start again, and rewrite this story…

I wanted out. Being a primary school teacher was physically and emotionally draining me.  My work performance was suffering. I wasn’t happy. I was binge eating to mask my unhappiness. If I stayed in that job, there’s a chance I would’ve killed myself by now. I wanted to start my life again from scratch. Firstly, by not wasting time studying two degrees – Education and Engineering (which I never completed). Secondly, to better myself as a person. I was living the regrets of life choices, and it was eating me up inside. I didn’t know what to do.

How long can I stay lost without a way to rewrite, I wish I could rewrite this story…

I didn’t want to go back to university again. I didn’t want to rack up my HECS debt any more. I did feel lost – I felt trapped. Am I going to be a teacher for the rest of my life? My dream was to become a journalist. However, I was thinking more with my head and not with my heart. It was my heart that got me in trouble in the first place.

Make me someone new, tell me what I do to rewrite this story…

In the end, the cons outweighed the pros. A rare moment that my heart was correct. I had to get out. I was destined to rewrite my story. Inspired in fact. It was a big risk. I would be leaving a well-paying job, and I was loving my independence away from home. However, I wouldn’t be able to support myself balancing full time work and full time study. I sacrificed my career for my dream. Do I miss my independence and my salary? Yes, I do. There’s never a day where I think about if I made the right decision. But I know this, what comes at the end will be worth it. My life experiences up to now has given me inspiration to give up my career in Education – for a new one in journalism.

I have found my way to rewrite this story.

Review: ‘A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy’

Review: ‘A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy’

I’ve always wanted to listen to orchestral renditions of music from the Final Fantasy series, so when I heard that ‘A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy’ is coming to Brisbane – I bought tickets the day they were released.

Seven months before the performance, on the 2nd April 2017. Yep, I purchased my tickets in September 2016. I was that keen and excited for it. Being a long time Final Fantasy fan, I would be kicking myself for missing out on a Distant Worlds/A New World performance on my doorstep. I couldn’t care less if I had future assignments to be done, or any exams. I wanted to go.

First thing’s first – the venue. I actually didn’t like the fact it was going to be held at St Peters’ Lutheran College Performing Arts Centre. It was in Indooroopilly and wasn’t a convenient place to get to public transport wise. After attending last night, it was the right decision. The smaller theatre meant the acoustics were amazing. Being so close to the stage meant I was able to appreciate the music even more. A smaller venue, compared to one of a similar size in the CBD, was the right call.

The opening set piece was ‘The Decisive Battle’ from Final Fantasy VI. I love the sounds of live violins, and this song was perfect to open up the concert. I sat in awe – my favourite Final Fantasy songs, arranged for orchestra, in person. I can’t describe in words how I felt. I’ve waited years for this.
The smaller orchestra performed to my expectations. They sound exactly like they do in the recordings I purchased. That’s a testament to the attention to detail these musicians have. It was a new take on an old favourite, but with a sense of familiarity.

I was expecting the concert to be verbatim to the recordings, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear that we had Australian premieres and world premieres of new Final Fantasy arrangements. The names escape me at the moment, but I’ll list them down once the repertoire is made public, but the songs featured were:

  • The Red Wings (Final Fantasy VI)
  • Rebel Army Theme (Final Fantasy II)
  • Town Theme (Final Fantasy I)
  • To Zanarkand (Final Fantasy X)
  • Force Your Way (Final Fantasy VIII)
  • Those Who Fight (Final Fantasy VII)
  • Golden Saucer (Final Fantasy VII) – Australian Premiere
  • One Winged Angel (Final Fantasy VII) – Encore Performance

Benyamin Yuss was AMAZING in his piano solos of Those Who Fight and Golden Saucer. If you haven’t heard of him, check out his YouTube channel.

I was nearly left disappointed when they didn’t feature ‘One Winged Angel’! Fortunately, it was the encore performance. Regardless of which arrangement this song takes, it’s always amazing to hear it live in person. ‘To Zanarkand’ is such a beautiful piece and fits the smaller orchestra perfectly. You get to hear each individual instrument up close, and is not lost like some instruments are in a full-sized orchestra.

What I was disappointed though was the omission of two of my favourite songs! ‘Blinded by Light’ from Final Fantasy XIII, and ‘Dark World’ from Final Fantasy VI. I guess though, they have to keep the repertoire fresh so people who have attended these concerts before (which a majority in the audience have) can be still entertained.

If A New World comes back again, or Distant Worlds premieres in Brisbane – regardless if you’re a Final Fantasy fan or not – I highly recommend. The music and the atmosphere alone is worth the experience.

The #QUTCurlew: A Personal Reflection

The #QUTCurlew: A Personal Reflection

Who knew a bird staring at its own reflection would generate so much buzz? It was the craziest weekend of my life. My phone couldn’t stop alerting me to curlew-related stuff, and I had friends congratulating me on my cameo on a BBC News article about this. However, lessons can be learned from this experience.

It made me realise that I don’t like it when I’m in the spotlight. The great thing about being a journalist is while you’re always in the public eye, you relatively live a normal life. I recognise that this boosted my media profile, and would be a foot in the door for any media career. However, I love to write about the news, but hate being the news. I was overwhelmed with what was happening, and I got caught up in the emotion. I’ve never been in this situation before. It was surreal. My anxiety rose. I didn’t know what was happening. Yes, it wasn’t a totally global viral sensation like other things, but the scale was something I didn’t imagine it would be. It’s only around now that things have finally settled down and I can move on with my life.

This page wasn’t actually my idea. My friend Naveen actually had the idea of creating the page, but because I’m page administrator, I took all the credit. Do I feel bad for that? Yes, I do. This was a team effort. Naveen had the idea, and Jorja came up with the name. I just ran the page. But yet, I take all the credit? It doesn’t seem fair? Even with my interview with the BBC, I emphasised that this was not my idea. However, I still got the credit. In addition, it wasn’t the Facebook page that popularised the curlew. It was a Twitter post that ABC journalist Nick Wiggins posted, that was re-tweeted thousands of times.

On a side note, partially in response to the media buzz, it’s key that people do take mental health breaks. It’s what I’m trying to do every Friday now – where I relax and not worry about my media commitments, work and uni. Someone also pointed out to me that I overshare on social media. It’s true. I never considered myself to be a narcissist but clearly I am. The bird is a metaphor for who I was on social media. The curlew craze pushed my oversharing habit to the max. I was making memes a lot, cross posting it on my personal page, and for a few days all my Twitter feed was about, was the curlew. That’s on top of my typical oversharing statuses of every single bit of my life. That’s not a good habit to have. I’ve fallen into the trap of putting on a facade for social media, only to be a completely different person offline. I’m now striving to not share as much on Facebook about every minute aspect of my life. You guys really don’t care about most of it anyway, so why should I post it?

I’ve learned several lessons from this experience. Anything to make me a better person is great.

My Growing K-Pop Obsession

Here I am, trying to start a music assignment for university. For one of the questions for this essay, I have to analyse the politics of a chosen subculture. I chose hallyu, or the Korean Wave. Why did I choose this? Firstly, I believe this ‘subculture’ is underrated and not analysed enough academically. Secondly…and I’ll admit this, I’ve been growing an interest in to K-pop. 😂

I have this love and hate affair with pop music in general. The music student in me abhors inauthentic and manufactured music made for the masses, and would often criticise it at any chance. However, regardless I indulge in it as my guilty pleasure. It’s like chocolate. You know it’s unhealthy for you but you eat it anyway because it’s so good! Pop music’s the same. It’s the lowest of the lowest in the musical food chain, akin to junk food, but the general public can’t stop listening to it. YEAH, I SAID IT. I’m going to get a barrage of tweets after making that statement. Well, not really. No-one reads my blog.

Anywho, back on topic! I’ll be honest, my first exposure to K-pop was PSY and Gangnam Style. I actually didn’t like it at first – a common theme for most of the music I listen to, but that’s for another blog post. However, but there’s something intriguing about PSY. He seems to be the anti-thesis to what K-pop was for me. Actually, to be honest I’ve grouped K-pop with every other East Asian pop music genre – in-your-face bubblegum with high pitched female singers. However, it wasn’t till I played DJMax Technika 3 in the arcade that I discovered that K-pop style is closer to Western pop music, but still had a distinct East Asian flavour. In addition, it seems the inauthenticity and manufactured-ness of pop music is embraced in K-pop, rather than scolded and criticised in Western pop. Loud and proud to be manufactured.

This is where I discovered KARA.  My conception of K-pop slowly began to change. They had a dark and edgy image, akin to girl groups in Western pop culture today. It wasn’t too bubblegum. I thought yeah this could be a new guilty pleasure for me. The song that caught my attention? Step. The hard electronic synth and beats, and that dark and edgier pop music tone, appealed to me. Lyrics? Yeah, I had to get that translated. Surprisingly, it wasn’t about love or romance. In my interpretation, it was motivational – picking yourself up after a rough patch, you could say. I liked the song instantly, so much that it’s my #3 most played song in my iTunes collection. I did eventually listen to other KARA songs such as Lupin, Jumping! and Damaged Lady, but while I did liked those songs, it didn’t have the same effect like Step did on me. You K-pop fanatics (or my friends who could be potentially reading this) might want to ask me – who’s your favourite KARA member? 🤐 😜

The next group I came across was Girls Generation. Yes, I didn’t give that group the time of day until now. It was only when I came across their cover of Duffy’s Mercy while doing research for another music assignment.  The song was an interesting pop adaptation, to say the least. While the original song by Duffy tried to stay true to the sound of soul music, Girls Generation’s version completely stripped it back. You hear hints of the ‘soul’ vibe in it, but the drum and bass instrumentation is akin to your typical K-pop sound. I dunno, I do like the song but it just has a different feel to it compared to the original. I’m yet to check the back catalogue of Girls Generation to see if there are songs that stand out.

Now, let’s visit the other end of the spectrum…

I haven’t tried exploring any K-pop boybands or solo artists yet so that’ll be for another blog post. This should be an interesting journey into the world of Korean pop music.

Why I Left Teaching

Why I Left Teaching

To my friends still working in education, this is certainly not a knock on you. All of you have been my support through out my 4 years in teaching. I thank you again. 

I’ve never got around to typing this post, but a friend of mine and a former co-worker notified me that someone we knew had left education. This person was quite high up the chain and it was quite a shock to hear that they left. It’s representative of the state of the education system. We’re pressured over so many things happening at the same time. NAPLAN, data, results…it just goes on. Here are my reasons for leaving teaching.

The Classroom

Teaching, for me, started to become less fun when the system started to be more data focused. I understand the use for data, and how helpful it is to the development of the child, but we were doing too much of data collection. It was like every day I had to collect data, which detracted from my real job, which was to teach the children. I know many of my friends who are excellent in balancing the curricular needs of the children, and that data needs of the higher-ups. I admire them so much in that regard. But for me, it was too much.

The Curriculum

Let’s see the subjects I had to teach in 1 week in my class at my last site:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • The Arts (Music, Visual Arts, Dance, Drama)
  • Geography
  • History
  • Physical Education

English, Maths and Science had to take priority so 3.5 hours of our 5 hours was dedicated to those three subjects. Which didn’t leave much time for the others. In addition, the content of the curriculum sometimes left me wondering if what our kids are teaching is relevant to them. Units were 5 weeks in length. That may be a long time for some people, but once ‘real life’ happens, you fall behind quickly. I personally believe we’re teaching them too much in too little time. 1 term units used to be the standard years ago, and allowed ample time for children to let the knowledge settle in. Plus, I am a firm believer of the basics, which I believe the curriculum does not cover sufficiently. It’s up to the school to enforce it. If children don’t know basic English and Maths, they can’t be expected to learn anything else unless they master those.

The Work

Never say to me ‘Teaching? That’s only a 9-3 job with plenty of holidays!’ because I would seriously consider physical assault on your face. Teaching is more than 9-3pm. It’s a lifestyle. Taking work home to make sure your students don’t fall behind. Marking work at home. Buying utensils outside of the school budget so the student who doesn’t have anything has at least something. Nights spent in front of the television laminating classroom materials. On some days, I’d do that work on site at school and stay till 5pm or later if need be. Report card time was the most stressful time, which means even longer time spent on school work. I rarely took the time to relax, because I feared if I do relax, I’d be behind even further. I could not cope with this lifestyle.

What Do I Miss

In saying that, there are do things I miss. One of them was the unexpected events that happen in a school day that make you feel proud. Students getting work, one student improving day by day, some with leaps and bounds. That’s a feeling that made me keep going despite all the problems encountered. In addition, the supportive staff rooms. I’ve made so many friends with teachers and admin staff that I still keep in contact to this day. Of course, I will openly admit, the pay was good too. However, it was an easy decision to leave a well-paying job to pursue my dream.

There’s one legacy of teaching that still stands with me – my handwriting. Still looks like school handwriting.

img_2264

If you’re reading this as an education student, don’t let my post dissuade you from your studies. You’ll never know if it’s right for you unless you spend 1 year in the classroom. If you’re reading this as a teacher, this is my personal experience so don’t take this to heart.

I’m happy studying journalism. That was my dream as a child and I’m so grateful to have the chance to pursue it now.

Let It Go: Confronting my Anxiety Symptoms

Let It Go: Confronting my Anxiety Symptoms

I’m quite a reserved person when it comes to issues regarding my mental health, but I think for my benefit I have to deal with it – the reason why I’m writing this blog post.

I used to work as a primary school teacher. This is the first time I’d admit this in the open – but I did not enjoy my job one single bit. I persevered through an Education degree, a line of work I was never interested in, out of fear of not having a degree to my name. Some cultural shame happened here as well, as I would bring shame to my family if I didn’t graduate university. In addition, during my time university, I had a major falling out with a uni friend of mine, which to this day remain unresolved.

Throughout my time as a relief teacher, I’d often refuse work. You’re wondering, why would you do that Mark? The money was good – relief teachers got $360 a day for work.  However, I was scared, I was anxious. I didn’t want to do this. I hated teaching children. Some days I would accept relief jobs purely for the money, not for the career advancement. This was not often though. I was happy to be locked in my own room, and watch American football all day. It was my outlet, my escapism. It put me out of my misery over my life choices.

The self-sabotaging went on. My mother forced me to look for teaching contracts, often bewildered why I wasn’t looking hard enough. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t want to do it. She wouldn’t have understood. But I had to keep her happy. Now and then, I would actually put an application in for contract jobs.

My first contract came in 2012. I thought this was it, I can finally try to get over my anxiety and worthlessness. I have a contract and I can work towards this career. My anxiety symptoms got worse. I came home exhausted, I lost passion for the things I used to enjoy. I was alone with no friends in a new town.  Again, like before, I’d often just stay in my house and not go anywhere on weekends. It was my safe place.  Six months passed, and I was able to ‘escape’ from that situation.

After my contract was over, I moved in back home. I felt I was in a safe place again, then the vicious cycle began again. Refusal for relief jobs, not actively seeking new contracts. However, I had a new goal – I wanted to go to Japan. I had motivation for taking on jobs, but it wasn’t for the love of teaching.  2013 was a year I did feel alright, but it wasn’t without its moments.  One contract I was offered was in the middle of nowhere in rural Queensland. Any budding teacher would jump at the chance for a contract with a foot in the door. Not me, I hesitated again. But I needed extra money for Japan, so I said yes. It was only for six weeks so I just wanted to get it over and done with.

After my Japan holiday, I took a 6 month sabbatical. This was my chance to revaluate my life. I was considering a new career as an English teacher in Japan or South Korea. However, this didn’t come to plan. I was kinda relieved actually.

2014 ended up being a big year for me. I was finally offered permanency. This was it, I thought. My confidence was boosted, and despite refusing most of my relief jobs and only two contracts to my name, I was given a chance. I had a six month honeymoon period, and after that it all fell apart. My work performance suffered. My anxiety was worse than in 2012. After work, I’d go straight to bed and sleep. I wake up every morning with a very bad gut feeling.  The majority of my weekends were spent locked in my bedroom, forcing myself to sleep. I started drinking alcohol, but because I didn’t really enjoy the taste of some alcohol, I never developed an addiction. That I’m thankful for. However, I still felt lost and worthless. While I did build a support network, I couldn’t just become needy and clingy.  I didn’t know how to cope.

I said enough was enough, and I asked permission from my boss to seek treatment for my possible anxiety symptoms. I was given full support. I became proactive and requested a Mindspot assessment for anxiety and depression. When my suspicions were confirmed, I proceeded to use my employer’s support network and sought a psychologist. It was the first step to solving my anxiety. The first session was great, I was able to get a few things off my chest. However, my mistake was not continuing with my sessions. I’m the type who never likes to ask for help, and thought I could solve this myself. After I resigned from my position to pursue my dream of becoming a journalist, the sessions stopped too.

I took another 6 month sabbatical, and resumed university in a journalism course. With my anxiety unresolved, I moved to an ‘Elsa’ from Frozen method – don’t let them in, don’t let them see…conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know. I put on this fascade of a strong, 27-year old person who is seeking his dream. I forced my anxiety behind me, thinking the new course is the way out.

For the first two semesters, I had excellent headspace and performed to my highest. Unfortunately, this semester, constant illness set me back this semester. As a result, I felt like I’m on the back foot. Again, the anxiety crept back in. Something I thought I had in control by removing myself from an undesirable environment, flared up again. The amount work I needed to do snowballed. Then, I received 1 bad grade. I still passed, but I was disappointed in myself. I was performing to the best of my ability to this point, and I felt like a failure. In addition, there were other factors (that I don’t want to mention publically) I had to deal with as well. The old enemy came back. I started acting weird towards my university friends, often doing odd things that I couldn’t even explain myself.  I was losing sleep. My fascade was falling apart.

Now I realise, I need to fix this once and for all. I can’t put this off any longer. In fact, just typing this blog post up has improved my mood immensely. It’s still no excuse for me to not seek treatment, this vicious lull that I constantly get myself in to.

I would like to thank all my friends for supporting me and putting up with me. It’s time for me to let it go.

Pokemon Go: My Thoughts

Pokemon Go: My Thoughts

Pokemon started when I was only 9 years old, and as a result, I always had a soft spot for it. When Pokemon Go for smartphones was released two days ago, you wouldn’t believe how excited I was. I guarantee you, every kid like me back in 1998/1999 had the farfetched dream to become a Pokemon Master. At the time, we only had the Game Boy editions to live that dream out. I didn’t even own a Game Boy! I had to settle for Pokemon cards, the anime, and playing my friends’ Game Boys and their Pokemon. Technology has come so far since then, to the extent now we can have Alternative Reality (AR) apps from our smartphones. The result? Via the smartphone’s camera, we can catch them in real life locations! The 10-year old kid in me screams in excitement with that proposal.  Do you know how exciting it is to capture Pokemon from real-life locations? It’s the stuff that we dreamed about when we were kids. I went in to the city to have lunch with some uni friends of mine, and you wouldn’t believe the number of people – of various ages – who were crowded around the Queen Street Mall, which is a common meeting point of Brisbane City. I reckon one in three people there were using Pokemon Go finding Pokestops (akin to a Pokemon Centre, where you can get free supplies – without the rest stop for your Pokemon) and the Gyms.

IMG_1695 IMG_1694

Left: The main Pokemon Go interface. Blue cubes are Pokestops, the large red points are Pokemon Gyms.
Right: Yes, I got a Magikarp. Will take a lot to make it evolve in to a Gyarados!

The app is extremely easy to use. After you set up your avatar and profile, you get to choose from the 3 original starter Pokemon – Squirtle, Bulbasaur and Charmander. I chose Bulbasaur, mainly by accident! Haha. But the app will give you a tutorial on the battle system, and the features. The “battle” interface is a simplified version of what you find in the games. You don’t need a Pokemon to catch another. You just simply throw your Pokeball towards the Pokemon you want. This is a little tricky, as sometimes you miss completely. Also, like in the Nintendo console versions, there will be Pokemon that will break out. While simplified, it still has a feel of authenticity – however instead of Red/Ash catching it, you are! If you’re on battery saving mode, you can also turn off the AR camera.

Bulbasaur On My Driveway IMG_1699

Left: Look ma, there’s a Bulbasaur on my driveway!
Right: With the AR camera off, you get a generic background like in the Nintendo console versions.

A major gripe with the app though is the concentration of Gyms and Pokestops in the CBD, compared to the suburbs.  For some of us, we don’t get to go in to the city as much, so it would be nice if the a higher concentration of Gyms and Pokestops in some of the outer-suburb areas. However, Pokemon Go has encouraged me to deviate from my regular walks in the pursuit of new Pokemon. That’s a plus in my eyes! In addition, the balance between in-game intrinsic achievement and in-game purchases is just right. You don’t need to buy more Incense or Pokeballs because you’d get most of them for free anyway at the Pokestops. This app is designed for you to go out and about – you can’t really play it in the local area. As I said before, however, a higher number of Gyms and Pokestops would be nice.

However, I’ve noticed there are some things missing! More social features like:

  • Trading Pokemon with friends.
  • Battling friends.
  • The option to battle other people in a close radius, or at a Pokemon Gym location.

These are features which can be implemented, that won’t ruin the ‘physical nature’ of the game. It would just enhance the experience in my opinion. Overall, this game ticks the right boxes for me. It’s engaging, and you have to physically go searching for the Pokemon. You have to move. In this age of health and wellbeing, that’s a good thing. There are some rough edges that need to be fixed, but hopefully the developers can sort that out soon!

Revisiting Blog Posts Five Years Later: The iPad

Revisiting Blog Posts Five Years Later: The iPad

I was reading my old blog posts on the iPad, and my opinion on this device has changed since then. That is because after holding out for so long, I finally got myself an iPad! Yeah alright, technically it’s a hand-me-down iPad 3 from my mother when she upgraded to an iPad Air, but it still counts, right?! This is a retrospective post, comparing what I said then to my stance now.

When Steve Jobs revealed it would be based on the iPhone OS, maybe disappointed would be an understatement on how I felt. Sure, the iPhone OS and platform would be great for providing a smooth user experience, but for me being a computer nerd at heart I actually want to do other things than what Apple want me to do with the iPad. This is kinda the problem I have with the iPhone too, how lock down it is. (From The iPad – yay or nay?)

Steve nailed this again. With a portable device like the iPad, the now-called iOS is a perfect fit. Having one app binary shared between iPhone and iPad made things a lot easier. An operating system like OS X/macOS would have made the device cumbersome, and drain a lot of battery. If I stuck to doing light things, I can get away with charging the iPad once a week.

As for the iPad, I’ll give this one a pass… (From The iPad – yay or nay?)

That was 2010, and I held out till 2015. I have to give myself some credit for that! It was prejudicial for me to make a verdict on the iPad based on what I hear, without trying it first, which is what the next quotes address.

Before touching an iPad, I dismissed it as an oversized iPod Touch/iPhone. After having a try, my view is different. Yes, the iPad does use the iPhone OS, but when I used it I didn’t think of it as an oversized iPod touch. Everything felt natural. (From The iPad: What do I think of it?)

I have to admit, with the iPhone 6 Plus/6S Plus out now, this distinction is blurring. But yes, I see my iPad as a compliment to my MacBook Air, rather than as an extension to my iPhone.

The first program I tried immediately was Pages. The keyboard is well sized, and you can do touch typing with it out of the box. It wasn’t hard to readapt to an iPhone keyboard – in fact I enjoyed it. As for the Pages app, it is adequate as a word processor but obviously it is missing powerful features like on it’s Mac counterparts – Pages OSX and Word for Mac. Everything was smooth an intuitive. I was liking what I was seeing and touching. (From The iPad: What do I think of it?)

OneNote on the iPad is almost as good as on macOS.  Touch typing on it, like I said above, is just natural. I substitute my MacBook Air for my iPad on some days at uni when having a laptop is not necessary. It does its job really well. Granted, multitasking is a bit cumbersome when using the iPad, but I guess it wasn’t designed to be like that.

Overall, I have found the iPad to be a great companion device. Instead of carrying my MacBook around to watch video, I use the iPad because of its small profile. When I want to watch MLB.tv, the iPad is the primary device to watch baseball games. I have the Kindle app to read books on it. It’s also great on flights if the aircraft does not have in-flight entertainment.