Tag Archives: life

Twenty Five


Sometimes, when people ask me how old I am, I get a little confused. Especially when they combine it with questions like “so is that 23 turning 24, or 24 turning 25?” I don’t tend to think about how old I am all the time, so either I answer too quickly and get it wrong, or I think about it for longer than one might consider “normal”, get laughed at, and still get it wrong anyway.

It didn’t used to be this way, but over the past couple of years I’ve noticed it happening more and more. I’ve filled out enough online forms to know what my birth date is, so I should at least be able to calculate how old I am, but for some reason, deriving an answer to “how old are you” doesn’t come easily. Maybe I’m just over-thinking things, and I should add “I am 25 years old” to the list of things that I just know, like my (rough) height and weight. Maybe this is just what getting old is like.

Truth be told, I wasn’t planning on writing a birthday post this year. Or last year, for that matter. I had plenty of age and maturity-related thoughts when I was writing a birthday post from a few years ago, but when the time came to write about something last year, or something this year, none of the topics I had swirling around in my head wanted to coalesce into something of substance. No matter how long the bus or train ride was, nothing seemed pertinent enough to write about as the main topic of yet another birthday post.

Which is weird, because last year, more than any other, has been a pretty big year. Almost too big to write about, really, given that I accepted my first full-time job, which meant moving out of home and deciding what personal possessions I’d be bringing to another city in another state (computers, electronics, then everything else, in that order).

I made a trip to the US to watch The International, the biggest Dota 2 tournament in the world, as well as check out some west coast cities.

And so far, it’s been the first Christmas I’ve spent without any immediate family, the first New Year, and probably my first birthday. I can’t say for sure, obviously, but it certainly feels that way. Not that I mind about any of that. It was all going to happen eventually, and I’m glad it happened in at least somewhat positive circumstances.

If you’ve read any of my tweets from this year, you’ll know that growing up is, for the most part, pretty awful. No one’s talking about the freedom you get when you live alone, away from your immediately family, but when you work full time, people kind of know what you’re doing most of the time.

What they’re not telling you about is how awful it is having to do all of the washing up. Or needing to eat, but not wanting to do the washing up, and lacking the disposable incoming to eat out or get takeaway more than a few nights a week. Or how house inspections only happen four times per year, but even that feels too often. Or how having getting paid every fortnight feels great, at least until the bills and rent come in, at which point all your hard-earned leaves your bank account. The days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months, and a lot of the time, it feels as though I’m living to work, instead of working to live.

People ask me if I’d go back to uni to study, and I usually answer that while the actual study part was pretty awful, the lifestyle was pretty great. Not having to wake up early to go to work, not having to spend the entire day at uni, and occasionally being able to have entire days to myself. Now that I work full time, the only time that I really get is from evenings and weekends.

What it comes down to is a lack of time. If I’m playing video games every evening, then I’m not cooking, or doing the washing up. If I’m on call on the weekend, then I have to squeeze in buying groceries into my “lunch break”, or go shopping after work during the week. Every time I decide to clean my tiny unit, do some ironing for the week, or whatever else needs doing that I didn’t get around to doing last week is another time I’m not playing games on the internet with friends, and as the old adage goes, all work and no play makes Benny a dull boy.

Of course, the solution here might seem pretty simple: give up video games. But games have been such a huge part of my life that giving up video games would be like giving up a part of myself, like trading in my childhood for a shot at adulthood.

And that’s kind of what this is all about. My friends have been moving out, getting married, and settling down for years now. Some times I wish I experienced those things earlier, but I’m happy enough with how things have turned out so far.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the work that I’m doing. But there are times I wish it took up less of my time than it currently does. Some of the time, I wonder what it’d be like to be mostly-unemployed and have heaps of time, or what it would be like to have no time and be earning an amount to make it not matter. Perhaps there’s not much difference between the two, after all, but I guess that’s why they call it life.

Here’s to another year, whatever craziness it may bring.

Here and Now

There’s a perk in Fallout 3 and New Vegas called Here and Now. When taken, it immediately grants you another level, complete with all of the advantages that brings. There are plenty of other, equally-enticing perks to choose from, all with similarly beneficial advantages, so why choose Here and Now over any of those? We’ll get to this in a bit.

FalloutNV 2013-01-27 15-51-27-99

I wanted to write about a number of different things on my birthday today, seeing as last year’s post was so disappointing length-wise, but then I realised that as much as everything changes, it all just stays the same. As much as I want to about all the great things that happened last year, or some of the cooler moments, I’ve already done so. I’ve already posted about how I’m now a great photographer, and how I’ve played some of the best video games currently on offer. What else is there to write on here about?

Correction: what else is there to write about that won’t sound as depressing as it actually is?

By all accounts I should have finished my degree by now, but I’ve failed enough things to mean that this year will be my fifth year of a what is usually a three-year degree. We were talking about this in the car with a friend a few weeks after results came out, and he was like “that kinda sucks man, are you bummed about that?” My response was that I was pretty “meh” about the entire thing, because really, it’s not such a big deal, but yeah, it does kinda suck; therefore, meh seemed like an appropriate response. Not something to get too hung up on, but not something to be entirely ignored, either.

And that kind of describes my entire life, actually: all the bits that aren’t OMG amazing or FML depressing are just kinda, well, “meh”. Not overly exciting, but not exactly something I want to brag about, either.

But isn’t that the point? If I think about it, doesn’t life mean we take things as they come — the good, the bad, and the Things That Sit Squarely In The Middle? I mean, I’d be somewhat concerned if my life was all awesome, all the time. Concerned, or re-ordering my stock of valium, one of the two. In fact, I’d say having this good/bad/meh balance is as important as anything else in your life; too much of a good thing is a bad thing, as they say. And as much as we might want great things to happen to us all the time, bad stuff happens. All you can do is take it in your stride and learn from the experience.

It’s this learning from experience that I wanted to finish on today. Life throws a great many things at you, but as long as you come out the other side, you’ve come out on top. Because, if nothing else, you’ve learnt something along the way. Every time you die in DayZ, you learn to not do whatever you did to die. Every time you take a film photo, you learn to refine your composition technique. You learn to get in someone’s face. Every time you finish a Gun Master round in Battlefield 3, you learn to aim better with the guns you’re given. You learn how they work, how much recoil they have. You learn, for the hundredth time, that you hate the LSAT with the fire of a thousand suns.

Point is, you learn from these life experiences; good, bad, or completely mediocre.

Which brings us back to Here and Now. Because as nice as having all those experiences are, and as nice as doing all that learning is, wouldn’t it be easier if you could do all that learning without going through the experience in the first place? I mean, who really wants to know what having their heart broken feels like, or what losing a close friend or family member feels like? Wouldn’t you rather just know beforehand, instead of having to actually go through it and experience it for yourself? If you could just know what things feel like and what would happen if you did a particular thing, wouldn’t you? They say hindsight is 20-20, but wouldn’t it be great to have that kind of hindsight before stuff — good, bad, or otherwise — happens?

Hence the Here and Now perk in the Fallout series.

An additional experience level, complete with all the advantages that brings.

Death, Motherhood and ‘Creatures’

I realized these were all Norns.

I thought about what I had done to these creatures. I thought about how I had wanted to save them.

I was not looking at save dates. I was looking at epitaphs. I was looking at headstones. This was not suspended animation at all. I had made coffins.

I had been paralyzed by my own fear of mortality, and so, one at a time, I’d paralyzed my Norns.

I had not saved them from their own too-short lives. It was exactly the opposite: I was so frightened of watching them die, I had murdered them instead.

via A Constant Furrowing: Death, Motherhood and ‘Creatures’ | Unwinnable.

A great read on exactly the kind of mentality that means we shouldn’t be taking things too seriously. Make mistakes, not for the sake of making mistakes, but because you have many, many more lessons to learn.

And if that means a Norn has an unsatisfactory life here and there, so be it.

Twenty One

Another day, another notch on the ol’ belt-buckle of life. Wait, I think I used that analogy last year…

I don’t think I can write anything positive without spiralling downward into the abyss, so I’ll just say: look at these Derpy Cats and be done with it.

Here’s to more maturity, or something. If only maturity measured in age-years was linked to wisdom, then we’d all be in a better place. And yet, here we are…

Inconsistent Application

Alternate title: The End

Well, ladies and gents, it’s been a good ride. Through thick and thin, you’ve successfully managed to ignore the vast majority of my posts on here, so I guess this is it. I am, of course, referring to the imminent demise of the Facebook Notes importer that works via RSS. If you’re reading this on Facebook, then this is probably the last post you’ll see from me for a long, long time — but if you’re reading this on my, you know, actual blog (www.bennylingbling.com for those playing at home), then you’re guaranteed the same sporadic posts that you’ve always had, with a money back guarantee! Okay, maybe not that last part. But still, random sporadic posts should be good enough for anyone, right?

What follows is a post that has had to be written for a while now…

Primary School

The year is 2001, and the Benny Ling you know is just 10 years old and in Year 5. He’s sitting in class, when suddenly, the teacher plonks down the marked copy of a previous maths test. He looks down, incredulous, at that red lettering: 100%. The perfect score.

I remember it like it was ten years ago. Sitting in class, when my teacher at the time hands back that maths test. It was on the decimal system, as I recall, fractions and that sort of stuff, and I managed to get 100% on it. The teacher exclaimed to the whole class that she had checked it thoroughly, twice, and that I had actually gotten 100% on a maths test. One of my favourite memories, and yet, my report for that year reads something like so:

“He is a very capable in all aspects of language and test results confirm this, yet work is sometimes presented at a standard below his best.”

“Benny’s work on his German project was most disappointing, far below the standard of which he is capable.”

I still have that maths test, somewhere.

Year 6 is perhaps even more eye opening, at least in terms of reports:

“In SOSE, which requires him to do research and put in considerable effort for a good result, he does not achieve as well as in other areas.”

And perhaps the most scathing comment of all:

“He is a very capable student, but often only does the minimum necessary, and homework is frequently not completed or of a standard well below his capabilities.” … “He is able to write for specific purposes but often does as little as possible.”

I was one of those students that always strived to finish first. One of those students that strived to be the best — but only at things I knew I could actually be the best at.

Secondary School

Fast forward a few years. The year is now 2004, and the Benny Ling you know is now a few years older, and perhaps even a few years wiser. He gets his Year 8 interim report, and that’s when it all starts to fall apart…

Continue Reading →

Up and Down

It’s like a rollercoaster over here.

The past few days have sucked completely because I’ve been very unproductive (and that will have some consequences I’ll face some other day), and for a moment there, it was almost funny — I’d think about how much work I had to do, do completely none of it, then think about the consequences of not doing so. This led into a spiral of doom which me feeling pretty sucky; getting angry at myself for not doing any work, knowing any consequences I would have to bear would be all my fault, writing semi-depressive blog posts on the subject under the guise of unanswered questions, questioning all sorts of things.

Yeah, it kinda sucked.

But the thing is, now those deadlines have come and gone, I got a whole heap done today. There’s no hugely pressing deadline per se, but I did have to get a few things done by tomorrow or the end of the week — and today, I pretty much ticked off every single thing on my list. Weird, right?

It’s not that I can’t work under pressure  — arguably some of my best work is when I’m thrown into the deep end. So what is it? The pressure of doing my best work knowing that someone is looking over my shoulder every step of the way? I used to say that I did my best work alone, but now I’m not so sure. Perhaps I need that pressure of being accountable, that pressure of knowing that I’ll have to answer to someone for my work— someone other than myself.

You know what? I’m actually not sure what it is. Perhaps it’s the fact that when faced with a million seemingly-insurmountable tasks and the lure of a good game, I’ll choose the game every time. Or perhaps it’s the fact that sometimes I just can’t be bothered — I could do the work if I was bothered, but man, sometimes I just don’t see the point.

In any case, I got a few things done today that I’m pretty proud of. Unfortunately, I’ve also made some pretty poor decisions in the past week — the consequences of which I’ll face some other day. No sense getting dragged down by the past now, is there?

Over and out.

This post part of Blogtober 2011, just a little thing of mine where I (attempt to) post something up on my blog every day in October 2011.


What you YOU missing out on?

calvin and hobbes

via Calvin and Hobbes Comic Strip, September 06, 2010 on GoComics.com.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the thing.

Welcome one, welcome all, to another one of those “reflective” posts.

Now, without sounding like I’m blowing my own trumpet, I’m pretty good at this computer thing. Certainly there are areas of my computing knowledge that are lacking, but I think I do a pretty good job. I could tell you how to win a round of game of Bad Company 2, for example, and yet I don’t know anything about programming in Python.

In the above comic Calvin is wondering aloud about the awesome TV shows they’re potentially missing due to watching a nice sunset — and that’s the crux of it, really. Where do you draw the line between doing something you enjoy and just getting out there and experiencing new things? Things that perhaps are outside of your comfort zone, things that you wouldn’t necessarily enjoy?

I know all about forum etiquette, but to date I’m still pretty baffled by pointers in C. I could create a heightmap in Photoshop to form the basis of terrain in Unity, but deriving mathematical formulae is still something I can’t do well.

Sometimes it takes an act of faith to realise what you’ve been missing out on all this time. An excellent example of this is socialising. I’m can be pretty alright when it comes to talking to other people, but I can also be pretty anti-social if I want to be. I’ve never been out clubbing late at night because (I think) that’s not my thing, but without having actually been clubbing, how would I know? Perhaps clubbing is actually the awesomest thing ever and I’ll meet the love of my life while out clubbing? The thing is, because I’ve never been out clubbing, I’ll never know (although I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t find the coolest girl ever in a bar, but weirder things have happened).

I could tell you how to forwards ports on a number of different routers, and make it so that you could access your home computers when you’re out and about, but I’ve never passed out from excess alcohol consumption (some would say that’s a good thing). I find talking to girls pretty difficult (or should that be pretty girls difficult?), but I could tell you how to edit the ID3 tags of any MP3.

The point is — how many experiences am I missing out on because I’m too busy marvelling at the wonders of the internet? One could certainly argue that the Internet would be able to tell me all about those experiences, but there’s nothing like experiencing things first hand.

Sometimes all it takes is a leap of faith. And hey, I might enjoy loud crappy music, spending hard-earned money on pointless alcoholic drinks, and getting hit on by women whose fathers would be shocked and appalled if they could see exactly what their little princesses were up to.

Yeah, sure.

Your testimony, please.

Alternate title: testify, oldbag! (If you don’t get that, you clearly haven’t played enough Pheonix Wright. [link opens iTunes])

Okay, I’ll admit it: there are times when I think there would be nothing worse than going to church on a Sunday. There, I said it. Sometimes it’s because I played too much Bad Company 2 the night before and didn’t get to sleep until 1am and sometimes it’s because I’ve had a terribad week (in terms of sleep, anyway, averaging 5-6 hours per night).

My own laziness aside, it’s not until I actually drag myself out of bed, get ready, and sit down at church that I realise I’m glad to be there.

As I type this on my very-soon-to-be-replaced iPhone 3G, my mind flicks back to last Sunday…

If you’re a regular church-goer you’ll know that a testimony (sometimes also called a witness) is where some member of the congregation tells the other members how they came to be a Christian.

This one particular guy from the congregation stands up, somehow manages to mumble into the microphone “I really don’t want to be up here”, and then gets on with his testimony.

Well, if you could call it a testimony.

Now, I’ve said a friendly “hello” to this guy once or twice, but for all I know he’s just another churchgoer like me. I never see him come with a partner/wife though, but that’s not uncommon.

Anyway, he gets on with his testimony, and because he’s usually a pretty quiet guy he reads it out from a piece of paper. Which is fine, it’s normal to have notes or something. But I digress. Maybe it’s the fact he’s reading his testimony, maybe it’s just his actual testimony is amazing, but what he describes is actually pretty out there – not outside the bounds of reality by any means, but enough to make you stop and wonder.

Maybe it’s the fact that most testimonies I’ve heard are relatively the same (having Christian parents, going to a Christian school, etc, etc), but his story just makes me think. I won’t attempt to recall all of it here, but you hear stories of people coming from fractured families, having abusive parents, entering destructive cycles and so on, but it’s not until you actually hear it from a person that you know that it really hits home.

Not that he did come from a fractured family or had abusive parents, mind you – nay, his problem mainly stemmed from a lack of self-confidence and the discovery of alcohol – but it made me stop and think that yeah, that shit is real.

Maybe I’ve lived a fairly sheltered life. Maybe it’s because I’m lucky to have the parents that I do, and the lifestyle that I have.

I’m not really trying to say anything here, apart from the fact that I’m glad I went to church that day. 🙂

Apple’s 2009 MacBook Pro: Battery Life to Die For

There’s no other way to say this. If you care about battery life and portability at all, buy the new MacBook Pro. Go to the Apple store and buy one. While I only tested the 15” model, I’m guessing the 13” model should leave a similar lasting impression.

Ever since I first looked at the power consumption specs of Nehalem I thought it didn’t make any sense to buy a new, expensive notebook before Arrandale’s launch in Q4 2009/Q1 2010. While performance will definitely increase considerably with Arrandale, Apple just threw a huge wrench in my recommendation. The new MacBook Pro is near perfect today. If you need a new laptop now, thanks to its incredible battery life, I have no qualms recommending the new MBP.


Today I am more than comfortable saying that this is the best Apple notebook I’ve ever laid my hands on. The build quality is excellent, the base specs are solid and of course, the battery life. There’s no doubt that it could be better; toss in an SSD or drop the price even further, but as it stands the new MBP is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a Mac laptop.

Obviously, you can attain the same battery life with a cheaper notebook and one or two spare batteries. But there’s something to be said for increasing battery life by at least 50% without increasing the bulk or weight of the system.

I’m not sure there’s much else I can add other than Good Job, Apple.

via AnandTech: Apple’s 2009 MacBook Pro: Battery Life to Die For.

That’s a hell of an endorsement, especially coming from AnandTech.

Favourite quote comes from the fourth page (where the beef of the article is):

That’s a 51% improvement in battery life. It’s close enough to the max theoretical 46% improvement for me to think that the significant gains in wireless web browsing are due to improvements in idle power optimizations. It’s possible that all of the components in the new MacBook Pro have been optimized for lower voltages at idle.

The battery tests are repeatable however. I saw anywhere from a 50 – 100% improvement in battery life over the old MacBook Pro. Given the increase in battery capacity alone, you should see no less than a 46% increase in battery life. Exactly what is accounting for the expanded life above and beyond that, I’m not sure.

Either way, Apple’s 7 hour claim is well within reason. For light workloads, even on WiFi, you can easily expect 6.5 – 8 hours out of the new 15-inch MBP. As I write this article on that very system I’m told that I have nearly 8.5 hours left on my charge. If you do a lot of writing on your notebook, the new MBP is exactly what you’ll want; it will easily last you on a cross-country flight if you need to get work done.

Spectacular work, Apple. Thumbs up from this blogger 🙂