Best of both worlds - Apple Music and Spotify


When my one year free Spotify Premium account expired November last year, I decided to try Apple Music free for three months before I make a choice which one to subscribe to. 

I was quite happy with Apple Music at first. But I soon got frustrated because songs in my playlists can become unavailable quite often. I then found out that it could be possible that some songs and albums are updated or reloaded, and all you need to do is to perform a new search for those same songs or albums, add them into your playlists, and remove the old ones. But some recording labels or artists may decide to remove their songs completely from Apple Music (or Spotify for that matter) and you will not have any access to them anymore unless you purchase them separately. 

On top of that, Siri wasn't that effective. I tried to get it to play songs from my playlists but I never got it to play what I wanted. 

I couldn't find some songs in Apple Music that are available in Spotify. But there are songs available in Apple Music that are not in Spotify as well.  

I could not use Apple Music in my office with my PC because of a firewall. But Spotify works. 

But what I like most in Apple Music that is not available in Spotify is the availability of lyrics. This is a biggie for me that can very well be the sole reason why I would stick with Apple Music. 

My hubby likes the Discover playlists in Spotify and I do agree that Spotify does quite well in recommending songs that you will listen to. Apple Music doesn't do very well in this area. 

When it comes to their user interface though, many have commented that they prefer Spotify, but to me it is a getting-used-to-it thing. After using Apple Music for three months, I got so used to it that I liked it. 

So with my three-month Apple Music free trial coming an end today, which would be the best choice for me?

I decided I want the best of both worlds. 

I subscribe to Apple Music to keep my playlists, listen to songs not available in Spotify, with easy access to lyrics where available. 

And I can still use Spotify for free for songs not available in Apple Music and I get access to songs in my office using my PC, albeit with advertisements. I don't need to refer to lyrics when I listen to songs at work, since I'm concentrating on work anyway. 

So in effect, it is both Apple Music and Spotify for only RM22.90 for a family account, rather than just Spotify for RM22.40. 

Best of both worlds - I am very happy. 

pearlie 

I finally understood words with the meta- prefix


I have a friend and language partner who happened to use the word "metaphysical" on me. And I had to tell him I only have a vague inkling of what that word means. 

But since he brought it up, and being language partners and all, I had better figure it out. 

But instead of searching the dictionary for its meaning, which I have done before and it wasn't of much help, I searched the Internet for "words with the meta- prefix" and found a Wikipedia entry

This portion was very helpful: "In epistemology, the prefix meta- is used to mean about (its own category). For example, metadata are data about data (who has produced them, when, what format the data are in and so on). In a database, metadata are also data about data stored in a data dictionary and describe information (data) about database tables such as the table name, table owner, details about columns, – essentially describing the table. Also, metamemory in psychology means an individual's knowledge about whether or not they would remember something if they concentrated on recalling it. The modern sense of "an X about X" has given rise to concepts like "meta-cognition" (i.e. cognition about cognition), "meta-emotion" (i.e. emotion about emotion), "meta-discussion" (i.e. discussion about discussion), "meta-joke" (i.e. joke about jokes), and "metaprogramming" (i.e. writing programs that manipulate programs)."

The "an X about X" gives me an excellent explanation of what those words means. However, I also need to be careful because that section comes with a "citation needed" notation. Looks like I still need more reading up on it. 

But it helps for now, particularly with words like meta analysis (analysis about analysis), metafiles (files about files) and meta-language (language about language).

I also realised why it took me so long to understand it. It all boils down to the word "metaphysics", one of the more commonly used meta- words. It's physics about physic/ and I didn't understand it because I don't understand much of physics to begin with!

It figures. 

pearlie 

Cantonese Movies: one bad, one good

I took the day off today (after having cancelled two days leave which I have taken, due to work) and I spent some time in my parents' home, which I seldom do these days since they moved. 

Whilst I was there, my mom was watching some old Cantonese TV series on Astro and I felt that I missed listening to Cantonese dialogues since I have not watched anything in Cantonese for quite a long time. 

So when I got home, I thought I'd catch up on some Cantonese movies and started with this one:

From Vegas to Macau

I am not sure why I chose to watch this. It was horrible. I was not in the mood for a drama and thought what can go wrong with Chow Yuen Fatt and gambling.

Everything. 

The ridiculous plot, poor dialogue, bad acting, scenes that don't make sense.

It seems like there hasn't been many good Cantonese movies lately, not like before. But it then occurred to me that there is one Cantonese movie I have been trying to find time to watch. 


Ip Man 3

Ah...a much better choice by far. Decent plot, nice dialogue, excellent choreograped fights with very good artistic moves (coming from someone who don't like fighting scenes), good character building and acting skills. 

I like it that the wife finally understood her husband in the end, and that was well-developed throughout the three movies. I was initially quite frustrated with her, but it was finally resolved. 

And it's lovely that it ended with this line where Ip Man said, "其實最重要, 都你身邊人."

I spent a bit of time looking for these proper Cantonese written characters and they read as "kei saat juei joong yiu ge, dou haih lei saan been ge yaan." Too bad I can't find the clip in YouTube, but it literally means: in fact, the most important is, after all, the people who are next to you (people whom you love). 

pearlie

It's challenging and costly to follow Christ

The sermon this morning was from Luke 9 on the theme of being active for Christ or being an active disciple of Christ. Rev Roger Bray talked about its call, cost and commitment. 

When someone addressed Jesus and told him that he will follow Jesus (v.57), Jesus replied most unexpectedly. He did not say "that's great" or "wonderful, let us fix a time and help you with your bible reading." Even though that is important, he cut to the chase and went straight to the cost of following him (v.58-62). 

It is costly to follow Jesus. It is putting him above everything in our lives, everything

Rev Bray quoted this scene from the movie The Fellowship of the Ring to stress on the cost and the commitment of following Jesus. 



Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened...

Gandalf: So do all who lived to see such times...but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

What do we do with our lives that God has given us here? What does it mean for us to follow him?

It is very challenging to follow Jesus. It is very costly; it costs our everything. We may not walk the paths of martyrs or missionaries or even pastors. Each of us have our own path to walk as ordered and directed by God. But the cost is high nonetheless. 

And for us to walk in that path, Jesus has committed himself to us to be his disciples. He had sent his disciples out with the Holy Spirit, he will do the same with us. Whilst we are not able to cannot carry the cross, he carried it for us. He died in our place and only he can do that for us. We can't do it by ourselves. He is the one who empowers us. 

The cost may be high, but he enables us.

pearlie

Who Made God? by Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler for only 99 cents


Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith
by Ravi Zacharias & Norman Geisler (Eds.)

I bought and read this book way back in 2004 and learned a lot, but it's time I read it again. And so when I found its Kindle version on sale, I bought a copy in no time. 

I won't be able to list out all the 100 questions here but they deal with these themes:
1. Tough Questions About God by Norman Geisler
2. Tough Questions About Evil by Ronald Rhodes
3. Tough Questions About Science by William Lane Craig
4. Tough Questions About Christ by Lee Strobel
5. Tough Questions About the Bible by Norman Geisler 
6. Tough Questions About the Bible, False Prophets, and the Holy Books of Other Religions by Norman Geisler 

Get it while it's still on sale. 

pearlie

Play Tetris to lose your cravings

I read an article today about crushing unhealthy cravings in three minutes by playing Tetris. 


Really?

I have a lot of cravings lately for food, desiring to eat and satisfy my tastebuds. I did put on some weight as a results and now I have willed myself to lose them, and more. 

I don't play Tetris but I do have this game called Drop7 that I do play once in awhile. Would it work?

The article said that playing Tetris may "provide a visual distraction which helps people control their cravings."

So maybe I shall go search for a Tetris app and try it out for three minutes everytime I have a craving. 

pearlie 

Woohoo! I bought 4 books today

I am very happy I found four good ebooks on sale today and with four clicks I bought them. 

Which Bible Translation Should I Use? A Comparison of Four Major Recent Versions
by Andreas J. Kostenberger and David A. Croteau (Eds.)
I have read two books on bible translation but a long, long time ago, probably more than 10 years ago, and as such I don't remember what I read. They are Gordon Fee's How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions and David Dewey's Which Bible?: A Guide To English Translations. When I saw this new book, I thought it would be good to update myself on the four major recent translations. I checked the preview of the book, and it turned out that the three versions out of the four are what I am using currently and it had crossed my mind before on how good a translation they are: the NIV, ESV and NLT. I was also recommended the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) and it's the other translation discussed in the book. The authors who penned the chapters include my favourite authors: Douglas Moo, and Wayne Grudem, together with Ray Clendenen, and Philip Comfort. I shall make this my next read. 

How to Have That Difficult Conversation, Gaining the Skills for Honest and Meaningful Communication 
by Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend
The title attracted me, since I'm an introvert and need as much help as I can get. The book has mostly good reviews on it and I hope this is a good buy. 

Rumi, The Book of Love
Translations and Commentary by Coleman Barks
I have not come across Rumi's poetry much but I usually like what I read. The book comes with an introduction and commentary to his writing and since I don't know much about him, I am looking forward to reading the book. 

Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan's Food Culture
by Matt Goulding
I always like books about food and its culture, and what more this is about one of my favourite cuisines, Japanese. It will be interesting to learn something about it and then visit Japan in the near future. 

pearlie 

Happy Valentine's Day all!


My hubby isn't really into gift-giving but he has outdone himself this time. He bought me this perfume for Valentine's Day: Victoria's Secret Bombshell and I am loving it!

Feeling so special and so loved. 

pearlie 

Too much television


Television is chewing gum for the eyes. 
~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home. 
~ David Frost

If it weren't for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we'd still be eating frozen radio dinners. 
~ Johnny Carson

Television isn't inherently good or bad. You go to a bookstore, there are how many thousands of books, but how many of those do you want? Five? Television's the same way. If you're going to show people stuff, television is the way to go. Words and pictures show things. 
~ Bill Nye

I'm very shy really. I spend a lot of time in my room alone reading or writing or watching television.
~ Johnny Cash

I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book. 
~ Groucho Marx

I need a bigger television. 
~ Pearlie Ng

pearlie

Be both weak and strong

A Place of Healing, Wrestling with the Mystery of Suffering, Pain and God's Sovereignty 
by Joni Eareckson Tada

I knew I was watching too much TV and so I told myself it's a no-TV day today. I did after all purchase two books this morning and thought it'd be good to spend the whole afternoon and evening reading. 

It was a good decision. 

I'm now halfway through Joni Eareckson Tada's A Place of Healing and she already moved me to tears in the first five pages, and more as I went along. She has so much insight in the presence and love of God through her suffering, especially now even more as her body suffers in unbearable pain. 

She made me think more deeply on familiar bible verses that I'm now seeing in different light. 

One that strikes me most is from 2 Cor 12:9-10, "I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me...For when I am weak, then I am strong."

We are usually ashamed and embarrassed about our weaknesses so much so that we rather hide and not talk about it. Here, Paul is not only telling us to talk about it but to boast about our weaknesses. 

To boast about something is to be proud of it, to gladly flaunt it. And the only way I think we can be proud about our weaknesses rest on the hope and suffering of Christ. 

With that, we become both weak and strong.

It is apparent what we need to do in church. We had our second CG session in church this afternoon discussing Timothy Keller's The Prodigal God

Someone shared about someone who stopped going to church because she felt so out of place in a church where everyone seemed to have such a good life, with successful jobs, with good and happy kids, whilst she is eking out a living and having challenges raising her own kids. 

We should learn to have the courage to talk about our weaknesses, especially in church, and to divert our focus to the reliance on God to sustain us. 

I really recommend you this book, if you are in suffering or if you caring for someone, especially now that the Kindle version is on sale

pearlie 

Hero by Family of the Year

I know this is an old song but I just noticed it and fell in love with it completely. Even though the tune is repeated hymn-like throughout the entire song, it does have a good melody, and interesting lyrics. 

Why doesn't he want to be a hero? Or a big man? Why does he want to fight instead? Why do we want to fight and not be a hero?

Family of the Year - Hero


pearlie

Helping my mom buy a new phone

I met up with my mom today to help her buy a new phone. 

She has an old Xiaomi Mi2 that was no longer working. She does have a Huawei phone, which I think is the Mediapad model, but it is too big for her to carry around. She is the rare kind of woman that does not carry a handbag. 

I wanted to show her the Huawei Y5 but she wanted one with a bigger screen. So it was finally between Oppo, Lenovo and Vivo. 

She settled for the Vivo Y51.

 

It has this one feature that sort of sold me over: a pull-up feature screen from bottom of the phone screen just like the iPhone. 

The thing is that my mom is the only one in my family that uses an Android phone and once when she asked me to help her with her phone rotate display, it took me a really long time to figure out how to do it when it only take seconds on the iPhone. This Vivo phone has it just like how I'd do it on the iPhone. 

I then advised her to port her number over to U Mobile and had to spend some time explaining to her with patience the difference between her phone memory and mobile data plan. 

pearlie 

Music plagiarism?

blogged about this sad song...



...only to realise, thanks to my niece Chloe,  that the introduction sounds exactly like Say Something, which I also blogged about on my melancholic playlist. 



Can this be considered as music plagiarism? After all, is it just playing one note and then one chord in an even tempo. 

And I do wonder how wide can differences in melodies and tunes be, since we are limited to so few notes and chords, in that a composer may accidentally or unconsciously compose something that is already been composed by someone else. 

What do you think? Have you ever heard any songs or music that are similar?

pearlie 

My Movie List app

With me watching movies again, I want to keep a list of the movies I've watched and what I would like to watch. I tried a few apps and found this to be the best: ToDoMovies by Taphive GmbH. 



It was easy to add movies into the lists and I ended up with 379 watched and 37 to watch. I'm sure I've watched more than that but there are some I couldn't remember if I've watched them at all. 

My favourite list of 15 is not complete. I will need time to populate it. 

One missing list is for movies I couldn't finish watching. The first movie I will add will be Captain America: Civil War. I know it has very good reviews, but I got quite bored watching it and I think it's because I couldn't identify with any of the characters - they weren't that interesting and I couldn't feel for any of them. Wish it was better.

pearlie

Movie Night

I have not been watching any movies for awhile and I finally caught up with two.


The Arrival
This is quite a slow moving movie but I found it very interesting. This is one movie I will watch again after finding out what it's all about. There will be some scenes where I will understand better when I watch it again. I shouldn't say more for fear of spoilers. 


Passengers
I didn't like this movie that much. It started with a very interesting premise with the protagonist waking up 90 years too soon on his way to a new human colony. He was part of a group of 5000 people who were put into hibernation on a 120-year journey to a new land. His pod malfunctioned when the spacecraft was hit by meteorites, and he woke up way too soon. But when he started contemplating waking up another person just because he was lonely, I felt it wasn't right. I get it that he was a "drowning man" but does that justify him waking up another human to die with him in the ship?

pearlie

What I finally learnt from the parable of the lost sons

I attended the covenant group meeting in church yesterday and it was a very good session.

We watched a video by Timothy Keller and it was a very well done video. In telling the story, he used the metaphor of  dinner table with two chairs on each end, one representing the younger son and the other the older son. It was very effective.




The session lasted quite long, but we weren't able to discuss all the questions in the workbook. But when we were asked what new things we learnt while watching the video, it was this for me:

I have been trained to read passages in the bible contextually, to read them in context with the entire passage, the entire section, the entire book.

I did not see it then but when Keller brought the three parables of Jesus together, it was a new lesson I learnt. He highlighted that in the first two parables, when the shepherd lost a sheep and the woman lost a coin, they both actively went out to search for them and when they found their lost item, they celebrated and rejoiced.

But when the younger son was lost, no one went looking for him. The person who were suppose to go was the elder brother. That elder brother, who represented the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law in Jesus's audience, and probably most of us, only cared for the things he was entitled to, not the heart of the father.

But we have one true Elder Brother, Jesus, who not only went out to look for us, the younger brothers, he gave up everything including his life to come for us.

Now, isn't that amazing grace?

pearlie

Five Interesting Things about Learning a Language

I was checking out some articles about language learning and found some very interesting information. 

1. There are five sets of people on language acquisition (Source: Multilingual People). 
For one, here are five different categories of people depending on the number of languages acquired and their percentage of world population:
  • Monolingual: A person knowing only one language (40% of world population) 
  • Bilingual: A person using or able to use two languages especially with equal fluency (43% of world population) 
  • Trilingual: A person speaking three languages fluently (13% of world population) 
  • Multilingual: A person who speaks more than two languages, but used often for four languages or more (3% of world population speak more than 4 languages) 
  • Polyglot: Someone with a high degree of proficiency in several languages (less than 1‰ of world population speak 5 languages fluently)
I am not sure now if I can be considered a multilingual person if I can speak, read and write English and Malay but only speak Cantonese and some Mandarin.

2. There are five categories of languages on amount of time required to acquire them (Source: Language Difficulty Ranking)
Then I found out that the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has a list to show the approximate time you need to learn a specific language as an English speaker.



I found myself and most of my Malaysian Chinese friends in a very interesting position with our first languages (English and Malay) and so-called mother tongue (Mandarin and/or Cantonese) in Category I, III and V. This should make our learning of most languages quite effective and efficient. But I still find it difficult. 

3. We desire to learn a new language based on the prestige of the speaker (Source: What Makes a Language Attractive)
The allure of a language may have more to do with perceptions of that country's status and social values than its actual sound. Sociolinguists believe the attractiveness of a language is determined by how positively we view a particular group of people who share a cultural outlook.

In that sense, the languages that attract you well may show how you regard the country and its people. But I find that we are also attracted to the languages based on their utility. I have friends who learn Italian to sing in Italian, French because of a desire to visit the country and Korean all because of Korean dramas. 

4. What it takes to acquire a new language to an intermediate level (Source: How Long Does it Take to Learn a Language?)
Depending on your availability of time and resources, here is an estimate amount of time required to learn a new language to an intermediate level:
  • One 3-hour course per week for 8 weeks, plus weekly homework assignment (1 hour), plus independent practice of any type (2 hour). 3 courses per year. You will need between 25-30 courses. At 3 courses per year, it may take you between 8.3-10 years to reach an intermediate level 
  • One year of language learning in school (4 hours per week + 2 hours of homework + 2 hours of independent practice X 12 weeks X 2 semesters). Between 5-6.25 years to reach an intermediate level 
  • Dedicated independent study (1 hour per day). Approximately 3 years to achieve an intermediate level 
  • Total, active immersion (8 hours per day). Approximately 3 months to have an intermediate level
I will only be able to dedicate an hour a day, at best and it will take me three years to learn a new language. That will be a very long and tedious three years. 

5. Chinese is the hardest language in the world (Source: Why Chinese is So Damn Hard by David Moser)
For someone who have been trying my whole life to learn Mandarin, I find this article amusing. Moser said that, Chinese is not only hard for English speakers, but it's also hard in absolute terms. Which means that Chinese is also hard for Chinese people.

There, Chinese is hard. But I am still trying. 

pearlie

Do you know what the extra teacup is for?

 

I was out for dinner with my hubby and we ordered a pot of Chinese tea for two, and as usual, they supplied three cups; one for each of us, and another one extra. 

Have you ever wondered why?

I remember my late grandmother telling me once not to use the extra cup because it is meant for the "other guest", the spirit at the table. 

I can't be sure if I remembered that correctly. Is that its purpose? 

But we would use the extra cup for ourselves anyway, not for any so-called extra guests. 

I did a search in the Internet but couldn't find anything to confirm that story. 

Does anybody know?

pearlie 

Happy Birthday everyone!

CNY


It's the seventh day of the Lunar New Year and it's the people's day, 人曰, hence everybody's birthday. 

I wished some friends from China a happy birthday and was surprised when they asked me what it was for. I did a brief search and confirmed that this is generally celebrated by all Chinese including China. 

We discussed it and concluded that most people in China may have lost and stopped most of the older customs and traditions, whereas the overseas Chinese having moved out of their ancestral land have made it a point to maintain as many customs and traditions as they can, and as a result still keeping most of them. 

My family and I, whilst not deliberately celebrating our so-called birthdays, went out for dinner and it was a very nice time of being together, though it was quite tough to hold conversations in a very, very noisy Chinese restaurant! But we had a good time, and good food nonetheless. 

pearlie