Technical Fabrics

For most of my life, I’ve been wearing cotton-based clothes. I was taught that thicker multi-layered clothes would keep me warm in winter and thinner lighter garments would be the best way to stay cool during the hot summer season.

While this advice is partly true, in practice, it is very problematic. Consider, for example, when transitioning from the hot outdoors, after accumulating sweat, into an air-conditioned building. The moisture often causes an uncomfortable “chilling effect”. Conversely, staying in a warm building during winter season will force you to take your jacket off, but what could you do about a thick “thermal” underwear?

Well, it turns out that one of the best ways to regulate body temperature is by managing moisture and the best fabrics that do that are synthetics (eg. Polyester, Nylon, etc…), not cotton.

Summer Strategy

  • Bright colors and UPF 50+ (to minimize thermal radiation)
  • Loose fitting (to minimize heat conduction)
  • Highly breathable and moisture-wicking (to maximize evaporation & cooling)
  • Long sleeves and high collar (to maximize shading and protection)

Winter Strategy

Use the 3-Layer System:

  • Moisture-wicking base layer (ensure dry skin)
  • Insulation second layer (fleece to stay warm)
  • Shell third-layer (block wind and rain)

How I Use My iPhone

I find it very strange that I’m still getting web visitors despite not updating my blog for many months. Maybe they come for nostalgia? For those who haven’t visited in a long while: hello and sorry for shaking up the dust on your subscription feeds! In any case, I’m taking this opportunity to express an idea that I’ve had from reading about minimalism and simplicity. It’s based on the basic concept of self limitation.

During day-to-day life, I’ve come to realise that I spend a lot of time using my phone doing numerous things. Reading news, checking/sending messages and email, taking photos, listening to music, watching video, shopping, using maps, etc… Even when there’s nothing to do in particular, I find myself checking various badges/notifications by flipping though the pages of apps on my phone. For a regular observer, doing any of these activities used to be obvious; watching video was done at the TV, reading news was done at the table with a newspaper, sending email was done at the computer, and so on. However nowadays, all they see is a person who is attached to their phone from the moment they wake up until they fall back asleep. This observation has lead me to question my attachment to my phone, but rather than go through a tech sabbath, I decided to limit myself so that I don’t fall victim to all this “compressed technology” as I’d like to think of it.

Limit the Number of Apps

I started simplifying by thinking about the purpose of a phone; that is to make phone calls —or generally, allow communication on demand. But surely, the iPhone can do much more than that. If you happen to watch Apple’s keynotes regularly, I’m sure you’re familiar with how often they boast about the many millions of apps that exist on their App Store and the hundreds of features that they empower their users with. So with that in mind, if I am to take full advantage of my phone, I would have to think about the core essentials of my phone —the necessities— and select only one or two apps at most, to satisfy them:

  1. Making phone calls – Built-in Call app
  2. Messaging – WhatsApp and Built-in Messages
  3. Calendar Events – Sunrise
  4. Photos – Built-in Camera and Photo app
  5. Navigation – Google Maps
  6. Tasks and Reminders – Todoist
  7. Keeping notes – Simplenote
  8. Email – Gmail (personal) and Acompli (Exchange)
  9. Music – Built-in app or Google Music
  10. Video – YouTube
  11. News – Google Chrome and Podcasts
  12. Security – Google Authenticator
  13. Finance – Bank App and MoneyWiz

To stay true to the concept, I limited the number of pages on my iPhone to just one. For the iPhone 5 and later, the page grid can hold a maximum of 20 apps (plus 4 in the dock) so that should be enough to start with. One of icons in the grid will be an archive folder dedicated to all the stock Apple apps that cannot be deleted:



Then I went ahead and thoughtfully populated the grid with just the essential apps. Tip: some apps such as FaceTime, Camera, and Stop Watch/Timer don’t need to consume space on the grid, because they are still accessible from other places such as Control Center or within the Phone app. I also keep the App Store app within this folder because downloading more apps would go against the intention limiting the number of apps —deleting and replacing apps is fine. If you still think that having this few apps is absurd, add an intermediate step: keep all your apps in the archive folder and over time, you’ll begin to distinguish between frequently used apps and lesser used apps then move them out or into the grid accordingly.

Limit the Number of ATTENTION REQUESTS

Having limited the number of apps, the second limitation has to do with the “checking” aspect of the phone, namely notifications. Go to Notification Center and go through each app and be sure to disable all notifications. This part is tricker because iOS provides different types of alerts and indicators that grab your attention. Start by thinking about the apps that need your immediate attention by showing up on your lock screen. In my case, I’ve selected “phone” (for missed calls), reminders and calendar events (for time-sensitive alerts). You don’t need immediate notifications for messages, emails, etc.. because most messages don’t require an immediate response and tend to become a distraction. Even in cases of urgency, it’s likely that a response cannot be given because of the user’s preoccupation (eg. while driving, out of the office, in a meeting, having guests over, etc..).



App badges are also a distraction; if you unlock your phone to see that you have a reminder, you will not hesitate to notice a “1” badge indicating an unread email. Remember the golden rule: limit yourself. You can only allow your phone to grab your attention x number of times during the day, therefore badges must go unless it belongs to an item that requires immediate (time-sensitive) attention.

Limit Checking of Your Apps

You are probably wondering, “Hold on, if I turn off all notifications, how do I know which apps I should check and when to check them?”. The answer is simple: set specific times of the day to check your apps and limit the time you check them. For example: Check WhatsApp messages four, and only four, times a day (morning 9 am, afternoon 2pm, evening 6pm, night 9pm) for a maximum of 10 minutes each. For apps that are less active, for example email, choose to check your inbox just twice a day, preferably during times when you are in the best position to be able to respond to them (ie. in your office or near a computer containing all your documents).

I hope that this post has inspired you to think differently about the way in which you use your phone. I urge you to try some of these ideas for yourself and share your experience in the comments. Get out of the habit of redundant phone checking and put an end to excessive distractions!

HDMI Cables

Cheap HDMI cables will produce the exact same picture and sound quality as expensive cables.

HDMI uses Transition Minimized Differential Signaling (TMDS), which does two things:

  1. Compress digital signal to minimize transitions (the TM part)
  2. Compares two simultaneous versions of the signal to negate noise (the DS part)

This means that you either get the whole data as it was sent, or nothing at all; it’s not possible to get something in-between like a “distorted” or “poor” signal. In rare cases, if the cable quality is poor, the receiving end will not be able to tell 0 from 1 and you will clearly see white pixels across the screen (no pixel information). However, it  is more likely that you will see no image at all. The same can be said for audio: the digital codecs (Dolby and DTS) have error-correction built in, so you get bit-for-bit output or no audio at all.

There are only 4 types of HDMI cables

  1. Standard-speed (Category 1)
  2. Standard-speed (Category 1) with Ethernet
  3. High-speed (Category 2)
  4. High-speed (Category 2) with Ethernet

Category 1 cables can only carry up to 1080i. Category 2 can carry signals up to 4K including 3D. 3D content is simply double the resolution, not double the frame rate.

“HDMI 1.4” is a connection spec, not a cable spec; in other words, it refers to  hardware (TV, Bluray, etc…) capabilities, not the HDMI cable itself.

Cables longer than 10 meters

If you need to run long HDMI cables (10 meters or more), it’s probably worth considering an active cable. An active cable is one with chips built into it that help boost the signal. One example of such a chip is RedMere. Active cables allow for thinner cables or longer cables. For most connections, any regular cheap cable is fine.


Zain vs Wataniya – Which one should I get?

After comparing Zain and Wataniya postpaid voice plan charts, we get an interesting result:


The following results are close talk time approximations, please refer to the previous charts for more accurate numbers:

  • If you talk less than 300 minutes per month, get a Zain subscription with a 4 KD plan.
  • If you talk between 300 and 700 minutes per month, get a Wataniya subscription with a Hala 300 or Hala 500 subscription (10 or 15 KD)
  • If you talk between 700 and 850 minutes per month, you can get either Hala 850 or Zain’s 20 KD package
  • If you talk between 850 and 1230 minutes per month, get Zain’s 20 KD plan
  • If you talk more than 1230 minutes per month, get Zain’s 30 KD plan

Wataniya Hala Packages Chart

I made a chart to help Wataniya subscribers pick the lowest cost postpaid voice plan.

Here’s the breakdown:
  • If you talk less than 493 minutes per month, get the Hala 300 package (10 KD)
  • If you talk between 493 and 708 minutes per month, get the Hala 500 package (15 KD)
  • If you talk between 708 and 1304 minutes per month, get the Hala 850 package (20 KD)
  • If you talk more than 1304 minutes per month, get the Hala 1600 package (30 KD)

Zain Wiyana Mix Chart

I made a chart to help Zain subscribers pick the lowest cost postpaid voice plan.


Here’s the breakdown:

  • If you talk less than 273 minutes per month, get the 4 KD package.
  • If you talk between 273 and 556 minutes per month, get the 10 KD package
  • If you talk between 556 and 1230 minutes per month, get the 20 KD package
  • If you talk between 1230 and 2256 minutes per month, get the 30 KD package
  • If you talk more than 2256 minutes, get the 40 KD package

To know your talk time, visit Zain’s website.