Some of the most endearing parts of being a parent, are the small things that aren’t often listed:
the feeling of watching your child fall asleep
the feeling of waking your child up to feed, for meals, to go out, to go home, etc.
These are the little moments, that by itself probably doesn’t really mean very much, but are just the little moments you have, and are privileged, to witness as the parent.
Little acts that maybe only you are entitled to do. Often we are so afraid to awaken or disturb a sleeping baby – yes they do get really grumpy and wail-ly if woken up without enough sleep, and yes messing up the sleep pattern will mess up the feeding pattern and middle-of-night timing, etc. So it’s really only the parent who gets the right to do so.
One night I was carrying her around the house, trying to get her to get back to sleep. It was probably 3 or 4am, the house is dark, quiet. S is asleep, and it just reminded me of when we first got the flat, when it was bare walls and rough floors, with no lights, no furniture, no color, and I was just there wiring it up. The house has changed so much, it’s full of things, full of people, of a crying baby, and we spend so much time in it now. It’s becoming a lived-in house, a home.
Was that too dramatic? Did you know of the change in storage options? Let’s go through this in detail, where Google failed, and where the marketing and execution could be done wayyyy better.
Google Photos launched a few years back, and it was superbly well received. They provided excellent features, super reliable backup, super fast and smooth mobile app and desktop apps (they don’t get enough credit for their AMAZING mobile app).
But best of all, Google Photos offered photo and video backups from your phone at two tiers. First is the Original Quality (OQ) tier, where the photos and videos are backed up as-is, no change in file, quality, size, resolution etc., except for enhancements and edits. Second is the High Quality (HQ) tier, which is a space-saving option with some magic trickery that only Google knows. It shaves off huge amounts of storage size, downsizes photos to 16 Megapixel if higher, downsizes videos to 1080p if higher, and uses a different compression algorithm to make photos way smaller while retaining amazing amounts of quality in the media files. Almost all phones were less than 16 MP at that time, it wasn’t a big deal, and 16 MP is a lot. Everyone was also amazed at how much quality is preserved, indistinguishable for most use cases and displays. It really is very good.
Original Quality storage uses up your Google account storage space, which is 15 Gigabytes by default, shared with your Gmail and Google Drive etc. You can purchase more storage using the old Google Drive storage options or the current Google One options.
High Quality storage is given free of charge (so far), making it a great deal. I configure this for any family member that I know who can’t handle their own phones/media. It’s really good enough for almost everyone but serious photographers and tech geeks.
All was peaceful until Google launched Pixel phones. The first Pixel phone (differentiating name Original Pixel or Pixel 1), had a great promotion of Free Original Quality backup, in perpetuity, as long as the media was uploaded from the phone itself. It perhaps celebrated the amazing phone camera and AI, and a brilliant marketing strategy. After all, it was the first Google branded Pixel phone. People loved this. Well not that everyone appreciated it. But it was awesome. Pixel phones were associated with free OQ storage, great cameras. Of course Pixel phone pricings were also up there with premium iPhones, so that helped justify the cost to us.
For Pixel 2, perhaps Google toned it down, they still offered OQ storage, but only limited to 3 years from launch. Fair enough, you probably won’t use the phone for more than 3 years, and you would switch to a new Pixel phone so you don’t really lose anything too much. Still awesome. Phone is still expensive, but people bought it.
Pixel 3 – same as Pixel 2, 3 years of free storage. It’s becoming a trend, a classic Pixel thing, but it’s fair, no complaints.
Pixel 3a – Google launched a budget level Pixel phone. Much cheaper, simpler hardware specs, but downgraded to High Quality photo storage only. Still very justified as the phone is way cheaper and targeted at those who are less picky. A little annoying that Google kept on marketing it as Free photo storage on the ads, despite this service being given the same as any other free google account and Android phone out there, it was a tad misleading and tsk tsk.
Pixel 4 – woah Google quietly dropped Original Quality storage, kept up the 3a style marketing of ‘free photo storage’, and dared to pass off High Quality storage on Pixel 4 buyers like nothing happened. That was very very very poor marketing strategy and totally picked up by discerning users upon seeing launch marketing materials and reading the fine print. This is a huge deviation from previous imprinted user mindset and associations of full priced Pixel phones with great cameras and photo storage, where you can just take photos and videos and enjoy the camera without worrying about storage (and local device storage is less generous than other cheaper Android flagship phones, and no SD card). Pixel 4 price remained high, they carried on the great-camera branding.
Possible reasons for this:
Free Original Quality storage is possibly pricey in costs, and with the hopefully increasing number of Pixel phones, including old phones, this might be a cost issue. (But Google is so rich, but Google has so much storage, but Google loves to have our photos)
Pixel phone buyers do not rate this feature highly in market surveys or are aware of the exact differences and benefits. Their user research might show this to be true in the general population or less savvy users who want to buy Pixel phones.
HQ storage is really good, and good enough. Most of us only might possibly print like 0.001% of our photos, uploading them online always gets compressed and resized anyway. Who even has a 16MP display screen.
OQ media is only required for people who want to take super high quality for local editing, and can transfer this out to their PC or Mac for processing on Photoshop/Lightroom. And photographers don’t often use a Pixel phone as a main work camera, nor videographers. The manual controls, battery life, form factor just don’t replace a full camera. Even youtube vloggers have a nice Sony RX camera now.
Do you even have a choice? If you want a highly secure, well-maintained Android phone guaranteed with work with Google services, top line camera and apps, fancy face recognition, fancy Google Assistant, there’s really no other phone you can choose? much like how Apple users only have effectively one phone in different sizes.
So should Google really drop free OQ storage and what they can do better:
if OQ storage is not for general use, then change the marketing, branding, positioning. Pixel buyers are the most common Google service users, they have Google One accounts etc. If their photos are good enough at HQ, then make the phone shoot and save in HQ compression format directly.
Improve on-device Pixel camera storage format, algorithms etc. If HEIC format is so good and small, use it. Pixel phones have limited storage size and no expandable SD slot. How do you expect it to last a full extended vacation trip?
Improve Google Photos settings and options to split photos and video backup settings
Improve Google Photos settings to allow users to selectively save certain photos in Original Quality
Improve Google Photos to show which media is backed up in OQ or HQ, and allow users to selectively compress individual files down to HQ instead of a blanket compression setting. Right now you can only convert your entire library from OQ to HQ in a click, no choosing.
Improve Google One features even further in terms of premium tier photo services, editing, photo management, folder management, machine learning. Yes Google One has great storage options, but I just accumulated 800 photos in 3 weeks of my child, so I really think the free Pixel OQ storage is a really important differentiator to me.
At the end of the day, we ought to acknowledge that Google offers a fantastic service with free High Quality unlimited backup storage, compared to other phone providers. They do deserve for users to pay some amount of subscription, but they need to do a serious rebranding of their service, bump up the marketing, show users what they get for their money, and really differentiate paying users from free users in service tiers.
If subscribing to a Pixel service gives me longer updates, AI/ML camera updates, additional photo management, additional photo storage, I think many people would gladly throw money at it. It’s world leading and very impressive, but not well marketed.
Mobile phone cameras are undoubtedly very good. Pixel cameras are very very good, and many many times more convenient, faster, and better than my Olympus camera. However I don’t want to juggle a mess of mixed Google Photos storage formats and quality tiers in a basic interface. It’s going to be really messy if I have a new phone that backs up at HQ, or if I set it to auto backup at OQ and then manually delete off the unnecessarily files. Google is making this way too troublesome. Storage tier wise, I estimate that if I went OQ on everything, I will need to go to the 20 TB storage tier within 1 phone cycle or 2-3 years. That’s $99 per month!
Gosh what a nostalgic song to suddenly hear on the bus radio after hearing some bad news about our neighbours. It’s painfully sad to hear of someone breaking up. I guess it’s also something we haven’t heard in quite awhile. As we grow up, and grow older, it’s mostly a question of people trying to find a partner, and struggling to do so, or people settling down, etc. It’s not like the younger days where more people get together and fall apart more frequently. And then worse still, now you have all the other complications. Marriage, extended families, houses. To go through all those huge challenges, all those time, pain, money, effort. It’s super sad to lose it all. It’s really a big loss.
谁还记得 shui huan ji de 是谁先说永远的爱我 shi shui xian shuo yong yuan de ai wo 以前的一句话 yi qian de yi ju hua 是我们以后的伤口 shi wo men yi hou de shang kou 过了太久 guo liao tai jiu 没人记得当初那些温柔 mei ren ji de dang chu na xie wen rou 我和你手牵手 wo he ni shou qian shou 说要一起走到最后 shuo yao yi qi zou dao zui hou 我们都忘了 wo men du wang liao 这条路走了多久 zhe tiao lu zou liao duo jiu 心中是清楚的 xin zhong shi qing chu de 有一天 有一天都会停的 you yi tian you yi tian du hui ting de 让时间说真话 rang shi jian shuo zhen hua 虽然我也害怕 sui ran wo ye hai pa 在天黑了以后 zai tian hei liao yi hou 我们都不知道会不会有遗憾 wo men du bu zhi dao hui bu hui you yi han 谁还记得 shui huan ji de 是谁先说永远的爱我 shi shui xian shuo yong yuan de ai wo 以前的一句 yi qian de yi ju 是我们以后的伤口 shi wo men yi hou de shang kou 过了太久 guo liao tai jiu 没人记得当初那些温柔 mei ren ji de dang chu na xie wen rou 我和你手牵手 wo he ni shou qian shou 说要一起走到最后 shuo yao yi qi zou dao zui hou 我们都累了 wo men du lei liao 却没办法往回走 que mei ban fa wang hui zou 两颗心都迷惑 liang ke xin du mi huo 怎么说 怎么说都没有救 zen me shuo zen me shuo du mei you jiu 亲爱的为什么 qin ai de wei shi me 也许你也不懂 ye xu ni ye bu dong 两个相爱的人 liang ge xiang ai de ren 等对方先说找分开的理由 deng dui fang xian shuo zhao fen kai de li you 谁还记得爱情开始变化的时候 shui huan ji de ai qing kai shi bian hua de shi hou 我和你的眼中 wo he ni de yan zhong 看见了不同的天空 kan jian liao bu tong de tian kong 走的太远 zou de tai yuan 终于走到分岔路的路口 zhong yu zou dao fen cha lu de lu kou 是不是你和我 shi bu shi ni he wo 要有两个相反的梦 yao you liang ge xiang fan de meng 谁还记得 shui huan ji de 是谁先说永远的爱我 shi shui xian shuo yong yuan de ai wo 以前的一句话 yi qian de yi ju hua 是我们以后的伤口 shi wo men yi hou de shang kou 过了太久 guo liao tai jiu 没人记得当初那些温柔 mei ren ji de dang chu na xie wen rou 我和你手牵手 wo he ni shou qian shou 说要一起走到最后 shuo yao yi qi zou dao zui hou 我和你手牵手 wo he ni shou qian shou 说要一起走到最后 shuo yao yi qi zou dao zui hou
Wow it’s been an eventful week. It’s Sunday night and finally there’s a breather to take stock.
30 Sept Sun – still felt stressed over other things. Amazing Sarah managed to reassure me. whew.
1st Oct Tues – felt like the achey spot on my chest is still bothering me. It’s been at it awhile and it’s just dragging on more than a week, even after the haze is gone. Decided to just get it checked out further, anyway it’s a relatively free evening, not too much work or baby prep to do. I still managed to go work, come back, make a quick dinner, eat, and then we went down to CGH A&E. Apparently not deadly sick huh. The wait wasn’t too long, triage was not bad, did an ECG, waited a short bit for the doctor, he was nice, and quite thorough. It’s been more than a decade since we’ve been to an A&E, and it’s not that bad. After being used to quick and simple GP visits, this is like so thorough and not rushed. Did some blood tests and chest x-ray as well. Might as well do the entire works since we’re here and it’s like a flat fee haha. Thankfully it was like practically all clear of bad bad stuff, it’s good to really clear up doubts and worries. Mental health is like half of it. got loaded with a ton of anarex and diflo. It all makes me just so sleepy.
2nd Oct Wed – unexpectedly on MC. We decided to go down to Parkway East Hospital a few days early to register for the delivery. Fairly smooth. Had our fave vietnamese food nearby.
3rd Oct Thurs – work. work. work. and annoying work. came home. arranged some stuff in the house. watch some tv. Sarah’s on leave this entire week, just resting before the due date.
and then woah water burst just after we went to bed past midnight. Of all times! The bad – we just had supper, so no c-section for 6 hours, we haven’t really gotten any sleep. The good – hey at least I’m at home and with her, so we could just pack up and go to the hospital, and we’ve thankfully pre-registered so that’s one less admin thing to worry about.
4 Oct Thurs – Reach hospital ~1am. (It’s nice to drive on empty roads. And amazingly I’m not drowsy from drugs) get into the labor ward, put on monitoring, everything still stable and ok, scheduled for 9am delivery. After all the fussing around and settling down, it’s like 2-ish am. omg need to wait till morning. I can’t sleep in the room, lobby has wailing sick kid, so I just lay down in the car – at least it’s peaceful and quiet out in the night and I can prop my leg up anywhere I want. haha. I haven’t had this night-out-camping-feeling in so long. It reminded me of those NS outfield days, in the cool and quiet night, awake for upteen hours for stupid reasons, chilling out and watching the quiet roads/sky, every normal person is asleep, almost no traffic but still some odd people driving about, and then the 5.30am first bus, early workers (poor things), and the traffic building up. Sheesh I didn’t sleep much huh. too much awakeness and adrenaline also made hungry. sitting in the wee hours of the hospital cafe eating vending machine sandwich and milo, realizing I arrived at the hospital with $4-$5 in cash and no posb atm card! shakes head. breakfast at 6.30am. going back up to the ward at 7. hanging around waiting for the doctors to come in. watching the machine monitor the contractions.
finally us going into the operating theatre. me having to change separately, sitting there waiting for a long time while they do the big prep with the epidural, drip, etc etc, finally being let in and not allowed to touch anything.
a big push. and then the baby is out! wailing at the top of her lungs. hahaha. what a happy sound after like 9 hours of worry and stress. Where did our easy scheduled c-section become!
And we have our super cute, super precious baby girl. After having her around in the womb for months, watching her squirm inside, kicking around, turning around, growing bigger and bigger, it’s so sudden to see her in real life. The incredible contrast between quiet sleeping and sudden wailing. Don’t you have a middle volume tier or anything!!? Not just 0%, 5%, 100%?
Then there’s the silent unconscious anxiety about administrative arrangements, checkups, feeding, preparing clothes and bottles, leave, health, naming. It’s an incredible relief as one by one many of them are settled and ticked off.
First 3 days in the hospital just went by so fast! With all the in and outs, nurses coming by for this and that, taking care of the recovery, medication, drips, meals, sleeping, feeding, diapers, visitors. It’s also a big thing to have both a wife that needs to recover, and a new baby that needs to be looked after! From 0 to like 2 dependents at a go!
And some really tender quiet moments with just the three of us in the room. Just us. Here we are now, in a nice contented peaceful family moment. If nothing else, this whole period has brought us even closer together, just having to do all the prep and stuff together instead of often being busy with our own lives and things.
It’s stunningly incredible how much the Pixel phones leak out each year, and in still debatably convincing ways. You’re not quite 100% sure it’s an engineered leak, although it is really suspicious.
How suspicious? Every year (and for many other phones), you get leaks of controversial changes, like removal of headphone jack, removal of fingerprint sensor etc, to soften the blow yeah, and also some general physical design stuff like shape, size, colors.
But, importantly, there are always some pretty fancy tricks that aren’t revealed or properly leaked out until days or the day itself. Which I guess, given the massive operational machinery and huge hype, is bound to happen.
Things that should get announced that haven’t yet leaked, and which we are eagerly waiting for:
price of Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, and regional pricings.
New next-gen Google Assistant behavior, and functionality. Frankly, even announced Google features hardly come to everyone around the globe, much less unreleased features. LOL.
It’s going to be a #madebygoogle event, so there should be new Google Home devices, especially the Mini II.
Other new format Google Home/Nest family devices
New AI-driven devices like Lens
New country availabilities for Pixels.
Pixel Stand II
? Pixel Slate II – unlikely
New fancy phone/assistant features to rival Duplex/Call Spam filtering. Call Waiting assist is already rumoured but seems to be a later rollout, though possible to be mentioned.
What else could we hope for? Nothing very much actually, these are already pretty sizeable AI/ML chunks, if they could launch Live Captioning, Next-gen Assistant, Lens X.0, and all that on launch day, it would already be way more smarts than other 2019 smartphones – which only claim to have wider and more zoom lenses – meh.
Well, not to forget the Face Unlock (with all its reliability and security and privacy needs), and Soli, two main solid features worthy of a new phone and which we’re all already done and over with.
One more month to go. Looking forward to another 1am SG time keynote. ugh. At least most likely I will be on leave at that time this year! woot.
The forums are in a fluster after a recent spate of poor Google Assistant replies. The incoherent responses, whether it’s a severe mismatch in hearing, interpretation or action, is just pretty deplorable considering the answers or actions were plain wrong.
I asked ‘ok google turn off the lights’, and it turned off my phone alarm. Goodness.
As it evolves, Google needs to get this right. If Google Assistant / voice search is the future of Google (might be an exaggeration, Silicon Valley is prone to this), then it is the equivalent of Google Search. It has to work. Can you even recall a time when the great www.google.com ever went down and stopped working, even in a small area, that was due to google’s fault and not some broken internet connection, telco block, country block – I can’t.
Google Search stands for ‘is the internet working’, and ‘the gateway to find everything, in some way’. It can’t break, it can’t give you a very obviously wrong answer if you phrased it right. Therefore Google Assistant needs to get to the same level of dependability, consistency, transparency. It needs to hear you correctly, comprehend you correctly, answer you correctly, and if it doesn’t, it needs to give appropriate signs on what went wrong, or stop itself.
The virtual ‘entity’ that is behind Google Search and Google Assistant needs to do so.
It’s such a controversy in the recent age – the worry of being always-on, always-connected, always-sharing, the Fear of missing out (FOMO), the Joy of missing out (JOMO).
Rightly so, people are concerned about the change in social dynamics and social interaction with people always being connected, always on their screens, and I am most definitely guilty of that.
Well but the thing is, is it necessarily a very bad thing? Society has evolved, constantly. From the old ages of writing physical letters, to having a phone in the house, being able to call people anytime from your couch, to having mobile phones, to have mobile phones that are mobile computers.
This has changed so very fast, in my lifetime! Wow.
Now we are holding mobile computers with (still only 1 day battery life), with mobile connections in the hundreds of megabits per second, almost always connected (at least in well-connected Singapore, but not so much in other countries). We, I, live in a city that is super well-connected, like it is nothing, like you can watch streaming youtube videos on trains and buses all over – and that’s not possible in other countries. It’s normal, and simple, for us. At not too high a price too. Incredible.
So are we, here, more used to being always-on and always-connected. Are we more adapted to this fast paced lifestyle than others in more expansive and spread out countries like Australia, USA, Germany etc?
We think that people these days are over-sharing on their social media accounts. But humans are always so afraid of change, the weirdest thing right now is that the tech community is the one that is afraid of change, and what society has become. That’s odd because usually it’s the other way round.
What if, I tell you, that in the future, people will be even more connected, even more and more sharing taking place. Could it? I think it might, in ways that we could not imagine right now, and what if it isn’t a bad thing? What if it’s a good way of being always connected to healthcare, a good way of being always aware of your partner and family. Aware in the way like feeling something is there, like how you know they are always on the other side of WhatsApp or other chat, of the ‘typing’ display, or the slow throughout-the-day messaging. A presence. And if you cut that off you feel all alone.
Tethered in a way. Or perhaps an awareness of how your house is functioning haha.
I think it will become more, in different ways, and then we will remark again that wow in 2019 people were so much less connected, they had to pick up their mobile phones, they had to put it aside to charge it, they didn’t have a mobile data plan across the globe. It’s just a matter of time, money, I guess.
Wow the crazy news about HK’s anti-elab protests, and the entire situation, is entering into Week 11 and shows little signs of abating. This weekend protests have spread to other cities around the globe, and today the main flashpoint has been Mong Kok.
The previous weeks and protests have been spread over many other areas of HK, from Central, to Sheung Wan, and more, including Hong Kong International Airport.
Of all these, HKIA I’m fairly familiar with, having passed through en route to USA, or just to enter HK itself. I’ve even registered as frequent visitor, though after that I didn’t get to use it much.
For many many years, as a Singaporean I’ve always heard of HK as a destination, but never been. And then I went once, to shop, and then many many more times in the subsequent 4 year period from 2014 to 2018, for work and leisure.
We’ve always preferred to be in Mong Kok, where we loved the vibe, and felt most comfortable. Never caught the hang of Central and Hong Kong Island. Kowloon is where it’s at!
We’ve also always preferred to stay in Mong Kok, only once in Central / Causaway Bay. From the first memorable dingy tiny AirBnB (our probably first AirBnB experience, but with lovely hosts), to our go-to hotel. Near to food, shopping, MTR, near to Pokemon Go hotspots, near (enough) to work, Local Guide meetups and more. Yeah I’ve literally walked the ground alot in Mong Kok and nearby areas.
Notable spots: Avenue of Stars, Star Ferry Pier, Hong Kong Harbor City, entire stretch of Nathan Road, Signal Hill Garden (up the darn hill), East Tsim Sha Tsui station, Hung Hom station, Whampoa station, almost every small street in TST, Chungking Mansions, K11, iSquare, Jordan MTR, Yau Ma Tei MTR (so much), CityView Hotel, Sai Yeung Choi st, the entire shopping area, Argle st, Argle shopping ctr, Langham, Prince Edward for food, Sham Shui Po for computer and hardware shopping, Lai Chi Kok Park (pokemon), Morse Park (pretty residential area), and so many many more.
So, I miss this HK, and my gosh the reality is that it’s going to change forever after 2019. It’s going to be so very very very different. No longer the peaceful, fun, delicious food destination. I mean, HK has never been super glamorous, or polite or beautiful in the made-up way, and it’s always got it’s direct attitude of the restaurant servers, the cramped seats, the table sharing, the quick meals, the gritty Mong Kok roadsides, the dripping aircons.
But it’s something that’s been so comfortable, and even gotten homely. I’m going to sorely miss that, especially knowing it’s going to change drastically. The undercurrents were always there. My HK friends worry about it and make plans, my colleagues tell me about the housing prices, cramped conditions. It’s really crazy of course.
But wow. All these memories of walking around at night in Kowloon / MK, all these photos, it’s really going to be history. I’m glad I got to experience a good amount of it before it’s gone.