This year as many people know, has been the year of cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies which can be used for many things, but most importantly they are built on blockchain technology which first appeared on Bitcoin the very first cryptocurrency, and this is important because not only are they designed to be secure with cryptographic hashes, but they are also a way of anonymously storing and sending money in a realm completely outside of government control.
This reason + speculation is the reason why Bitcoin went from $900 in the beginning of this year to $16k currently. That’s an insane 1600%+ gain that puts even the best performing stocks to shame. But its quite an interesting time to be alive. This is the first time a new asset class has been introduced to the public in over 100 years. We’ve always had traditional currency and real estate, then we had the introduction of stocks sometime in the 1800s, and now we have digital currencies.
Now, this astounding rise of cryptocurrency prices can perhaps be likened to a bubble, and even though Bitcoin has been called a bubble many times by the media, I think it is less like the Tulip-mania of the 1600s and more like the dot com boom of the 1990s. This bubble accompanies any new introduction of technology or assets. We saw it happen with the stocks in the 1920s, with the internet companies in the 1990s and now in 2017 with bitcoin. At some point it will crash but probably not until a year or two later.
As a result of this rapid gain, a lot of people became millionaires this year. Unfortunately I was not on of them. I first heard about Bitcoin back in 2013, but at that time Bitcoin was associated with shady things like the dark web and drug dealing. In addition you had to wire money in order to buy it and then the biggest exchange at the time Mt Gox was hacked and people lost their money, and Bitcoin crashed down 70%. This caused me to stay away from Bitcoin for the 3 years. That’s why I never thought about buying Bitcoin back in 2014 2015 and 2016 when the price was oh so cheap.
This year due to meeting a friend who was crazy about Bitcoin, I bought 10 of them at $1000 each which I thought was a lot at the time. This was back in January. Come May, BTC had reached $1600 and I sold all of it booking a nice 60% return on investment. Little did I know that it would go up to $2k. Then $3k. Then $4k. then $5k. And so on and now we are at $16k at the moment and still rising. Had I not sold, I would have been sitting on a pile of cash great enough to erase all of my mortgage.
Now looking back on it, I have some regrets but I try not to think about it too much. I could have used my $20k Walmart signing bonus (which went to useless Bittorrent stock) or my $14k Walmart severance paycheck (which went to a bank account in Canada doing nothing and actually lost money from currency exchange) to invest in Bitcoin. I could have sold my house and used some of the profit to invest in Bitcoin (making me a multi-millionaire now).
But now I realized that although I have patience when it comes to holding assets when I’m losing money, I don’t quite have the same level of patience when it comes to making profits. I usually sell too early, this is even true for stocks. So even if I had invested a lot more money into Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies I probably would not have made as much as I would I have thought. Plus investing that much in a so called ‘imaginary asset’ is risky. Any sound financial person knows that you never invest too much money into one asset. Those people who sold their houses and put their life savings into Bitcoin took a huge gamble, even though it has paid off so far.
And another thing is would becoming a millionaire really change much of my life anyways? Sure I wouldn’t have to work next year, or think about how to live in Korea without working, but I think the important thing is money can’t buy happiness, it can only be a stepping stone to getting there. Back in 2012, I rented a small one room apartment in San Francisco, with no car, no scooter, no TV, one laptop and one phone and I would say that I was happier then than I am now, even though I live in a San Francisco high rise, and have too many electronic gadgets to even count. I don’t think having that much more money would even change me that much. I would probably give away alot to my brother and family.
So all in all, yes I could have had a chance to be a Bitcoin millionaire this year – but even though I’m not, I still managed to make back the losses I had last year from gambling, and I am still financially stable and reasonably satisfied with my financial situation right now and that’s whats important I suppose.
Every 6 months I do an update on the state of my gadgets and what I use
Lenovo Thinkpad TP25
The 25th anniversary edition of the ThinkPad is almost a perfect balance a laptop as you can get. It doesn’t have the OLED display or convertibility of the X1 Yoga (which is why I still keep that one), and its not meant for heavy gaming or workloads (which is what I use my Alienware for), but it is still one of the most balanced laptops. Let’s see the comparisons here.
-compared to Razer Blade / MSI Stealth / Gigabyte Aero / other slim gaming laptops – the TP25 obviously does not match the power aspect but makes up for it by being lighter and having better thermals as well as business features like WWAN and removable battery.
-compared to Porsche Design Book One and Microsoft SurfaceBook 2 – the TP25 is not a hybrid and you cannot detach it and use it as a tablet – but it does have way more ports and business friendly features. Also it is about $500 cheaper than either of those laptops.
-compared to XPS 13 / Asus Zenbook / HP Spectre / X1 Carbon / other premium ultrabooks – the TP25 is not as thin and light as some of those but makes up for it with its array of ports, business features and dedicated graphics.
The TP25 is almost the perfect laptop:
-3.5lb weight – perfectly portable
-fingerprint reader, removable battery and WWAN – crucial business features
-retro 7 row keyboard and trackpoint – a feature not found in virtually any other modern laptop. The keyboard is the best in the business.
-16GB RAM and 512GB SSD – this is basically on par with my Alienware
-i7 7th gen CPU and Nvidia 940MX graphics – sure its not the latest 8th gen processors or MX150 – but its still way better than integrated graphics and beats most business laptops in its size
-14″ 1080p IPS – yeah its not the 1440p OLED like the X1 Yoga but it is still a touchscreen. 4:3 aspect ratio would be nice but thats a pipe dream (that itch is scratched by my iPad Pro anyways).
-a perfect array of ports. 3.5mm combo jack, full size SD, T3, HDMI, 3 USBA ports, full size Ethernet. The only thing arguably missing is miniDP and VGA but thats handled by the T3 port anyways. Plus a mechanical docking port as well.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga
This replaces my Thinkpad X240, and Thinkpad Yoga 14. A light, convertible laptop, weighs only 2.8lbs (substantially lighter than the Yoga 14 which I previously had), docks with a one link dock connector and wireless dock, has that traditional Thinkpad robust build quality and great trackpoint keyboard, and is convertible which means I can watch movies in 4 different modes, and comes with a gorgeous 1440p OLED screen to boot. It loses the dedicated graphics (Nvidia 840M) of the Yoga 14 but improves on it everywhere else including ports, display and weight. Compared to the X240, it loses the VGA, full size SD and Ethernet ports but is much lighter, has a much better display, and is convertible.
Alienware 15 R3
This is my main gaming and VR computer now, replacing my aging HP Envy Beats 14 and hefty Asus G751. I decided I wanted a 15 inch because of its lightness and portability, yet its still powerful enough to have a GTX 1070, power my Oculus Rift (VR ready), hooks up to my external monitor, plays all the latest games, and looks great at home on a laptop stand.
Macbook Pro 13 (2016)
My replacement for my Mac Mini as a programming/entertainment/workstation computer. It’s light (3lbs) and runs macOS making it great for development and the lack of ports is made up by my Dell USB-C Dock at home.
Tablets/Phones 10.5 iPad Pro
The iPad Pro has replaced my aging iPad Air (which easily is the oldest device I use frequently). Part of the reason why I got it is because it has the capability to be a light portable travel companion. Yes I have the Macbook Pro, Dell Latitude and X1 Yoga too – but the iPad Pro is basically a hybrid computer that is both a tablet and a laptop – while it has a mobile OS – multitasking has improved a lot in iOS 11. Its not going to be my main device but as a travel device its great. It has a splendid 4:3 aspect ratio which is better for reading documents and webpages and has LTE (which is WWAN) so don’t need to use my phone hotspot, plus paired with the Brydge keyboard I have it does a neat looking Macbook Pro impression. Plus its way cheaper (I got it for $700 total with the keyboard) compared to Surface Pro or Eve V.
Google Pixel 2
Making an already great phone even better. It looks almost the same – except the internals got huge upgrades. It has the best smartphone camera in the business and it got water resistant as well. Shame about the headphone jack but thats why I use the Xperia as well.
Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
My replacement for my iPhone SE and Xperia Z3C as a small (4.6″), compact water-resistant phone. I’ve been waiting for a good replacement for a small powerful phone for a while now and Sony has finally delivered! This has also replaced my Sony Walkman NWZA17 as my primary music player because – why not? It has all the features built in already only its running Android, its bigger and the battery life isn’t quite as good – but its fine enough. So I went from Xperia Z3C to Pioneer XDP to Walkman back to Xperia again…
Fender FXA-5 in ear monitors
My main pair of in ear headphones – really nice sound out of these guys! and from my favorite guitar company as well 😉
Monster Gratitude Earphones
My secondary pair of earphones for listening on the way to work / at work – tuned by one my favorite bands, Earth Wind and Fire!
These open back planar magnetic headphones are my at home studio monitors, replacing my old Audio Technia ATH-M50X for studio recordings (using the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 as a recording interface, Shure MV51 as my mic and FL Studio as my DAW) and hooking it up to a Brave Audio Ocean tube amp for listening to those sweet sweet high res files 🙂
These are my main closed back wireless/noise cancelling headphones which replaces my Denon MM400 (which were stolen at work) and my Bose Quietcomfort 25s (which broke). Compared to the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless and Bose Quietcomfort 35s, The sound quality is comparable to the Sennheisers but the noise cancellation is better. The noise cancellation is on par with the Bose and the sound quality is better, but its slightly less comfortable. Plus I got the Sonys for much cheaper so its win-win all around! Plus it works well with my Sony Walkman + Xperia devices!
Bose Soundlink Revolve
This is my portable bluetooth speaker, replacing my Creative Soundblaster Roar 2. It is smaller than the Roar 2, although it lacks alot of the Soundblaster features it makes up for it by looking and being very simple.
Creative SoundBlasterX Katana
Now used as my computer speakers for my Alienware. It’s the first soundbar designed specifically for computer use. RGB lighting, bluetooth, 7.1 virtual surround and a bunch of other options – what’s not to love?
Klipsch Promedia 2.1
Absolutely fantastic computer speakers. Now using it for my TV and gaming systems since I found it has better bass than my Klipsch R-4B. The bass and overall sound quality is fantastic. Replaces my non-functioning Creative T4Ws which shorted out :(, and the Samsung and Klipsch soundbars that I used before.
Klipsch the Three
This speaker is really cool and retro looking especially with the Ebony wood finish, and pairs well with my Google Home (using Chromecast audio) and my Fluance record player to play some nice vintage tunes!
This is my alarm clock radio that I use by my bedside to wake me up each morning 🙂 and yes it has bluetooth and can charge my phone too.
My DSLR camera for serious video making which has replaced my Nikon D5100.. it is much lighter easier to carry, and better video quality. I also replaced my Samyang 24mm T/1.5 cine lens (which was bulky) with a great quality and lighter Sony Zeiss 24mm F/1.8 lens. works great.
Sony Action Camera AS300
Replaces my Sony Music Video recorder and GoPro Hero 3 as both my action camera and my wide angle camera that I can use for blogging, travel videos, action videos, etc and has optical image stabilization which no other action camera has! Also waterproof/dustproof as well and quite small, making it great for situations where my Osmo+ would be too heavy.
My go to camera for taking cinematic walking shots, travel video, and completely replaces any camcorder. The Plus model now has optical zoom capabilities with it too.
DJI Phantom 4 Advanced
Replaces my DJI Phantom 3, better sensors, obstacle avoiding, takes better night shots etc
Video game systems: New Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, PSTV, Nvidia Shield Pro, GPD Win
Displays: Mobile Monitor 2 Go, Royole Moon, Avegant Glyph, DJI Goggles, Oculus Rift
Cameras: Sony HDR-AS300 Action Cam, DJI Osmo+, Sony A6000, DJI Phantom 4 Advanced
Headphones: Master and Dynamic ME03, Monster Gratitude, Fender FXA5, Sony MDR1000X (wireless/NC), Audeze EL8
Speakers: Yamaha TSXB72, Creative SoundBlasterX Katana, Klipsch The Three, Bose Soundlink Revolve, SoundMatters Moment, Sony Smart Bluetooth Speaker SP60, Google Home Mini
Microphones: Sony wireless bluetooth mics, Shure MV88, Shure MV51, Shure SM58, MXL50
Storage: 1 Synology DS412+, 2 Synology DS416j, 1 Synology 416slim (48TB all in RAID 1)
One thing that’s really changed about me from the past is I no longer care about showing off my wealth; that’s something that I’ve criticized Chinese people for a lot and still do. I don’t understand whats the point of showing off your wealth by buying a fancy car or wearing expensive designer clothing. Like whats the point? You want people to know you are rich? Why? So they can rob you? Sounds arrogant to me.
I am actually quite blessed to say that since 2011 since I got my first job out of university, I haven’t really ‘struggled’ to make ends meet, per say. I’ve been living comfortably (I’m not rich.. just comfortable) for the past 6 years. But I was a poor university student before 2011 plus things in Canada usually cost more, so one of the first things I did when I first came to San Francisco was to buy up a lot of brand name clothing! A&F shirts, Lacoste polos, Lucky Brand / Guess jeans, you name it. I spent a lot of money on new clothes, only to realize that it didn’t really matter. I didn’t really care about the names and SF people really didn’t care either. When I lived in Korea I threw away all my American clothes and exchanged them for no name Korean brands – which were ironically better quality because they were made in Korea and alot of the name brand clothing was made in China. But the important thing is the style. I noticed in Korea people didn’t care about brands so much like in China – they cared about the style more. If it looked good, then wear it. Who cares who its made by? I learned this when I was in Korea.
So now I don’t care what brand I buy or wear anymore as long as it looks good. The opposite applies to electronics. I own laptops by Asus, Lenovo, Dell and Apple. My speakers are made by Klipsch, Creative, and Bose. My phones come from Sony, Blackberry and Google (HTC). My TV is Panasonic. My headphones are Sony, Fender and Master&Dynamic. My microphones are Shure. My cameras are by DJI and Sony. So yes I have brand name electronics – but they are all different brands. I don’t really have brand loyalty but I do care that they are not some cheap no name Chinese knockoff. That is important to me. But thing to note is that for electronics, I care about functionality of what I buy more than the design.
Take a look at this computer.
This computer is the epitome of form over function. It’s sexy looking, it’s thin and it’s made of aluminum. It’s nice looking. But it’s rather limited in functionality. There’s no touch screen. The graphics are integrated. The keyboard has shallow travel. There’s only 2 ports on it and one of them is for charging. The only reason I have this computer is for MacOS – which is essential for my programming tasks. It may as well just be a travel ultrabook – and even then the iPad Pro + keyboard kills it in portability, or Microsoft Surface Book 2 just kill it for the specs. Overall I only have this computer for the OS thats it. This computer costs $1900 when configured with the Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD.
Now look at this computer.
This computer is the epitome of function over form. I use this one as my main computer over the MacBook – even though it costs the same amount of money, $1900. It’s not sexy looking sure – it looks like it came from the early 2000s in fact – but it has way more functions than the MacBook has. It comes with the same specs first off – Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD. Furthermore – it’s tested to military standards, keyboard is spill-proof, the keyboard is a full 7 row keyboard with at least 4x the amount of key travel the MacBook Pro has, it has mobile broadband (WWAN) and a removable battery (the Macbook you can’t even upgrade the RAM), it has a full set of 8 ports (no dongles needed), it has Nvidia 940MX graphics (granted not the most powerful but still better than integrated), you can use the pointer without taking your hands off the keyboard (its called a trackpoint), and it has a touch screen – and it weighs just 0.5lbs more, and a full 3 year warranty. So yeah. I’m taking this computer almost every time (except when I need to program or use Final Cut Pro).
Function over form. For much the same reason I have a Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact over the new iPhone X. Because even though that phone looks better with the thin bezels and OLED screens and stuff – mine has more battery life, microSD, headphone jack and IP68. top spec hardware specs too. And did I mention at half the price of the iPhone X? Yeah that too. I’ll always take the more useful over the more stylish for electronics. For clothing I take the stylish over the brand name. Because clothing is a huge part of how people see you and how you present yourself. A good stylish looking shirt or blazer is going to draw way more attention than using a sexy bezel-less iPhone X. I guarantee you.