Books I read in 2019

Here is the list of books I read in 2019, lifted from the Todoist Read project.

♥️ are the books I enjoyed and learnt the most from and would love to revisit from time to time.

Text Message Forwarding on iOS

A while ago I noticed that I am receiving texts only on my iPhone, but some texts don’t show up in the Messages app on either of my Macs.

The texts I can’t see on my Macs are usually the two-factor authentication codes and other texts sent from the special three-digit phone numbers typically used by the businesses and other organizations.

This felt odd because until some months ago I always used to receive ALL the messages on ALL my computers. So certainly something has changed.

This problem meant that while working at my computer I have to walk to my phone to check and use the two-factor messages and other texts that are needed for my work. I put up with this inconvenience for a while, but felt like I had enough. So last night I set aside fifteen minutes to Google and understand why. It took a lot less time to figure out that Text Message Forwarding is disabled on my iPhone from Settings > Messages. I did not check further but I presume it must be from one of the recent iOS updates. Sigh!

As a professional troubleshooter, I love when I figure out and resolve pesky technology problems.

Twelve on Twitter

Twitter helped learn a lot of things despite aggressively pushing its preferences at times. This post is my tribute to Twitter.

2019 workouts

Exercising is one of the foundational habits that I wanted to incorporate in my life. In 2014 I found a colleague who is passionate about personal training. He used to run exercise classes at my then workplace. He encouraged me to work out three times a week, became my accountability partner and have been since.

Three hours a week seems to be just about the right volume of time and effort to be consistent with my exercise goals and make working out part of my lifestyle. Anything more than three times is a bonus. But I hardly ever worked out more than three times a week in the past six years. Outside these three hours, I try to be active as much as I can through other things like using a standing desk, playing with my son outdoors and taking stairs instead of escalators or lifts (up to certain floors), walking as much as I can (and I love driving!) so my body is not rotting.

In 2019, I logged 127 workouts. At three workouts per week, I moved my backside 42 out of 52 weeks. Most of the ten weeks I missed my workouts are during and around my travels. I am fortunate to be able to travel internationally, and I don’t regret the longer flights from the Down Under. However, travel disrupts my workouts. So that’s the challenge I am looking forward to tackling in 2020.

But for now, here is the monthly break up of my 2019 workouts:

MonthTimes exercisedNotes
January14
February13
March12
April8Travel to Seoul
May14
June5Travel to the UK
July2Travel to India
August13
September10Travel to the US
October13
November13
December101 week Xmas break
Total127♥️

I could have been more diligent and logged a few more workouts in June and July. Other than that, overall, I had a great workout year, and I look forward to levelling up in 2020.

What’s in your soap?

A few weeks ago I was listening to an episode of the Rework podcast titled Lab Week.

At [00:02:23] I heard this:

We three live together and we just liked trying things out and one day we needed soap. We kind of looked it up and we’re like, well, how is soap made? And did a lot of research and figured out that a lot of soap is made with animal fats. Beef fat or even pork fat. And it’s not usually obvious in the ingredient list, but there’s like sodium tallowate, which is very common in a lot of mass-produced soaps. And we’re all Muslims and we also happen to be vegan too. And so we just really didn’t like the idea of like rubbing those animal ingredients all over our bodies.

This naturally made me curious to check if the soap I rub everyday over my body has this disgusting ingredient. I checked today and relieved to find this:

I think it is worth a few minutes of your time to Google and make sure your soap is free of stuff that you may not want to apply on your body.

Outlook app issues

I finally removed the Microsoft Outlook app from my phone. It still keeps freezing and getting in my way.

The Outlook tech support person was kind and offered further help when I blogged and tweeted my troubles with the app in October.

However, I still face this problem with the app. The frequent “performance improvements and big fixes” in the app’s version history doesn’t inspire my confidence. I captured only the latest few in the following screenshot but the same note repeats for many earlier versions.

Version history of Microsoft Outlook iOS app

I have enough demands in my life that I don’t want to spend any time to uninstall, reinstall, and configure my email accounts, and setup my preferences.

I just want a simple app that lets me check my email on my phone with as little effort as possible, so I can move on to deal with other challenging aspects of my life.

Outlook app is not fitting this bill anymore. So I simply uninstalled the app and reinstalled the iOS Mail app.

That’s the brutal reality of life. And I say this as a tech support person myself. It helps me empathise with the problems my customers face with the technology I support.

Uninstalling and reinstalling is not as easy as it sounds on the surface. It costs time and effort that can’t always be justified. It is much more quicker and easier to switch to an alternative app like I did. It helps to remember this fact and acknowledge it before dispensing this seemingly benign and common advice to customers.

It’s not the customers’ job to help troubleshoot problems with the technology they have been kind enough to use in a world where they have a lot of choice.

✅ Wunderlist

Microsoft is finally shutting down Wunderlist. Glad that I moved to ToDoist earlier this year.

A few years ago, Microsoft acquired a calendar app called Sunrise that I loved using. I have since moved to the macOS and iOS stock Calendar apps.

When you give your money or attention, think about the values and principles of the makers and avoid short-termers as much as you can.

Meh, Instagram


I am looking up something in a public Instagram account and it wants me to login to continue.

Not going to happen, Instagram.

Dark Mode = OFF

Turned off automatic dark mode on my iPhone after seeing the following tweet. Dark mode didn’t feel right and I think that’s for the reasons explained in the blog post within the tweet.

I prefer Night Shift instead.

Actually, the best way to dark mode is to keep the device screen off after a certain time in the evening!