Book review: Web3 by HBR – A great introduction to the concepts of Web3

This is the second book that I have picked up related to crypto and blockchain recently, after the great Defi primer, and another great one I would say. It’s less technical than the first book, and easier to read, yet it gives a very comprehensive view of Web3, both the good and the bad parts, and the authors managed to explain the concepts in a way that is approachable and comprehensible to the mass, making it a great introduction book for those who have little background but would like to understand Web3 in general. So, if you are one of those, go ahead and pick it up, or you can check out my summary below and see if it’s worth your time, and money.

  1. What is Web3?

The author went briefly through the history of the Internet, and identified the major differences:

  • Web1: read only: little interaction with users
  • Web2: read / write: user is the product, high centralisation, lots of social interactions, user data are hugely prized and protected by platforms. Big Tech monopoly.
  • Web3: read / write / own: built on blockchain, users own their data, permission-less, decentralised, trust-less. Cryptocurrency as motivational factor. Built on existing community or create a new one. Community engagement is key. Nascent: lots of speculations, technological and environmental issues.
    • Required a crypto wallet to interact with Web3 + technological knowhow: high barrier to entry
    • Web3 major use cases: payment, international transfer, digital arts
    • Regulations are coming to crypto
    • Different blockchains have different level of security, scalability and decentralisation: Crypto trilemma
    • High level of energy usage of POW blockchains lead to environmental concerns
    • Crypto market is volatile, speculative and cyclical, so platforms and ecosystems may likely fail
    • It may be best to have a hybrid solution, with some data stored on-chain and the rest stored off-chain, so that those data can be modified and deleted, due to the immutability nature of blockchain.

2. Why are blockchain’s ethical stakes so high?

  • Risks of blockchain:
    • Lack of 3rd party protection: Cutting out intermediary means customers have to interact with the services directly
    • Lack of privacy: All transactions are viewable on-chain.
    • Zero-state problem: If the information in the genesis block is wrong, it will be very hard to correct it and will lead to the wrong setup of the whole blockchain
    • Blockchain governance: Bad actors can take control if they gather enough tokens, especially for smaller blockchains

3. What a DAO can and can’t do

  • Characteristics of a DAO: autonomous and decentralised
  • Setting up a DAO is a 2-step process:
    • Develop a set of smart contracts to define the rules and operations of the DAO
    • Raise funds for operation by issuing tokens, which is the DAO governance token
  • A DAO is good for clear actions that are programmable and with defined steps and outcome, but not good for actions that require nuances as well as flexibility or pivot
  • The legality of DAO is still unclear, as DAO is not regarded as a corporate entity and not subject to corporate regulations

4. Why build in Web3?

  • Web2 has a lot of pitfalls that prevent it from achieving its original goals:
    • Built around users and users’ data but without the necessary mechanisms to allow users to control their data
    • Web2 companies greatly leverage their business success on network effects and the locked in users and their data, so they are not inclined to share data or make it easy for users to leave the platform with their extracted data
  • What problems Web3 sets out to solve:
    • Build open platforms that are open-sourced, interoperable and with open, transparent data
    • Share values with users, enable users to own, control and benefit from their own created data, and easy to export data and switch platforms whenever they want
    • Change the way platforms compete for users. Users can easily switch between platforms and pick the one that gives them the most values for their data and transactions. A side effect of that is vampire attacks are common in Web3 due to the ease of forking the platform’s open source codes and build a similar platform with more attractive value offer.
    • Web3 platforms offer more than a zero sum game. It’s easy for platforms to scale due to interoperability. Platforms can overcome cold start problem where there is little data in the platform when the platform is newly launched (it’s easy for even a new platform to plug into the blockchain and display all the authorised data there).
    • Thanks to blockchain, it’s easier to verify data ownership in Web3. Smart contracts are transparent and audit-able, and public key cryptography allows users to securely prove their ownership of their data.
    • Having ownership of assets and data creates a new type of network effect and community engagement among users. The users have more stake in the success of the platform, and naturally becomes ambassadors and promoters of the platform. That in turn will lead to a bigger pie for everyone involved in the ecosystem.
    • Current Web3 platforms are still not very user friendly, and not accessible to the mass due to the difficulty to on-ramp and fund transactions (need to set up and connect crypto wallet). Technical knowledge is required in order to onboard Web3. Moreover, UI / UX of Web3 platforms still has lots of room for improvement.

5. How brands are experimenting with Web3

  • Virtual products
    • Leverage on the popularity of the physical brand
    • Examples include virtual footwear by Nike, virtual clothes by Prada
    • More for customer exploration by the brand than a core revenue stream or monetisation channel
    • Pros: Faster and cheaper to produce than physical goods
    • Cons: Little value outside the platform, not portable to other platforms or blockchains
  • Hybrid products
    • Store information about physical products on-chain for authenticity verification or source tracing
    • Sell digital collectibles of real products or events such as sports clip or music clip
    • Sell digital ownership of physical arts or songs or movies. Owners can get a share of the value generated by those arts or songs or movies.
    • Sell NFT that can redeem physical goods
    • Store ticket information or attendance information on-chain for verification of attendance or participation or contribution. Tickets can be verified at the venue via the wallet address instead of physical printed hardcopies
    • Pros: More value offer to customers, both online and offline. Build community of collectors online
    • Cons: Environmental impact of minting NFT. Cost and effort required to create and maintain digital products
  • Distributed ownership
    • Partial ownership of big ticket item via tokenisation process
    • Group buy: higher bargaining power for lower prices
    • Partial ownership of brands and platforms via the purchase of equity or governance tokens: a fast and easy way to raise funds for launching new platform

6. Cautionary tales from crypto land

  • Blockchain and crypto are not silver bullets that can solve all problems, especially social or societal or governmental ones. Also, many times it is the wrong solution to the problem. Many social problems cannot be solved by technology alone, or even not solvable by technology at all. It’s quite naive to try throwing technology at all kinds of problems.
  • Slow speed of transactions supported by blockchains prevents it from being used in a lot of financial transactions and financial applications e.g. high volume real time trading. That leads to the need for a hybrid solution where certain actions happen on-chain, and others off-chain.
  • Transparency and immutability characteristic of blockchain may lead to harassment, as all information can be found on-chain and not updatable or deletable.
  • Crypto makes the rich even richer, and transforms more wealth to the wealthy minority. A lot of time, a privileged few have access to pre-launch tokens at cheap price before ICO, and sell them after ICO at huge profit, while the mass buy tokens at high market price after ICO, then suffer from losses due to token price drop post ICO or subject to price manipulation by crypto whales.

7. Web3 is our chance to create a better internet

  • Web3 holds the potential for a fairer and freer internet where everyone can participate on a more level playing field
  • In order to build it correctly, builders should listen to skeptics and avoid repeating the mistakes that plagued Web2 ecosystem
  • Build Web3 on the principle of fairness and difference:
    • Justice as fairness: Everyone in Web3 should have equal rights to access to social positions such as jobs or political offices, as well as equal rights to decide the direction and operations of the platforms or ecosystem. Web3 platforms should give a voice to everyone and as much as possible provide equal enfranchisement.
    • Difference principle: Social positions should be allocated based on merit instead of social class. Moreover, Web3 platforms should reward participation, not just capital. For example, airdrops should be targeted towards those who contribute to the platforms / real users, instead just of token holders / investors.
    • Inequality, if existed, should be designed to benefit the least well off. Web3 platforms should incorporate initiatives that benefit the disadvantaged in society and promote the distribution of wealth. For example, instead of paying the lion’s share to top content creators, the platforms should be designed to reward all content creators who contribute values to the platform.

Book review – Defi and the future of finance – Must read!!!

I chanced upon this book at the local library, and it seems to be an easy read. It’s quite slim, with fewer than 200 pages, and from a quick browse, it does not seem very technical, with mainly words and few graphs or complex mathematical formula (if you have some ideas about blockchain and crypto, you will know that it’s a very mathematically heavy area, with lots of technical work the deeper you dig down into the core technology). All in all, probably an easy read.

Damn, how wrong was I? It’s a classic example of “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” I ended up spending almost one week, and the more I read, the more I appreciated the effort of the authors to make the complex topics presented in the book more palatable and comprehensible to the public audience. No wonder why that book was prefaced by Vitalik Buterin, the so-called father of Ethereum himself. It can easily be used as a college level recommended text for a course about Defi, blockchain and cryptocurrency. And now that I have returned the book to the library after devouring it, I really feel like purchasing a copy for myself.

The book started with a brief history of finance, before launching into the topic of crypto, blockchain and Defi, and their use cases and the problems they set out to solve. It’s a really smart way to approach the topic. Most other blockchain books that I have read jump straight into the technical design of the blockchain, thereby scaring away most of the readers as the topic is either too dry or too complex to fathom. With this book, they start out with the use case, and the challenges of traditional finance, which is quite common and understandable, and thereby keeping the readers and urging them to continue. Note to self: The same method can be applied in most other types of communications.

Very early on in the book, the authors established, and later kept circling back, to the 5 main problems of traditional finance that Defi set out to solve. Here are the infamous 5:

  • Centralised control
  • Limited access
  • Inefficiency
  • Lack of Interoperability
  • Opacity

With that as the objective, it’s really helpful to see the authors touch on all the main Defi platforms in the market at the moment, while still linking them back to the problem statement (what problems in traditional finance that Defi sets out to solve). That gives the book a good flow, and not just a discrete collection of introductions to different platforms with little connection between them.

Of course, you cannot totally avoid the technical details when talking about blockchain and Defi, and that is the hardest part of the book to get through. However, having said that, I really appreciate the authors’ effort to only include the most crucial technical information, and not delve too deep into them. There are other books to go for if you want to get to the bottom of the technical of blockchain, and this book’s main purpose is not to achieve that, but to give readers a very good introduction of Defi and its potential, touching on a wide range of topics and applications, so that readers can take the next step to learn more about whatever pique their interest (pick your poison, man, there are quite a few to choose from and move on).

Another thing that I really appreciate this book is that the authors present a very level headed and objective perspective on Defi, not pushing it to the ground like those Defi haters, but not lifting it to cloud 9 and painting a picture of only roses either. I can still feel that they embrace the new finance, and favour it to the one we are having, and place high hopes on its future, but that does not stop them from mentioning at length about the risks of Defi, and also highlighting more than once that the technology, although promising, are still very early and not fully developed yet. I especially love the chapter about Defi risks. It’s very wise to get into a new area with eyes opened wide and ready for not only the good, but also the bad and the ugly, for there are many. Here they are:

  • Smart contract risk
  • Governance risk
  • Oracle risk
  • Scaling risk
  • DEX risk
  • Custodial risk
  • Environmental risk
  • Regulatory risk

Overall, it’s a great book, and whoever interest in blockchain, crypto and Defi should check it out. As for whether Defi will ultimately replace Tradfi in the future, my own opinion is, it may not be a total replacement, but a transformation, as in the good path of Defi will be adopted by Tradfi, so that the new Tradfi will be better, leveraging the benefits brought about by Defi, while minimising the risks posed by Defi using the measures that Tradfi has fine tuned to tackle those risks over the years (most of those risks actually are also applicable to Tradfi, either during its early days or even now).

Resuming my equity investment, after 1 year pause

A little less than 1 year ago, I made my last equity trades, right before the market dropped significantly, and they were sell trades, to cash out part of my portfolio. Don’t get me wrong, I was not immune to the market crash, and my stock portfolio was down by a significant amount as well. Come on, I bought Netflix and Paypal when they were near peak, how can I not make any loss? Those that I sold then were the few counters that were still in the money, although just by a little. To be specific, I sold Disney, Amazon and Apple, and used the money for expenses on my new apartment. Since then, I have not bought any new stock, and my portfolio laid dormant throughout the whole market crash amidst the crazy interest rate hike.

So, you might ask me, why I start investing again now. The answer is pretty simple, I believe that the market has gone through the worst, and although there may be some more tumbles and drops ahead, in the medium to long term, it will recover, and the current price is good to buy. I may have missed the bottom, but my financial situation then did not allow me to “buy the dip”. And since I am not an active trader, it does not matter much to me the price difference between then and now. After all, I am still holding on my lost bag of stocks, since I don’t have any push to sell them at loss, and I believe they will come back in the future. That’s why I am buying again, bit by bit, true to the spirit of dollar-cost-averaging. And what did I buy, and why I chose them? Well, here are my latest stock addition to my little tiny portfolio that I wish to nurture and grow over the years.

  1. Disney (DIS): I bought Disney again, almost the same amount that I had sold before. I am a Disney fan, and have been for a long time. I subscribe to their Disney+ service, and I watch almost all their movies, so by owning Disney share, I can benefit from part of the money I spend on their goods and services, right? 🙂
  2. Apple (APPL): Same like Disney, I bought back almost the same amount I had sold before. And same like Disney, I have been an Apple fanboy since forever. I have spent thousands on their products so far, and it only makes sense that I earn back from that through owning part of the company whose bottom line is also contributed by me.
  3. Microsoft (MSFT): If I have to pick a company that can compete with Apple for the title of the most valuable listed company in the world, I would pick Microsoft, not Amazon, not Meta, and not even the almighty Alphabet. Why? Because, even though Microsoft is not as sexy as the other tech companies, it has survived a long time in that super competitive industry, and still managed to stay around the top, while many of its peers have long faded away. It has a strong and loyal customer base of millions of companies and billions of Windows users. And although it lost its way for some time, chasing wrong products and losing market share, under the steady leadership of the current CEO, it seems to have turned around, finding its feet and focusing on the products and services that are most profitable. Windows is still its giant cash cow, and Azure is also bringing more and more money, and with the strategic shift to AI and investment in OpenAI and ChatGPT software recently, Microsoft shows that it is not only the hero in the past, but a force to reckon with in the future as well.
  4. American Express (AMEX): I was not very much into payment stocks before, especially after my investment in Paypal turned sour (and is still pretty much under the water now). However, my mindset changed after watching a video on Youtube about Amex and its unique network and business design. It piqued my interest, and as I studied more about the company, I found that it has a small but stable share of the market, and with its unique network, where it issues cards directly to users and not through banks like Martercard and Visa, it can gather much more information about the customer’s spending habit, and in this time and age, information is gold.I also found that is is one of the largest chunk of Warren Buffet’s multi billion dollar portfolio. If someone like Warren Buffet can hold shares of American Express, why should I not give it a go?

And there you have, my latest equity buys. And although this is not any financial or investment advice, I am quite happy with them, and I think I will start investing again, now that the market has been alive again. But as always, no margin or risky derivatives for me. Just my own money, and good old boring limit / market orders.. That, I won’t deviate from. Never before, and most likely never after.

Reflections and gratitude – 2022

There are a few things that I am grateful for as 2022 started winding down and 2023 is unfolding:

  1. We moved to a new house. After staying in our first home for more than 10 years, we finally base it farewell and moved to a new home. It was an upgrade, and nearer to our kids’ school. A big decision, and so far we have been enjoying the house totally.
  2. Life is back to normal, finally. After 2 years of Covid, we could see some lights at the end of the tunnel. Quarantine and travel restrictions were eased, and travelling was back again. We made our first trip home in 2 years, and also our spent holiday year end overseas. It was great to be able to fly again, despite the sky high costs.
  3. Our older kid got into GEP program, and managed to cope relatively well. It was a surprise to us as we had done no preparation at all, but since the opportunity had come knocking, it would be a shame to let it pass, so we jumped on the bandwagon, and thank God he could follow the challenging curriculum. Of course, he needs a lot of help, which we certainly try our best to stand beside him. But it’s really an eye opener for all of us.
  4. Amidst the crypto winter, I still have a job, and my employer Bullish is still doing quite well. We managed to hit milestones and records, and thanks to our more cautious and conservative approach to risk taking, we did not get tangled in the crypto mess that had been unearthed so far. Of course, my investment portfolio hit a big loss, as with others who have invested in equities and cryptos, but fortunately I still can hold and not have to liquidate it, since I have stayed clear of margin or loan for investment, and only invested with my own money.
  5. All of us have been healthy so far this year. According to our Chinese horoscope, 2022 was a very bad year for us, especially in terms of health. Thank God, so far it has been ok for us. We got Covid, but who doesn’t, and even then the symptoms were quite manageable and not so serious. Health is really the most important thing in life, for with health comes wealth and everything else.

So, that’s it, my reflections for the year. And with 2023 rolling in, it’s time to plan ahead and see what to achieve for a blooming year.

Thoughts on House of The Dragon, part 1

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, like me, then I guess you also were in shock and utter devastation when the series ended the way it did, and even proclaimed that you would never watch anything related to that universe again. I did, and therefore, I had serious doubt when the news of the new series, House of The Dragon, started appearing. What if it was just another follow up, to squeeze out some more juice from the dragons before they were totally dry? My open wound has not really healed yet, even though three years has passed, and so I approached the new series with a lot of suspicion, treading gently and keeping a distance, so that if it was really that bad, I would be able to run away. But instead of running away, I was sucked in the moment, the dragons flew above King’s Landing, and I was immediately transported back to the world that I loved so much and held so dear not long ago.

After the wonderful start, the story unfolded in a way that could not be more impressive. The characters started appearing, and they were all wonderful, no matter which side they were on. Each character left their mark on the flow of the story right away after they got onscreen. The script was really solid, it left enough room for character buildup, but not so much that the plot became thin and the audience feeling bored, which was no mean feat given the huge amount of characters to introduce in one hour of the first episode. I was especially impressed with Daemon Targaryen. He was part Jon Snow, part Jamie Lannister, part Tywin Lannister, all in one, and he was riding a badass dragon. What more can I ask for?

Even though we have a king sitting on the Iron Throne, the show was very much about women and their fight for power, sometimes overtly, but most of the time covertly through their male counterparts. And although it was a noble idea to name a woman as heir to the throne, that fateful decision proved deadly in the end, as it set the stage for conflicts to brew and finally blow off, burning everyone in the process and leaving nothing but carnage in the end. It was applicable in medieval time, and it is still applicable right now, despite all the efforts to bridge the gap between men and women.

Right in the middle of all those scheming and political calculations are two young women, two innocent girls who grew up as best friends, who trusted each other so much and understood each other so much that nothing seemed to be able to come between them. But power corrupts people, and it was very sad to see them torn apart, following different paths, which would very soon cross each other, turning friends into enemies and making them lunge at each other’s throats (literally and figuratively).

And the dragons. OMG. Talk about the dragons. Unlike the original series, where the dragons were more of a cameo-like appearance, and sometimes gone MIA for a few episodes straight (we cannot blame them either, as CGI does not come cheap, and there were only 3 dragons anyway), dragons were front and centre in this new show, which was great. And they look great, distinctive, recognisable, and absolutely fearsome. Caraxes is red, with scary long neck and tail, just like her rider Daemon. Syrax, on the other hand, is almost golden, and much more proportionate, perfect companion for the heiress Rhaenyra. Moreover, we can feel the very strong bond and deep relationship between the dragons and their riders in this series so far, which will be pivotal in time to come.

Oh yes, the king. Since you have an iron throne “the most dangerous seat in the Seven Kingdoms”, you need someone to sit on it. And more often than not, the one who is chosen to sit on it is either not worthy to own it, not able to hold it for long, or suffer a not very desirable fate. Plus, how more pathetic can it be than to get cut by the throne, and suffer one injury after another. Viserys was not a bad person, he was just an awful king. He was the mirror image of Robert Baratheon, just a few hundred years earlier, and with a different color of hair. But both guys were equally weak, indecisive and got fooled by their small councils. And that is the perfect setup for disaster to happen and for chaos to erupt, the very moment they were out of the scene. They were great puppets, which was the reason why they could Iive out their days, but once they were gone, that was when the real power showed up and the war for ultimate power began.

So far, my favorite character in the first part of the series is none other than Daemon Targaryen. He was a great fighter, and fighting scenes are always great fun to watch. He had a devil-may-care attitude, did not succumb to bullshit, and was never reluctant to speak his mind, even though that might step on some serious toes. Plus, he looked great on his dragon, Caraxes. And he had a ruggedly handsome look, not so perfect like Jamie Lannister, but he had a flair for power and an aura that nobody could underestimate him. I don’t know if he would be a great king or not, he did not even seem much interested in being king or wearing a crown. I think he just wanted to bring his house back to its former glory. But I may be wrong, dead wrong. Let’s wait and see.

My next favorite character is none other than Rhaenyra Targaryen, the heiress to the throne. Despite her young age, she was determined, sharp like a Valeryan blade, and smart as hell. She also knew how to talk to people, to convince them, threaten them, manipulate them or just will them to her own way. She had a splitting image of Cersei Lannister, but she also had the Targaryen blood, the blood of the dragon. Daring, strong will and stubborn, she was even more hard headed than her uncle Daemon. And she knew her way around the court, she knew how to play with power. That made her someone very interesting to watch. It’s a pity that we will not see the actress Milly Alcock in the second part of the series, as she will be replaced by the older version of the character. She was not the prettiest girl on set (probably on purpose, her childhood friend Alicent Hightower was played by a much more dazzle looking actress Emily Carey), but her character really shone brightly everytime she appeared onscreen. And my favorite screens were always those the she were with his badass uncle. They were simply great. Together. Period.

Just some random thoughts on the new series, in no particular order. I really love it so far, and I am looking forward to each and every episode. Let it burn.

The Merge, and the bright future of Ethereum

This is arguably the most important event in recent crypto history, even rivaling the creation of Ethereum itself some years ago.

With the move to PoS, there will be a lot of potential use cases that will be unlocked, making Ethereum much more useful and applicable in a wide range of industries, and empowering their smart contracts even further. Coupled with the already widest market, the proof of stake consensus mechanism and the sharding mechanism that will come soon after will overdrive Ethereum and may even leave the so called Ethereum killers in the dust, struggling to survive or hold market share. The future cannot be brighter. Furthermore, with the move, their competitors will have no choice but to innovate and invest more to keep themselves relevant and competitive, and that will drive the whole industry forward.

I am personally super excited. The next few years of crypto will be very exciting, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds, and definitely want to be part of it. Time to load up, in knowledge, experience and portfolio allocation, especially now that we are still in a bear market, which gives us the precious time to learn and earn and invest at a discount. 

The need for a connected metaverse

Totally agree with the points presented in the article. It will surely hyperdrive adoption of NFT and metaverse once the interoperability issue is resolved.

The metaverse is supposed to be a huge interconnected network, not a collection of separate islands. The use case and the value of assets will be enhanced significantly once they can be utilised across different platforms. And that will also drive cooperation, collaboration and collective creativity as the developers will be more encouraged to develop new cool stuffs knowing that their creations will be able to work in multiple platforms and therefore reach a much larger group of potential customers.

Network effect is the most important measurement of the success of the metaverse. With a bigger customer base, network effect increases, and the assets jump in value. Connecting the different platforms into a consolidated metaverse helps achieve stronger network effect, just like what happened to the Internet a few decades ago.

It’s even more true and applicable to the NFT market as a whole, not even game related NFT. As of now, NFT arts in particular are residing in their own networks, restricting their reach to a global audience. Even the biggest NFT marketplace, OpenSea , does not support all networks, just the major ones. That hugely limits the marketability of NFT in minor networks. If one day in the future, you can mint a NFT in any network, and list it for sale in a global
marketplace, without paying huge gas fee, I believe the market will explode and the true value of NFT will surely shine.

The issue is not restricted to the NFT market though. If you look further, into the crypto space as a whole, interoperability is still a big problem with no simple solution. Different networks don’t talk to each other easily, and tokens listed on one exchange cannot be easily bridged to another exchange. Of course, major coins and tokens are widely supported, but those smaller coins will find it hard to get liquidity, especially in bear market like now. That drives companies to develop bridges, but they are just tactical fixes, not long term solutions. If there can be a standard communication protocol between different blockchain networks, the blockchain industry will be in hyperdrive. But until then, we have to make do with transferring tokens across different bridges and paying toll along the way. #nft #blockchain #crypto #itnteroperability #bridges

A case study against Doge – or any meme coin

This article pops up in a very appropriate time when DOGE starts rallying again due to the side effect of Elon Musk buying Twitter. I have never been a fan of meme coins, and I don’t think I will ever be, even though they have experienced crazy pumps that are rare even in the crazy world of cryptocurrency.

I totally agree with the author of the article. It’s ok to put down a token sum in order to understand the system better. It’s more to get you in, and give you some skins in the game, to inspire and spur you to start. But anything more than that will require some serious thinking on your part.

It’s not uncommon to see pump and dump in crypto space, and the market is still largely controlled by the whales and FOMO nowadays. So unless you are a whale, you are at the mercy of unpredictability, and just a whale dump will result in unexpected and significant loss for you. It has happened before and it will happen again (look back to SHIB a few months ago). And it is even more frequent and severe for those cryptos with little use case and rely heavily on sentiments, like meme coins and specific game coins.

A vast, complex and strong ecosystem with a healthy amount of TVL can provide support for a coin or token when the market swings. Without it, anything can happen. And with that belief, I am done with meme coins. I had fun with them for a while, but then the fun stopped, and it was time to say goodbye 😁

Factfulness – A beautiful book full of positivity

It was the first book I’ve read in the year 2022, and it’s totally worth my time. A really good start for my reading journey this year. The book was full of positivity, as the main focus of the author was to spread the message of a better world that we are living in.

The overarching theme throughout the book is that the world we live in is better than we perceive, and people’s lives are still improving everyday, despite us being aware of the slow and incremental change. That is very encouraging, especially given the fact that we are being bombarded on a daily basis by the media with all the shocking and tragic world stories that seemed to portray a world that is getting worse and more dangerous. Fortunately, that is directly opposite to the truth, and by showing the data and facts, the author set out on a journey to change our perception, one person at a time.

The author also outlined 10 misleading instincts that prevent a lot of people from having a fact-based worldview, and how to combat them with facts and data. It’s really astounding to discover that human are worse than chimpanzees by a mile when it comes to factual knowledge test, and it’s even more shocking to find out that, the more educated the group is, the worse they fared in the test. Probably it is the information sources that those well educated people have access to and what they are being told. It clearly shows that people may just be educated with the wrong knowledge, and that the media rarely tell objective and credible news.

The most interesting and thought provoking myth that was debunked by the author is the gap instinct. It’s a deep rooted concept that has been ingrained into us since we were young. We always think of the world as us vs them, with a vacuum in between. Human vs alien. Hero vs villain. Developed vs developing countries. And that narrow frame of mind has led to many other instincts and misunderstandings mentioned in the book. The suggested breakdown of the world into 4 income levels is a brilliant concept. It reframes the way we think about the world, reduces the gap between countries and realigns our generalizations in a better way (after all, we still need a way to generalize and categorize things around us, due to the vast number of individuals that go far beyond our ability to comprehend and assess them all at one go). Besides, correcting our gap instinct also has an impact on our fear instinct, straight line instinct, size instinct and destiny instinct, so if you have time only for one chapter, that is the one you should read, in order to get the most out of this amazing book (of course you are welcome to devour it all).

By now, if you still have a nagging feeling that this book is all well and good, but it has nothing to do with you, and the concepts are more for the people at the top, well, nothing is further from the truth. Some of the instincts there are as applicable to us as they are to heads honchos. For example, the news tend to be heading towards negativity and shock factor, so keep that in mind when reading the news. Good news is hardly news at all, and the world is much safer now in spite of all the shocking news all around us. And we should look at things from different perspectives and seek different opinions and viewpoints in order to have a more well rounded view of events that happen around us, and thereby making more informed decisions. Another applicable advice is to avoid blaming others when things don’t go according to plan. Instead, look into the system and see what to fix the system in order to avoid such issue in the future. And remember, most of the deadlines are negotiable and not set in stone, so take ample time to consider before making decision, and don’t get yourself pushed into making knee jerk reaction. Don’t procrastinate, but also don’t blindly jump into action without enough information. Those are all practical advices that can improve our lives everyday.

Happy New Year 2022

So, 2021 has left and 2022 has come, and here is the customary new year post where I look back at the old year and look forward to the new year.

Let’s start with the old year first. While it seemed to be another lost year, and an extension of a disappointing year, in fact it was really a memorable year for us, which we managed to achieve quite a few big goals individually and as a family.

1. Covid-19 vaccination for the adults

While the pandemic still raged on, at least we had an additional weapon to fight against it: The vaccines. And even though many have doubted them, they have really helped improve the situation. And so once it was our turn, we quickly booked the slots, and to be honest, we felt much better and more assured to carry on with our lives once we were vaccinated. The only concern we had was that our kids were still not eligible and therefore we still had to limit our time out to reduce the risk of carrying back the virus to them.

P.S. Right at the doorstep of the new year, we got the booster shots and my elder kid had the first shot, so we are feeling much more relieved right now. Thank God the side effects were not severe for us, we only got a bit of headache, pain and tiredness, but nothing more serious and back to normal 2 days after the shots.

2. Passed driving test and got a car

Although I was not the brightest student when it came to driving, I was glad that I passed, on my 4th attempt (so embarrassing 🙈). We quickly got a car shortly after that, despite the fact that cars in Singapore cost an arm and a leg. Well, at least we started with an affordable used Vezel, and we have been making full use of it. In fact, I was very grateful that we got a car when we needed it the most, with the fear of public transport in the time of the pandemic and our increasing need to travel around in Singapore. After almost one year of driving, I cannot say I am perfect, but I believe I have improved quite a lot, and I start enjoying it more and more these days.

3. Staycation, staycation, staycation

We have never stayed in Singapore hotels so frequently before, but with the borders closing tight, that is the only option for family relaxation. And so we started exploring different hotels in this tiny island and what they have to offer, and I must say I was quite impressed and surprised by some of them, both in terms of the high level of service and the quality and variety of food and activities on offer. Now at least if the situation is still bad, we have something to fall back on, and we know exactly which one to book for our next block of leave clearance.

4. Competitions, Olympiads and GEP

Last year was a remarkable year for my son. He started P3, with exams and tests and grades starting to be captured in record book. And thank goodness he has been doing quite ok so far, even managed to get into the top 25% for his level. And he started getting exposed to more competitions outside of school. He participated with the Maths Olympiad, and even got 2 Bronze medals, which was totally unexpected for us. And he was sent to the Robotics competition, even managing to get into the final round. And the best news came at the end of the year, when he passed the GEP selection exams, without any preparation at all, sending us into a frenzy with all the procedures to select and switch school, and their cascading impact on logistics, housing, transportation and stuff. But it was a really pleasant surprise, and it would make 2022 and exciting year for us as a family. I am really proud of him, even though we seldom praised him, and most of the time scolded him for his carelessness, but he really surpassed all our expectations.

5. Crypto, blockchain and professional advancement

2021 was an exceptional year for crypto, with Bitcoin getting more mainstream, and the crypto market cap reaching all time high, with some specific assets booming in values. All the while, I have been a crypto skeptic, choosing to stand on the sideline and sticking to my traditional investments. However, since I worked for a crypto company, building the next level of crypto exchange, I had no choice but to get my feet wet and my hands dirty, in order to learn in greater depth about the technology and the industry as a whole, and so I opened my first crypto trading account. It has been an eye opener for me, and although I have not earned much, I would say I have learnt a lot and I am much more confident in discussing about the space, and that also help me compare and contrast, and gain a newfound respect of the amazing product that we have toiled over for almost 2 years. And our efforts have finally paid off. We are now live @ And though the path ahead is still challenging, at least we have achieved what we set out to do, and we hang on till the end, not giving up or dropping off no matter how frustrating the journey has been.

And so, 5 points to wrap up an incredible year 2021. A toast for a job well done, and looking forward to a more amazing year ahead. Onwards and upwards, 2022!

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