December 29, 2023

2023: A Year of 3s

2023 has been a very unique year. The first three months was good but the remaining 3 quarters was not as good. Speaking of three, I have noticed that a lot of things related to the number 3 to me happened this year. Here are some of them:

Third Continent

After living and touring around Asia and North America, we finally visited a new continent this year: Europe. I was invited to the PE Summit 2023 in London, England and we toured around a few days before the summit. We went to the Prime Meridian, ate English breakfast, and went to Sherlock Holmes Museum, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter, British Museum, and more. I also got to meet my three co-authors (who are all based in England) for the first time since we started working in 2019.

Book #3

My third book, the second edition of our book How to Build Android Apps with Kotlin, has been released last May. It is available on Packt and on Amazon. The first edition was published on February 2021 and there has been some new changes with the new one.

Three Runs

I ran thrice this year: a half-marathon at BMO Vancouver Marathon 2023, another half-marathon at Vancouver Half Marathon 2023, and a 10k at Under Armour Eastside 10k 2023. My half marathon at the Vancouver Half is now my fastest (so far) at 2:16:41.

3 Other 3's

  • Third Year of Blood Donation: This year marks the third consecutive year that I had donated blood.
  • Three Visits to the US: We went to the United States thrice this year: a weekend in California (March-April), a day trip in Seattle (June), and another weekend in California (November).
  • 3 VWFC Games: We watched 3 Vancouver Whitecaps FC matches at BC Place this year:
    • March 8: CONCACAF Champions League game against Real Club Deportivo Espana. Whitecaps won the game 5-0. It was our first time to watch their game where they scored more than 3 goals.
    • August 4: Leagues Cup Round of 32 match vs Tigres UANL. The final score was 1-1 but they lost on the penalty shootout 5-3
    • November 5: MLS Cup Playoff First Round Game 2 vs LAFC. They lost 1-0 and exited the playoffs

3 Honorable Mentions of Non-3 Things

  • After more than 8 years, I was finally able to replace my Macbook!
  • I joined two organizations this year and have already volunteered twice for each organization.
  • We watched our first NFL game in person in November, the Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium.

October 24, 2023

Trip to London

As a Platinum Product Expert for Play Developer (Play Console), I was invited to the PE Summit 2023 in London, England. It was our first time in London (and in Europe!) so we decided to stay a few days before the summit to tour around London.

The Product Experts (PE) Summit was held in Hilton London Metropole from October 16 to 18. That was my first time to attend this event. I met fellow product experts, community managers, and Googlers. It was a great experience and I learned more about the PE program, Play Console, and other Google products.

One of the few places I wanted to vist is the Prime Meridian in Greenwhich. The prime meridian indicates 0 degree longitude and separates the east and the west hemispheres of the Earth. We went inside the Royal Observatory and learned about the longitude and time. Afterwards, we took photos in the prime meridian line.

Me in the Prime Meridian

Since my three co-authors for the two editions of our Android Kotlin book are all based in England, I sent them a message so we can finally meet up in person. It was the first time all of us met after we started working late 2019.

Celine and me meeting with my co-authors

We were able to do a lot of things and visited many places despite the short time in London. I was finally able to try full English Breakfast in England (after ordering one last year via delivery and not getting the full breakfast). We rode the red double-decker bus. On our way from Greenwich, we also took the riverboat on the Thames.

We went to the Sherlock Holmes Museum (in 221b Baker Street) on our first day. Celine and I also visited the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter. We also went to the Tower of London and saw the Crown Jewels. The day before the summit, we went to the British Museum (and saw the Rosetta Stone, Easter Island Moai among many other things). The PE Summit closing was at Madame Tusssauds so I was able to roam inside and take photos.

There are still many more places that I haven't visited and food we haven't tried. We would love to go back there soon!

September 25, 2023

Under Armour Eastside 10k 2023

After running two half marathons this year (BMO Vancouver Marathon and Vancouver Half Marathon), I decided to do a 10k for my last run of 2023.

I registered for the Under Armour Eastside 10K because they are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. Under Armour Eastside 10K is a race through the historic east side of Vancouver (Gastown, Chinatown, and East Vancouver).

It was my first run in the Eastside and the route is totally different from what I am used to. I managed to finish the 10 km run in 01:01:17, which is a little better than my last 10k result at the Vancouver Sun Run. It would also be my fastest 10k since I started running in 2011.

The record for the run according to the Strava app was 10.28 km in 1:01:32.

This was a good experience but I am not sure if I would make it an annual thing. I'm thinking of doing the Sun Run for my next 10k as they will be celebrating their 40th next year.

June 26, 2023

Vancouver Half Marathon 2023

After running a half marathon at the BMO Vancouver Marathon 2023 last month, I ran another one at the Vancouver Half Marathon 2023.

It was my first time at the Vancouver Half Marathon and their route from UBC to Museum of Vancouver is new to me. I finished the 21.1 km run in 02:16:41, which is now my fastest half marathon. Losing a pound compared to last month's run probably helped.

The record for the run according to the Strava app was 21.49 km in 02:17:38. It also said I got a few best efforts, including 15k, 10 mile, 20k, and half-marathon.

After the run, I drank a lot and ate some food and a freezie. I queued in the Asics booth where they give out a poster with your finish time.

It's a great experience for me to run two half marathons again this year. I'm not sure when I'll run another half marathon but hopefully, I can run at least one every year.

May 8, 2023

Half Marathon at BMO Vancouver Marathon 2023

After running in person at BMO Vancouver Marathon 2022, I registered for this year's edition for another 21.1 km run. I registered for another combo run (In-Person Half Marathon + Virtual 8KM + Virtual 5KM) for the "free" singlet. To prepare for the half marathon, I ran a few times from March to April and I also attempted a few week dieting to lose a couple pounds.

I finished the 21.1 km run in 02:19:55. It was a little faster than my half marathons last year and is now my fastest half marathon (so far). It felt great to finish the run and beat my personal record by a few minutes.

The record for the run according to the Strava app was 21.48 km in 02:19:52. It also said I got a few best efforts, including 5k, 10k, 15k, 20k, and half-marathon.

After the run, we ate some food and roamed around the street festival, something we weren't able to do (no thanks to FedEx!). We then walked towards Burrard Bridge and cheered the marathon runners on both side of the bridge before going home.

I'll have another half marathon next month. Hopefully, I can join the 2024 BMO Vancouver Marathon.

May 3, 2023

Second Edition: How to Build Android Apps with Kotlin

The second edition of our book, How to Build Android Apps with Kotlin, has now been published. There are additions and updates to the first edition which was published on February 2021.

This book starts with the fundamentals of app development, enabling you to utilize Android Studio and Kotlin to get started with building Android projects. You'll learn how to create apps and run them on virtual devices through guided exercises. Progressing through the chapters, you'll delve into Android's RecyclerView to make the most of lists, images, and maps, and see how to fetch data from a web service.

You'll also get to grips with testing, learning how to keep your architecture clean, understanding how to persist data, and gaining basic knowledge of the dependency injection pattern. Finally, you'll see how to publish your apps on the Google Play Store.

You can get your copy of the book on Packt and on Amazon.

January 8, 2023

Toll Pinas Android App

In the past few months, I have been updating my apps and decided to work on a new application. The app, called Toll Pinas, is now available on the Google Play Store.

Toll Pinas Feature Graphic
Toll Pinas is an app that you can use to find out the toll fee you need to pay for expressways in the Philippines. Toll data were taken from the Toll Regulatory Board website. The app includes toll data for the following expressways:
  • Apolinario Mabini Superhighway (formerly known as STAR Tollway)
  • Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX)
  • Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX)
  • Metro Manila Skyway
  • NAIA Expressway (NAIAX)
  • North Luzon Expressway (NLEX)
  • Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX)
  • South Luzon Expressway (SLEX)
  • Muntinlupa–Cavite Expressway (MCX)
  • Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX)

To use the app, you can select the expressway, the entry/exit, and the vehicle class to compute the toll you need to pay. You can also share the output afterwards. Here's a sample video of how the app works.

Check out the app on Google Play Store at and let me know if you have any feedback or suggestions.