Friendly neighbourhood cat

I don’t recognise many of my human neighbours in Kingsville, Victoria, but I do recognise most of the dogs and cats that live around here :)

This is cat I’ve met a few times, but scritched only once (when it was sitting on the fence). This appears to be its new favourite spot, though, because I’ve now seen it chilling out exactly there two weekends in a row (which is usually when I walk Maggie down this street).

It’s a really friendly cat that Maggie doesn’t react to (yay!). I hope I get to scritch it again in the future.

I bought a bike!

I bought a bike!

My last push bike got stolen a couple of years ago and I've felt quite lost without one. Walking is all well and good, but as someone who has owned a bike for most of his live, it is so very nice to be back in the saddle. (Even if that saddle is going to make me sore for the next week or so!) 

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Love Letters To Feminisms

Nadia and I had an excellent time this afternoon at ‘Love Letters to Feminisms: a live performance of feminist texts’. Organised by the Loving Feminist Literature collective, the event featured several writers, poets, academics, and performers who shared their works and the works of other feminists.

The performances were powerful and emotional, and each one resonated strongly with everyone in the room.

Nadia was one of the performers and she read a piece that honoured the Pakistan women’s movement and all they’ve achieved over the last few decades.

Nadia performing at ‘Love Letters of Feminisms’, alongside an Auslan interpreter

Bonus: the event was held at the Bluestone Church Arts Space in Footscray, which a lovely venue that looks great in selfies :)

Selfie in front of the Bluestone Church Arts Space on Hyde Street in Footscray.

Seriously, though, it was a joy to be among so many diverse and enthusiastic feminists in Melbourne. I look forward to attending more of Loving Feminist Literature’s events in the future.

Mango pudding

Nadia adores mangoes. Unfortunately, she’s been allergic to them since her late teens.

I, too, adore mangoes. But, given we been married for over fifteen years, I only rarely have them. So, when I do, I make the most of it :)

This is from Nadia’s Instagram account:

@ameelkhan is unrepentant in his consumption of mango pudding. #nom #dessert #mangopudding (Source)

To which my response was: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Top tip: Take the train to airshow

If you’re not carrying too much with you, I highly recommend taking the V/Line train + bus combo service to the Avalon Airshow. That’s what I did this year and it worked brilliantly.

Last time I went there, we drove. That resulted in over three hours of total driving time — most of that in slow, heavy traffic on narrow lanes behind the airport that went to/from the airshow parking area. And then we had to park a good fifteen minute walk away from the airshow entrance. Not fun. Wouldn’t recommend.

This time someone else did all the driving and I got to nap in a cool, quiet carriage all the way back to the city :)

All this didn’t cost very much either: $13.60 for a return ticket from Footscray railway station to Lara railway station and then a special shuttle from Lara to a convenient drop-off/pick-up point near the airshow entrance. (I bought the ticket in advance, though not online, which is why it cost me more than the online full-fare price but less than the $15 day-of price.)

Screenshot of V/Line ticket prices for the 2019 Airshow. ( Source )

Screenshot of V/Line ticket prices for the 2019 Airshow. (Source)

I could also have used my Myki to get to/from Lara station and then buy a separate paper ticket for just the shuttle bit of the journey. The V/Line folks even had a special ticketing booth set up specifically at Lara for the people who were doing this. But was easier just to get a paper ticket for the whole journey.

Bonus tip: go as early as you possibly can

The other thing I’d highly recommend is that you get to the airshow as early as possible. Gates open at 8am so I caught first train out of Footscray station at 7:08am.

Catching the first train out of Footscray railway station.

After a quick 45 minute trip we hopped off at Lara railway station where shuttle buses were ready and waiting for. There were enough of on this first train in to fill up two buses, and we set off almost immediately.

I got into the airshow proper (ie past security and ticketing) by 8:26am — so a total front-door to airshow-entrance travel time of about ninety minutes.

The return trip took just a little longer because there was a short wait till the shuttle bus filled up at Avalon. Fortunately, the buses were nicely air conditioned — a huge relief when it was 36 degrees outside!

Waiting in the well air conditioned V/Line shuttle bus at the airshow — hot and tired, but happy.

There was also a fifteen minute wait at Lara station till the next train was due, but that was fine too. The station is quite nice, with a indoor waiting room, lots of out outdoor sheltered waiting/seating space, and even a small cafe.

Walking into Lara railway station.

The train back to the city was my favourite part of the journey because I got a seat in a Quiet Carriage and pretty much napped all the way back to Footscray :)

Oh, and since Nadia both dropped me off to Footscray station in the morning and also picked me up from there in the afternoon, I didn’t have to do any driving that day at all. Yay!

Selfie with summer hat

Of late I’ve taken selfies mostly while wearing a hat. So here’s another one — this time with my summer flat cap.

Sunny Friday in Melbourne, and casual day at work.

I took this photo using portrait mode on my Google Pixel 3XL phone. The background blurring worked quite well, I think.

My mother would have turned 72 today

I remember the afternoon of 12 February 1983 very clearly.

I’m six years old and I spend what feels like several hours swinging back and forth on the front gate of our house in Lahore, Pakistan.

Why? Because my father is there, with my seven month old sister in his arms, pacing up and down the driveway and across the front of our house, looking increasingly concerned.

My mother, Shahla Zia, whose 36th birthday it is that day, isn’t home. I don’t know where she is, really. I just know that she was full of energy when she left with her friends and work colleagues.

Me and my father in, I think, 1980. I would have been four years old at the time.

§

Many years and several women’s day marches later I connect the dots: this is the day the women’s movement in Pakistan celebrates as National Women's Day (or Pakistan Women’s Day, as it was called back then).

On this day, some three decades ago, 200 women activists took a stand for all the women of Pakistan. The year was 1983. Images of these women being beaten up by the police are now part of the country’s searing conscience.

These women defied the military dictatorship of the day by taking out a public demonstration in Lahore, despite martial law regulations that outlawed political activities, processions and public protests. These iconic women of the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) in collaboration with Pakistan Women Lawyers’ Association (PWLA) carried out a rally from Hall Road Lahore to the Lahore High Court to file a petition against the law of evidence which would reduce the testimony of women to half that of men. The accumulative trigger was the dictatorship’s unrelenting push to rescind women’s rights.

History has it that when these women reached the high court, the revolutionary poet Habib Jalib came to show solidarity with these women for their struggle for an egalitarian, democratic and progressive society and world order. He was beaten up by the police along with the women who were put behind bars for several hours.

National Women’s Day: Memoirs of trailblazing activists’ – Hassan Naqvi, The Express Tribune, 12 February 2014

Baton charge on protesters at Hall Road, Lahore. 12 February 1983. Photographer: Azhar Jaffery. (Source)

§

Today, on 12 February 2019, I’m in Melbourne, Australia.

I’m on the committee that’s organising this year’s International Women’s Day events at the company I work for. I’m working on a communications plan to showcase on social media how we're an employer of choice for women in Australia (as we have been since 2015).

One of the reasons I took this particular job (I got two job offers when I was looking for work last year) was because of how well Transurban scored on workplace gender equity. Now I get to tell people about it.

Compared to 1983 in Pakistan, I’m in a vastly different time and place – a vastly different world. A lot has changed. But, sadly, a lot hasn’t.

View from my office building on a rainy day.

§

Every year on 12 February my father writes a note to my mother, which he then sends to me and my siblings. (This year via WhatsApp!)

He writes about what we’re up to, where we are in our lives, and how proud he is of us. Three of us have kids (the other two, of which I am one, have pets) so he also talks about his grandkids and us as parents.

Ami and Abu, some time in the 1980s.

§

If she hadn’t died of cancer in 2005, Ami would’ve turned 72 today.

We all mark the occasion in our own ways, often with food – something Ami loved to eat. Today I’m having alu ka parathas for dinner.

I miss her.

Ami on her 50th birthday in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Instagram wrap-up: January 2019

Here’s what I shared on Instagram in January 2019. (ICYMI, starting this year I’ll be cross-posting everything I post to Instagram to this blog.)

Maggie

We had a super hot start to 2019. Maggie, being a very Australian dog, loves the heat.

It's going to be 42 degrees today.

[@nadianiaz, hanging up the laundry] It's *thoroughly* unpleasant outside.

[Maggie, an Australian cattle dog] It's perfect.

When the weather is nice, though, we all like to hang out in the garden.

Afternoon nap in the garden with Maggie. (Yes, yesterday it was 42 degrees here. Today it's a top of 19. That's Melbourne for you. That's also why I love this city.)

Maggie loves her rope toy.

Maggie recommends a slow and steady deconstruction of your rope toy. "Take your time and pull that thing apart thread by thread," she says.

Events

January saw the start of #SlowSummer on SBS.

All set for a #SlowSummer with the Indian Pacific on SBS :) #SlowTV #sundaynight

Nadia and I went to the Australia Open tennis tournament, where every year we take a selfie.

Annual Australian Open selfie with Nadia :)

Melbourne went through three-ish heat waves in January. The last series of hot days ended with rain showers across the city. I work on the 29th floor of a building in the Docklands that has great views.

Gap in the clouds at sunset from Docklands, Melbourne.

Selfie

I finally got around to buying a quality Panama hat. Which, of course, meant that I had to take a selfie while wearing it :)

Yay, quality Panama hat! Been wanting one for years. Literal h/t to Gentleman's Gazette for the purchase inspiration and City Hatters Melbourne and Avenel Hats for the actual hat :)

The NBN is 62% faster in our new house!

This time last year we finally got connected to Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN).

Doing so dramatically increased our average download speed from 6.9MBps with ADSL2+ (over the old telephone copper wire network) to 46.7MBps with NBN (over a new NBN fibre optic connection to the closest telephone/internet exchange).

A little over a week ago we moved into an independent house in another suburb. This meant we were no longer sharing that fibre optic internet connection with the other residents in an apartment block.

I checked to see if this had increased our connection speed and, sure enough, our download speeds have gone up by 62% to 75.7MBps!

Woohoo! 

Pro tip: If you’re looking to move house and, like me, can’t live without the NBN, check out the nbnm8 Chrome extension. When you use realstate.com.au and Domain to search for properties it’ll automatically do the nbn availability look-up for you :)

Office kitchen theory: people from large families

I have a theory that you can tell which of your work colleagues grew up in large families – or lived in a hostel when they were in college – by the way in which they navigate the office kitchen or lunch room.

They are more aware of who is in the room with them

Several times at work I’ve walked into the kitchen and there’s been only one other person there. But, every time I try to do anything, they are magically in my way. And, if we don’t quickly settle on an unspoken protocol of how we’re going to successfully navigate around each other for the next two minutes, I can tell they come from a small family.

Sure people from large families get in each other’s way when they’re in the kitchen. But how quickly and automatically they adjust to the presence of others is what sets them apart from people like me: a person who grew up in a large family and, in my specific instance, also spent several years in a hostel and shared apartment while at university.

They are more comfortable working around a single sink

The kitchen in my corner of the office has just a single sink. This sink has two taps: one for washing dishes and one for getting boiling hot or refrigerated cold water. Some people are comfortable with this arrangement, some people aren't.

When I’m washing dishes, for example, I’m have no problem moving slightly to the right to give someone the space to squeeze in next to me and fill their water bottle from the other tap. That's because I come from a large family and sharing sinks is something you have to get used to pretty darned quickly. So, if I’ve finished stirring my cup of tea and just need to rinse my spoon, and the person doing their dishes pauses for two seconds so I can run my spoon under the water, I know they come from a large family.

The best are those moments in which one person is washing their dishes, another is filling their tea cup, a third has just rinsed their fork, a fourth is reaching for a plate from the dish rack, a fifth is wiping a spill on the counter next to you, and a sixth is waiting for the slightest opening to stick their hand in and drop their spoon into the sink. That’s when I want to burst into song with a heartfelt “We are family / I got all my sisters with me” :)

They adjust more quickly to new situations

All this doesn’t mean that people from small families don’t learn and adjust. They do, and they adjust quite well. But you can still tell which people have learnt these skills in the office and which of them have had a childhood in which they shared a kitchen with their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, older and younger siblings, older and younger cousins, friends and, sometimes, pets.

Like when there are suddenly ten people in the kitchen at 3pm trying to make themselves a cup of tea or use the coffee machine. Some people will adjust automatically to this new situation – seemingly without any additional effort. But a couple will always take a few extra seconds to pause, observe and figure out how things are working before they’ll correctly read and then join the traffic flow.

That’s my theory anyway. 

Improving my writing skills by writing every day

I write reasonably well (or so I like to think) but I want to continue to improve my writing skills.

One of the best ways to do this is by writing a little bit every day. And what better place to do that than here? This blog is called 'Random Tangent', after all :)  

So, apologies in advance for the random snippets of writing and the random half-baked, half-complete, half-written thoughts you might see here in the future. 

That said, hopefully some of what I write will be entertaining or interesting :) 

Let me know what you think.

Researching flieger style watches

As I said in my previous post, I'm ready to buy my first mechanical watch. 

Now people in this situation usually look to well-known Japanese brands like Seiko and Orient since these companies produce excellent quality mechanical watches that aren't very expensive. 

And if I was looking for a dive style watch I'd definitely get the Seiko SKX007K1 or Orient Ray EM6500CD. Or, if I was looking for a field style watch I'd get the Seiko SNZG11K1. Or, if I was looking for a dress watch, I'd get the Orient Bambino ER2400CN.

But, no, I'm an aviation enthusiast so I want to get a pilot watch. 

Eventually, I'll want to get myself something like the Breitling Navitimer 01 (which costs $9,800) or the Breitling Navitimer 1461 ($13,400) but that won't happen for another couple of decades at least. Which is fine because the type of pilot's watch that I adore is the flieger style watch from WWII. 

Now the Seiko 5 Military SNK809K2 does have some pilot/flieger characteristics but it's not quite what I'm after. And the Orient Flight ER2A001B is closer, but it's still a loose interpretation of the original and I'd rather get something more visually authentic.

Of course, before I go any further, I should explain what a flieger style watch is. 

Flieger style watches

Pilot watches have been around since 1904 and, if you want to learn more about them, check out this excellent five-part history on Monochrome: 

For flieger style watches we're interested in part five of that series. 

Or, if you want a quicker introduction, check out this blog post: 

But, basically, these 'beobachtungs-uhr' (i.e. 'observer watches') were created for the Luftwaffe in the 1940s by five German watchmakers: 

  • A. Lange & Söhne
  • Laco 
  • Stowa 
  • Wempe 
  • IWC

These watches were required to:

  • Be super readable (so they were 55mm in size and had white Arabic numerals on a black dial plus blue-flamed sword hands filled with luminous material)
  • Have an anti-magnetic case
  • Be chronometer certified
  • Have a hack-capable second hand (i.e. the seconds hand would stop when you pulled the crown out so you could precisely synchronize your watch)
  • Have a large diamond or onion-shaped crown (so you could adjust them while wearing gloves)
  • Have a large strap (so they fit around your flight jacket or on your thigh)
  • Have a triangle marker at the 12 o'clock position (so you could use the dial as a basic solar compass)

They came in two types: Type A for pilots and Type B for navigators. 

And they looked like this: 

Flieger watches on the market 

Because no one company can claim to have designed or built the original flieger style watch lots of companies now make them. 

Most of the luxury flieger style watch are Type A, though, and I much prefer Type B. The one Type B I do like from this bunch (the Bell & Ross Vintage WWI) happens to be the cheapest of the lot - but is still not something I can afford just yet.

Fortunately, there are a number of Type B watches from enthusiast-level watch brands. The STOWA Flieger Baumuster B and Archimede Pilot 42 B Automatic are the most original-looking (and I love them both) but I think the Hamilton Pilot Auto is my favourite. 

Yes, Hamilton have tweaked the design a bit and have even added a day/date complication - but I really like their interpretation. In fact, I like it so much that, as far as pilot watches go, I'll settle on this on till I'm ready to buy a Breitling. But, for now, these watches are still out of my price range.

The watches that are in my price range also come from enthusiast-level brands - though from the lower end. I love both the STEINHART Nav B-Uhr B-Type and the Laco Aachen Type B Dial Automatic but, on balance, I think I prefer the Laco. 

Aside from the fact that Laco is one of the companies that made the original B-Uhr watches back in the 1940s, I prefer its full lume and open case back. Also, Laco's movement is made in-house - which is a plus for any watchmaker. 

The one last category of watch brands I should mention are the less well-known consumer brands. So not the Seikos and Orients of the world, but the brands that build cheaper watches that generally work well and are still decent enough looking.

For example, TISELL is a Korean brand that uses off-the-shelf Chinese watch movements from Sea-Gull. And Ticino is a German brand that uses both Chinese Sea-Gull and Japanese Miyota movements (Miyota is owned by Citizen). Watches with Sea-Gull movements used to be hit-and-miss but both TISELL and Ticino do their own quality control with these movements so their watches generally run well. 

Each of these brands makes a Type B flieger style watch. The TISELL Type B Pilot uses a Sea-Gull movement while the Ticino Type B Automatic uses a Miyota movement (their Type B watch from last year used a Sea-Gull movement but this year they're moving a little up-market). 

Both of these are decent enough watches. They have stainless steel cases and sapphire crystals, and they generally run well. But brand like these save money with cheaper movements, lower production costs and fewer subtle refinements. Which means these two watches are less water resistant, they're not quite as well-built or finished, they use a dimmer lume, and their straps aren't particularly good. Also, they don't have much of an after-sales support, maintenance and repair network to turn to if they're not working as well as you'd like. 

What will I buy?

Deciding which watch I'm going to get depends on a number of things: 

  • What's my budget? 
  • And, given that I have a limited budget, what am I willing to compromise on?
  • Finally, do I have a brand preference?

Keeping all that in mind, this is what I'd get at each budget level:

  • $4,000: Bell & Ross Vintage WWI - choosing the Type B over Type A and picking one of my favourite watch brands
  • $1,500: Hamilton Pilot Auto - choosing the more modern interpretation
  • $500: Laco Aachen Type B - choosing the more authentic interpretation and my preferred feature set
  • $200: None 

That $200 decision was the hardest. If I had just $200 I'd either have to get the Orient Flight, which is not my favourite flieger interpretation but I know will be built well and is guaranteed to run really well. Or I'd have to get a TISELL or Ticino that, while more faithful to the original design, may not be built as well or run as well. 

As it happens, I'm not willing to compromise on either flieger design faithfulness or watch features and quality so I'd probably go with neither of those options. Instead, I'd wait till I had $500 to spend so I could get the Laco, instead :)

Also, for completeness' sake, if I actually had $4,000 just lying around, I wouldn't go for that particular Bell & Ross watch, either. I'd already own those Laco and Hamilton Type B flieger watches and I wouldn't want another one. Instead I'd go for a different Bell & Ross watch or something else entirely. 

So there you have it: my thought process (or, well, brain dump) on buying my first mechanical watch given all that I've learnt about the world of watches in the last few months. I'm hoping at least a couple of you enjoyed reading it. Or at least you looked at the pictures and though: "Ah, so that's what he's been on about these last few weeks!" :)

Exploring the World of Watches

I love watches and, since the age of seven, have owned eleven of them. (Which turns out, on average, to be one watch every three years.) 

Nine of these were Casio watches - including one calculator watch, two G-shocks, one ProTrek, and one Edifice. This is the Edifice (EQS-A500B-1AV) that I bought just a couple of months ago, by the way (which I then customized with Hadley Roma leather strap and butterfly deployant clasp): 

The other two watches I've owned were a Pulsar LED (the one I got when I was seven) and a mechanical hand winding watch that I don't remember the brand of (I was twelve at the time).

The cool thing is that I have I reached a point in my life at which I'm ready to move beyond watches as primarily practical time telling tools. I now want to get watches that, while still good for telling time, are also pieces of jewellery and objects of design, engineering, craftsmanship and history. So, aside from another couple of quartz watches I'll probably want to get in the future (a Casio ProTrek and some type of chronometer), this means I'm looking to get myself my first proper mechanical watch. 

I've spent the last few months researching watches and world or horology - both online and in local stores in Melbourne - and, over the next few months, I'll summarize what I've learnt on this blog. 

Let's start with the basics, though: 

  • What types of watches can you get?
  • Who makes them?
  • How much do they cost?

Watch Styles

Historically, wristwatches have been tool watches. In the early 1900s people were perfectly happy with pocket watches (though women sometimes wore watches as jewellery on their wrists) but, when it stopped being convenient to pull a watch out of your pocket - like when you were diving, flying, driving or marching across Europe in your army - wristwatches started to become popular. 

Accordingly, these are now the main styles of wristwatches available (list sourced from this convenient 'Watches Style Guide' thread on Reddit): 

  • Diver's watches: for divers and sailors
  • Field watches: for infantrymen, rangers and other ground troops 
  • Pilot's watches: for pilots and navigators
  • Chronographs or sport watches: for drivers, racers, yachtsmen and other people who play sports
  • Dress watches: for people who want elegant watches to wear with fancy clothes

Or, more visually: 

There are just the big bucket watch styles, of course. There are many variations within these styles and a handful of other styles, as well (e.g. single hand, Bauhaus, fashion). And a lot of these styles and variations overlap, too. 

Watch Brands

There are a great many watch brands out there but, again, thanks to Reddit, here's a good way of categorizing them: 

  • Consumer: some quartz, some mechanical; brands from all over the world (e.g. Switzerland, Japan, Russia, China, USA, Denmark)
  • Enthusiast: usually tool watches designed for a specific purpose (e.g. pilot or military watches)
  • Quasi-luxury: expensive or fancy enthusiast watches; lower-prices luxury watches
  • Entry-level Luxury: starter luxury watches; expensive enthusiast watches 
  • Luxury: expensive watches with a lot of history behind them
  • High-end Luxury: most well-known luxury brands
  • Ultra Luxury: very expensive watches (for serious watch collectors and very rich people only)

Or, more visually: 

Note: I haven't included the independent watchmakers of the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (ACHI) in that list because, let's face it, I'll never be able to afford any of their watches.

It's useful to know that a number of these brands are owned by large multinational holding companies.  

For example, the Swatch Group owns: 

  • Swatch from the consumer group;
  • Hamilton and Tissot from the enthusiast group;
  • Longines and Rado from the quasi-luxury group;
  • Omega from the luxury group; and 
  • Breguet, Blancpain and Glashütte Original from the high-end luxury group.

The Richemont Group owns: 

  • Baume & Mercier and Montblanc from the entry-level luxury group;
  • IWC from the luxury group;
  • Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Officine Panerai from the high-end luxury group; and
  • Piaget and Vacheron Constantin from the ultra luxury group.

And LVMH owns: 

  • TAG Heuer from the quasi-luxury group;
  • Bvlgari from the luxury group; and
  • Hublot and Zenith from the high-end luxury group.

Also, Tudor is Rolex's lower-end brand and Orient is owned by Seiko. 

I'm sure there are other brand partnerships and joint ownerships out there. 

Watch Prices

You can buy a watch for almost price - from a $25 Casio to a $250,000 Hublot - and different people create different price-range buckets for watches. 

For example, A Blog to Watch has three: 

While ever-practical Reddit has buying guides for these six price ranges (and a separate guide for 'Ladies Watches'): 

I, too, am practical so I have three personalized buckets (each with its own Pinterest board, no less): 

The way I see it:  

  • In my 30s and 40s I'll only be able to justify buying watches that cost less than $1,000
  • In my 50s I'd like to be able to justify buying a watch that costs more than $1,000
  • And in my 60s I might just buy myself a watch that costs more than $5,000 

What Next?

So that was just the basics. There's a lot more to summarize but I'll try to do that over the next few months (though it'll probably take years since there's so much to learn).

Instead, let's move on to something more interesting: like actually buying a watch. That's what my next post will be about. 

New Gigabyte P34 Gaming Laptop

A few months ago I finally retired my three year old ThinkPad X201 Tablet PC and bought myself a fantastic new Gigabyte P34G laptop. This is from Gigabyte's high-end P Series gaming laptops and is a very impressive piece of tech. 

Fantastic Specs

The P34G weighs about as much as my old laptop did but has an excellent 14" 1920x1080p screen. That's a big step up from the X201's grainy-but-capacitive-touch 12.1" 1280x800px screen:

And while 1920x1080 is sometimes too high a resolution for this size of screen, the LCD panel itself is gorgeous and has excellent colour reproduction:

Importantly, the P34G is powerful. Mine is configured with an Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M graphics card. In fact, it's more than twice as powerful as my old laptop:

It's also very thin so it fits really easily in my Crumpler Dry Red No. 5 backpack's slim laptop pocket:

The best part? It costs half of what the X201 did :)

But Some Corners Were Cut

To fit all that technical goodness into a low cost, thin-and-light package you have to make some sacrifices. Thus the P34G doesn't have the best build quality (mine already has a tiny cosmetic crack in the plastic keyboard housing) and a sub-par soundcard. Actually, the soundcard itself might be okay but it's not tweaked and configured to sound as good as it should. For an audiophile like me, this is a problem. However that problem is easily remedied by bypassing the laptop's on-board hardware and using an external USB soundcard. I now use the iBasso D-Zero DAC and headphone amp which is small, cheap, and easily transportable but still sounds really good. 

Still Worth It

On balance, though, this is a fantastic laptop and I am really happy I bought it. 

So, if you're in the market for a thin-and-light family laptop with an excellent screen and discrete graphics card, I would highly recommend the Gigabyte P34G.