Journal #166 – Becoming, Being A Software Developer, and Moving On

When I was younger, like around 15, I didn’t know what I want to do like everybody else. Then a friend of mine started talking about making video games as a career because back then we were spending lot of our free time playing video games.

I remembered becoming inspired, deciding that I want to be a game developer. I started working towards that goal. So I studied hard for my GCE O Level examination and managed to pass all my subjects.

My greatest fear back then was failing mathematics. I have always been doing very poorly on that subject. And so I was decently surprised I passed it.

Then I went to choose a polytechnic because that was the fastest formal route that I could see to becoming a game developer.

So I went to applied for a course known back then as Diploma in Digital Entertainment & Technology. But I couldn’t get in with my GCE O level scores. I got chosen for the course under my second option, Diploma in Information Technology. That course had a final year specialisation in game development.

So I spent the next two years and a half learning about software design, Java programming (Standard and Enterprise), and UI design before taking the game development specialisation in the last semester.

I didn’t do too shabby but my results could have been better. I was genuinely surprised that I scored a Distinction for the course module on Computer Graphics as it was a math-heavy subject.

After getting my Diploma, I applied for University and got into Computer Science at Nanyang Technological University. After finishing my two years of conscription service, I went to work at my former internship company on a full-time basis before converting to freelancing for them.

It was during that time I went to develop my first ever internal product.

When my university program started, I studied more mathematics, algorithms, networking stuff, and software engineering. I went for specialization in high-performance computing by taking three modules in my final year relating to parallel computing, simulation and modeling, system architecture. My final year project was also related to high-performance computing in the form of me doing sparse-matrix benchmarking for Intel Xeon Phi, Nvidia Kepler GPU, and Intel Xeon CPU and comparing their result.

Why I chose High-performance computing? The reason was simple.

During the years while I was serving my nation, I actually participated in World Community Grid and Folding@Home. I was inspired by the use of supercomputing to solve world’s problem. I wanted to see if I can have a career out of it.

After graduating with a Honours Degree in Engineering (Computer Science), I couldn’t find a decent job related to supercomputing. Singapore is too small to be supporting a supercomputing community or industry. So in terms of job, I went searching for software development.

I landed at a software house focusing on developing workflow products. That is my second exposure to a “product” development. After that, in my second year at the company, I requested to be involved in maintaining a payment gateway, also the company’s own product.

However, I did left the company for another because the company violated one of my personal value: Integrity.

I decided to try some kind of consulting work and during my product development days, I was also involved in the development of authentication and authorization application. I saw some potential there to grow in and besides I was interested in security. And so, I went to see if I can do some work there.

Now, if you have been reading my journals from around March 2017 until July 2017, you will see me talking about my days at this company. While I was there, I suffered verbal abuse from my boss, which ultimately led me into depression. This depression, gastric-issues, constant insomnia since Feb of 2017, and comments from my boss and manager led me to make the final decision to quit. My mental and physical health just isn’t worth it. It was also then that I thought maybe I want to go back to software development, specifically product development. But first, I needed a break.

So I went and spent the whole of August doing new things. I signed up for a drone piloting course and an art course. Since I also needed some money, I went back to do work with my client. They had some new issues needing my attention.

In the meantime, I did some self-actualization work and re-evaluate what I want to do in my life. That was how I determined that I actually wanted to do more writing, less management, less big-picture, and less running around.

So I did more writing.

Then I came to realize I no longer have that strong passion in technology or software development anymore. But it was too late as I had signed the employment contract with my current company. I couldn’t back out of it without penalty. So I went to work, struggled for a week to adapt to corporate environment. I kept telling myself too that what I have now is just simply a job to pay the bills. Yesterday’s meeting that I had with my project team also revealed something about my level of disenagement. I didn’t talk a lot and did my best to push away stuff.

Last but not least, I also made the decision that this job will be the last full-time software development job I will be taking on. I’m trying to save up enough money so that I can have a do-over. It’s time for a career change. I do have a client whom I do freelance work with and I shall continue to work with them until the end of life for the software that I’m maintaining for them. That shall be the supplementary income that I will use to speed up the building up of my savings.

So what’s next for me?

It’s simple really. But not easy.

I will be transiting to becoming a full-time writer of sort. But what kind of content that I want to be writing, I’m not sure yet. Maybe I will give journalism a go. The type of fictional and non-fictional writing that I have been doing so far shall continue. As for job, I will take on some kind of part-time employment and see how it turns out.

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Daily Journal – Jul 09, 2017

This is my 97th journal.

I will be splitting this journal into two parts, covering the events that happened yesterday and today. You can think of it as a summary of my weekend.

Jul 08, 2017

I met my friends for Spiderman: Homecoming at 0950 at Jurong Point. Decided to have breakfast at Subway and reached it at around 0930. At first, I thought that we were meeting at 0955 for a movie that’s much later. Turns out, my friend intended to watch the movie at 9.55am. My bad. So I had to eat fast. However, it wasn’t until 0941 before it was my turn to order. The queue was not that long but slow. Every single person in front of me was ordering multiple shares.

After I was done eating, I rushed up and met my friends at around 0950. Needed my morning coffee fix and so I ordered black coffee from the cinema’s food counter.

The movie itself was slightly longer than 2 hours. Generally, it’s a fun movie to watch and has the same quality found in other Marvel’s movie. It’s definitely better than the preceding reboot made by Sony in many way.

After the movie, we had lunch at the Legendary Hong Kong restaurant (seriously though the name sound riduclous).

Ordered a whole bunch of food that we could barely finish. For me, I had Ice Lemon Tea, Fried Rice with luncheon meat and egg, Crystal Skin Shrimp Dumpling.

Egg Tarts, Carrot Cake with Fried Shrimps, and Custard buns were the extra stuff that we ordered to share.

Then we went for desert, which I didn’t take any picture of but it was Pomelo with Mango on ice.

We made our way home after that and for me it was just in time for me to do my first ever 9 kilometer run as recorded by my Apple Watch.

After the run, had a shower. I was super tired and decided to take a short nap. Told my parents that I didn’t want to go out anymore. So my dad packed food for me before they went out.

I spent the rest of the evening watching tv shows and did a little light gaming, playing Cities: Skylines.

Jul 09, 2017

Woke up around 1100 the next day. I slept really late last night. So did my usual morning routine and continued playing Cities: Skylines in the morning.

I won’t say I’m very good at playing these kind of games. Also, I am not that creative or have the patience to actually do things like what other players did. E.g. reconstructing their home city or town.

But I managed to build up my city up to a decently big size without having me going to deficit for longer than 1 in-game week. That deficit happened because of some in-game power issue. A large section of my city was without power due to an accidental destruction of the connecting electrical lines causing lack of water supply and buildings simply stopped working. Well, I was remodeling the roads and forgot about my power grid. Other than that, my city was constantly bringing me 10k to 30k worth of taxes.

Took some screenshots.

Before I knew it, it was about 1430 and it was time for my lunch. I went to Jurong Point again to eat at Sushi Express. Had 11 plates worth of Sashimi and Sushi. Then I went to grab some supplements and toiletries before I ordered a grande-sized Ice Americano.

Made my way home at around 1730 and decided to watch some movie. Rented the movie call LIFE on iTunes and watched it on my Apple TV.

After that, I had my dinner and here I am writing this journal. Along the way, I watched some youtube video on Starcraft 2 and reading its Wikia.

Tomorrow is another round of SIT. Tuesday too. Personally, I’m super bored by the whole thing.

Did I mention that I actually got a job offer from ST Electronics? It’s a .NET Software Developer role on a two-year contract basis. I don’t know if I want to take it. A big part of me still want that career break. Another part of me is thinking if I reject it, I won’t another offer anymore. But logically, this kind of fear is unfounded.

Anyway, let me lay it out what I’m thinking about.

It’s a .NET position and I’m more proficient in Java considering that was what I have been doing all these while for my career. Since the project has a deadline of six months, that means I need to pick up a whole bunch of unfamiliar stuff within weeks. I’m not sure if I can do that kind of ramping up. After all, I’m still suffering from the effects of burnout. I mean I have not been having any desire to do any work anymore…I’m even contemplating about whether I want to do any work for my client; Yeah, they raised some bugs with the application that I’m maintaining and in case you have forgotten, I’m a freelancer.

A large part of me is saying that I no longer want to go into the situation where I simply can’t tune work out when I reach home. And then repeating the whole cycle of burnout. Call me avoidant or childish or whatever. My health and mental well-being is more important and I’m still working through my mental toughness and resilient.

Baby-steps. Baby-steps.

My other priority is that I just want to go home to do my own projects, my own things after work and not think about what’s next for my main job. I mean it’s naive to think that way, but for me work is just a way for me to earn some money to survive and enjoy myself. I have no intention of burning through my health or happiness just to earn the extra dollar or climb the corporate ladder.

I have one more day to consider the offer before I need to make any kind of commitment and the company send me the actual physical contract to sign. I will think about it more tomorrow. But for now, I’m hovering around 60% rejecting the offer.

Here I conclude my journal for today.