Journal #172 – Ill Sunday, My Health and Anti-smoking Rant

Upon waking up this morning, I realized that I was feeling kind of sick. I had runny nose combine with sneezing, and a mild throat irritation.

I’m not surprise as I hadn’t been eating very healthily these past few days. For lunch when I was at work, I eat stuff like BBQ pork with Roast Pork rice from coffee shops and hawker centers or fried rice. Then on Thursday night, I ate a slice of Bakkwa and yesterday I ate at the Tonkatsu Bistro by Ma Maison at Westgate mall for lunch, ordering the black pork cutlet with fried breaded prawns. Over the last week or so, I have also restarted my coffee drinking.

Other than the fact I need to deal with a runny nose, I spent half of today watching Netflix, spent some time preparing and publishing the Restaurant and Food review. In the afternoon, I went about doing some freelance work, fixing the software bugs raised by my client.

I also took a Fedac tablet for my runny nose in the afternoon at around 4.30pm. By around 5.30pm, the drug kicked in and my nose wasn’t that runny anymore. But that tablet can cause drowsiness and so I actually dozed off several times while seated, trying to codes.

Hell, I even accidentally click restart instead of shutdown on the menu of my Synology NAS because I was so sleepy.

After I’m done with my work, and uploaded the required files to my client’s FTP server, I went for a quick 3.8 km run and walked another 2 km instead of my usual 6 km. I felt energetic enough to do it. I actually wanted to run at the stadium today and made my way there only to see that it was closed. I don’t know why and I didn’t bother checking. So I had no choice but to run by the road, having to breathe in the smog and secondhand smoke.

This is the part where I feel like ranting. I am so pissed off by the air quality in Singapore.

Look, one of my value is health. I know it’s kind of ironic considering that I hadn’t been eating healthy lately and I am here complaining about smog and secondhand smoke. The fact is, air pollution and smoking tend to cause more health damage because you can’t control it and you unknowingly breathe those residues in. I know I breathed them in because I can smell them. My nose is that sensitive.

Singapore isn’t a green city. It is a lie. We got all these fucking smokers walking around, smoking and leaving behind a trail of toxic airborne chemicals.

Did you know that it takes the body up to eight hours to clear the toxins inhaled, even if it’s a single whiff? I bet you don’t. And those smokers don’t give a fuck about other people’s health. They poison their kids if any, poison others, and their breath stinks.

What is Singapore government doing? Well, they raised the minimum age of smoking from 18 to 21. They added more areas to the smoking ban list, not that it matters because there is no enforcement and the smokers don’t give a fuck. I see smokers happily smoking away under sheltered pathways, public corridors, and many places where smoking is banned.

Lastly, I got a whole bunch of fucking neighbors that smoke a lot and the residues are blown into my room, every day! Complaining to NEA also saw nothing being done. I have to close my windows but it makes my whole room so stuffy.

Ok, I’m done ranting but I still don’t feel good. Because as of right now, I still smell cigarette residues coming into my room. I shall proceed to do something else.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

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Journal #170 – Writer’s Block and Disappointment

If you are not careful, you will suffer from writer’s block or worse, burnout. I have suffered from enough burnouts at work that I know how counterproductive it can be. Yet I keep ending up in that situation.

Why?

Because I want to do better today than what I did yesterday. I want to put out better stuff. Then I went about forcing myself to put out better stuff, everyday and thinking about how do it almost every other hour.

So now I faced an issue where I don’t know what to write any more. Nothing comes to mind. I didn’t have any more inspiration until I went to read an article about not knowing what to write. That spurred me to write this specific entry.

Now I know why I don’t know what to write anymore.

There are multiple reasons.

First is my day job, which is full time (8.30am to 6pm) and is a software development role. Due to its’ nature, it is mentally taxing till the point where I don’t have any more brain juices to do any decent writing. I ran out of inspiration.

Second is the constant forcing. It creates a subconscious stress and prevents my brain from doing its best work.

How do I fix it? I know how. But I know part of the solution is not possible because of how I am bounded by the contract, especially for the first reason.

And so what’s the solution, you may ask.

It’s very simple. Work part-time, go out more to interact with more people. By interacting, you get inspirations and that’s how you can write better.

Am I practicing it? I tried to and is trying. But it is not easy. I’d actually love to go out with friends more on weekends, listening to them, and talking to them.

To fix the second problem, it’s really simple and easy. Because it’s all internal and there is no external factor, I can control it. I need to practice letting it go, and not attempt to write a thousand word entry just because I wrote a thousand word entry yesterday or the day before. I need to be ok with just putting out an entry with a single word or a single sentence. Hell, maybe even a single character.

There may be more reasons but those two are the most obvious ones that popped out at me.

I also need to learn to be content even with failures. I need to learn to accept disappointment.

Why I say that?

Well, I do keep a close watch on the view and visitor counts of my blog. 21 Sept 2017 was a particularly sad day for me. There was no view, no visitor. Even at the lowest viewer/visitor count over the past month, the number was 1.

I got depressed wondering whether it was because of content of particular day’s entry. I know I didn’t write any world changing or life changing entry. I know I didn’t write anything about the popular topics of these past few years. Anyway, at the end of that, what I know is my mood just spiral out of control from there.

But the truth is, it doesn’t matter. Stats don’t matter. What do matter? It is me putting out content for me just because I enjoy the writing process. I did end up writing an entry for the 22 Sept 2017 and do my weekly tech news roundup. I have to be ok with no reader at all because you don’t win everyday. It’s a constant, work in progress everyday. And if there is even one reader, you have my greatest thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Journal #169 – End of Third Week at Work

Today marks the end of the workweek at my new job. I have mostly eased myself into the job, focusing on doing what is required, ignoring the other noises.

In terms of adapting, I like to think that I have done that. I am comfortable in my role now. I am comfortable with my colleagues. And I am comfortable in my current environment.

As for familiarizing myself with the project, it’s still a work in progress but I doubt I will need to know the full picture or interact with the vendors and customer. I don’t want to. Why? It’s to reduce my mental load and so that I can focus on what’s truly important— coding.

During these three weeks, I have also mostly picked up on the basic aspect of using .NET and C# in general and was able to complete the implementation of various small use cases on the frontend. I also start to appreciate the beauty of C# though I still don’t quite enjoy using it as much as Java. But since I am a writer first, programmer second, I just saw it as Java is my mother tongue and C# is my second language. At the end of the day, they are like English and Mandarin, and are really just tools for me to put out my solution or idea.

My next task for work is to develop the identity access component and that means I have moved to backend development. I foresee I will probably spend the next two weeks on this. As part of the development, I spent quite a fair amount of time first to understand the business requirements through discussion and extracting out the use cases. Of course, my approach is to code while extracting out the use case. This is my way of setting in stone my idea, so to speak. It helps me to identify flaws in my design that were initially in my head.

For my freelance work, I also uploaded a compiled jar to the client’s FTP server. I also managed to finish implementing a new function.

So in a way, it’s a rather productive week.

Before I forget, my application for deferment of the military in-camp training was successful (not particularly happy about it). I also received a call-up for another make-up training set on the first two weeks of January 2018 on the same day via SMS. Well, I wanted to go back for the make-up as soon as possible, made it known to my unit, and was informed January was the earliest possible. Not ideal but better than nothing. So in a way, the year 2018 will see me going back to in-camp training twice. It’s fine though.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #168 – Can’t Run Away, Might As Well Just Do It

There are many things in life that you can’t run away from.

Why?

Because it’s something you know.

Because it’s something you can do.

Because it’s part of your life. By that I meant work. Your job.

So I went to back to it again. I went back to building identity management modules for applications again.

I worked with similar implementations for my first job. Worked with identity management again for my second job.

And I went back at applying what I know about Domain Driven Design, both theoretical and practical.

And I went back at it, doing software design.

So you see. You can’t run away from certain things. Not if it is practical. Not if you want to ensure some kind of stability in life. And it’s the same thing with other aspect of your life.

Journal #167 – Updated to iOS 11 and Out of iCloud Storage

Normally, I will wait at least a week before updating my software, especially if it is the operating system. This time around, I updated my Apple devices as soon as the iOS 11 update is out.

The first device that I updated was my iPad Pro because it was not really a critical device. Yes, I use it to do my writing, browse the web, watch YouTube video but I could do those on my other devices too. That’s why I classify it as non-critical. After a slight hesitation, I went to update my iPhone 6S, which is my work phone.

While the update went on, I went to eat my breakfast and use my other iPhone. Since yesterday, my iCloud storage was full and I didn’t know why. I tried to clean up my backups and remove apps data but it didn’t help. So I went to sign up for 50GB of iCloud storage.

I used iCloud primarily for syncing my writing across my Apple devices. And I have since stopped using OneDrive for such purpose. One primarily reason for that was because of Microsoft’s lack of per-file encryption unless we use the business plan. Their stance on privacy hasn’t been very clear and during the iPhone 5 unlocking fiasco, Microsoft’s stance made me think twice about using their services. So I only store non-sensitive information on OneDrive.

By the time I was done eating, and the storage space upgraded, the update on all both devices were done. I went and finished configuring the devices before going for a shower.

After that, I went to update the remaining iPhone. It took quite a while before it was done. I left house for work and reached office much later than usual. I mean I tend to reach 10 minutes after the official start time these days but today was 15 minutes later.

I will proceed to update my Apple Watch tonight to WatchOS 4.

Anyway, I also went to verify the findings of this article by Ryan Lau about how Apple is no longer attentive to details. I found them all.

Dear Apple, where that 5% extra effort?

iOS 11 came with a whole bunch of new features and I’m sure you can Google for them. But there is something that caught my eye in iOS 11. It is a shutdown function hidden away in the Settings > General. But why is it here?

I shall go and play with the new features in iOS 11.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

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.

Journal #165 – Pet Peeves, Maybe OCD

Why do I write this?

Because my mom moved my MacBook, caused the power adapter to disconnect (luckily it wasn’t powered otherwise, a short-circuit could happen), and moved the mice.

I get that she needs to wipe my computer desk and I should be the one wiping.

But…

For some reason, she don’t get that I hate people touching my stuff, especially my electronic devices. It’s so obvious that I always get extremely upset over such incidents.

This is one of my pet peeves. I somehow don’t think it’s any different from OCD. People suffering from OCD have certain extreme preference for certain order, certain color, etc.

It is also rude when no permission was asked. And I feel an overwhelming sense of dread. Every electronic that I buy or own are not cheap. They are usually top-of-the-line at that time, and I used my own money to buy them. I take especially good care of my devices. So I can’t help but feel that there is always a very good chance an accident will happen and I end up needing to replace the item and worse, lose all my data.

Now, I also apply this carefulness when I handle other people stuff but I will still ask permission if I want to manipulate or touch something. But I can’t say the same for others.

My family, especially parents, are traditional asian type. Therefore, they don’t get the need for certain boundaries. I guess the only way to reduce my anxiety level is: I shall just either keep my electronic device in some locked cabinet in my room or bring it with me to work (even though I don’t need it there. Use of your own computing device is not allowed at my current workplace). Practicality vs preventing anxiety attack… I rather go with the latter.

Of course Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help but I don’t see it affecting my quality of life. It didn’t reach that stage where it’s affecting my relationship with other people because my friends and colleagues do ask permission and vice versa.

Only when it comes to my parents this issue comes up.

I have other pet peeves too.

I get upset when I’m touched, even accidentally, by strangers. And sometimes even by friends.

I get really upset when something that I owned is damaged or ruined due to negligence or indifference during handling.

I find it extremely disgusting if I have to share my used utensils with other people or when people used their used utensils to grab food for me. So either use the service utensils or I grab it myself.

I hate it when people are making weird stupid noises in cinemas.

I think that’s all that I could think of.

What are your pet peeves?

Journal #163 – Writing Fiction

It’s had been more than three years since I last wrote any decent fiction. Life has taken over. Full-time work has sucked most of my creative energy out.

Yes, I have writing my journal for six months now, and that means I can easily start writing non-fiction anytime if I put my mind to it. However, writing fiction is a whole different thing. It requires formulation of a decent story, creation of characters, the setting and tell it in an interesting way.

I’d admit I was struggling when I wrote New Rising. I only started writing that story earlier this week on Tuesday and I couldn’t get into the writing flow. My story wasn’t well thought out either. By the time I publish it, I couldn’t finish it.

But I still published it even it’s half done because I made a promise to publishing one short story on the 15th of every month. It’s also all about putting it out there no matter how good or bad you think it is. And it’s also all about the process of getting started and trying. If I didn’t try, I would have failed.

And now it’s all about maintaining that momentum. I will need to keep practicing writing fiction and non-fiction. Consistency when it comes to putting out at least one short story every month is also equally important.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #145 – Taking Minimalism To Next Level

Earlier this year I started my journey on minimalism. Then it got more and more extreme where I am reviewing all the things that I have kept because of sentimentality and “just in case”. So I toss those sentimental and “just in case” stuff.

At the same time I decided to choose to go with a personal uniform so that I don’t need to spend so much time thinking what I want to wear for that day.

So I went to get three new olive-green colored flannels from Uniqlo.

For that three new flannels, I tossed out 12 items from my wardrobe, ranging from old shorts, t-shirts, polo shirt, and flannels.

IMG_9760

Now my wardrobe is full of unused clothes hangers but it’s ok. It just show how far I have come.

I still got more stuffs to get rid and I will spend the next month to do that.

Another thing that I will be doing is to uninstall social media apps from one of my iPhones.

I know you are probably wondering why I have two phones when I am on a minimalism journey. Well, one of them serves as a work phone and all notifications are turned off. I personally need physical objects to help me compartmentalize different aspect of my life and so the phone is one of that.

I have also decided that I don’t need the new MacBook Pro anymore or the new iPhone 8. Don’t get me wrong. I love Apple products but then I realize if something that I have now works just fine, especially electronics, there is no need to get new one. Besides, there is no 100% guarantee that the manufacturing of Apple product is 100% environmental friendly.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #144 – Oh Darn It

How can I be so forgetful?

How?

I had forgotten to pack my MacBook Pro adapter into my bag and left it at my client’s office. No wonder my bag felt lighter than usual…

Now it is 2037hrs Singapore time and I hope I got enough power to last me at least until 0000hrs. In between, I will be doing some writing and watching some TV show, specifically Game Of Thrones, and The Strain. I have a feeling that those two shows will consume at least half of the available power. This is my first, real life test of how to live without a power updater for your laptop. I have of course reduced the brightness of my Macbook all the way to a single bar.

Time now is 2233hrs and I just finished watching Game of Thrones. It’s the season finale and I got to say I’m impressed by that ending. Also had my dinner. Well, my MacBook now has about 60% battery left. Since it’s quite evident that watching video can drain quite a fair bit of battery, I’m gonna skip watching The Strain until tomorrow.

Now let me share a little bit of my day. It is one of the rare days where I actually had motivation to write a decent amount of code, especially after lunch. I was able to focus for almost 2hrs before I needed to use the loo. Turns out it was because of my lunch. I had salad from The Salad Corner for lunch. It was a mixture of mashed egg whites, olives, pickles (carrot and radish), chopped carrot, broccoli, salmon, and Thai grilled chicken with a generous drizzle of olive oil. I got to say it was one of the most satisfying meal ever. Definitely refreshing.

But then it’s not cheap. It cost me about SG$13.90. I am not sure why salads are more expensive than normal food that I can get from hawker centers or food court. If anyone can enlighten me on this, it would be greatly appreciated. But I also cannot deny the quality of the proteins.

It got me thinking if I should attempt to make a similar meal at home and bring it to work going forward. I mean it’s definitely healthier than me eating at hawker centers and cheaper than me eating at whatever restaurants that’s near my new workplace.

I do have a series of end goals and that money plays a big part. Don’t think I want to be spending huge amount on food going forward. The occasional splurge on restaurant food is fine so as not to cause me to suffer from massive cravings but in excess is bad. Like anything in life.

Last but not least, my friends and I have started planning ahead for a 14-days Europe trip that will take place in third quarter of 2018. The starting location is most likely Copenhagen and will be making our way south and finish the trip at either France or Italy? Maybe Switzerland? Nothing is concrete yet and we will see how it goes.

From my perspective, considering that we are Singaporeans and the government enjoys calling us back for military training, a lot of plans can sometimes end up screwed. Maybe my new job can also screw me over. Well, life enjoy punching people in the face and it’s how we respond that matters.

That’s all for tonight.

Here I conclude my journal for today.