Thursday, June 30, 2005

To Employ, or To Be Employed

Bill Gates was sort of my inspiration when I was young. Though I don't know about his background very well at that time (nope, I dunno who Paul Allen is), but I know he is a rich dude to makes money from developing software. Suddenly there is hope for programmer to get rich by being Techie, rather that doing boring business (naiveness in action). I kinda ditch engineering and decide on Computer Science for my college years. My dream was to build some magnificent software, start a software house and make millions of dollars.

At first I wanted to be a game programmer, since I have a lot of exposure in C++ Programming and some of DirectX and OpenGL. I frequent GameDev and Gamasutra a lot as well, and pick up OO design pattern, game engine design and 3rd party game library. I wanted to work at Blizzard or EA, even applied for a job there (I don't think they like overseas newbie game programmer). Somehow along the way, I found out that game programming is not an easy way to get rich, it is tedious but hell lot of fun work. Too many skill and resources are required in a game production, like programming, design, art and music. That are too many things for one person to cope with, and I can't find enough people to join me in my course. Besides, I was thinking of getting rich, so this might not be the best path.

R&D Programmer is my first job, where I do a lot of nifty stuff like Speech Recognition and Signature Recognition. Later I decided to start doing some business: web hosting (OMG! You call that business?). I spent around RM 4K to set-up a Linux server and put it in a datacenter, and start renting out some server space. I notice I am somehow incapable in marketing and sales thus only manage to sell 2 of these and didn't manage to recover my cost. Luckily I still have my day job.

Some years later, I decide to take the plunge: quit my R&D job and join venture with a friend to develop software for Insurance Agent. That didn't go well too, as there are serious communication and expectation problem between me and my partner. He was quite independent and has been doing well in this arena, but he sort of refuse to guide me. So, as a newbie, it is pretty hard for me to start off as well. The partnership slowly faded, and I end up doing some freelancing work alone. I did manage to make some money from freelancing.

After 6 months being unemployed, I landed on a job in my current company. The pay is pretty good, and my freelance business haven't take off to make sufficient living. Now the situation is better, since I am having a day job and doing freelance to supplement my income, which is pretty good. Actually after 4 years doing freelancing, I only have 3 clients. But the repetitive business is quite good, so I have good quality clients (so far all are good paymaster, lucky me).

Slowly, I found freelancing is pretty time consuming and tedious. It is good pocket money or a way to make a normal living, but it is no road to be a millionaire. I decide that I need a flagship product, something to push to every customer rather than building a new application everytime. I have some experience in Document Management System (DMS), and the market is picking up and there is ample opportunity for a low cost DMS. I applied for the Cradle Investment Programme to get some sugar money to kick-start my plan, but they turn it down as they said the idea is too plain and too many such product already exist. What they say is true, but there is always opportunity for alternative product, especially if I can do it cheaply. Clearly those consultants are no businessmen, or they are looking for more glamorous ideas. We don't actually need a very innovative and brilliant product idea to make millions, what we need is to fill the void of market demand. You won't make the headlines in news though, but I don't mind. The DMS solution in the market is either too expensive or inferior. I am confident of building a cheap product with adequate feature to target the lower-end market, at least that was my plan. I continue with the project without funding, but that didn't last long as my time was used for other freelance project and other pet ventures. I still haven't give up on it yet, just that I have resource constraint at the moment. Another path I have taken is to develop a MRP solution, as I have already done so in a freelance project. I just need to figure out what other clients actually required and polished the product a bit before making it an on-the-shelf product. Besides, there are many things taking place at the same time. Too many ideas and opportunities, too little time and guts. Concentration and execution is the key to product launching, I need to keep this in mind.

I like my current day job as it pays well and not too demanding, as I don't work on weekends and I seldom do overtime. Thus, it is a good environment for me to nurture my freelance business, and hopefully complete my flagship product. At the same time, my ex-colleagues offer me a higher paying job. The job should be very exciting with many new things to learn and able to make a lot of money for the company (good bonus perhaps), but it is very demanding as well. If I do take up the job, I might have to slack my freelance work and lessen the opportunity for me to start my own business. I haven't quite figure what to do yet, just playing wait and see at the moment.

What do I want? My own business or a better career opportunity? Perhaps the job in the new company would make me a more resourceful person, or it would make me a work slave forever. There is no easy answer. Perhaps I should evaluate with an open heart, and trust my guts feeling a bit (though they are not always right, but somehow it would turn out beneficial to me in some mysterious way).

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bora Bora Dream

What is a dream (besides something that might happen when you are asleep)? It is something that we could not have, at least at the moment. Below is an interesting conversation I have with Mei Ru:

"we're great when we have dreams mah :), chase Ur little little dreams now so tht u can achieve ur big dreams in the future"

"dreams is like something we couldn't get, at least 4 the moment"

"dreams keep us motivated mah"

"probably, so we need to have something which we cannot have"

"perhaps something imperfect in life will make us appreciate more with wht we oredi hv"

"is kind of sad, but i have to agree"

Besides getting a fantastic girl friend who I shall love until the end of days (ahem!), my dream is to go to Bora Bora. I first saw it in an email and fall in love with it instantly (good advertising perhaps). Then I saw it in some travelling show, showing the best beaches in the world. The beach is awesome, the water chalet is spectacular, the water safari is kinda cool, the water sports ... I think I am specifically referring to the Pearl Beach Resort. The place is in the middle of Pacific Ocean, probably it would be quite expensive to have my dream vacation. I think I better start saving now, or find someone rich to tag along.

Superb Water Chalet

Transparent Glass Floor

Surrounded by Crystal Clear Water

Dine with the Fishes

Going to such a fantastic place alone is kinda boring. I need to share it with a fantastic girl. Girl first, den Bora Bora!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Botanical Garden

My colleagues and I went for a trip at Botanical Garden in Putrajaya. I promised to post about some sometime ago, here it goes.

We went to the Botanical Garden for cycling, following our previous cycling trip to Bukit Cherakah Agriculture Park, Shah Alam (as well as for the fact that Mei Ru like cycling and didn't manage to do so during her childhood, poor city gal). The bicycles here are extremely new and in top-notch condition, with suspension and 3x7=21 speed. Too bad the area is too small, you could practically finish rounding the area within 5 minutes. The landscape is nicely done. The garden is next to the Putrajaya Lake, which is huge and comes with boat rides. Nearby is the Putrajaya Wetlands, but it is temporary closed down due to funding problem.

We are having a break after cycling in a sunny day. The handsome boy on the right is Weng.

Michelle and Mei Ru trying out the kiddie bicycle. Somehow they seem smaller and shorter, maybe that's how they do the camera trick for The Hobbits.

Having Nando's for lunch in the food court near the Putrajaya Mosque. The pretty one of the left is Weng's girlfriend, who is also the sister of our ex-colleague, Mee Mee. Followed by Rathi, Rocklon, Chim, Michelle, Wynn and Me.

Karthik's farewell

Last Tuesday was Karthik's farewell. He was sort of my third "boss" to leave this company, not a very good omen. He is a man with a loud voice, or rather a person who dare to step up and voice out. Probably he is one of the good middle management material, someone who tries to look after their subordinate and did a good job in controlling the customer. Maybe he is too logical sometimes or lack of complete understanding or certain issues, but I am willing to forgo these "qualities".

We have a farewell dinner at Soi Fine Thai Restaurant at the 23rd floor of Menara PanGlobal. It had a modern contemporary atmosphere, but the price is pretty steep. The food is just okay, nothing exceptional about it. But the atmosphere is pretty good for couple to enjoy a quite night out, with a nice view of the city. But we sort of spoilt the atmosphere for some couple that night; we can't help but to be noisy, as there are 20 of us.

I was unofficially "transferred" to the R&D department in our company, which is "verbally" in existence at the moment. I was supposed to take the responsibility of Architect/Evangelist to come up with the development framework and best practices to be use in all future development. There is officially 2 person in this team, where another one is still busy with other projects while I might be transferred to other projects when such need arise. The problem is that we don't have enough manpower and the management is unwilling to go full sail with this R&D effort, as it is still a cost centre. Probably not everyone is willing to invest for the long-term benefit, or the management just don't understand Software Development. I would say they are pretty reluctant and was hopeful I can complete my mission with as little recourses as possible. The situation is not optimistic, but I still like the R&D thingy. I would proceed with my research to come up with a flexible and easily maintainable framework, which might in term make me a real Software Architect in heart one day. The challenge is not just to create a framework, but to preach the idea to other developer in my company to use it as well. Doing technical and sales at the same time :)

The ironic part is Karthik offered me the opportunity in R&D when I tendered my resignation sometime ago (to seek for more challenging task as the work here is pretty chaotic and monotonous), but he is leaving now instead of me.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

How Indifferent People Are?

When I was young, I was told everyone is unique and different. I take the word "different" as in some people like ice cream while others don't (is there any kids who don't like ice-cream?), or some are hardworking and others are lazy.

Somehow, there is deeper meaning in the word "different". I have a friend who can debate or disagree with me on every statement I made to him. Like whether Bill Gates is a generous philanthropist, is he doing more good than evil? Is Balian in Kingdom of Heaven a reluctant hero or pure evil in disguise? Is George Lucas a brilliant or lousy director? etc ...

On every idea that you think you are absolutely right about it, don't be surprised there are someone who totally disagrees with you. In fact, it is extremely difficult to get everyone to agree on an idea without a great deal of compromise and synergy.

All these while I seldom notice these differences among my friends, probably because most of them either agree with me or reluctant to engage in a debate with me. Those who engage in a debate with me give me some fresh idea, but sort of annoy me in the long term. Sometimes I even give up in a long debate as well, thinking "Well, we're indeed different. No point dragging it".

So, how difficult is it to be together with someone who is extremely indifferent from us? It can be annoying at times, but it does intrigue us as well. Should I choose a girlfriend who is indifferent from me, or someone more compatible? At this moment, I would say I still prefer compatibility, as there are much to be shared between us and having less conflict.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Solid Financial is the foundation for Happiness

It had been quite a while, keeping up with my busy schedule on multiple projects.

What I had been up to lately? Lately I got myself a broadband connection at my mom's place, because Maxis is too sucked to install a proper and cheap broadband at my place. StreamyX offer RM 66 for 512 Kbps, while Maxis offer a wireless broadband at RM 77 for 384 Kbps and it doesn't even cover my street. I pray for all the poor soul in my area (Pusat Bandar Puchong). So, why do I need broadband? Hmm, probably for less cursing and to start some massive download muahahaha. Though I tempted to try some online games like World of Warcraft, but I figure out it would be expensive and too time consuming (too addictive).

Recently my notebook is running slower because some new application I installed is eating up a lot of RAM. So, I decided to get myself a desktop PC. After some calculation and virtual configuration, it would cost me around RM 2,200 to RM 3,000 to get a decent machine. Since I am not using my home PC that often (I still have a day job), then I decided that might not be the BANG for the bucks. So, I plan to upgrade the notebook memory for RM 300 instead. My ASUS M2000E only have a memory slot, so I have to replace the old one. Anyone interested to buy second-hand 256 MB PC 266 DDR for Notebook?

Dancing. I found it more enjoyable by the day, besides helping me exercise quite a bit. I don't know how far I can go, but I would like to keep it as an enjoyable pastime as far as possible. Finally I understood the importance of a guy's role in leading a dance. Guy usually has less complicated dance steps than the girl, but the guy must learn how to lead.

I am planning to climb Mt. KK at the end of July, so I am going through some intensive training 2-3 times a week with Mei Ru and Mickey. At the moment, I think I can jog for almost an hour uphill and downhill, though I am certain Mei Ru can do it better than me. I think the training is good enough for me, at least I am getting some good dosage of exercise with enough motivation to do it consistently. Really looking forward to the trip.

Finally, I realised one of my life mottos: "Solid Financial is the foundation for Happiness". Now, I am motivated to keep myself busy again to make more bucks. For a better tomorrow! Cheers! Now, go back to work.