Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Battling Mount Semeru Part 2

It is pitching black, it cold, it has sandy wind; I am tired, I’m hungry and I need a rest. I sit on a rock to catch my breath, to have a rest and to enjoy the night view. The lights shining from behind had lessen, either more people had given up or they are taking a rest as well. It’s kinda quiet and peaceful up here as well, though it seems kinda dangerous as well (as I am sitting on a steep slope of a sandy mountain). It seems less scary this time, as I was more afraid when climbing Mount Kinabalu. The stars are shining bright, and I can see some of the surrounding mountains. Again, I wonder why I was here again. Why do I choose to do such scary and difficult shit?

Looking Up

I continue climbing with Mei Ru in front of me. I feel better with her in front, so I can see her and make sure she is still there. Besides, I can catch some rest while she is climbing. Our progress is very slow, and making a lot of stop. I am feeling cold and tired, and worst of all, hungry.

Looking Down

Ocean of Clouds

One of the best parts of a climb is to reach the top in time for the sunrise. But I can see the sun is coming out at this very moment, and I still have a long way to go. Nevertheless, the morning sun is encouraging, and seems to be the source of energy (in some ways). It’s indeed beautiful, with a good mixture of gold and red colour, combined with ocean of clouds and surrounding green mountains. Mount Semeru does have a beautiful view, and you could only enjoy this kind of view up in the mountains. Though it’s a bit dry and dull up Mount Semeru, but the view is smooth and nice. So, as I was saying, we have to enjoy the morning sunrise while resting at the mid of the journey.

The Morning Sun

The day is getting brighter, but it’s still as cold. I am getting extremely hungry, and the growling stomach isn’t helping. I can hardly make 5-6 steps before catching my breath for at least 10 times. I guess I am exhausted, and the thin atmosphere isn’t helping as well. It’s now a game of consistency and repetition. I must take the same number of steps every time, and catch the same number of breath, and repeat this until I reach the top. Sadly, I end up catching more breath, taking fewer steps and sit more often on whichever rock I can find.

The Dragons of Mountains

The peak is not that far away, as I could see it. It’s just that my progress is way too slow. Mei Ru is getting further away from me, and the rest of the team eventually walk pass me. I am the last one. I know I am very slow, but I know I can make it (hopefully not too slow).

The sunshine is getting stronger, and people started to descent. I continue my slow journey, and each people pass by give me a few word of encouragement. The best is from Ah Seong, where he gave me a piece of cake. Haha, I am so hungry, it’s like the gift from heaven. I keep the cake for re-energized when I reach the top. I was almost there, just 20 more steps and Mei Ru is 5 meters in front of me. I still need to catch my breath and take the steps slowly. The only guide left up there to wait for me seems slightly impatient of my slowness, where he came down and gives me a hand to pull me up. I walk at the speed of light at the brief moment, haha.

The Champion

I eventually reach a large piece of flat land at the top, the peak, Mahameru. The first thing I do is to sleep on the ground. My batteries are totally flat; I can longer take an extra step. I slowly enjoy my cake, and I ask if the guide if he had any breakfast with him; he offered me an apple juice. Sugar drink, yeah! I take my 5 minutes break while Mei Ru wonder around to take photos and videos, and I am too tired to do those.

Double Champion

The peak is really much large than I had imagined, and I am too tired to explore every corner of it. I went for the volcano, but I was slightly disappointed as there was no lava in the crater (too much movies I guess). There are a lot of black soils, and it burst out an atomic ash clouds, which turns out to be very beautiful and scary at the same time. I felt that the ash clouds are gigantic and blowing towards us, but luckily the wind carry it away. The oceans of clouds and dragons of surrounding mountains are breathtaking nevertheless. Finally I made it, and I am not a quitter, haha. I feel great to be up there, for one reason or another. It’s not as if I had conquered the world or Mount Semeru, but I had conquered myself.

Atomic Ash Cloud

The journey down is a painful one. We have to do around an hour of sand gliding before reaching the jungle. I legs are weak, thus I keep falling down. Coming down is much easier as we don’t have to walk much, and it consumes a lot of strength on the feet as well, and it’s painful. I am all dusty, and I am in pain. After another hour of painful trekking through the jungle, Eddie came to congratulate us. Some people had already left the camp site around 8, where most left around 9. We reach around 10 plus, and luckily they still save us our breakfast, sandy noodle.

We quickly have our meal and change our cloth. We decide to pay the porter to carry our bag, as we are too beat up. It takes an hour plus to reach Ranu Kombolo, the lake. We walk with Eddie at a very relaxing pace, and had a few chit chat. Eddie is a Muslim who started his travel business after working in the hotel industry for 13 years. One thing we seem to agree on: after a while, we no longer work just for money, but to find a career we have passion for and are happy with it. But idea is one thing, how we carry it out is another. Eddie seems like a good person, guided by his principle and religion. After having our lunch at Kombolo, we still have to trek for about 3 hours to reach the village. My legs are numb when I finally walk on the tar road, and that could be one of the most beautiful journeys of my life, haha. Walking past the vegetable farm at noon in the mountains, while holding hands with my beloved one.

After talking a quick bowl of local mee, we take a 4WD to our next destination, the Lava View Lodge, to have a good dinner and nice rest.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Battling Mount Semeru

The highlight of the entire Subaraya Adventure is probably Mount Semeru, the highest volcanic mountain in Java Island. It takes 6 hours of trekking from the nearest mountain village to reach the base camp, Kalimati. The base camp is dry and windy, and we stay in camps.

Mount Semeru's Wrath

After taking our much needed rest around 5 PM, we keep ourselves cozy and away from the sandy wind inside the camp, covered by warm clothing and sleeping bag. The sound of the strong wind seems quite merciless, but it isn’t that bad out there.

Dinner is ready around 8 PM, where we leave our warm camp and venture into the colder ness to have our rice with some vegetable soup. They offer their usual local Jasmine Tea as well. Surprisingly to find out that the porters doesn’t have camps, where they sleep in the open with their “Sarong”, around the warm fire. Luckily it doesn’t rain; else it would be quite disastrous for them. Good2 pass some vodka around, and it really helps to keep us warm for a while.


We try to get some sleep again after dinner, and I could probably find an hour of it. It reminds me of Mount Kinabalu, but this time I am better prepared with more warm clothing. We wake up around 1 AM for our tea and ready to move up. It’s a pretty that no food is prepared for us, and I didn’t prepare any food supply of my own. About 8 of us decide not to climb the mountain for various reasons, as the environment looks pretty hostile and this might not be an easy climb.

Mount Semeru came as a surprise to me, as I never quite though it would be much harder than Mount Kinabalu due to the sand and hostile environment. I was not quite prepared for it both physically and mentally. I didn’t have the desired level of fitness (perhaps I never had), and one of my biggest mistake is not enough food supply (totally none). It takes an hour plus to track through the jungle (that’s the easy part), until we reach the sandy area. We are no longer protected by the trees, thus it’s cold and extremely windy. It could see the stars in the sky clearly, and it is pitch dark all around me, and I hope my head lamp does not run out of battery (I didn’t change it for the past few trips). It’s much more difficult to walk on sand than rock (I though Mount Semeru would be rock) as the sands will sank, and the wind blows with the sand. I didn’t bring along any goggles or shades, thus I have to struggle to keep my eye open. Luckily I have the ski mask, which comes in handy for the second time.

It's dark out there, and lonely

I walk slowly at my own pace, as the slope is quite steep. I started to see a lot of lights in front and above of me, as people stop and rest. There are even more lights behind me, as people try to climb up. Suddenly a more Veteran climber in front of me and Mei Ru told us he is going to give up, as it’s dangerous and he thinks the journey still have a long way to go. He is right at one thing: there is still a long way to go. I know it is difficult, and I shall be slow and beaten up at the end. I also know somehow or rather, I can make it and it’s possible. It might be very difficult, and I might be very slow and feel like wanted to give up a thousand times, but I know, I can make it. It would be a pity for me to travel a few thousand miles and give up here, where I know I could make it. I know that it’s unlikely that I will visit Mount Semeru again, so it’s now or never.

More ashes, continuous during the climb

I don’t feel like wanting to give up. I know that my stamina and determination sucks, but I also know it is possible for me to make on to the top. I believe I can make it, thus I decide to go on; though I know it would be difficult and torturing myself. It’s just not worth it to give up.

What's Next?

Photo Links: Mei Ru's Multiply, Michelle's Multiply

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Surabaya Tour of Adventure (Ranu Pane, Ranu Kombolo and Kalimati)

Ranu Pane is a mountain village very near to Mount Semeru (the volcanic mountain), and its cold, slight dusty and scenic (full with agriculture on mountain area). We can only reach there by 4WD (probably a few hours). The view is more amazing, with some lava formed mountain and a sneak preview of Mount Semeru. We stay at a basic home stay with no hot waters and extremely cold. We get to eat some local junk food and beer, and the ground nuts are tiny but nice. The sky is clear with lots of star, quite a serene place.

Home stay Kitchen

The Village

We reach Ranu Kombolo (lake) after 4 hours of trekking from the village. The trek is not too difficult, and the view at the lake is pretty refreshing. It is pretty nice, surrounded by small rolling hills. Too bad no boating is available there, thus we just lie on the grass to have some rest.

Resting Near the Lake

Ranu Kombolo

The Lake

Mount Semeru Erupting

It took another 2 more hours to reach Kalimati (the base camp of Mount Semeru). We have to pass through a small hill, go through some “dessert” land, and walk into some very dry jungle and hills before reaching the windy campsite. The campsite have strong winds and very cold, with sands blowing everywhere. We setup the camp quickly and hide in our shelter, until dinner time. Everyone is in full winter suite, and hide in the cosy sleeping bag. Places around Mount Semeru are very dry and windy, with sands and black soil all around. We had our dinner around the camp fire, having vodka to warm ourselves up, before trying to sleep until 1 AM where we were ready to climb Mount Semeru. Semeru is one tough volcanic mountain, which is sandy, windy, cold and steep. The environment is 2 times as hostile as Mount Kinabalu, and the experience is death-defying, no-second-try and priceless, muahahaha.

Nasty Semeru

Barren land near the campsite


PS: Somehow, the volcanic area of Indonesia have some very un-auspicious name such as Malang (bad luck) and Kalimati (this time die).

Photo Links: Mei Ru's Multiply, Mich's Multiply

Surabaya Tour of Adventure (Malang and Cuban Rondo)

Just got back from 5D4N Surabaya trip, when the main event to climb Mount Semeru, the highest peak in Java island. What do I think of Surabaya (or Indonesia)
  • Everyone could be a Millionaire in Indonesia (as long as you have at least RM 400). Indonesia is quite a poor country, thus most of the things are cheap (not all though). You can get a 1.5 litre mineral water at RP 3000 (RM 1.20), and a bowl of noodle between RP 3000-5000.
  • All roads are narrow, and there are no highways (at least in Surabaya, maybe Jakarta is more developed). You actually have to pay “toll” using some small roads, or when making u-turns at some places.
  • Surabaya have a lot of agriculture activities going on, especially planting of paddy (rice), sugar cane, cabbage, onion and etc. There is a lot of irrigation along the road, and people actually have nude bath along the road. The have apple plantation in the highlands, and a few blackberry trees.
  • Indonesian Malay language is quite different from Malaysian version, especially when they speak continuously. They use a lot of local slang, such as “bebek” is duck, and they like to use “dingin” rather than “sejuk”.
  • Indonesian meal consist of mostly vegetables with little meat (perhaps some small chickens, beef ball or small fishes). It seems that beef noodle is quite a common road side food. Their tea smell like Jasmine tea, and the coffee consist of black coffee powder which u must wait for them to sink and never finished the whole cup.

Malang is a nice highland town, which quite a nice hotel (named DiJaya or WiraJaya or something Jaya). It is probably 5-6 hours drive from Surabaya if we take the scenic route, but it should be faster if we take the short cut. We cut through a lot of mountain area with quite some scenic view, and we take a taste of local noodles which is pretty good.

Stone Craft along the way to Malang

Candhi Tikus

Paddy Field

Mountains (I suspect it's Semeru, but it might not be)

Something Jaya Hotel, which is pretty cool

We left the hotel for some small national park to enjoy the mountain areas, and visited a mini zoo. There is a popular waterfall area at Cuban Rondo, which you could see some wavy rainbow if you stand on high ground, given that there is enough sunlight.

Mountain Area

Rainbow Waterfall

Not so nice lunch

Near Ranu Pane Mountains

Lava Mountain

Photo Links: Mei Ru's Multiply 1 and 2.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Not that long ago, I wanted a GPS so that I could track down the coordinates for all the locations in MMW Property and Food.

I was thinking to get a Bluetooth GPS from Garmin, but I would need to bring a long a PocketPC and Notebook, where I don’t have the first one and the later one is too inconvenient. I want something which I will bring it along anytime and any day, like my hand phone.

I found some PocketPCs with built-in GPS (and with Mapping and Navigation software). But these babies are too expensive, costing RM 3-4K. Besides, I just need the coordinates.

Then I found some dedicated GPS device which cost around RM 600, but I still found them too bulky (not pocket friendly), and slightly too expensive in terms of value for money.

Recently I found the ultimate GPS toy, Suunto X9mi GPS watch. It’s lightweight and wearable, with load of outdoor feature such as altimeter (for getting altitude, good for mountain trekking), barometer (pressure), thermometer (temperature), compass (direction) and GPS. It could track speed, set waypoint and route recording (export to Google Earth, excellent!). This toy is way too cool and suitable for me as it is small and outdoor adventure friendly. This baby cost USD 499, and I am very doubtful about the lifespan of the battery. Usually a GPS device should last for 10-15 hours, but nothing is mentioned in the specification. With all the power-packed feature and small size, it could probably last less than 10 hours. It says that it has rechargeable battery (500 charges, factory replaced), and I have no idea what it means (only 500 charge? Then I have order another one from the factory? Can I have another backup battery?). It is still too dodgy, and expensive.

There are other wearable GPS for runner and alike (such as Garmin Foretrex 101 and 201), without those cool outdoor adventure friendly features. These babies cost between USD 138-188, capable of setting waypoint and storing routes. These should be a good choice and have a battery life up to 15 hours. 101 even run of AAA batteries, meaning I could have backup for a few days trip in the mountains.

Lately we have the GPS phone such as NOKIA 6110 (with mapping and navigation software), which should cost around RM 2K. This choice is quite ideal as well, but too bad I already bought a new hand phone not that long ago.

I wonder when I will get a GPS device.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How to start a small office (not business)?

What does it takes to setup a small office? A lot of time and effort. What does it takes to setup a small business? A lot more time and effort.

Today I just focus on the effort to setup a small office, as setup of a business would probably require a book. First of all, you need to scout for a place. The place must have the following criteria
  1. Near to everyone (at least the business owners)
  2. Acceptable address for business
  3. Quiet and office-friendly
  4. Plenty of free parking
  5. Plenty of food
  6. Cheap Rent
  7. Fully or semi-furnished (hoping the ex-owner run an office there)
There are some contradictions in the above criteria. If the address is prominent, then the rent won’t be cheap, and parking won’t be plentiful or free. So what is the solution? To find a place which is very near to the prime area, but not within the prime area. If SS2 is upper prime, then we can’t afford shops within the SS2 square. But, we can look for shops slightly away from the square, but still within SS2. Since we are not in retail business, so visibility is not so important. Finding an ex-office is important, as it shall reduce our renovation cost and time/effort. If the carpet, partition and window blind are already in place, we are very much blessed. Is all these really possible? We need some patient and luck, and some compromise.

How to actually start a small office?
  1. Identify the area, like Puchong, Sri Petaling, Subang Jaya, etc.
  2. Spend months scouting for the best spots and best bargain, like going there at least once a week to see if any new options popup. Can’t really just rely on the agents, as some owners choose not to use the service of agents.
  3. Get the landlord to agree on at least one month of rental-free moving and renovation period. There are bound to be a lot of delays, especially time consumed by planning, arrangement, multiple contractors, moving and cleaning.
  4. Pay the deposit immediately once you find the right spot.
  5. Prepare the rental contract (if possible, get the landlord to do it, as all these paperwork is quite troublesome, such as draft contract, printing, signature, stamping, etc)
  6. Plan and contact the contractors. Electrical: Air-Conditioner, wiring, lighting. Renovation: Partition, carpet, painting, ceiling, door, window, toilet.
  7. Go to Telekom and get the phone/fax/Internet line ready. Deposit and rental/usage charges for commercial shops are more expensive, usually 2-3 times more than residential. Tips: Transfer your existing line from residential address. Why not choose a residential address? It might seem dodgy, to the potential clients and future employees. Though I like the idea of working in a bungalow unit very much, with private parking and a garden.
  8. Monitor the contractors (an absolute must, no matter how mundane you think it is, or how much you trust the contractors). Else, you might suffer from poor workmanship or lots of delay.
  9. If you have budget to spare, you could pay the contractor for everything. Else, you might need to do your own painting and cleaning.
  10. Furniture moving (lorry plus two workers could easily cost RM 300–500, so you could choose to rent the lorry and move the furniture yourself). Do bear in mind furniture get damaged easily during the moving process, so prepare for some casualty. If you bought new furnitures, then everything is pretty straightforward.
  11. Buy tons of office supply like equipments, stationeries, cleaning tools, electrical items, mailbox, door bell, and etc
  12. Prepare some new locks or change the door (or add new doors)
  13. Disposal of large garbage left by previous owner or contractors (is the such a service?)
  14. Hang up of large and huge whiteboards (is there such a service, of we just have to drill, stubs and screw ourselves, haha)
  15. Put up signboards (do we need any license?)
  16. Arrange for monthly cleaning (RM 100-300)
  17. Arrange for water supply (RM 300 for 50 barrels)
  18. Finish office setup (do we need any license?)
  19. And perhaps, employ receptionist cum office admin, if we have the budget.
  20. Remember to pay the monthly rental, water/electricity/telephone/internet bills which are 2-3 times the residential rate.
Or, you could opt for a SOHO and pay at least RM 300 per month for a desk, and being charged for everything else.

I found Puchong is a nice place to start a new business, especially more prominent area like Bandar Puteri. Puchong is a fast growing town with landmarks like TESCO, GIANT and IOI Mall, near to Subang Jaya, USJ, Cyberjaya/Putrajaya, Sri Petaling, Old Klang Road and Petaling Jaya. Bandar Puteri is a prominent commercial area, with lots of nice and new shops, with plenty of food options. I found that many IT companies choose to starts their operation there as well. The downside about Puchong is the toll and occasional traffic jams, and not connected by LRT at the moment.

PS: Try not to move office too often, as it is tiring and incurred quite some cost.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Employing Programmer in Malaysia

I think there is a serious problem of IT brain drain in Malaysia, especially Programmer (to be more specific, good programmer) for the following reasons:
  • Less people are studying Computer Science/Computing subjects after the IT bubble burst
  • Higher paying jobs in Singapore, Dubai, US, etc
  • More people are leaving the IT fields after several years, due to frustration and demanding nature of the job
  • More MNC starts their IT/Support operation in Malaysia, thus occupying a large pool of local talents
  • Programmer in Malaysia are under paid
I setup a start-up with some friends more than 8 months ago and we had been trying to employ a few decent junior programmer for the past 6 months. I don’t believe in employing someone based on verbal interview or impressive resume, I believed in my simple technical test. All candidates are sent an email technical questions which they do research on (including using Google) before returning the answers to us within a week or more. Some questions are skewed in such a way that if you are really sucks in programming, it will show easily. Most of the answer could be found by Googling, just to prove that you have taken some initiative.

Of all the candidates, probably only 20% would actually answer the questions, and another 10% would be eligible for an interview session while probably 5% actually do reasonably well (remember, it’s just a basic test, not meant to challenge).

Probably most IT companies out there do not require an Technical Competency Test before attending an interview, thus most candidates found our requirement too troublesome. I do agree, why I would want to spend hours doing some stupid questions to get an interview opportunity in a small IT company, while I can walk straight to the big boys and attend an interview. As a business owner and a programmer myself, I know the vast difference between a good programmer and a bad ones, and a bad one is almost as good as none (disruptive force). I am not looking for an all star or guru, but just someone with good foundation on programming. For example, if you don’t know what is passing by reference, you are definitely out. My point is, if you are really good, you can answer most of my question easily and boost your ego slightly. I always worry for IT companies who employ programmers without a simple Technical Competency Test. Some people really can talk and write (English, not codes), but they really can’t code. These people shall be quite impressive in the interview or in their resume, but they are not suitable as programmer candidates (perhaps for system analysts and alike).

Basically, I only manage to get 1 intern to join us in the past 6 months. Luckily, he is among the top 5% of all my candidates (too bad he can only join us for 4 months). I almost got a few more, but I loose them for a few reasons:
  • Candidate A: Top 5%, a responsible person with more than 3 years of experience. His salary request which is quite steep for us, but we agree anyway. Reason for failing to employ? He was countered offered with 25% increment.
  • Candidate B: Top 10%, but slightly impatient and irresponsible. He requested high salary as well. Reason for failing to employ? He was frustrated to attend for another competency test because of his plagiarism act, and he found another job.
  • Candidate C: Top 5%, weak in English but good in programming (typical case). He is a good bargain. Reason for failing to employ? He received an offer letter from another company right after our interview session.
  • Candidate D: Top 5%, but he is a foreigner. I thought all MSC status company could easily employ foreign worker, but it is not true (it depends on your proposal – if you didn’t allocate or plan for foreign worker, expect more paper work to be done). Reason for failing to employ? We are a MSC company with no allocation for foreign worker.
  • Candidate E: Top 20%, he is an intern who shows interest and effort. Reason for failing to employ? He took up an internship in Taiwan (is this really economically feasible?).
  • Candidate F: Top 5%, US graduate. Reason for failing to employ? He was bound by 6 months contract which he was not aware of (I found the contract have contradicting terms which are probably meant for entrapment).
Perhaps we are small, thus most of the better qualified candidates are not interested to join us. We still get good candidates once in a while, but it really depends our luck to employ them. I also found that a lot of job portals are popping out nowadays, but most of them are useless. The only usable one so far is Jobstreet, though I haven’t tried the newspaper yet. I tried contacting local colleges or universities to capture fresh graduates, but the number of candidates contacted in extremely low.

I wonder what more can I do to attract more talents.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Can I be a programmer for life?

I always wonder, can I be a programmer for life, or at least be a technical person for life. Why would I want to do so? Because I am good at it and enjoy it. Would I still do it if it means earning low wages all my life and risked being replaced by another fresh graduate? Hmm, that is worth pondering.

Sometimes I feel that a career in IT is quite merciless, as it favours the young and adventurous. If one day I can no longer keep up with the technology, I can no longer hold on to my spot as a programmer. I might need to move up the ladder and become a System Analyst or Manager, which require less technical skill but more communication, documentation, planning and delegation skill (a.k.a use lots of Microsoft Office products and make my minions do all the dirty work, more Power, hehehe).

As I get older and moving further away from the corporate ladder, I felt at lost. I am not sure of what I want to do in the future. Being a manager seems like the de facto path, but I might not be qualified for it in the eye of the corporate world. At the same time, it also doesn’t seems like a very interesting job, although with more responsibility and less fun. I imagine going to the office, making a cup of coffee, checking lots of emails, attend the 10AM meeting, handle emergency issues, doing pep talk, make sure everyone is doing their work, keep project on schedule, going for more meetings, taking more crap, fire up more Microsoft Office products, etc. It doesn’t seem that bad, not as if my current work is much better. Perhaps I am just lost and feeling fearful of my future.

What is my ideal future then? Running a small software business, and making more or equal amount of money if I were to climb the corporate ladder. It seems to be a possible dream; it is just the matter of how long I take to get there. Is time working against me at this moment? Can I still afford low wages and continue with my exploration? Somehow I no longer feel that young or adventurous, but I still intend to make my ideal dream come true. I like the dream; I like running something small and am comfortable with it. I am quite fearful of getting another job, and be totally uncertain of what is installed for me in that job. Since when do I worry about getting another job? Perhaps it is the matter of whether I can find a job which I like (and pay well), and not be disappointed again. Nothing is perfect, perhaps I am thinking like a perfectionist again and fearful of uncertainty (which is pretty common in life).

Do I still want to be a programmer for life? Am I happy with my life for the past 8 years as a programmer? I always believed that even if I am a boss or a manager, I should still be a programmer. I felt Micro ISV is a very unique business that requires me to have strong technical skills, unless I can find a side-kick who is better than me in technical skill and be loyal for a long long time. I had seen so many software companies fall apart because they didn’t manage their software development process well. Perhaps I am just being too paranoid and techie, but I can’t help to have a strong belief in it.

In order for me to feel secure about my future, I have no choice but to make what I am doing now to work. I really need to bulk up and sleep less (I have massive sleeping urge all day long). For the future and the love of my life, I have to do the very best to make this work.

Like most of my postings, there are more questions than answers, and the is a conclusion which isn’t quite the answer to the question.

PS: I found that I write during the time which I am busiest?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Failure is not an option?

As the old Chinese saying goes, failure is the Mother of Success. But sometimes we fail because we give up, and when should we give up, or shouldn’t. I think failing is not scary, but the physiological impact of giving up and failing could be quite devastating. More important is giving up on something which we have passion about, or something which we think we could accomplish. It’s like giving up on something we like, or giving up on something which we are capable of.

As for my personal experience, one of the major things I give up is being a fulltime freelance software programmer. It was my first time doing freelance work, but I guess my expectation is slightly unrealistic due to my lack of experience and business contacts. I finally gave up and got myself a second employment job. I guess I didn’t really regret it, as I know there is no way I can succeed in it at the moment of time (though I do like the idea). But I didn’t really give up the idea, as I continue my freelance work on part-time basis until today. I did put the dream on hold.

Somehow during the process, I got persuaded to become an Insurance agent or Financial Planner alike. The idea sounds interesting, and it’s a possible path towards success. I face a lot of psychological barrier, as I am not really a “sales” material but more like someone who work in the back room. I once read a book, saying sales is the most secured job in the world, as you bring in income to the company and you are not a cost. I agree with the idea, but I have to admit I am not a sales material. My character does not suit the nature of the job and I have no passion for it. I gave up on the 3rd phone call trying to meet people, and didn’t even survived until the 1st business meeting. So I give up because I realise I didn’t have passion and found myself not suitable for the job, and I understand better on what kind of career I am looking forward for. It’s not so much on looking for the best job or most profitable job, but a job which I am happy about.

I also give up on my last relationship with my ex-girlfriend, which I think is the right move and I felt relieved about it. Things are going the very wrong way, a decision have to be made to “give up”, rather than dragging something which doesn’t have a future nor bring any happiness.

My cousin faces great difficulty when she is doing her PhD in UK, where her supervisor throws her thesis into the dustbin after reading the first page. She felt devastated, as she spends months doing it with her best effort. After talking with her friends, she picks herself up again and re-submits again after some amendments. The 2nd try is not a charm either, and she is very down and lost. At the end, she decided to submit her thesis again regardless countless rejection, writing a letter to her supervisor saying, “I had done my best to complete the thesis, and I don’t care if you would reject it again”. Finally her supervisor accepted her work, and writes a personal letter to congratulate her. Despite countless failure, she still push on and proud of the moment even after 20 years. If she gives up, she is not just loosing her doctorate, but loosing confidence and faith in herself. When she succeeds, she gains tremendous confidence and respect. She had a classmate who suffers the same fate of rejection as her, who didn’t get her doctorate until today. She was so fearful of the rejection until it paralysed her, and she try to get her thesis until perfection of fear to be rejected again. Of course, the thesis can never be perfect, as those are different hand which write, and different eye which look at it. I am not sure what happened to my cousin’s classmate, but I believed the impact is there.

Now I am on my second wave of starting a software business again, picking up from where I last paused. It’s full of challenges as usual and making far less money, and I still feel giving up again could be quite “hurtful”. How long should I give it a try? Until I am satisfied perhaps, until I can answer to myself.

Is giving up an option? For something which we have passion and capable of doing it, I don’t think it’s an option. It has a lot to do with our pride and confidence in life. It’s not a matter of wining or loosing, but can we live with what we had done, or what we had left behind.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Gold Latin Exam 2007

Mei Ru and I

It had been a year (since my last dance exam) since I last blog about anything related to dancing. Just had my Latin Gold exam and my passion (and practice hours) are not as vibrant as my first time for Latin Bronze and Silver. I was pre-occupied with many things and hardly had enough time for dancing, not to mention attending extra classes or practices. Anyway, I did well due to my consistence attendance, though I make more mistakes as compared to last time.

Cute Little Dancing Girl

It is hard to believe that I had been dancing for almost 2 years, something which I had never dream of nor thought of. I wouldn’t say it’s my passion, but it’s something nice to do. It is both slow and fast (depends on the dance), able to have some exercise and practice some rhythmic action plus learn to lead and collaborate with your partners. Anyway, it is just relaxing and fun. It’s okay to sharpen up my skills during exam or performance once in a while, but I won’t make it if it’s becoming too taxing. I don’t plan to win any trophy (nor am I gifted or capable), but I just want to enjoy it at a comfortable level.

The Examiner

My Class

Now I am a Gold class graduate knowing Cha Cha, Jive, Rumba and Samba, and a bit of Rock and Roll. If I am to proceed to Gold Cross or Gold Bar, I would prefer to take it slowly. Actually I would prefer some alternative dances once in a while (rather than rushing for exam), such as Rock and Roll, Salsa, Paso, Jazz, Ballroom and alike. Like I said, I am not here to excel, but just to enjoy it (sometimes this world is just too competitive and tiring, and I feel happy for being less competitive in this). Though it is quite interesting to have a partner or classmates who are better than I am, so that I can see some room for improvement and spark some excitement in self enhancement.

My Dance Partners

Now I am having some technique class and ballroom class, which are quite refreshing. Technique class is good so that I can understand what is going on, or what is actually wrong with my techniques or style. Ballroom is pretty new to me, so it should be interesting.

Let’s see if I can last for another year :)

Photo Links: Tang's Multiply, Mich's Multiply

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Simple Things is actually not that Simple

Let’s say I want to eat an apple, how difficult could it be? I just go to the supermarket and by myself an apple. Of course, I would need to drive myself there and find a parking first. Then I have to look for the fruit section, which shouldn’t be too difficult. I have to see whether the apple is nice and fresh, which might require some skills. Is the price right? Hmm. Never mind, I’ll grab a few of them based on my fruit buying instinct.

I will go to the car park to find my car and drive myself home. It’s time to enjoy my precious apple, so I have to wash it to clear of the wax and poison on the surface. I use the knife to cut the apples into pieces, and then I found one of them to have a worm in it. So I try another, where this apple has a few black spots and doesn’t look good. Then I try with the 3rd one, and luckily it turn out alright.

I put the sliced apples on a plate and bring it to the living room, so that I can enjoy it while watching TV, perfect! Upon the first bite, I found that the apple is actually not sweet, another disappointment. And at the end, I still have to disposed of the remains of the apple and wash the plate, after an unsatisfactory experience of eating an apple. I am lucky if the pesticide is not too thick and poison me, or caused cancer in the long run.

Of course, I can always buy a nicely sliced apple from the roadside vendor to save all the hassle (but they usually don’t sell apple). There is no guarantee that it is nice and sweet either, and definitely it will be more expensive.

Is eating an apple simple? Sure it is, most of the time. There more you do it, there better you are. You will know the shortcut to the supermarket, and where to find a good parking. You’ll know the price and how to pick a good apple. You will be skillful in slicing the apple, and you might know to make apple juice or apple pie as well. The moral of the story is: it is always painful the first time you do it. But once you know how to get around it, everything should go your way (as usual, no guarantee as well).

Why I think of such a long crappy buying apple story? I want to be programmer, and just be a good programmer. This is a simple dream, but not that simple as well. The company I work for might not be a good software house with proper software development practices. If others can provide what I need, I might as well run my own software house. Then I shifted my small sets of problem to entire bigger sets of issues to be handled. I need to find an office, do renovation, employ people, and do a whole other load of work to run a company. I need to worry about sales, marketing, human resource, accounting, development and a whole ton of issues. The small dream of being a good programmer and running my humble software house could turn out to be quite a big thing as well. And since this is the first time, AUCHHH! Hopefully the experience is worth it :)