Daily Log #77

I hate many aspects of my job however there is one thing that I enjoy doing was paying attention to the usability and the overall experience of the user interface I’m working on. In fact, I was so focus on that today for most of my morning as I went about tweaking the user interface to support new functionalities while also making sure the previously done parts present correct information to the user.

As it got closer to 12pm, my stomach started growling and I had to take some antacid to reduce the acidity in my stomach. By then, I had already stop doing work and focus on just browsing the web.

After lunch, there was a quick meeting where the team lead, another colleague and I reviewed what needs to be done because on July 1, there is a planned trial run. In another words, UAT. With that in mind, there were also issues raised regarding the performance of one the core functionality. In part, it was reveal by the sheer amount of data that I had provisioned into the database of the identity access module.

So my colleague and I got down to discussing what to fix. Somehow during the process, I got pretty annoyed because of my perfectionism. To me, it was like how come I didn’t foresee this problem. Another reason was because of the potential changes that would have resulted in destroying the so call “expressiveness” of the pre-existing code, make it harder to debug and maintain, which in turn would have violated my personal value on convenience and quality. Normally, I won’t sacrifice those two for the sake of performance.

Of course, I also know that no one wants to use a slow system. Performance is also a key metric and very important to the overall experience. This is why I love Apple over any other brand. They fulfill all three attributes I use to judge.

It took a while before I manage to calm down but in the meantime, I focus on throwing in timing codes to see which section was causing the problem. After throwing a couple of timing codes, I already knew what’s going on and asked me colleague to come over to my desk. The slow part was the code she wrote. However, she kept telling me to add more timing codes everywhere. Naturally, I got annoyed also.

Now, unlike my colleague, I heavily rely on my intuition about how things should be and will be. This is why I am able to draw conclusion early that would subsequently be validated by empirical data. Thus to me, when the conclusion is already there, why add waste more time and energy on something? That’s one pet peeve of mine.

However, since programming and software development is primarily about actual data, numbers and proofs, it’s really on me to learn to go through the process of proving to somebody else that what my gut is telling me is correct. And honestly, it’s something I don’t do consciously because the end result of what I do is proof enough. And I also acknowledge that I’m only human and my intuition could be wrong. So I will just keep that in mind and treat it as a way to update the so-call intuition database that I have. After all, intuition only works best when there is sufficient experience. And experience is gained through trial and error.

Work and life experiences aside, after I got home, I decided to watch Penny Dreadful because there’s nothing else that I find interesting on Netflix. Three episode in of the first season and I got to say I quite enjoy it. And before that I was actually contemplating if I want to play video games tonight.

Daily Log #76

While I was at my desk today, my manager decided to come over and talk to me about the Trump-Kim event that I was involved in. She asked me about the days and talked about stability of the system. Later, she asked me to join her at her desk so that she can talk to me about something else.

So I followed her and sat down at her desk. The conversation started with another update about what’s going on within the department and there is a plan for job rotation. I for one know it’s just management talk and an idealistic one. When it happens, it happens. I’m not particularly looking forward to it.

Then she talked about how one should have a goal in mind to achieve at work. Some examples are wanting to be a manager or be a technical lead. Well, in my mind, I already know what I want next and that’s to transit into a design role and also do technical writing.

Finally, she also told me that the management can see my effort and how good I am at my job. Now of course, that’s the professional side of me I tried to maintain at work. If you have read my blog, you would know how emotional I have been of the last few weeks. It was only just today I managed to feel better and I found some more motivation to do my work.

She also raised the point where I have shown that I have been able to manage my stress well because on my first day I mentioned about how I don’t like stress and don’t tolerate it well. Of course she didn’t know it stemmed from my sensitivities. So I guess I have grown in a way on that front. I am still developing the ability to just switch off work stuff once I reached home most of the time. Then there is my writing that help me to dump out the bad stuff. On the physical front, I do go for runs and take longer lunch breaks by going for walks in the mall. Finally, sleep. I sleep more and don’t rely on stimulants. All of which are my holistic approach to stress reduction.

Finally, my manager talked to me about wanting to nominate me for conversion to a permanent position. I acknowledge it and then I guess we shall see how it goes. After all, she also told me that it’s subjected to senior management’s approval and it might not happen.

Daily Log #75

I tried to find purpose again or at least something that can get me excited again in my work as I didn’t really want to keep going into office, spend eight hours there and feel miserable. However, I still couldn’t find 100% of it. I still feel like whatever I’m doing is pretty much dead end.

And no, I have no intention of climbing up the ladder or expand my job scope because I don’t want to wear myself down any faster. What I’m doing is to try and find it within my existing workload and assigned tasks.

Ok, so it’s not 100% but I did find like maybe 50% of my purpose there. Or in another words, I can draw like 50% happiness from my work.

I can get obsessive compulsive about things like how codes should be self-documenting, functions should be precise yet modular, and the overall style be consistent throughout. So I will spend some time tweaking the existing codes. The end result tend to raise my mood a little. I do the same with new codes that I will be adding in.

The other thing would be analysis of use case and user behavior. I’m interested in how user use a system and how they see a piece of software. I want to understand the psychology behind their actions and choices. Only once I have that, I can build better software. The only problem is, my colleagues are all so disconnected from that and focus only on engineering their way out as and when problems are raised. They don’t ask those question first and discuss it up front. This mean whatever I’m doing is mostly solo work and that can get a little dissatisfactory because I know one person can’t see the full picture. I don’t have the kind of experience needed to make good judgment on a lot of things. What I wanted is a mentor but at my current company, you can only wish they have. It just doesn’t believe in the need for mentoring. To them, you are hired to do your job and they just throw you at your job. I could only wish that they adopt the apprenticeship style of work like those in German companies.

My team lead and I also had a discussion about why the JIRA system isn’t being updated properly by us. It created a situation where he doesn’t know what’s our progress and can’t schedule accordingly. Well, in part it’s my fault because I’m feeling lazy about it. The only excuse is that my development desktop is not connected to the internet due to sensitivities of the work and I have to use a separate laptop to access that system. I for one don’t enjoy switching machine to do different thing because it’s distracting and just plain irritating. It’s the same thing at home. I do almost everything excluding gaming on my MacBook. If the MacBook could allow me to play those really graphically and computationally intensive games, I would have gotten rid of my desktop.

We also had a discussion about what’s our work going to be like going forward. My team lead will try to push away all the unnecessary demonstration of our software because it’s taking up too much of our time. Time that could be spent on development. Another thing is that he want to re-organize the work distribution and allow me focus on the user experience aspect and the design aspect. At the end of it, it’s the one thing that I wanted to do at this stage of my development career.

Hell, there’s a lot of things that I wanted to do for diversity sake but if I am to keep doing programming at least for the next one year without burning out, the user experience is the best one because it allow me to apply several of my strengths to it.

After work, it was mostly just me sitting down in front of the laptop and focus on binge watching The Blacklist on Netflix. That last episode’s reveal of a shocking truth about Raymond Reddington was not what I expected. I have always assumed those bones belong to Elizabeth Keen’s mother and not expecting to be the real Raymond Reddington and her actual father. Now I think about it, I think it’s maybe that I didn’t keep track of all the hints the show have thrown out and I made a wrong assumption based on faulty information. Oh well… Now I can’t wait for Season 6.

Daily Log #74

I took a quick look at both my WordPress and Medium stats and you know what I found? Viewership and readership have pretty much gone down. It’s my fault really because I have stopped posting useful or relevant content for my readers.

Look at when was the last time I posted a poem.

Look at when was the last time I posted a decent article that is useful.

And look at my daily log. Well, it really isn’t a daily log anymore because of how infrequent I post.

I apologize.

But there is hope yet. I spent the last few days understanding why and gain deeper insight.

I’m not only suffering from burnout. I’m also suffering from lack of inspiration. You see, the burnout made me so tired and drain all my motivation that I have pretty much stopped reading stuff on Medium. Even the books I recently bought are still in their original wrappings. I don’t find myself enjoying the games I once enjoyed. Instead, it feels like a chore. The zoo trip and the weekend didn’t help bring me back.

As to why I’m burnout by my work, well, it’s because I feel like I’m being suffocated at work. The things I’m doing now are the things I have been doing since I started my software development career. It is unsatisfying and unchallenging. Then there was the general lack of appreciation. My team lead recently seem to find fault with the things I have implemented. At the same time, my colleagues in general are not on the same page as me or have the same desire to build something really nice and good to use. I feel like I’m not part of a team or a tribe, making the whole job miserable and uninspiring.

Going forward, I have to be very conscious about how I feel and think. I simply cannot allow this burnout to affect my writings and it’s up to me to find new inspiration after working hours so that I can write better.

As for the job, I went with the choice of just grinding it through and wait for the bonus payout in a few months time. I just don’t think I want to find new opportunities or roles with my current company because I simply have no intention of staying beyond this year. I hope to go to a place where the company place a higher emphasis on design and show care in their products. I don’t want to be part of a company culture where the people are so risk averse, discriminate against younger people because they lack the experience, and can’t seem to attract talents. Then there is this boring focus on fulfilling the “functional” aspect of a project and don’t care about how the user feels about the software.

And if I don’t find a company in the tech industry locally that fulfill my criteria, I do have alternatives. I will go off on a tangent and make a complete career switch. When that happens, I will just say, “fuck off tech.”

And no, I’m not going to have a job that need me to write a lot. I just don’t want to have the side effect of seeing writing as a job.

I win everyday

Over the past year alone, I have learnt quite a lot of things about me. There are some traits about me that I dislike because I always thought they make me a weak or useless person. There was a lot of self-hatred but I realized it won’t get me anywhere. It doesn’t make me a better person. After much introspection, I realized that I’m actually winning everyday.

I won’t say I will get to achieve the examples I provided below every day but even if it’s just one, it’s good enough for me.

  1. I’m a highly-sensitive person and that means I can get easily stressed and overstimulated. When that happens, I tend to lash out at people. These days, I have learnt to keep it under control by first acknowledging those emotions and then refocus myself on the bigger issue. There will be times when I fail to do that but I will consciously make sure I don’t lash out at people. I won’t say I’m successful all the time but thus far, I hadn’t have one major lashing incident. And that’s an achievement.
  2. There were a lot of days and I will continue to have days when I’m just outright depressed and didn’t want to go to work. Yet, I still get myself up from bed. Go through the routines and go to work. Once there, I try my best to do whatever it is I’m tasked. So that is a win for me because I didn’t stop. I continued on with life.
  3. I’m also learning to let go of the perfectionism I have for the things I do. I acknowledge that it was something I have to learn to let go because I’m only human. Mistakes bound to happen and it was only through those experiences that I learn to be better. So these days, I aim for 60% to 80% quality of work instead and then seek to improve my work later through iterations. Sometimes it’s a hit and sometimes it’s a miss but I didn’t let it stop me completely. That in my book is another win.
  4. I can get self-absorbed and self-centered, even selfish a lot of times. If I did went down that rabbit hole of “the whole universe revolves around me”, people will remind me. The past me would probably blame the whole world or be angry at the person. Now, I know there is really only me to blame. To be a better version of myself, I try to more empathic to the people around me. I consciously look at what another person need or want and then see if I can provide while trying to balance what I want or need. I win when I achieve both and both of us are happy.
  5. I’m also very self-aware of the fact that I can get self-destructive when certain things don’t go my way. As of late, I have learnt not to blame people around me for my self-destruction because it’s really my shit. My brain generates those impulses that to lead my self-destruction and it is up to me to decide if I want to act on those impulses or not. Thus, it is a win for me every time I didn’t act on those thoughts.
  6. Lastly, my life path is mine to walk. Nobody, not my friends, parents or colleagues get to decide and tell me I should go that route or do that thing. I will do me and make sure I’m happy. A lot of decisions I make can sound and look really irrational to people but I really don’t give a shit. I know I will get upset over certain things I have done or decisions I have made that don’t turn out to be the better one but I also know that if I don’t do those things or make those decision, I will be even more upset and fill with regret. The fact that I can make those decisions and answer to myself without blaming another person is a great achievement to me.

So instead of self-hatred and punishing yourself for being a human, you can start by changing your perspective of yourself and call yourself a winner every time you did something better than what you usually do. That to me is a start to create a different kind of mentality that leads you to become a better person.

Daily Log #73

I woke up at around 6 am in order to meet up with my friends to go to the zoo. After a quick breakfast and shower, I made my way to Khatib station. Once I arrived, I went over to the nearby MacDonalds to joined a friend for breakfast. While we were there, we chatted about life and stuff as we waited for another friend to join us at around 9.30am.

We took the shuttle bus to the zoo. Upon arriving, we went in and followed the trail.

Here is a bird just chilling.

The zoo had three zebras that were just chilling and grazing.

Here is a leopard sleeping. It’s so cute and really want to pat it but I know it will probably eat me for lunch.

Oh well, so far most of the animals are either sleeping or inactive. Good news, here is a Cheetah that is doing the opposite, running around.

Then we finally came across a Meerkat. It’s equally cute and fluffy but i know Meerkat are also dangerous.

Here is a Mara or I think so. I can’t remember the name.

We also went to the Reptotopia area of the zoo and came across a bunch of reptiles.

After that we went over to River Safari where we get to see animals that live in freshwater like River Nile and Amazon River.

Here is the Chinese Giant salamander

And here is the Sturgeon. I really thought it looks really cute and huge.

Here is another fish.

During the trip, my friends and I went across a bridge that oversaw the reservoir and the trees. Here is a panoramic view of the reservoir and the nearby forest within River Safari.

After that, we came across an electric eel. I definitely won’t want to touch that since they can generate up to 600 volts.

I got to say, after walking for nearly the whole day, I got become so tired that upon reaching home and a quick shower, I went to take a nap for nearly three hours.

And I am also happy that I went to the zoo with my friends. It definitely gave me a new perspective and that I do love animals.

While at the zoo, I also came across the various issues affecting animals around the world. In the name of human development, habitats belonging to animals were rapidly being destroyed and the animals themselves massacre by people. It’s definitely saddening and made me see how evil the world is.

Daily Log #72

I’m aware that I’m facing a major burnout as I notice I stopped caring about my work, get angry quite easily, and despite sleeping a lot, I still feel tired.

It also affects other areas of my life like my interpersonal relationship with my family… I mean I can see it happening… am aware of my irritation.

I also don’t feel like playing video games… even when I do, I didn’t feel particularly excited or happy. I find them boring…

Last but not least, it affects my ability to want to write anymore. I do feel like it’s meaningless at times.

So I will take this weekend to rest up and find new hobbies to do. Horticulture looks like a good place to start. Maybe cooking.

Daily Log #71

I will have to put a lot of my writings on hold because of work.

The way my company make us work is that of modern slavery in my view.

This is how I feel about my company:

It robs you of your other passions, robs you of the time to workout, strip your soul clean by preventing you from doing your hobbies. You make you suffer sleepless night. It makes you dedicate all your life energy to it because they think they pay you well enough.

Even the most basic type of benefits provided by other companies, even those smaller ones, are sometimes better than my current company, which is a MNC of sort.

Now that’s how I feel about it and not going to change. It’s not logically. Maybe it’s not even a fair judgment but I decided not to care if I’m being fair or has think through it rationally. If you have follow me long enough, you will know, I’m driven predominately by my emotions and that’s just the way I roll.

And the company’s policies and operation style have already left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s like eating spoilt food; I will be a fool to continue to eat that and make myself sick.

Daily Log #70

I went out with my friend today to watch Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom at 11:00am. Before that, he and I had breakfast at a cafe call Old Town White Coffee. He went with peanut butter toast with half-boil eggs and ice milk tea while I went with Chicken Curry, Roti Prata and a cup of soy milk.

As for the movie, I quite like it, especially the Raptor named Blue. She’s really intelligent, ferocious yet knows empathy. I for one love animals which are intelligent. For example, Mynas, Crows, Dolphin, and Elephants.

After the movie, I began receiving WhatsApp messages from my team lead about needing to work tomorrow, which is a Sunday. I have to be there on site at 7.30am. Given the amount of time I need to prepare to go to work, it means I need to wake up at 5.30am. And if you are wondering what I mean by that, well, I never like rushing. I like to take my time. It helps to calm my nerves given how sensitive I am. I am doing it for my sanity.

Then I asked about whether is there any “time off” for working on the Sunday considering my contract states that I only need to work Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 6.00pm. My team said he will check and then later came back and say no.

I’m definitely not happy about it. However, I’m not irresponsible. Given how important the situation is, I’m still going to work. For myself. At least I want to be able to proudly say I went above and beyond my normal duties to myself.

But, Sunday is also a major writing day for me. It’s the day when I can put in more words to my novel. Since it will be spent at work, I will have to skip a day or I will try and bring it forward.

I have also checked with my friends and they all said the same thing. “Time off” is a given thing if you have to work on a weekend when your contract state otherwise. To me, it doesn’t really matter if the company later backtracks or what. A decision was made by management. I am not happy about it but I’m not irresponsible nor do I enjoy picking a fight. So I will do what’s best for me so as not to compromise my beliefs and values. I will leave and I am preparing the resignation letter.

So just know that if you work in Singapore, you better know your rights as an employee. Certain companies can be rather exploitative when given a chance. There are many routes to approach such situation. If you are assertive enough you can make a stand. I’m not. And it makes me extremely stressful if I try. So I will take the lower path. It’s my choice and I own it. You choose your own path.

Later tonight, I hope to bring my dad for a dinner to celebrate Father’s Day. We are looking at having crabs at a restaurant.

Daily Log #69

I’m at stage two of burnout.

Insomnia.

Irritated by everyone around me.

Hate my job.

Thinking about quitting countless time.

Lost my appetite despite feeling hangry.

So tired everyday that I can’t bring myself to exercise.

I went ahead and signup for a course called Prepare to Work within Landscape industry. It’s an introductory course and I hope to use the chance to see for myself what is it like.

Because…

I’ve decided to quit the tech and software industry… I want a slower pace of life…it’s up to me to design it.

And I feel that maybe the horticulture and landscape industry can give me that…