Daily Log #81

Work today was pretty alright in terms of amount of things I need to do. Recently, I was told of a new requirement to track user activity in the application and to support various administrative function such as allowing another user (an admin) to kick an existing user out of his/her session.

Since all these are considered under identity management and access management, it falls under my purview. So I spent most of my day implementing stuff on the server side and then moving on to the frontend.

After lunch, one of my colleagues decided to publish a new version of the server side code to IIS. Now, she always have this problem of not getting the latest version of all source code for all modules before hitting that build and publish button. So end up, she didn’t get the latest server side code for the identity access module which contains fixes that I did two days ago. And in case you are wondering, I actually did publish a version containing that fix to the IIS two days ago.

And how I know what’s happening?

Well, later when she left office to join my team lead to go on an exhibition at Marina Bay Sands, another colleague of mine complained about not being able to login to the application and she was seeing the error message of “your account has been disabled.”

Of course, I can’t help but roll my eyes. This again.

As I was still working on my new task, the current version of my code isn’t deployment ready. So I told my colleague to give me a moment while I finish up the stuff on my side. At around 3.45pm, I did and published a new version of the server side application. At the same time, I also checked in the client side code and got my colleagues to get it. By about 4.15pm, everything is up and running. My colleague could continue with her other tasks.

And I get to continue working on my existing task, expanding the code to support other functionalities. I published the server application again and tested the changes I made to the client. All is working.

I call today a rather productive day by what I have accomplished: a new functionality of tracking user’s online status and laying the foundation for the activity tracking function as well as allowing admin to kick pre-existing users out of their session.

Later at night, I spent some time watching Ajin: The Demi-Human on Netflix. After about five episodes, I decided to stop and get down to write my novel. Thus far, I only managed to put in about four new paragraphs before I had to do something else. Then I switched to writing this Daily Log. I will see if I can get back to the novel again. And I found myself writing in the “as a matter of fact” style. There isn’t much description or decent use of adjectives. I feel like I suck as a storyteller. Oh well… more practice.

Daily Log #80

There wasn’t much going on at work today. All I did was to clear off the JIRA issues that were assigned to me and by about 5pm, I was already done with all of them and with that, I spent the remaining time just watching and browsing YouTube on my iPad.

When I got home, I watched an episode of Shooter season 3 on Netflix and then had my dinner.

I did spend some time contemplating what am I doing with my life.

First, I am overweight and have been having a hard time to lose those fats. It’s my fault really for spending so much of my time sitting down either to write code, watch shows, play video games, and writing. I’m not doing enough to move and burn more calories. Right now, I’m laying in my bed writing this journal, using my rather big tummy to prop up the laptop against my thighs. Urgh… I hate this chunk of fat. I need to put in the work to get myself into a habit of going for walks and run on a weekday instead of finding excuses.

Second, my hair so now so long that it is already a mop. It also make me look fatter and uglier…not that I’m that good looking in the first place. Now I just look even worse. So I will schedule for a hair cut this weekend. Enough with the “fuck the world” attitude.

Third, I realized that I’m having a hard time writing my novel now because I’m so focus on trying to do the following:

  1. Show don’t tell
  2. Be concise
  3. Avoid words that end with -ly
  4. Taking care of grammar

It’s no wonder that I couldn’t get into flow because I’m trying to write like the so call “pros” do instead of writing in my own way. I’m editing myself as I write and I lost my voice in a way. So time to put a stop to that. I should just write exactly how I will tell the story and then edit from there. If not, the novel will never finish even when the sun becomes a red giant.

Ok, that’s all for tonight. I will try and put in more words into my novel before turning in for the night. Or… maybe I should just sleep early since it’s known that lack of sleep causes weight gains.

Daily Log # 79

I spent my whole day binge watching Luke Cage on Netflix and did take a break by going for a quick jog around my neighborhood. By about 6pm, I just got kind of disgusted at myself for wasting so much of my Sunday on a show that somehow got progressively too draggy. I was like “can we get to the conclusion already?”

Or maybe it’s that a part of me was nagging at me to do something more important than to watch a Netflix show like maybe finish that damn book that I can’t seem to bring myself to finish it. There is always this edit to do, more content to put, etc. It’s like perfectionism raising its ugly head all over again. And I know what’s the other reason. Lack of planning. A lot of things that I do aren’t really planned out in detail. I just went with my gut and do it. I think mentioned this before several months back and it’s like a bad habit I never quite kick.

So tonight, I’m will do just my writing. Other than dinner, there shall be no more distraction and I go offline for that purpose.

That’s all for today’s post because I hadn’t really done anything much.

Daily Log #78

It’s Steam Summer Sale and I found myself browsing through the Steam store looking for what game to buy next. I found Halo Wars Definitive Edition on sale and thought I would buy it.

After I got the game, I sat down and played the single player campaign. After 9 hours, I finished it. I got to say I found myself enjoying it and hating it. You see, as a highly-sensitive person, it can prevent you from playing a strategy game on a higher difficulty level because of the need to multitask and strategize in real time though it also means you can process things deeper and have a knack for details. I know I’m suppose to show compassion to myself but in this case I can’t. I hate that aspect in this case. But I guess one can’t have best of the both worlds.

Anyway, I found myself liking the Halo franchise more and more as of late.

It is the science fiction franchise that I enjoy thus far. I love lore and that it is far more comprehensive than any other I have seen. However, I hadn’t gone as far as buying up all the books and all the games.

Come to think of it, not even Command and Conquer come close considering that EA can’t be bothered to develop it anymore other than to milk it for more money. I only hope that Microsoft continue to do it right by the franchise and not do it like EA.

As a writer of science fiction, Halo serves as one of the few inspirations sources. The others being Star Ocean, Xenosaga, and Horizon Zero Dawn. I also draw my inspiration from Star Trek and the recent books written by Peter F. Hamilton. Now, I’m not really a fan of hard science fiction. I’m more of a space opera type of guy. And I also prefer a hybrid approach by mixing fantasy elements and technology.

Other playing game, I spent most of my afternoon napping until 7pm before going for a shower and joining my family for dinner at Xin Wang Hong Kong Restaurant.

At night, I went to watch Luke Cage season 2.

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.