Monday, October 7, 2013

I have moved !

7th of October , 2013 marks a very eventful day of my life . For this is the day where I finally got rid of my inner procrastination demon , to actually stand up and take actions . After a few days of confining myself to my room , being anti-social and spending most of my time coding away , I have finally successfully completed one of my proudest masterpiece :  . The idea of having a new website , with a proper domain and intuitive design have been in my mind for quite some time .Yet , my mind kept playing tricks on me , giving me thousands of excuses to procrastinate . Lack of skills , lack of time , etc etc . Some of it were true , while some are mere imaginary obstacles that I could overcome had I put in a bit more effort .

After much prodding and encouragement by a few friends , I finally mustered enough courage and self-discipline to revamp my website , this time with a proper domain name to which I can proudly call my own website . It was exhilarating , and the whole experience still felt surreal for me . The fact that I , the lazy , procrastinating pig managed to put together a custom designed website in less than a week , totally blew my mind away . 

I never thought it was possible . I still think the same way . When i launched the website live today , all I could feel was the apprehension and fear of something not working properly . But at last , it was done . It is finally out in the wild now and you may check it out at . I am extremely proud of this website as this is the first time I put in that much effort into making some personal dream of mine happening . I would no longer be updating this blog . All my new updates can be found in the new website . So , if you have some free time to spare , and feel like visiting it , please feel free to do so . I would greatly appreciate your visits ! ;D

Lastly , for all the readers that have stayed with me throughout this few years . Whether you're a close friend of mine , a hi-bye friend that just happens to want to know more about my life , a blog-hopping stranger who stumbles upon this blog randomly , or even a spammer , THANK YOU , for dropping by .

It has been an amazing ride , and I look forward to continuing this ride with you guys in the new website . See you there ;' ) 


Sau Fei 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Simple , Little Things

" What is value of money ,if it cannot provide you the freedom it promised ? " - Tim Ferris 

I am reminded of the quote above when I was reflecting while I was walking just now . I like walking , or rather strolling . Walking takes my minds off many things . And when we are doing it slow , the many racing thoughts in our mind slowed down too , and suddenly , everything became crystal clear .

This week has been a haphazard week . As always , my emotions are riding on that same , ol' rollercoaster again , from the improbable high to the desperate low . Work-wise , more or less I am slowly , but surely adapting to the workloads while struggling to find the right point for the work-life balance ( or as one of my friend puts it , work-life harmony ,simply because the word " balance " connotes some sort of scale , an equality between the two . More often than not , the scale is skewed , hence there can be no balance , only harmony  )

This week saw me getting my first salary , spending most of it on my precious tool of refuge ( a Takamine ED10C-ns acoustic guitar ) , and saving the rest after deducting other miscellaneous expenditures . It was my first time spending so much on something that I felt blurs the line of asset and liability ( it could be either one depending on how you utilize it ) , so naturally I was a bit scared and fearful of the consequences . 

And it so happens that , the Lobang King ( people with most ways or ideas to get /do something ) among my friend have some ideas to earn money , Big Money . So, I followed along with his ideas . Initially , we won some cash ,but humans being humans , "some" cash was never enough , so we gambled away ( literally ) those cash in hope of getting more ,which ended up in utter disappointment . Oh well , at least there's one less thing in my never-try-before list . 

I digressed . So now that we're back to square one , what else is there to do ? Another question that has been bugging me is about the meaning of life . Right now , it seems that I am doing the same thing over and over again . Work - Rest - Work again . It's not necessarily a bad thing as the job itself is quite engaging and I got myself some nice balance / harmony between work and life . Yet , I can't help but feel that something is missing . This is my internship , which is supposed to give me a gist of what "real , working world" would be like . And already I can't wait to graduate and lay the pressure of "not having a degree" off my chest . Early-Life crisis much .

In hope of getting some pressures off , I went to exercise . Exercise is one of those great things that could never do wrong to your body . In fact , I am still perplexed until today that why don't people do exercise . There are almost infinite rewards to be reaped and near to zero cons of exercising . Unless you are diagnosed with some severe ,anti-exercise medical conditions , a normal person literally have no excuse to NOT do exercise . And No , laziness is not an excuse . 

Either way , after exercising , I took a slow stroll back to my home . Continuing from the first paragraph of this post , as I was reflecting about the value of money , and listening to the beautiful songs from my playlist , wonderful things started happening . Pacing my steps based on the song's beat , my steps became shorter and slower . Winds started blowing , and the warmth from the sunlight was affectionately tender . The gentle breeze caresses my cheek , and the sufficiently warm rays of light hit my skin , slowly transforming the dull white color into a brown tan . It was the most wonderful moment of my life . These kind of simple pleasures , of knowing that you're alive , you're capable of listening to beautiful music , the closest thing ever to magic , you're capable of feeling the warmth of the sun light , indicating you've your sense of touch , and you're still walking on your own two feet . 

Appreciation of nature is a powerful ,therapeutic thing . As cheesy as it may be , we should really take times off whatever busy schedules that we have to appreciate the little things in life . This magical experience made me think twice about my goals in life . Is money really everything there is to this world ? No , it is mere means to achieve my goals . But then again , what is my true goal(s) then ? 

I probably won't find the answer to that question anytime soon , but I am sure I will be able to find it someday . And I guess , paying attention more to those simple , little pleasures of life , relax a bit and thinking slow sometimes will definitely help point me towards the right direction ;) .

And to dear readers , I wish you all a happy week ahead :) Let tomorrow's Monday not be Monday Blues , but rather A Happy Monday , Bubbly Monday , or Chocolate Marshmallow Monday even ? Just Not Blue . Also , do take some time off , to be more attentive towards the little things that happen in life . Watch them happen , Appreciate them . Wonderful things may happen ;) 

“Slow Dance:
Have you ever watched kids, On a merry-go-round? Or listened to the rain, Slapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight? Or gazed at the sun into the fading night? You better slow down. Don't dance too fast. Time is short. The music won't last. Do you run through each day, On the fly? When you ask: How are you? Do you hear the reply? When the day is done, do you lie in your bed, With the next hundred chores, Running through your head? You'd better slow down, Don't dance too fast. Time is short, The music won't last. Ever told your child we'll do it tomorrow? And in your haste, Not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch, Let a good friendship die, Cause you never had time, To call and say Hi? You'd better slow down. Don't dance so fast. Time is short. The music won't last. When you run so fast to get somewhere, You miss half the fun of getting there. When you worry and hurry through your day, It is like an unopened gift thrown away. Life is not a race. Do take it slower. Hear the music, Before the song is over.”

― Timothy FerrissThe 4-Hour Workweek

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Internship @ PiktoChart

It's been a while . Things have gotten pretty hectic lately . After the memorable semester spent at National University of Singapore , finally it's time for my dreaded internship . I use the term "dreaded" loosely here because from the stories my seniors and other friends that have went through internship been telling me , apparently their perception about internship can swing both sides . One side is about how as an intern , you will be able to learn a lot of stuff , but as exchange , in the first few weeks , you will be having shitloads of works , hardship and indescribable amount of stress . In other words , you will be exploited as slave , yet you if you endured that period of hardship , the rewards will be tremendous . On another hand , there are people who finished their internship period learning practically nothing , getting treated more as an office boy , doing miscellaneous stuff . 

Well , for my part , I would definitely prefer to be somewhere in between . Learning a lot of stuff , while still having some freedom of time to do my own stuffs . Fortunately , this is exactly what my internship offers . For the uninitiated , I have had the pleasure of doing my interns at a high-growth startup company called PiktoChart  . Basically , it's a company that develops software that help ordinary people ( like you and me ) to create infographics easily . The company's motto basically sums it up nicely : " We make information beautiful " . If you still don't get what an infographic is , well here's a nice little infographic that tells you what infographic is :

Nicely presented huh ? Moving right along . So , what's so good ( and not so good maybe ? )  about the company that I am interning now ? 

Well , first of all , it features a flat hierarchy of organization ( which is really RARE in the organizations nowadays , almost non-existent in multinational companies ) . Everyone is treated equally ( almost ) , and the boss will even have lunch with the employees together . But of course , basic manners and respect towards your seniors are expected , as well as the fundamental rules and regulations . 
My workplace . Ubuntu = Developer's best friend .

There are many good points about this company . For example , colleagues are friendly and awesome . The boss , and co-boss are friendly and surprisingly cool . ( Trust me , you will never expect that kind of boss ) . For those who are used to strict regulations , formal attires and silent workplace , you will need some time to adjust to it . Because this is not your regular workplace .

Why , the first day of work , I was told that the attire is casual , and so I wore a T shirt with jeans and covered shoes . It came as an absolute surprise when I walked in , as I saw some of my colleagues wearing T shirts with short pants and slippers . How freaking cool is that ?
ze osem massage chair !

Oh yeah , in here we have lots of entertainments as well to help you de-stress . Our meeting room is filled with bean bags and have x-box 360 , wii and if I am not mistaken , I saw a ps2 lying around somewhere waiting to be set up . If that doesn't impress you , we have a massage chair as well , lest you desire some massages to loosen up your tensions and stress . There are also coffee powders and lots of other beverages to quench your thirst , all courtesy of the company ( A really nice gesture there ) . All work and no play make Jack a dull boy . Well, Jack would love to work here for sure . 

The company culture here is quite quirky , in a good way . Employees will randomly take the balls lying around in the office and throw it to the basketball hoop that are attached to the wall , just for the heck of it . It kinda reminds me of Googleplex in some way ,which is a really good thing , because this mean that this company is definitely heading down the right path . 
In a environment where creativity and innovation are much needed , a fun and less stressful environment will definitely help much more than the standard ,  rigid , tightly regulated environment in the older , big companies . 
Tired ? Lethargic ? Get yourself energized with a sip of coffee / tea 

As Peter Drucker , the father of Organization Management once said " They are not employees , they are people " . And from what I can see so far , there are no employees in the company , only a bunch of friendly people in a close-knitted community that serves a common goal - for the betterment of company . 

Nevertheless , the first week of work is indeed quite challenging , as it should be . I have had the pleasure of knowing some great people and learning new stuff . Now , my only hope is to adept to it quickly and hopefully be able to learn things faster enough to be able to contribute and help my colleagues . Obviously , as with many things in life , the first time you are venturing into something new , things are never quite like a bed of roses , but if there are anything close to it , I would say that my experience so far would definitely fit the bill .
The Mario decoration made up entirely by post-it notes + the basketball hoop !

Cheers to a better tomorrow @PiktoChart ( The " Google " of Penang )  ;) 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Another Beginning .

" To my dearest TF scholars , please do not be sad that you are leaving , as this is not a farewell , but rather just a short separation that will only make our bonds stronger when we meet again " , said the little angel of our TF family on her speech . This was followed by a lot other inspiring and touching speeches , but that quote of hers especially , was etched deeply into my mind , stirring powerful emotions that almost bring me to tears .

Then it struck me , it was the end of my exchange semester . It was time to part with the people whom I have called family for the past few months , to part with the futuristic looking campuses , and the fascinating urban metropolis in Singapore which I have grown familiar with . 

Our last event ended at 3 pm , however , then the day seems to pass by in a blur . I remember vaguely about taking countless pictures , seeing lots of tears , making promises to meet again soon , rushing back to pack my stuffs and get ready to leave at 7 pm . My bus was scheduled to depart at 10 pm , and the journey to the bus terminal was supposed to take only 1 hour , but I chose to depart earlier for fear of missing the bus and because I do not know exactly where the bus terminal is . 

Some of my friends accompanied me on the way to the bus stop to send me off , and I am very grateful for that ( Thanks Boon Siong , Elin , Dan and Victor ! ) . The plan was to take a 196 smrt bus to the Lavender MRT , then to walk to the Golden Miles Bus Terminal . When we arrived at the bus stop , the 196 has already arrived . However , I chose to skip this bus and wait for another 196 bus because I felt bad leaving them so abruptly when they had taken the time to send me off . And it turns out to be the right choice .

Apparently , the second bus driver was a Malaysian as well , and after engaging in a conversation , he told me that his bus will pass by Golden Miles as well , and I don't have to change to MRT and to walk a longer distance to reach there . What a blessing in disguise . Also , there's another uncle in the bus that helps with my luggage and keeping me fascinated ( and humbled as well ) by his stories . Then , it struck me . How incredibly blessed I am to be surrounded by good people . 

By the time I got to the bus terminal , I was 1 hour earlier ( like what you mentioned , Boon Siong , I went way too early haha :P ) . Yet , I was grateful , for I have more time to reflect and ponder upon what has transpired over this semester . I took a bus that will take 10 hours long back home . Some of you might ask why ? When it's so much more convenient and less time-consuming by flight . Aside from being more cost-effective , I loved taking bus back home because it gives me a lot of time to reflect about my entire experience and pen them into thoughts . Besides , 10 hours passes by a lot faster when you know you are riding a bus back home . I relished looking at the clock , when every hour past means that I am closer to home . 

Looking back , it has been a long journey indeed . But as one of our talented TF scholar( Muthest ) puts it " it seems just like yesterday that we just touched down on Singapore , looking for our hostel and trying to settle in " . But one check at the calender reminds us of the reality , that 4.5 months has just whizzed by . Time do seem to fly when we were having fun . 

It was a mixed bundle of emotions recalling the memories I had in Singapore . Before I came to Singapore , one of the most distinctive rumors that I have heard are that Singaporeans are very kiasu ( scared to lose ) and kiasi ( scared to die ) . Well well , it turns out to be the furthest thing away from truth . Singaporeans are some of the friendliest people around , provided that you talk to them . Show them some love, and they will most likely reciprocate with much more love . Eventhough it's takes just a ride across the Causeway , it felt like completely brand new world once you're in Singapore . A lot of comparison has been made between Malaysia and Singapore , about how similar both countries are ,but after I have experienced it for myself , I would disagree . 

There are a lot of stuffs that are distinctively Singaporean in a way that Malaysia could never hope to imitate or rival ( as of now ) . Such as the perfectly streamlined system of public transportation , a remarkably organized way of arranging the buildings , a decent civil service system , and of course , the high presence of foreigners . Due to the last factor , if one wants to have some International exposure , don't bother going far . Singapore is just fine for you . A case in point , during this exchange semester , I have made friends with Canadians , Thais , Filipinos , Bruneian , Australian , and etc . It's amazing how these people can co-exist together , creating a unique cultural melting pot , that's truly International .

Also , due to this TF LeaRN programme that I am in , not only did I have the opportunity to travel and explore every nook and cranny of Singapore , this programme have also enabled me to bond closer with friends from around the South East Asia region , or as how the Director of the this program aptly said " Enables you to forge closer ties with the future leaders of ASEAN " . 

This programme also includes some mandatory community services , which enabled me and my fellow scholars to get down and interact with the community grassroots leaders and learn hands on about how to provider support to maintain a sustainable community services . Oh , and it also taught me that most Singapore community services , will give you a lot of goodie bags if you participate in it ( Most of them containing dri-fit T shirts too , so don't worry about having less clothes in Singapore , just join some community services ! ) 

I digressed . But apart from all the picturesque scenery , the luxurious , super nice facilities and amenities in my campus , above all of them , one thing that stood out in my memories , is the kindness and hospitality shown by fellow Singaporeans . It is the one thing that will struck me most if I were asked to talk about my Singaporean experience . I hereby express my sincerest gratitude to you all , Singaporeans or not , who have provided me with a jolly fun ride in this Lion City .

Also , to my TF Scholars , it's been such an honor meeting you guys ! Let's gather back in 5 years and make new memories ( as Victor proposed ) . To all of you who I have the pleasure of meeting and befriends of in Singapore , know this , it is truly a blessing knowing you guys . I will definitely be back again soon , and when I do , if time and space allows it , let's meet up and catch up :) Time may pass , and our memories may fade , but the bond we forged will last forever and ever . Thank You for everything , Singapore .

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Never Ending Dream

Remember the time when you watched how cool the man wearing his red underwear on the outside , with his equally silly red cape on the back ( ok , it was probably cool back then when we were still young ) , beating the crap out of bad villians and saving the world numerous time in that small idiot box , and you suddenly thought " Wow , how cool , I wanted to be like that too in the future ! " . Remember ? No ? Well , neither do I . 

Perhaps some of you have had the chance to watch Superman cartoons during your childhood , but for me , instead of cartoons , my childhood were filled with Japanese animes , lots and lots of animes , Dragonball , Digimon , Pokemon ,  Doraemon and etc ( Otaku alert ) . So yeah , with that much anime influence , all the aspirations that I had during my early childhood was pretty much impossible to become reality ( Think doing a kamehameha , i.e manifesting your spiritual ki into some bursts of energy that can destroy the earth , or be like Doraemon , taking some random gadgets that will just help solve your life's problem ) How convenient huh ? 

I digressed . Anyway , the point is , in your childhood or at any given point of time , there must be someone that you look up to , whom you aspires to emulate and be like him / her . It may be some fictional characters from tv , or some real life people like some cool musicians , life-saving policemen , or etc . You get the idea . 

But , along the way , all of those dreams , those ambitions ,aspirations got lost as we "grow up " and be more " realistic " . People tell you " Musicians don't earn alot " , " Policemen survive by getting bribery " ," Get real , be a doctor / engineer " and all sorts of things that puts you down , and distorts your ideal dream . To a certain extent , that is true , but it doesn't apply to everything and everyone . Everyone's life is different . Each and every one of us has their own life journey and all of us walks on different path , that connects us to the same end : Death . 

It's a stark contradiction . All of us started off with the light of hope , the beginning of all , the wonders of the possibilities the future holds , yet in the end , no matter how rich , famous , successful or not , all of us will still end up dead . Sadly , not many are aware of such realizations , and in the face of their fleeting life , they procrastinated , delayed the very important dreams that their heart desire , and finally ended up with regrets and remorse . Why ? 

As you grow up , a lot of people will start telling you things that they never experienced before , things like " it cannot be done " , "there's no future in that " , either because they failed at their ventures , or they simply followed the mainstream advice that they were given when they were young . Unfortunately , many actually allowed other people's word to shake their own convictions and belief . So , they abandoned their dreams , followed what other people told them .

Study day long and night . Memorizing cold hard facts and figures , regurgitating them during examinations , and forgetting them afterwards . The vicious cycle continues until you graduate and get a single piece of paper that seems to be able summarize your years of education . Get a decent job . Got stuck in the rat race . Work day long and night at a 9-5 job , most of the time having the need to work overtime . Felt that it's worthwhile when you get your pay check , splurge it all on expensive materialistic pleasures ( designer clothes , handbags , etc ) . Go back to work again . 

It's terrifying to envision that kind of life . Could you even call it life when it felt so lifeless ? I shudder every time I thought of such life . But yet every year , there are still lots of people who got stuck in the same vicious cycle . Only a few privileged ones are able to escape this trap by having the courage of pursuing their dreams , passionately chasing them with everything they had . And more often than not , these are the people who ended up being successful . 

You hear successful people who said they wake up fueled with energy to go to "work" everyday , in line with the cliched " Love your job , and you will never be working a single day in your life again " . But it's true . Just find the one thing that your heart really desires the most , and chase it with everything you have , persevering till the end and most likely , you will end up enjoying your life more than anyone else. 

But then again , as with all the other complicated decisions in life , we need to be realistic when it comes to these kind of thing . What about the money ? Can I really do it ? What if I failed ? These common questions and an onslaught of other questions will likely fill your mind when you want to make the decision . Well , this is normal and in fact you should rightfully try to answer those questions before proceeding further . 

Common sense dictates that we need to at least have some back up plan should we fail . For the money , you could either collect a bulk of money or any form of financial safety net first before proceeding with your dreams . As for the skills , if you had any plan in the first place , you should probably start enhancing or empowering your skills to match those skill sets needed to realize your dream right ? So there you have it , assuming that you have accomplished all of the above , you're ready to go !

However , most people often fails in achieving all of them , or even any of them , and thus gave up on pursuing their dreams . To this , I say , better to fail trying than to die regretting . I have heard this advice from many successful entrepreneurs : " Start young , because , even if you fail , you still have plenty of chances to start over again . When you are an adult , there will be more responsibilities that you need to carry that prevents you from trying to pursue your dream .  " .

True enough , the path of realizing our dreams is far and tough , and we will probably trip a lot in that journey . So , if we are gonna trip anyway , might as well trip earlier ? 

Finally , there are always time when reasons and rationale fails , yet you feel very strongly to do it . This is when your gut feeling comes into handy . One of my personal motto is to believe in my instinct whenever I have hard time making a decision . So far , it has proved to be more successful and brought me more delighting experiences than painful ones . And if my personal experience doesn't convince you , feel free to search around for countless successful people who have attributed instinct as their key to success . 

The thing is , there are times when you just have to trust your gut feeling and take a plunge into it , no matter what the risk is . When you feel very strongly / passionate for a cause ( think something like a cause worth dying for ? something that you advocate ) , you will definitely be able to pull all the stops to make it work ! And that's when you can realize your dream .

If you have managed to read until here , congratulations . Sorry for the lengthy post , with many irrelevant rants scrambled everywhere in the post . Funny enough , one of my lecturer for entrepreneurship emphasized on being succinct and brief in writing , and specifically pointed out bloggers as one of the worst example of doing that , as bloggers always tend to write everything in their mind , filling it with irrelevant musings that is unrelated to the main points . I concur , but that's what make blogging so interesting I guess , because it portrays the writing style of the blogger and also the anecdotes and subtle writing nuances that separates them from other writers / bloggers.

By writing this post, I hope to inspire some people to do something about their life because , like it or not , most probably when we graduate ( students of my batch ) , majority of us will end up in the situation I mentioned earlier . Also , there are definitely times when you feel like pursuing things that seems totally different , contradictory even to what you are studying now . ( example an engineering student wants to be a musician ? ) . 

There are many facades to a person . For me , I think sometimes when I get fired up by some motivational speech by entrepreneur , I feel very deeply to want to become entrepreneurs : that's my business side . When I watch some really talented people performing in youtube , I would yearn to one day be a musician , dancer or even performing artists , no matter how musically untalented I am : that's my artistic side . But there can only be one dream , no many how many facades you have , filter them out and look for that one thing that you really wanted to do .  Pursue your dream . Don't let detractors and haters to prevent you from realizing your dreams .  YOUR ambition , YOUR aspiration , YOUR life .

Inspirations for this post comes from 2 sources : 
1) To The Moon soundtrack - "Everything's Alright " by Laura Shigihara
Amazing game , with its beautiful story , coupled with this emotion stirring song , it seems to be the perfect testament that in this materialistic era where money seems to connote pleasure , we can still derive great pleasure from artistic pursuits such as this .

Mr Ang Lee , the successful director of Life of Pi , with his speech on his Oscar award . Perfectly captures the importance of dream and the difficulties that one has to go through to achieve them . A must read for people looking for inspirations . Truly goes to show what people can achieve just by relentlessly chasing their dream .

Thursday, February 28, 2013

When in Doubt, Trust your instinct .

I love doing random , impulsive things . Really , I do . When you do an impulsive stuff , the adrenaline surge that comes from those sudden decisions are unbelievably exciting . In my life so far , in all the times I did something random and impulsive ( no matter how stupid , selfish and devoid of rational or logical thoughts ) most of the time , I never regret doing them . In fact , more often than not , they turned out to be very fulfilling experiences in the end . Today's journey doesn't disappoint either .

I woke up to at 9.00 am to a clear , blue sky , without any idea or plans for today at all . The stark contrast between the crystal clear sky and the humid, cooling atmosphere forces me to choose between waking up to reality , or shut the curtain and continue indulging in my sweet dreams , accompanied by the cool weathers . In the end , the glaring sunlight won me over . I had too much sleep already anyway .

Though it seems like another nice day ( it finally stopped raining ! ) , my heart was still troubled with some annoying problems . The root of this problem started two days before this . Two days ago , I went to a Leadership / Service Workshop at National Community Leadership Institute ( NACLI ) as a part of the program organized by my Temasek Foundation (TF LeaRN) scholarship , that was responsible for making my exchange to Singapore possible .

While it was a nice experience being in a 2 days / 1 night workshop , there are some inconveniences that we have to live with , the major one being difficulties to wi-fi access . However , at that time , I thought that it wasn't a major problem as what harm can 2 days without Internet connection do right ? Wrong ! Dead Wrong ! 

Life have a strange way of trolling people . When I was with my internet connection 24/7 and having the luxury of checking e-mails and keeping in touch with others most of the time , nothing important that requires internet happened . Right when I did not have that connection for just a night , a very important e-mail came . 

The truth is , for the past few weeks , I have been eyeing for the internship position at Microsoft Malaysia / Singapore and thus have applied for them both . Although I did not have the opportunity to work with the Singapore branch , I was still waiting for answers from the Malaysia counterpart . They did not reply me for the past few weeks , until the day that I did not have my Internet connection .

Long story cut short , apparently , I was lucky enough to be selected for an assessment event in KL , but UNFORTUNATELY , I was also unlucky enough to miss that event because I was unable to read that email until when I came back from the workshop and have access to internet . By then , it's already too late , as it was like around 1 hour left till the event in KL , and I am still in my hostel here in NUS . 

Ray of hope
However , it seems that fate has another thing in store for me . As I always believe , if anyone really wanted something very badly , somehow , the universe will conspire to grant him/her their wish . And indeed , there seems to be some glimpse of hope left for me . As one of my seniors were working for Microsoft already , I consulted him and he told me that there's a same assessment event going on today ( 27/2/2013  ) . However , I have to bear in mind that I wasn't invited for this event , so I need to confirm with the authorities concerned . 

So , I tried various ways of contacting the people in charge ( spamming by emails , calls , messages ) , but to no avail as none of my attempts were responded . Finally , the day of judgement came , today ! 

Question : 
What will you do if you have no confirmation , invitation or any form of acknowledgement whatsoever but you just know that there's this important assessment interview that will be going on this particular venue , and you know that if somehow you got the job , your life will change , forever ?


At this point , I was still being very hesitant . I checked up on the net and consulted my   friends who are studying in Johor ( THANKS ZHAO WEI ! ) and  found out that a bus ride to Johor from Singapore would only take 1 hour       ( factoring a moderate traffic condition ) . But , obviously , it wouldn't be only 1 hour if I take into account the travel time needed to go from my campus to the bus interchange station and hundred other complications that might occur .

First of all , being the realist I was , I have to consider the worst case scenario and weigh in the pros and cons . Given the bad reputation of safety and other negative images that Malaysia have been portraying , it is a bit intimidating even for locals like me to go there alone . What if I got robbed in the journey to or fro there ? What if I lost my passport ? What if I cannot find the way there ? And the thousand what ifs fears continue to cloud my mind . 

Nevertheless , all of those are mere possibilities . Though ,I was still safe and sound after coming back from there , but at that time , possibilities made it hard to make a decision . So , I was sitting in front of laptop , still waiting for a reply from the person in charge or any signs or indications from higher authorities in the universe to give me . It was quickly approaching 12 noon . Decisions have to be made . And then the sign arrived . I told one of my friend ( THANKS BOON SIONG :D ) about my case , and he said something of this line : " Ai yo , you only live once ma , why so scared ? Try la , no harm ! "  

This , coupled with the "gao bin pui" ( Thick face or shameless in hokkien ) and YOLO advice by my other friend , I mustered the courage to act and Hola , I decided to go there ,without ever being there before , not knowing how to go there ( I just have some instructions from then net and my friend ) , not knowing where exactly is the place located ( Johor is a really big state in Malaysia , and the place I am going to isn't exactly the easiest place to find ) , and the biggest question of all , not even knowing whether or not the people there will allow me to go in for turning up uninvited .


The whole journey turned out to be one of the best , most liberating journey I ever had in my life . Not only was I accepted for the assessment interview event ,  I had the pleasure of meeting a few great people along the journey . On the way from Singapore to Johor , I met a good , middle-aged working man who was more than willing to guide me to into Johor , since he was coincidentally going back to Johor too . When you put two Malaysians together , chances are , you will most likely get an interesting conversation regarding the political bickerings and the effectiveness of the government ( more like condemning all the mistakes and irresponsible actions of the government and discussion about how bleak the future of Malaysians will be in the future ) . I had fun hearing perspectives from someone who have moved on to the greener pasture at the other side . According to him , almost 20% of the Malaysia workforce are working in Singapore , and obviously , the number is not gonna decrease any time soon . 

Being in a foreign place without knowing any people nearby is scary , much more so if you're alone . Usually , being the stingy guy that I am , I wouldn't even bother with the taxis . This coupled with the really bad haggling reputation of Malaysian taxi drivers , I have decided earlier not to take any cab . However , with the lack of time and inability to discern directions in a foreign place being the problem , I have no choice but to turn to the taxi drivers ( the one with vouchers , where I only have to pay a fixed , flat rate , so it will be safer ) . It was quite an expensive ride , but I guess it was worth it in the end , since the place I was supposed to go to ( University Technology Malaysia ) , is really huge ( I later found out that it's the 2nd largest local university in Malaysia ) and I would definitely die walking or getting lost should I try to walk and find the place . 

Taking the taxi there made me realize that some of the taxi drivers will actually go for an extra mile for you , granted that you speak to them in local dialect ( The taxi driver was so happy when I spoke to him in BM and he continued to talk to me the entire 30 minutes about his life, when we reached the university , he went the extra mile to fetch me to the particular venue instead of only leaving me at the main gate , which is what he can do , given that the destination only specifies the University and not the faculty inside the university ) . However , the same could not be said for their attitudes towards foreigners . I saw first hand , how some of the taxi drivers try to coerce the foreigners into hiring two taxis because of their big luggage bags .

Finally in the end , I managed to get to that particular venue and successfully participated in the assessment event . Along the way , some kind souls volunteered to guide me to the venue in fear of me getting lost in that awful big campus . And it turns out that RM 30 taxi fare was worth it too , as I end up hitchhiking back on the interviewer's car ( Talk about how shameless one can get ! But ya , I was really desperate and the interviewers are freaking awesome ! ) .

The super cool intern team of Microsoft MACH , POWER TEAM :D
The kind soul ( riding the motor ) who was willing to guide me to the particular venue even though he could just offer me directions . Thank God for Good people !

I guess I have to say that , I am really LUCKY after all . Somehow , I made it back safe and sound . I went to somewhere completely foreign to me , not knowing what to expect , alone and somehow I ended up coming back with a very fantastic experience ! I guess the lesson here is to believe in your instinct when reasoning fails :) Obviously , doing something without putting any thoughts in it is stupid . However , sometimes , even with all the calculations and reasoning justifying some action , they can only take you so far . Often , the best results often come with the course of action that came from your natural instincts . Therefore , I would say , hone your instincts , and trust them , for they can take you to unimaginably , exciting places . Don't always be bounded by rules and regulations , confined within an imaginary box of logical and rationality , there are always alternatives to something , as the proverbial think out of the box suggests . 

May all of you have the courage and opportunity to do something impulsive , and hopefully they turned out to be great too :) All the best , people ! :) 

* Thank Lord for Good People ! To all the kind souls today that helped me , may all of you be blessed with abundant bundle of joy , happiness and prosperity ! Keep on doing those random act of kindness , you guys rocks ! *

Microsoft's USB Hub Gift :D

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Level 5000 Monster Master Module

The freshness of the morning breeze , the gentle light of the sun , it's a new morning , a new beginning once again . I had a nice surprise when I found out that Chinese Fried Rice + Hash brown are being served from the Asian Corner of the Dining Hall this morning , a usual deviation from the normal noodles + veges set . A few hours later , after attending an awesome philosophy lecture and having a fantastic meal of Katsu Curry Chicken Rice  + Honey Lemon Tea for lunch , it seems like the most wonderful day of my life . Everything is perfect. 

Heaven in disguise . 

However , things weren't like that for the past few days . In retrospect , the past few days have been an emotional roller coaster trip to hell back and forth for quite some time . " Dude, you are abusing the term emotional roller coaster ! You're using it way too muchh, SF ! " , you whined . Yes , I admit that , but I just can't help it . My life is really full of those roller coaster trips . Nothing just seems to stay still . Anyway , back to the story . Past few days have seen me burning midnight oils ( the Singaporeans call it mugging here ) , studying things way past my normal level of comprehension , struggling to understand things that are very complicated and abstract .

Why , you might ask ? It wasn't the noble reason of wanting to learn more , attaining knowledge and etc . Neither was it because I am competitive and adapting to the 'kiasu' ( not willing to lose to others ) spirit much practiced in Singapore . And obviously it wasn't for the purpose of killing time ( studying would only be high in my priority list if I am having insomnia and trying to find a way to sleep ) . SO WHY in hell am I doing it ? The reason is simple . For the sole purpose of solving one damn assignment .

And it's no normal assignment I assure you , for even after nights of mugging and consulting Dr Google , I STILL HAVE NO IDEA about how to even start doing it at all ! And desperate times calls for desperate needs . This is when networking ( people networking ) comes in handy . I had to reach out with some masters students in my faculty here to ask for help . But it was awkward. Super awkward . Imagine going to someone you never talked to before and weren't close to at all and say " Help please ? " . Of course , the actual situation wasn't as dramatic as this but well , close enough I guess.

And that's when I realized it . After looking at the assignment question , he started scratching his head and with a puzzled look , inquired me " Hmm.. aren't you an undergrad  ? " , to which I said yes . After that it hit me . He told me that this module I am taking , CS5321 to be precise , is a module that are meant for masters or phd students . I was stunned , stoned even . Apparently , the first number on the left ( 5 in this case ) indicates the level of difficulty of the module , and this is a level 5000 module , which are taken only by masters and phd students . Subsequently , I inquired further and consulted with other local students , and all of them said the same thing  : Level 5000 modules have like 90% failing rates , even for masters and phd students . Their responses upon learning that I am taking it ? " Extremely Insane " , " Crazy la you " , " Suicide case " , " CONFIRM FAIL WAN LA " and of course , the ever so popular " LOL " . Yes folks , it's crazy , a level 5000 mod , with an extremely high failing rate , difficult even for masters and phd students , and  I , me , a mere undergrad is challenging it and hoping to get at least B ( for the sake of maintaining the scholarship ) . Nuts.

I was offered a few advice from various people. But most of them fall in between these two categories , I could either " Challenge the status quo and be the genius who scores " or " Drop the module and get another one " . I chose the latter . In a way , I am running away from this and I am not afraid of admitting it . I know that if I chose to stay and challenge it . I might actually be one of those rare genius and succeed , subsequently being much more wiser and stronger after this episode . But I know myself well enough to know that I would be put under tremendous stress and pressure , with only a slight chance of succeeding . I hated that . I have never been the studious type and I believe that there's a limit in pushing yourself to be what you are not . I trust that should I continue to challenge it , inevitably I would fail and end up falling deeper into the pit of darkness and embarrassment . Thus , I ran . And it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

The first thing I did immediately was to check for a new module to enroll in , because there's a minimum of 3 modules that I need to take , and if I were to drop the module , I would only have 2 modules left. And it wasn't an easy decision . Since this is already week 6 , enrolling in a new module now would mean that I have already skipped 5 weeks of lecture and need to catch up . But I thought , what the heck , it's much better than having a guaranteed fail right ? I remember there was this module called Introduction to Philosophy that caught my attention last time , recommended by a friend.

So , I chose that module. Nevertheless , it wasn't so easy once more . It's not like if I wanted this module , I could easily add it , no . Seeing that it's already week 6 , I need to find the lecturer in charge , have him/her endorse my enrollment and pass it to the departments concerned.  Now , at this point of time , I was frankly , quite desperate , nervous , and scared altogether . The fear of failing and having to pay back the scholarship was slowly swallowing me up whole . So , I did the craziest thing ever.

Now , usually when it comes to formal application like this , the standard textbook procedure calls for a proper appointment with the lecturers concerned through email , and then consultation with department heads , then only handing in of the applications to the Registrar's Office . However , as I mentioned , I was quite desperate , so I skipped all the proper procedures and just went straight to the lecturer's office after looking up his office address . 

It was so exhilarating ! Bloods are rushing to my head , my heart skipping a beat or two , and adrenaline are no doubt , pumping . As I knocked on the door of the lecturer's office , knowing nothing about him at all , thousand thoughts raced through my mind . What if he thinks I am rude ? What if he rejects me ? What ifs .. There are so many what ifs . The only emotions that I had at that point of time were trepidation and anxiety of not knowing what to expect .

Suddenly , a light baritone voice replied " Yes ? Who's there ? " . I replied with a slight quiver in my voice " Prof.. Prof Michael Pelczar ? Can I come in ? " . " Yes " comes the stern and confident reply . And there he was , an unassuming and confident looking figure , a middle-aged man sitting comfortably on his chair staring at me with a piercing glance . I was still very nervous and with whatever courage I could muster , blurted out my predicament in a stuttered manner , with a lot of urms and ehh in between the pauses . It was miracle he managed to understand me .
One of the coolest , steadiest lecturer in NUS ! 

After the entire awkward situation , he let out a hearty laugh and told me that it's okay , he will endorse my application and do something about the past lectures that I missed . It was so amazingly surreal . Normally , you would expect a lecturer , a PHD Doctorate holder , a person at that stature to be more .. how should I put it , formality conscious ? more suspicious or even doubtful and not endorse something so easily . But he , he just laughs it off and say something that goes along this line " Sounds like you are having quite a lot of trouble there . This is a bit of an awkward situation but alright , I will endorse this application first and we will see what we can do with the past few lessons that you missed " . If angels do exist , he must be one of them in disguise . 

At that point , I kept on repeating in my mind these words " Thank Lord for Good people ! " . And with that , I am officially enrolled in his lecture of Intro of Philosophy , which is an amazingly thought-provoking course in its own right , coupled with this exuberant and charismatic lecturer , there was no doubt in my mind that I made the correct choice ! 

The heaviness and stress of studying something that you are not that passionate on , complicated beyond your level being replaced by inquisitiveness and eagerness to learn something new that you are interested is. That experience is priceless . Also ,this whole episode has just strongly reinforced my belief that if you truly wants something very badly , somehow , someway , the universe will conspire to help you achieve it , GRANTED that you actually go out and reach for it of course ! :D . Nevertheless , it was still just a new beginning and there are bounds to be more obstacles and challenges ( as well as more emotional roller coasters I guess ) that will be present in the near future as well . But for now , I am just glad and grateful I survived this episode . Hopefully , it can only get better from now on . Wish me luck , peeps ! 

= Nuffnang =