Ipoh 2013

Spent 2 days in Ipoh with HS and her friend.

There was plenty to eat, but precious little to see. We went to the mildly-interesting train station and city hall, but not any of the caves or temples. I’m given to think they would have been only mildly-interesting as well. The nightlife was, as far as I could tell, non-existent.

I’m not entirely certain if it’s Ipoh’s fault for being boring, or if I just had a guide who was somewhat lazy and ill. To be fair, he was a local and the problem with asking locals about interesting things to see is always a tricky business. After all, it’s difficult to gauge how interesting something you’ve grown up taking for granted is. Also, I was a bit of a third leg, so my views on Ipoh may have been somewhat coloured.


Still, HS and I weren’t supposed to be there for the sights anyway–it was meant to be a working trip, after all. We didn’t get much done, though–well, not the work we set out to complete, anyway. We did get our hair done and put on a couple of pounds.

Overall not one of the most productive or enjoyable trips I’ve taken, but at least it didn’t cost much.

Looking for Work

Interview lined up for tomorrow and the day after. Just had one where the guy offered me the job during the interview.

Six employment agencies called me up over the last week to ask me if I’m interested in a bunch of jobs. For the first time in my professional career, I’m getting to pick and choose. It’s doing wonders for my self-esteem. This must be how it feels to be good-looking.

Is the economy really not doing well? Or is generic-programmer suddenly such an in-demand job?

Wherein I complete a small freelance job

Did a small freelance job to revamp the website www.pin-a-photo.com. It’s a small business based on the idea of taking a large photo of a someone you know and sticking pins into their faces to show them how much you love them.

No, it’s not as sinister as voodoo. Actually, it’s a gift idea more in the vein of a puzzle piece with an incredible number of pieces or a cross stitch. The smallest size they recommend requires you to stick 8,000 pins onto a board, following the color-coded instructions carefully. Supposedly an 11-hour job at minimum.

I suppose it says something about me that I don’t think I’ll ever find anyone I care for enough that I would do this for them? Although I suppose perennial bachelors aren’t quite my client’s target audience. Just spend some more money and go for dinner already. So call me cynical.

Bad Experiences with Women

What happens when you rehearse too much, I think.

Went for an interview last week with one of those large IT solutions companies (for the turns-out-not-to-be-in-Dubai job), and was terribly abused by HR.

It was my fault, really. I didn’t REALLY want the job, but to escape the tedium of work, I like to think of myself working somewhere else. Not that the current one is really THAT bad, but I’ve been frisky.

HR woman picked up on that immediately. This particular one belonged to a variety of HR women I’d only heard of, but never come across before–the Recruiter. In my mind, HR people used to be all kindly matronly types who asked if you were hungry, offered you biscuits, sat at the back during the interview and smiled sympathetically as the Project Manager asked technical questions. This one didn’t even bother with the Project Manager–technical questions were the least of her concerns.

The first question she asked me was if I was really interested in the job or if I was just one of those bad bad people who plague HR recruiters like herself and waste their time.

Well, that second part was probably more implied than explicitly stated, but I knew even then that I wasn’t going to get a biscuit this time. I was as unprepared as Ms Teen South Carolina.

The next 45 minutes turned into a nightmare as she whisked out my resume and shredded it in front of me (figuratively speaking)– arching an eyebrow over “Computational Physics” (I’ve never been so ashamed to admit to being a Physics graduate), dismissing my previous work experience as “bits and pieces” and generally making me feel as bad about myself as I ever have professionally. All this she did, whilst doling out advice about career planning and not playing around with employment no matter how good the job market was. I vaguely remember just nodding, or making single-word answers to her questions, all the while wondering how soon it would be before I could run.

I left the interview feeling light-headed and almost ready to cry, partly from the shock of the interview, and also because I hand’t been able to answer anything on Marshaling, nor the intelligent portion of the technical quiz (IT technical proficiency tests always contains a prerequisite out-of-the-box kind of question).

This has been, so far, the worst experience of my professional career.

Today, Scary HR-woman, through one of her underlings, called me back for a second interview. I know it was her because the callback contained strict instructions not to be late THIS TIME (I was a little late the previous time round–shows you how much I want the job).

I’m scared. I think she’s going to force me into submission with a painful wrestling grip before making me sign a contract promising to work in an orange jumpsuit for a year with minimum-wage and no benefits.

In an ironic twist of fate, as my personal blogging life falters, I’ve been asked to contribute to my company’s experimental corporate blogging exercise as a blogger as well as a potential administrator/moderator. One of the first tasks I have been assigned is to modify the standard template to include the Terms of Use, as well as a Report Abuse button for horn-blowing.

I really don’t see writing there more than I do on this one.

Pink and out

Painted the room pink. I refer to it as the room rather than my sister’s room because it is in a current state of ownership-limbo–although it is officially my sister’s I reside here full-time whilst she spends most of her time in hall. And possession is two-thirds law, n’est pas?

In any case, the room now looks it a little mediterranean by night when we turn on the yellow lights at night, a lovely pinkish-orange hue, and a hideous bright pink by day, when the sunlight illuminates the awful colour in all its glorious splendour (will upload picture once I can find my Bluetooth adapter). Sister is delighted–me less so, but I have to say it looks much nicer than it used to, what with the paint in tatters from the superglued-on-posters Sister used to put up.

I’ve been looking for a new job, though this time it’s for an overseas posting of some kind. Partly it’s due to the boredoma nd repetition of life here in Singapore, and partly it’s the fact that the post-National-Day-Rally-analyses, both online and off, have been something of a downer. Everyone seems to be getting in on the action on how difficult it is to be Singaporean.

So I applied for a job in Dubai. Perhaps next year this blog’s name will be “Coding in the Middle East”.

I can’t wait for the questions during the interview.

Wherein I play a game

I’ve had a pretty good childhood.

Sure, I’ve been bullied and there have been occasions I think my parents could have adhered to the Good Parenting Code a little better, but overall I think I’ve had a rather cushy deal.

At least, compared to some people.

I was at Company Orientation about a week ago, and we played this game derived from a Taiwanese game show. One member of our ten-member group would sit facing the rest, whilst a word flashed behind him. His team members, without making use of the word, had to make him guess the word in as little time as possible.

So this Indian programmer guy goes up and the word that flashes behind him is “Playstation” (which tells you where I work, in case you don’t already know). We’re thinking like ‘Oh, this’ll be so easy, he’ll get it in 2 seconds’but we were wrong.

The guy did not know what a Playstation was. We mimed hitting the buttons on the control pads, we told him that it was a video game device into which you put CDs or DVDs inside so that it would load games, we described it’s black exterior and sleek design, we named competing consoles from rival companies… all to no avail. Despite being a Sony employee (and I staff at that), he had ostensibly never heard of the Playstation, and just stared at us like we were crazy as we mashed our thumbs and twiddled our fingers. His face drew a blank at names like “XBox” and “GameCube”.

So we switched tack and tried to describe the component words instead.

“OK! 2 words! First word… what do children do!?”

His face brightened with that glow of enlightenment and relief that comes with Knowing The Answer, and he exclaimed in excitement:

“Study! Children study!”

It was at this point that I couldn’t take it any longer and started laughing, except that he was taking it so seriously I had to try to try to hide it, resulting in a choking fit that only got worse when those of my teammates who hadn’t been shocked into silence or gagging on their laughter tried to correct him.

“No, no! Not study! What do children DOOOOOOO!!!!???”

A little unsure of himself now and less confident than before, he replied hesitently:



“… sleep?”

Now, I don’t want you to think this is an attack on the cluelessness of Indian programmers, so I’ll let you know that half of my group consisted of Indian programmers and they were similarly amused/shocked. The only one of the entire team, in fact, who managed to keep a straight face and continue, was this other Indian programmer who was taking the game a little too seriously (as they sometimes do).

“NO NO NO! For fun! What do children do for fun?!” (the righteous fury of my company’s spurned pride lending power to his voice)

My cluless colleague in the hotseat, looking a little lost and forlorn, and had to think for a few tense seconds before trying in a small voice:

“They… play games?”

That got us, shrieking in amusement and relief, back into the game, and he got the second word eventually after “Play-Terminal”, “Play-Ticketing-Booth” and “Play-Platform”. We lost the game, of course, because by the time he got it the other teams had already finished half their words. He spent the rest of the game sitting by himself in a corner repeating “play…station?” to himself like a lost lamb, until a kindly woman from HR went over to explain last year’s most profitable product to him.

And seeing him made me realize just how good my childhood was, because if you ask me what children do, the first thing that comes to my mind is that they play. Because that was my first instinct as a child.

Is it the same for you?

Job satisfaction

Getting none.

My realizations of the importance of my role in this job has descended from Spare-Programmer-in-the-event-Main-Programmers-Go-On-Leave-Or-Die down to Company-Needs-Certain-Quota-of-Singaporeans-to-Satisfy-Manpower-Regulations.

Now in charge of website for a discontinued series of products, in the all-important role of rendering static snapshots of dynamic ASP pages. Whee.


Could kick myself. Forgot my employee pass. Now afraid to even leave the building in case I’m locked out like some chump and have to wait for someone with a pass to let me in.

Twenty years older, and when you forget to bring your homework it still feels the same.