weekly thoughts #3 – workplace culture

One thing I’ve been enjoying and feeling very grateful for is the chill culture at my office.

Just yesterday, we had a steamboat for lunch for almost 20 people at the level 10 open area. It started from one guy who was like “let’s have a steamboat in office!” and tbh most of us didn’t take him seriously at first, but he convinced another guy to bring his pot and they went to ntuc to buy ingredients so a bunch of us joined in last week for the first “trial run”. Our boss was like “yall serious ah?? Ok go ahead, but if anyone tells you off I’ll just pretend I didn’t know this was happening” hahahaha. But everyone who saw us was v amused and nobody told us off so the trial run was a success! We bought another pot from ntuc to expand it to more people for this round xD

I think my boss is totally the opposite of what you’d think as a typical boss stereotype. He’s an engineer and a teenager at heart LOL and he’s damn good at table soccer so every other day when he’s free he’ll jio us for a challenge. At first even our 2 best guys playing together lost to him playing alone! But they improved a lot and so he decided he needed a partner and recruited me for a few times HAHA.

We also recently got this AGV (autonomous ground vehicle), basically it’s a robot that can move around on its own and is supposed to be part of our smart office. It was named Elsa through a poll πŸ˜‚ which everyone now regrets because our boss got very into programming the robot….. to go around making frozen jokes. Eg. it’ll move around to beside someone and go “hello *name*, do you find the aircon cold? *pause* I think it’s fine, the cold never bothered me anyway” and “hey *name*, how is work going? stressed? sometimes, you just gotta let it go” followed by….

LET IT GO~
LET IT GO~
etc etc and it’ll play the entire song so loudly that the whole dept can hear. Then after the song ends, he’ll make it go up to the next person and repeat the whole routine.

There was one day that I was rly damn annoyed cos I was already stuck trying to figure out something in my code, then this robot keeps playing the stupid song and boss was just sitting there amusing himself with everyone’s reactions πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘ other colleagues were not amused also and one of them said that once he hears the robot start talking/singing he’ll just wear his noise-cancelling headphones LOL. Which also has the added advantage that boss won’t make the robot target him. I was complaining to Joe about it, but he pointed out that it was kind of nice, to have a boss who’s so friendly and human, rather than one who’s v distant from the people below him. Which is also true! I do appreciate that we can just talk to him normally and he will joke around with us. It helps that he’s an engineer also so he’s quite in touch with the work we do, and he likes to ask us questions to really understand what we’re doing and get involved if he can. From what I can see he also gives people a lot of trust and hence freedom in their daily work and how they manage their teams. Although he does sometimes make decisions that not everyone agrees with, and is a bit over-optimistic on how many projects we can take on haha. I haven’t been feeling the consequences of this directly but there are a few people in the dept who got pretty stressed from decisions he made. On the other hand, he has been spending the last week programming the robot to do a “dance” in sync with some opera music and then making everyone watch it and give a score…. LOL. Much waste of time but well, I guess it’s a happy problem.

Another person who’s been v significant for me at work is my reporting officer (aka my direct boss)! He’s a much more experienced software engineer than me but he pretty much treats everyone in our team as equals when we’re working. I feel like I have a lot of freedom for the projects I’m running (including freedom to work from home which is awesome, idk why nobody else seems to do it but I’ve been wfh-ing once a week and I’m v productive at home), but he somehow stays on top of all the projects and he’ll review the progress once in a while. Oh yeah both of us actually started work on the same day and sat next to each other! But I reached earlier and choped the window seat hahahaha. We went to shanghai for some training also and I had fun laughing at him at the theme park xD sadly he moved to another table now and he seems to be perpetually v stressed cos of the amount of projects that are coming up… and he still likes doing actual programming but as the boss of our team, he has to go attend external meetings every other day also plus sometimes there’s internal project meetings or stuff he helps us with individually, so he’s always working until damn late :( feels bad man. But it’s cool to know that you can progress in your career but still do actual programming. Normally it seems like developers are only at the lower level but to progress you basically have to go into management, not v sure if I would want to do that…

My office is “open concept” ie. no individual rooms or cubicles, I think most companies’ offices are like that nowadays? Don’t really know if I like it though, there’s both good (easy access to other people to ask them stuff) and bad (when people come and talk to your neighbour which makes it super hard to focus). Some people also like to walk around and loiter behind my area for some reason… so once I notice their presence there I’ll think “should I talk to them them..?” and even if I don’t, my focus is already disrupted D:< I guess one advantage of headphones is that it’s a clear signal to tell people not to disturb you haha

(Wow this post is on just one topic and it’s already 1k words)

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weekly thoughts #2 – the weekend is too short

Sianz it’s Monday already?!

I had my second archery class on sat at telok blangah archery club! The coaches have been teaching us the steps to shoot consistently but it’s really hard… I always try to do the same steps for every arrow but sometimes they’ll just fly off somewhere random lol.

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For our first introductory session they gave us these huge targets
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For this class I somehow ended up on the rightmost board and the coach switched us to using these tiny ones!

Archery is cool I guess and I do want to practise more to improve my shooting. But I don’t think it’s a sport that I’ll really get into doing regularly cos the aim is to be able to do the exact same thing over and over again… not very exciting hahahah. Joe says he likes it cos it’s calming and makes you focus. But I think I’m normally very calm and focused whenever I do anything already so I don’t need archery for that HAHAHA

Yesterday we went to try VR gaming at Sandbox VR. They combine VR with motion capture technology (the silver balls on our guns, headset, wrists and ankles) to make a damn legit whole body VR experience! You see your friends in VR also and have to fight off enemies together. It’s really immersive gaming and everything is so responsive that it feels quite real and you won’t get dizzy! The guys who always play games loved it but tbh I’m not a fan of shooting games hahaha. Would wanna try a VR game that’s more like an escape room or anything other than shooting.

Recently I also went for 2 sessions of this volunteering program by GovTech where we teach kids to code using Scratch, a drag-and-drop coding program that’s meant for introducing kids to coding. I saw some of the stuff my cousin made using Scratch many years ago but I never tried it out until now, and I have to say I was impressed by how easy it is to use, while at the same time there’s a lot you can do with it! I made a falling blocks game in 10min hahahaha you can try it here. We were teaching primary school kids 1-to-1 and it was kinda sian for me cos my kid was not that interested in following the class. At the start of the first class the teacher’s laptop got disconnected from wifi so the chrome “no connection” screen came out, my kid saw it and kept wanting to play the chrome dinosaur game for the rest of the class X__X I gave in and let her play for a while hahahaha

May is gonna be an exciting month, with diving trip and team integration and having an intern and US trip! Ooh and getting my first bonus :D Can’t wait!

weekly thoughts #1

(started this post 2 weeks ago but only just finished. I’m gonna try to write more shorter posts once every 2 weeks or so to just quickly document my thoughts)

Most exciting news of the week: I’m going to have an intern! And it is none other than Benjamin Lim aka benji my friend from jc. I’m taking charge of a new project that’s coming up and could use some extra manpower with it, so JX (my reporting officer/direct boss) said that if he comes for internship he’ll be helping me. And yay he got it and decided to reject his higher-paying (1.8k wowz) D__ internship to come work with me!! Benji is v amused cos he says last time he always used to joke about me becoming his boss and now it’s really happening hahahaha. Funny how not even 2 years ago I was an intern too, and now I am having my own intern xD Anw yupp, looking forward to May!!

I recently read a few books which were very insightful!

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton: story of a guy in the US who got accused and convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, and was sentenced to the death penalty. He stayed in prison on death row for almost 30 years (!!!) all because of racism by the police/prosecuters/judge/jury/pretty much everyone involved in his case. A really horrifying true story but one that’s also heartwarming in how Hinton never gives up hope with the support of his family and best friend, and tries to make the best of his situation for himself and the other guys there. “Capital punishment means those without capital get punished”

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: I knew of this book after reading The Sun Does Shine, cos Hinton’s lawyer who finally got him freed is Bryan Stevenson, the head of a nonprofit law organisation. The book is about his journey building up the organisation and all the different ways that people are screwed over by US law. Eg. poor black people not getting adequate legal aid, children being prosecuted as adults, lawyers who don’t care about defending their clients since they aren’t paid well for it. It paints a really horrible picture of the US legal/prison system but at the same time gives hope that there are people like him (Bryan Stevenson) who are succeeding in slowly fighting these injustices.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande: a book about dying and medicine’s role in relation to it. My parents read it when my grandfather was hospitalised earlier this year, and thankfully he’s fine now. But this book was still really relatable, and some of the key points that stuck with me are

  1. we want safety for our loved ones, but independence for ourselves- this is a major source of conflict in many cases because you would want your parents to be safe even if it means they have to live in a nursing home or stay at home all day, but what the parent really values is the independence to do the things that s/he is still capable of doing, even if it carries some safety risk)
  2. as a person’s health deteriorates, it is important for both doctors and family to talk to the patient and really understand their goals and priorities, eg. what is an acceptable state of being alive, or what trade-offs are they willing/unwilling to make. With this knowledge, when the child has to make decisions on behalf of the parent, he can do so with much more peace of mind, knowing that he’s just executing what his parent wants. Guess this sounds a little vague but it was based on the author’s experiences as a doctor and with his own father, so go read the book if you want to understand more!

Pls recommend me more good books to read if you know any ^^ fiction or nonfiction also can!

thoughts on 2018

2018 has been an exciting year with many firsts for me. First trips to US and Europe, working on cool stuff plus learning about entrepreneurship through my capstone project, and of course graduating and working and earning my own money!

Uni now feels so long ago hahaha and it feels strange being the first to graduate among my non-SUTD friends. I kind of miss uni life where company is just a “dinner tonight?” message away rather than having to plan and coordinate in advance like now. On hindsight I think I made the right choice in going to SUTD because I learnt a lot from all the projects I’ve done. Was helping Benji with his resume for applying for internships and I was pretty shocked when he said he didn’t have any projects from any mods to include, after 3 semesters doing computing.

Adulting has been interesting LOL there’s so much personal finance stuff to know that nobody really teaches you. Like the 1039842 different credit cards and savings accounts and types of insurance you should have. And how to invest your money. The whole concept of credit cards is quite weird to me… people who really need credit cards to pay for things they don’t have cash for shouldn’t be using them because the interest rate is 25% per month which is crazy high. And so people who are able to pay their bills on time and get cashback/miles seem to be benefitting at the expense of those people? Cos the banks can’t earn money from giving everyone 5% cashback when their transaction fee is only 2% right o__o Anyway I’ve done the research and DBS multiplier account is the simplest and best for fresh grads so just get that hahaha. And I’m still mostly using my DBS Visa debit card though I have the Live Fresh credit card too.

Umm what else. Work has been good, I don’t know how I was so lucky to get a job that pretty much ticks all of my ‘ideal job’ checklist that I came up with when I was researching jobs to apply for:

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so close yet so far

Haven’t posted in months lol. But I think I’ve been posting at least once every term and this term is ending soon so gotta keep up the streak xD

2 more weeks to term break!!

This term started out well (taking computer vision, graphics and visualisation, making maps, and capstone), with finally more interesting content. But omg I’m v sian now because each mod has a project and with each project comes a report + presentation in addition to developing the actual product. And all of the presentations are next week but our actual work isn’t even completed yet… so not looking forward to chionging everything next week :'( but I can’t wait for it to be over ahaha

In better news, I’m going to California during the 2 week break!! Super excited cos I’ve never travelled so far before, and it’s with joe and we’re going for google i/o (google’ s developer conference at their office in SF)! It honestly feels quite random- this trip is only happening because I took part in a Google codejam for women (an online programming competition) for fun, and turns out I scored in the top 150 so I won a free ticket to Google i/o plus 500usd travel reimbursement. And it was just nice during my holiday, so why not right? And joe managed to get a student ticket to the conference too! We’re going LA and SF mainly, and sequoia national park which has humongous trees that look really cool. Anyone got any tips/recommendations for things to do around there pls tell me :D

I can walk again!

This post is about a week overdue cos I actually started walking without crutches last weekend but yeah, just wanted to record down what happened in the past few weeks.

Basically I injured my left knee from playing for a frisbee comp (likely because I didn’t train enough previously then suddenly went to play & run intensely for a while day), then it was getting better already but on deepavali (~2 weeks after the comp) I was bending down to sit on the floor at benny’s house and my injured knee was suddenly super painful. After that I couldn’t straighten or put weight on it :( I went to see a GP first, who said it looks like a meniscus tear but have to go see an ortho specialist and do MRI to see how bad it is.

My dad booked an appointment at Mt Alvernia cos it was the earliest slot, for public hospitals need to wait like a few weeks x__x so yeah the doctor referred me to go for MRI scan. The scan was v boring, half an hour of lying there doing nothing and consciously trying not to move (which doesn’t really work LOL). Anyway here are some photos of my scans:

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The meniscus is the black parts around the middle of each image. Each knee has one lateral (outer) and one medial (inner) meniscus, each one is c-shaped and they’re basically shock absorbers. The left/top one shows my lateral meniscus, which is ok cos the 2 triangle-ish shapes are completely dark. The second one is my medial meniscus, which has faint white lines in both triangles – those are the tears :x

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burden knee is burden

The past week has been very eventful lol. I re-injured my knee from doing nothing T__T Immediately after that I tried to walk a bit but it was superr bad, my vision went white from the pain (at that time I didn’t know it was because of the pain so I was quite freaked out). Thanks benny and the rest of the guys for helping me get back home!! Anyway it’s a meniscus tear and I can’t straighten + put weight on my left leg now so I’ve been moving around with crutches the past few days. Going to see ortho doctor tmr though it’s getting better by itself too!

I just came back from a ideasinc startathon, it’s 2-day hackathon and we stayed there overnight to work on our prototype and pitch. It’s a damn good deal hahaha $10 for tshirt, access to tools and 4 very good meals (there was smoked salmon for dinner!!! but sadly no icecream like last time). Being baika was annoying cos everyone had to keep holding things for me D: but overall it was fun and I’m honestly quite proud of our prototype! Lazy to type out more details here but I think I’ll write a post on my new personal website soon.

Had a bunch of good conversations recently too, from skyping and talking nonsense with sean benny fan stanley benji to some HTHTs :’) Met tiff and dawn for supper at eusoff too! I bought wooden phone covers from taobao and laser engraved them, imo they turned out rly well yay!!

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In other news, it’s been a month! Thanks joe for taking care of me esp with my burden injuries heh :))