Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

detechifying update
January 18, 2009


No more tech “work” outside of the job. No more side projects. (Which part of me regrets, since side projects are a key to staying sharp and up-to-date.)


Must reduce Twitter, Facebook, and social networks so far – optimize, but not remove completely.

Reading non-tech books… still slow.  Reading news/articles/blogs online is much more tempting, but isn’t that a junk diet?

January 18, 2009

Now I think I’ve been hard on myself in getting myself to write in this blog. Hard on myself, like I am on many other things. So I’lll relax a bit, and be happy even if some of the stuff I’m writing remains in drafts. I should be satisfied that I get to empty my head.

I saw my psychiatrist last Saturday. (It’s a “checkup” for most doctors, but a “talkup” for those like me who can’t be examined with physical evidence.) I told him about some recent problems with obsession. I was fanatically obsessed about being perfect in something. I was getting very angry with myself for falling short.

So in writing, I shall let go.

January 2, 2009

I’m not going to have a “summary of 2008” post, as others do. While I’d love to, I don’t feel I could spare all the details here. Instead, I’ll just share the insights I’ve had through the past few weeks, as well as what I’ve been doing.

I’ve been a computer techie for a long time. I made it my course of study, and then my work. I made it my recreation as well. That is what I’m going to change.

A big part of 2008 was unhappiness. A big part of that unhappiness was having no time for other things – in my definition. Through the years I have had some tech-related goals which I didn’t achieve: master many programming languages/systems, become a successful/famous open source developer. My own work for the past few years was good, but these goals lay outside of work. So, what I wanted to do was work on tech for work, and even more tech after work.

That has to go. A number of events have shown to me that I was obsessing too much with things – an unhealthy form of perfectionism. Perfectionism that leads to unhappiness because the Perfect can’t be achieved. So now I’m recalibrating my goals and setting my life direction to have less tech overall.

Less tech overall means better work. I’ll put all my tech effort and study into work. Work is good and it challenges me. That reduces the need to find an outlet elsewhere. Work also gives me other people to work with, other people to teach. As they learn and do their own tech thing, I am happy that others get to do it. One of my frustrations has been, why don’t more people do this-and-that – as since they don’t, it’s my obligation to do it. If other people do it, then I feel I don’t have to.

Coding No More?
June 26, 2008

Two surprising things have happened.

First, I have admitted to myself that I have grown tired of coding.

Second, I have been reading business books, and will be reading some more. I choose these from the Personal MBA reading list.

How did this happen?

After being a programmer for 23 years – since age 11 – I have grown tired of it. I do code for work, but I no longer relish the thought of coding in my spare time. No personal hobby projects. Sadly, no open source contributions – a cause for open source angst. Who would write Pinoy open source now? I still hope some of the younger generation pick it up. Perhaps that itch to scratch will find its way back to me.

Will it come back? Perhaps. It could just be a phase.

I now find analyzing requirements and writing specifications and designs interesting. I used to think that this was a boring, or even unnecessary activity – just hack away on hardcore tech! I guess understanding this stuff is part of growing older – and wiser, I hope?

I still love software development. The difference is that I see it from a wider perspective.

Open Source Angst
May 18, 2008

Open source is supposed to make users happy (except when it doesn’t work). It’s supposed to make their developers happy (as long as it scratches their itch.) But it has been causing me angst.

I don’t get to write any.

Of all the years I’ve been working with free software/open source, I have only been hacking bits and pieces. I did write one thing that seems to have found its way into many project. A little ego trip. And, almost everything I did was work related. I never got to scratch a personal itch. I think back and realize, perhaps I didn’t have that itch at all.

In the past few months, I thought that I should get back to writing open source. For pure fun.

But the fun didn’t come. It never had a chance. I did not get motivated. Now I realize, I wasn’t really interested. I was just feeling guilty, feeling obliged.

I felt obliged because the Philippines doesn’t contribute much to open source. There are some significant people and companies who do, but in absolute terms it’s just a drop in the bucket of global open source contribution. This has been discussed before, in PLUG (Philippine Linux Users Group). The conclusion was, in the Philippines, the people who have the skill to contribute to open source need to make a living. If they had extra time, they would work on a sideline. Students could do it, as there are programs like Google Summer of Code that help. But someone told me, students are lazy.

I still want to help. I still actively use open source products – and thus help, as a tester. I’m not much of an advocate anymore. I have grown tired of it. Perhaps in other non-coding, technical ways.

In the PLUG thread that discusses this, the post that kicked off the topic was all about using open source to add to the portfolio or resume. At this point in my career, writing open source won’t help much. But I hope younger folks would find it useful.

May 10, 2008

I will forever associate the word “Bittersweet” with Marc Almond. That 1988 song is stuck in my head thanks to the NU 107/99.5 RT of that era, mixed with the a killer melody and lyrics that tempt you – “Let’s Go To Paradise Jack.” Ultimately nonsensical but filling for the moment.

Just like that, memories of my 1995-2002 ISP career haunt me.

Jim Ayson reminded me of this because of his post on the Philippine Cyberspace Review, with some significant but mostly forgotten Internet history information.

I once blogged that I will share more of my personal experiences. But I still feel the time isn’t right. I just have too much regret over missed opportunities and what-could-have-been. The bitter. On the other hand this was a career and life-changing six years. The sweet. Need one to have the other.

But I’ll leave the stories for the planned EB, if the stars on that night shine right.

two thousand and eight common era
December 31, 2007

Plenty of New Years’ posts, so I should also break the silence.

How I’m starting 2008: Work. January 1 is a regular working day where I’m at. And very busy, too.

Things I did the most in 2007: Spent about half the year working on my onshore outsourced project. Gain a good bit of experience.

What I failed to do in 2007: build my own website or Facebook application, and make lots of ad money.

What I should do less in 2008: Eat and drink sweets. Envy and self-pity.

What I should do more in 2008: Write – in this blog, and elsewhere. Exercise – must find a way. Learn new human languages and review those I have learned before. Programming languages, the same.

What I want to be in 2008: more cultured, educated, and skilled.

December 15, 2007

There are plenty of side projects that I can work on while here on my foreign assignment. I can do them after working at our client. I can do them on weekends, which are quite idle.

But I barely do them, Research & Development that used to be my lifeblood. Am I losing it as a techie?

Or, is it I’m becoming older. Physically, I’m less willing and capable of working 12 to 16 hours a day like I did ten years ago. Back then, I was very motivated and obsessed that I was working on something that would make it big. Did I succeed? Sadly no, not in my opinion. I guess I gained in a few small things but what I lost out on is enough to make me go thinking all the time, what could have been?

Part of what could have been would be: what if I spent more time in being a more artistic and cultured person? That is what I am trying to catch up on – the reason I make efforts at writing. But part of me says, I have to try a second time at success, I’m never too old, and aging is a good thing as it leads to maturity.

Silicon Valley Envy
December 8, 2007

Some time ago I was writing on the “Silicon Valley in the Philippines” theme. I was going through a “Silicon Valley Envy” phase. I wished I were part of the culture – not just the tech, but hanging out with people I read in tech blogs.

Time passed and I did not magically get transplanted to Silicon Valley. So I guess I need to work on it and not just wish. Can I work there as an employee? Probably, with some life changes of course. Can I start up? Now that’s tough, and the subject of another discussion.

One source of angst is that I had a startup before – in what I called my previous career – and it didn’t work out. It’s not a failure on my part, and it’s not viewed as such, but I still tend to think “what could have been.” On the other hand, if I had continued along that path, I won’t be doing software development and the rest of the things I do.

Interview by Karla
May 25, 2007

Nina interviewed Karla Redor. Now, Karla interviews me!

  1. What is your dream tech start up?

    The dream tech startup is Telecoms and Internet related. Areas related to what I do for work now – except instead of just working on it, I will own it. Now you wonder why I post about “Web 2.0 startups” and related things? Because they are realistic and can be done in spare time, like the stories in Founders at Work. The telecom/Internet stuff are really expensive thus it’s just a dream for me.

  2. What do you think about RoR (Ruby on Rails)?

    I’m now studying Rails for fun in my spare time. It’s quite different from the Java work I do. I still have doubts about its scalability, as in the Twitter case. Still, I think it’s useful since it’s something I can run in my web host (a virtual private server). Java web applications are too expensive to run inside these servers due to memory requirements, and I could never learn PHP how much I try. Coming from a Computer Science background, I find it too messy. At least Rails has Ruby, which is a nice language.

    Now can I start my web startup with it? Maybe. But then to continue the previous question, one reason why I have the dream but still can’t get it done (to quote Entrepreneur Magazine) is – no idea. I elaborated on this in my not starting a startup post.

  3. What’s the best mashup in the web that you’ve seen/tried?

    I can’t name just one, but I’m fascinated by maps. I visit Dennis Agulo’s Wiki-Maps and Wikimapia often.

    At a previous job, I tried to integrate Google Maps with mobile phone LBS (location based service), but I couldn’t make a product out of it. Here’s sample output. I also hacked Google Maps support in the Roller Weblogger blog/aggregator platform when I was building a proof of concept for an aggregator for geo information coming from blogs, for disaster recovery and the like.

  4. If you’re going to run for the elections, what will your slogan be?

    You know, I’m quite apathetic about local politics. I find world politics more interesting. That said, I have to hand it to Marc’s Feels Great to be Pinoy post . I’ll make you feel great to be Pinoy! Ha. Doesn’t sound right coming from me.

  5. Amongst the countries that you’ve gone too, which one is the most unforgettable?

    Israel, no contest. I was there for the beginning of the 2006 Lebanon war. Other misadventures: back in 2001 (I wasn’t blogging yet), I was denied entry to Germany at Frankfurt Airport. And Seoul, Korea is the most “alien” place I’ve visited. Which reminds me, I plan to add more to my 43places page. All the places I’ve been to outside the country are all for work reasons. I’m actually not a big “vacation” person.

Your turn! Interview rules:

  1. Leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
  3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. 5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them
    five questions.

If I don’t know you well, give me time to find out more about you from your blog.