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Return of me

Wow, it’s been almost 7 months since my last post. Quite a few things have happened since then. Here’s a minor update on that:

  • The kids seem to have adjusted fine to Indonesia, except that sometimes they get sick from the pollution and food. Although recently, their immune system seems to have kicked in and so don’t get sick as often.
  • I’m helping out a friend of mine with his IT projects. A couple of them are on the go with a few more on the horizon, so got some income right now. We’ll see what happens next year. I’m not really interested in finding a job in Indonesia because I wanted to do something on my own and due to this next reason:
  • Traffic jams !!!. Everybody already knows how bad Jakarta’s traffic is, but you really have to experience it yourself to appreciate the madness of it all. Imagine traffic at 9 PM on a Sunday; and that’s just the mild case. Try going out anywhere between working hours until 9 PM on a work day, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a 2 hour trip to and 2 hour back from anywhere.
  • I actually lost weight here :). Been working out and running the treadmill every other day for the last few months and dropped like 8 kg’s. The last 2 weeks have been no workout week because of the projects that I’m working on. But I’m trying to continue this pattern for the near future.

Will try posting more regularly from now on. Don’t know if anybody’s still reading, but oh well, just a place to pour my thoughts.

Career direction

Well, it’s been just over 9 months since I’ve done anything for a career. At the moment I’m just stuck as to what I plan on doing in the future. Some of the options I’m considering:

Investing

My top choice really, even though I don’t have much experience in it. There are a couple of investments that I’ve been looking at which seem pretty good as a source of income. One is investing in EPSI Canada, which does processing of Interac, cashback and Mastercard (basically swiped transactions). The investor gets to purchase the terminals, and they do all the maintenance, as well as guarantee a minimum number of transactions per month (24% ROI per year – which is written in contract). I’m currently looking at the contract agreement, trying to find a lawyer to view it and trying to call the references that they’ve provided. It seems a pretty good deal if I can get a steady income from this while in Indonesia, so I can concentrate on doing something else.

The other investment opportunity which has come up is a company in Indonesia where one of my friends works and has shares. He’s offered me to invest in a new spin-off of the company or the current parent company where his investment has grown 750% within the last 5 years.

The issue with these 2 of course is the capital, I’ll need quite a bit of money to invest on these, which means we won’t be able to buy a house in Indo for now. One solution I’m thinking of is getting a secured line of credit from a bank and use it for the investment. We’ll see how that goes since getting a secured line of credit doesn’t seem so easy after all.

Back to the workforce

My second option of course is the easiest, whether here in Canada or back in Indonesia. Back to doing development, systems analysis, programming, database etc. The problem with this is that I’m not sure I really enjoy it anymore and I’m 9 months behind on technology anyway. Going back to this means I have to find some specific niche that I truly enjoy such as Web Development or I”m just gonna find it dragging away again. Doing this in Indo also means mediocre pay and hardly worth the effort.

This was a subject that I had interest in awhile back: Project Management. Being involved in projects (specifically IT ones), dealing with people most of the time, new technologies, managing and yet not having to get down to the nitty-gritty stuff sounds like quite an enjoyable thing to do. Of course the stumbling block is that I don’t have the experience nor certification to get started in the field.

Work from home

Something I’m really serious on, especially if the investment in point 1 above can produce enough income. The 2 main culprits being online day/swing trading and playing poker professionally.

I’ve tried online day/swing trading with limited success (well, almost no success in financial terms :) ), and yet I keep thinking that if I persist in studying all the variables, charts, patterns et.all , I’ll be really good at this. During the times I traded with full concentration and no distractions, I managed to gain good profit. But since there was only a short period of time in a day I could do this (no more than 30 minutes, due to a toddler rampaging the house and a newborn asking for attention :) ), I tended to get sloppy and made transactions without fully analyzing it, hence lots of losing transactions. Tighter money management and better analysis would probably be necessary for me to be successful here.

Playing professional poker is more an indulgence than anything else. I do enjoy watching those people play on TV, and it seems like fun trying to get in the other person’s head, figuring out what they’re thinking and what they’re gonna do. I haven’t played with real money yet, just play money in Sit & Go’s and online games, enjoying winning quite a bit with (probably) inferior competition. I dunno what it’ll be like playing with professional players, but I sure would like to give it a shot if I get the chance :).

Well, all these options are just confusing the heck out of me. They all have their plus and minuses, and yet none that has a significant edge over the others. So right now, I’m just trying to figure out if I can spring enough money for the investment options, as that seems the best route, after that then maybe I can make a decision on what’s best to do.

Anybody need a part-time/freelance IT guy?

As some of you might know, I’m currently receiving parental benefits after the birth of our second child. The money is ok, but it’s less than half what I was making during work, and it’s not really enough to cover all our expenses for a monthly basis.

I’m allowed to make about CAD $100 per week without getting it deducted from my benefits, so I’m wondering if anybody out there needs a work from home part-time/freelance IT person? I can do ASP / .NET web application development, regular Windows applications, web maintainance, database development, setting up hosting etc etc. Basically, just ask me if you need anything related to IT and I probably can help you out.

Time availability would be 2 – 3 hours per day to work on what I’m hired to do, so if you need me, please give me a shout at darrick [at] darrickrochili.com.

Thank God it’s Friday

Wow, this has been a really long week. I’ve had a project at work that had to be demo’d today, and it took me days and days to get certain things working. I actually came in at 7.30 this morning to get some things done. Then, the meeting got postponed till 1.00 pm, meaning my coming early was quite a waste of sleep time :)
At least the demo went better than expected, a few glitches in the system showed up when it shouldn’t have (what’s new, bugs show up at the most opportune time), but at least I’m done for this week and pressure’s off for now.
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Contract extension

Woohoo, my contract got extended :) Meaning I still have a job until May 2006.
My current contract expires Nov 25th, and I was told that this position will be posted again (nobody succeeded in getting the position when it was posted awhile ago), so I’ll have to apply again. Hopefully I get an interview this time around, wish me luck.
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Moving to a new office

At work, we’ve just finished packing up and are moving to a new location on Monday. I went for a brief tour of the new facilities this morning, and it looked pretty good. The cubicles are smaller than what we have right now, but still the place looks awesome. It’s one huge floor, combining people from 3 places, so it’ll take quite some getting used to. I’ve got 3 PC’s to setup, so hopefully I can maximize the space available. We’ll see what happens on Monday.
A funny thing about it though, is that all the servers are going to be put in a high-security room, which requires a CPIC 3 clearance. Why is this funny? Well, most of the people who regularly need access to the servers only have CPIC 2, meaning nobody can get in to change the backup tapes :) (yes, we’re still using tape drives, not SAN‘s). Add the fact that most of the time, physical access to certain servers are needed, I foresee a reduction from a CPIC 3 to a CPIC 2 for access to that room :)
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Interview coming up

I’ve got an interview tomorrow, for an Application Developer position. It’s still not a full time position, but it’s a perfect fit for what I like to do (ie. ASP.NET development). The role would be as the lead coder for an application that’s almost complete.

Right now I’m still trying to prepare for the interview (I need to bring in a piece of work that identifies my technical skills, and answer 2 major questions, which I’ve already been given). It’s quite nice to actually have time to prepare for interview questions, but on the other hand, it does put extra pressure, since I’ll be kicking myself badly should I fail to answer them properly :).

I still don’t know if I can take the position if I indeed pass the interview, since I’ll have to take parental leave in February. It would make me feel bad to take this position and then leave for a lengthy parental leave after only working for a few months. I’ll probably let the hiring manager know that beforehand, so they’d take that into consideration before hiring me. Always good to be honest upfront isn’t it ? :)

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Time to apply for the job

For the last 1.5 years, starting with my acceptance into the Ontario Internship Program up till I exit that program and entered into a short term agreement where I am right now, I’ve been under contracts. The position I am in right now is actually a tester position, and not my natural spot. But I’ve been told that I should apply for it because there might only this plus another lower position coming up for me to try get a full time job.

So right now, I’m trying to make a cover letter and learn more about testing, before submitting my application and hopefully get an interview for it.

Time to apply for the job

For the last 1.5 years, starting with my acceptance into the Ontario Internship Program up till I exit that program and entered into a short term agreement where I am right now, I’ve been under contracts. The position I am in right now is actually a tester position, and not my natural spot. But I’ve been told that I should apply for it because there might only this plus another lower position coming up for me to try get a full time job.

So right now, I’m trying to make a cover letter and learn more about testing, before submitting my application and hopefully get an interview for it.

Project+ certification

I’ve decided to study towards CompTIA’s Project+ certification. The main reason being that in my current workplace, project management skills is a huge must if trying to climb up the ladder. I also considered the fact that project management skills would be in demand wherever I go. The more I look at project management, the more I like the fact that it helps prevent failures up front and increases the chance of successfully completing a project. I’ve found that project management will be very helpful in the various things I do, be it at work or in life.

There are a couple of reasons I chose Project+:
1. It’s an entry to mid level PM certification, unlike PMI’s Project Management Professional which is more targeted towards seasoned PM’s.
2. PMI’s entry level cert, called the Certified Associate in Project Management, was a consideration, but since it required re-certification every few years and paid training hours, I decided to go with Project+, which require no re-certification and no training hours.
3. My company provided online training material, and Project+’s material (2003) was more up to date than PMI’s material (PMBOK 2000 vs PMBOK 2003)

Of course, once I get this, the more long term goal will still be to get the PMP certification. My target is to spend about 1 or 2 months doing intensive learning (1 or 2 hours a day), and sign up for the certification test around August / September tentatively.

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