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Networking

During my orientation program, we did quite a bit of networking. I’ve always heard about the power and effectiveness of networking in developing a career. I just want to emphasize how true that is, even though it’s really hard for some of us to do. I find myself feeling very estranged and alone during these events :). So here are some of the things I do during meetings / conferences to start networking:

- Make up my mind (important!!!) to go to a person and introduce myself.
- Keep thinking to myself that there’s nothing to lose.
- Walk to the person from the front and look at them so they know you’re planning on talking to them.
- Before the person can think or do anything, say hi, offer a handshake and introduce myself. If you walk slowly towards the person and avoid eye contact, they might move out of the way, and you could lose your confidence and avoid them altogether.
- Ask them open ended questions, like where they work, where they live, how’d they get here, what they think of the meeting, etc. Most likely they’ll ask you the same questions and you can then begin to relax and think of stuff to talk about.

I’m not saying I’m an expert at this or anything, and I still do go to the washrooms 5 to 6 times during breaks because I can’t seem to find anyone alone to talk to (group conversations are more intimidating to break into. I’ll have to learn to do that), but if there’s one person doing the same thing as me, or not doing anything, I’ve learnt to go to them and have a conversation. Don’t forget to exchange information and keep in touch. Try to help that person out as much as you can, you never know when this person might be able to help you out in turn.

On a final note, after talking to lots of new people and exchanging ideas during the last 2 days, I find myself full of new ideas and things to do. I guess meeting new people and building relations do have a way of promoting creative thoughts in your mind.

Toronto Raptors

Yesterday was quite an interesting day for the Raptors. I’m not really an expert on these college players or international players that have entered the NBA Draft, but I do generally keep track of discussion boards and know who the top players are.

Well, I know that by the 6th pick, all of 3 our first options were gone (point guards). I was expecting at least one of them to fall down to 8th spot where the Raptors were picking. “This is not bad”, I thought, since some of the top prospects who were expected to go higher actually were still there, and even if one of them went to Chicago with the 7th pick, for sure the Raptors would get another good prospect.

To my surprise and great disappointment, the Raptors ignored the player who everyone thought should be selected, and selected a Center who was projected to go as low as 18. I couldnt’ believe what I heard and proceeded to turn off the TV and just felt gloomy in general. I mean, if they wanted this guy, why not trade down with someone and at least get some sort of compensation? Anyway, I went to bed and didn’t think much more about it.

The next day I woke up, checked the boards and got a new perspective on what the Raptors have done. Apparently, they did try to trade down and get some compensation, but with no takers. And people were also starting to realize the rationale behind the decision. This guy was a hard worker, fights under the rim, and backs up his buddies, which if you follow the Raptors on a semi-regular basis like I do, you know thats what the Raptors are missing. Insted of taking what people expected them to do, they picked what they needed.

So my point is this: In life, we are often pressured by people’s expectations of us. And we try to please people, which is not necessarily bad, but when we start pleasing people and forget about what’s best for us, then it can get ugly. I mean, the Raptors could’ve gone for the best available player (a Shooting Forward) to satisfy people, but in the end, that person would only find himself fighting for minutes with a logjam of people who can play that position (Vince Carter, Jalen Rose, Lamond Murray, Morris Peterson), which in turn wouldn’t be good for the Raptors. By filling a need, they have made sure that the Raptors will be better of, even if people are upset right now. Similarly, by not falling into the trap of people’s expectations of us, but trying to be the best we can in our own way, we will be better off in the long run.

Still no offers on the house

Wow! 3 weeks on the market and still no offers. Houses have been popping up for sale all around us, and have been sold already. This one house came on the market less than 2 weeks ago, and it’s already been sold.

Our agent has indicated that he thinks it’s almost time to lower the price (we did mark it up quite a bit), and try to get the best offer.

Anybody want a house? :)

Update on work

It’s been awhile since I last posted, mainly due to the fact that I’ve still not gotten used to working :). When I get home everyday, I try to spend as much time as possible with my wife and kid, and after that, there’s not really much energy left to do anything else.

I’ve been at work for 2 weeks now (minus 2 days of orientation to my program), and I’ve mostly completed one small project. It’s basically a Windows Service in C# that takes backup log files from the server and parses them. It then stores the data in a small Access database, to then be analyzed by Cognos. Why not use SQL Server you ask? Well, my mentor doesn’t want any extra overhead on our Business Intelligence servers, so he doesn’t want to install SQL Server there, plus the data won’t be really that big anyway. This little exercise was intended to get me started on my coding tasks, as well as Cognos, since we didn’t have any data that could be used from the beginning.

The program is not completely done yet, I haven’t figured out what’s wrong when it tries to read files from a network share. I keep getting these access denied errors, when I have full permission on the files and directory, as well as access to the servers. If anybody can shed some light on this, it would be greatly appreciated.

But the main functions of the program are fine, and I’ve managed to get some initial data in the database. My mentor then proceeded to show me how to use Cognos Impromptu to produce reports. I must say that it’s really easy, because everything’s drag and drop based. Hardly any typing involved. Of course, I haven’t delved into the complex reporting etc., but I did find it quite simple at the time. Next week, we’ll start getting into Cognos Cubes, which should be more fun and challenging.

There’s just this one thing that’s bothering me about my placement. It seems that the job I’ll be doing and learning doesn’t really match the proposal that was sent to me. From what I understood, I’d be doing .NET development, Database development, as well as Business Intelligence. But from what my mentor has told me, it seems like .NET will only be a small part of this rotation, and database development doesn’t appear at all in anything he’s mentioned.

So, I’m gonna go to talk to my manager sometime next week to clarify things. I was hoping to ask her if I could be involved in team projects, especially dealing with web and database development, and also projects that will directly impact the public. I don’t mind just shadowing other developers or people, but I think that will broaden my experience even more. Not that learning BI is bad mind you, but I’d also like to develop my existing skills and team working skills.

The last 2 days, I’ve been in an orientation program into the OPS (Ontario Public Service). It was quite interesting getting an inside view of the government of Ontario. I really liked what was presented to the interns and left the whole thing excited about my future, since they have emphasized that we are the ones who will take over the reigns from the current regime. They have glaring gaps in the structures, and we are the ones who will be trained and expected to fill these roles in the not too far future.

It’s a great opportunity, and I really expect to seize the moment and do a great job at my placement. I’ll also keep pushing for more challenges and expect to grow in leaps and bounds within the next few years. So wish me luck.

Blogging magazine

Ever been interested in reading a magazine by bloggers and for bloggers? Check out The Bloggist, a site pioneered by Jeremy Wright.

Jeremy’s asking people for opinions and suggestions, and in the near future get a magazine published. So go on and take a look.

First and second days of work

Well, I started work yesterday. Got to my office at 9 a.m. and just as I was trying to call in my manager to get me to open the door, my mentor steps out of the lift. He then showed me around the place, introduced me to my manager and told me a bit about what I had to do. He couldn’t show me much at the beginning, since all the data was highly confidential, and I needed to be sworn in first before I could even begin looking at the projects. After being sworn in as an Ontario Public Servant (yay :)), he then showed me some of the data that I would be working with.

I’d be working with Cognos Impromptu and PowerPlay most of the time. These will allow me to produce Web Reports, as well as Power Cubes. I still don’t know much about Cognos and it looks like quite a bit of work to learn it, but it looks very challenging and I look forward to gaining experience with this Business Intelligence stuff.

The other part of my job would be doing a bit of .NET programming, mainly interfacing with Cognos. There’s little or no database programming, so that’s a bit disappointing, but I do believe that this experience will really improve my image and especially my resume :).

It is kinda hard moving from a place where I’m in charge of my own computer, have almost unrestricted access to the servers, the ability to play around with software, able to make changes at will, to a place where I don’t even have admin access to my own computer and need to put in a support ticket to get software installed. It was frustrating to find out that I couldn’t even install Google toolbar on my machine since it was restricted. Oh man are they tight at my place, but I guess it goes with the territory, since my area deals a lot with important data. I’ll get used to it after awhile I guess.

Other than that, I haven’t done much yet, just changed backup tapes and got access to my card. Although, they spelt my name wrongly in my email, and I had to put in more tickets to get them to fix it.

Overall it was a pretty good 2 days, although I feel so weak when I get home. I guess it’s because I haven’t worked in a couple of months. I’ll get used to this too. Oh, and I drive 5 minutes everyday to the train station and walk 15 minutes from the train station to my work place. So my commute is not bad, and my hours are flexible, so I can come home early and play with my kid and spend time with my wife.

More to come in the next few days ahead…

Waiting 2 months for a paycheck

I’m a freelance translator / interpreter with 2 Toronto agencies. I have been doing it for a couple of years now, and even though it’s not a full time income, it’s pretty good pay when there are jobs. The one agency I’m with (All Languages) is a great agency to freelance with, and I get most of my assignments from them.

The other one (I won’t mention them here because it’s gonna reflect quite badly on them) has a few assignments here and there. I did 2 translations for them in April, and sent them the invoices within 1 day after finishing my assignments. Now, normally with All Languages, I’d get paid the first week of the next month, but with this other agency, somehow up until now (2nd week of June) I still haven’t received my paycheck yet. I already called up the person who usually gives me the assignments in May, and she told me that I should have it by the end of May. Well it’s the second week of June already, and I still don’t have the payment for those 2 assignments.

I realize that it’s not really a huge amount, but it shows how unprofessional this agency is. If I don’t get my paycheck at the end of this month, maybe I’ll just release the name of this agency so that people know how they treat their freelancers.

Free 1Gb Email

I was just browsing weblogs.asp.net and found this link to Spymac.com, which provides free 1Gb email, 100 Megs of web space and lots more.

So if you need an email account that gives you lots of space, drop by there and register.

!@#$% Car insurance in Ontario

Holy crap !!! My car insurance broker just emailed me, saying that my premium which was at a ridiculous $313 a month would have to go up to $477 with the same company. He found me another one at $350.

I’m just venting here, but what the heck is going on with car insurance in Ontario? The government said that the rates were supposed to go down all over the place, and this is what happens to someone who’s trying to do the right thing by driving safely etc? I realize that I have a suspension on my abstract (driving with a G1, although I had an International License at the time), but it’s gonna expire in January. I haven’t had any accident or claims within the last god knows how many years, my record is gonna disappear in a couple of months, and they decide to increase my rates ? WTH ?!#@$#@$^$#andand$#%and$

They call me ‘high risk’, but what risk do I have? No accidents, no claims since I’ve been driving in Canada? Alright, I drove with a G1, but what has that got to do with risk? (I had an international license for crying out loud + I’ve been driving outside Canada for more than 7 years). Does this make any sense to anybody?

Man, I can just hope that one day insurance companies will somehow have to suffer for what they’re doing to their customers right now.

House for sale

Well, our house is officially on the market. If anyone is interested or knows anybody who’d be interested in buying a house in Mississauga, ON – Canada, please let me know. We put it on the listing through an agent yesterday, and already a couple of people seem interested. So, hopefully it’ll be a quick sell.

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