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One of those days…

*Sigh* … it looks like the beginning of one of those days… Let’s start this rant session shall we.

I’ve had this annoying cough for almost a week and a half now. It seemed like I was getting better last week, but it just got worse. My son and I went to the doctor on Friday (my son also had the cough), and the doctor prescribed us some medicine that was supposed to help make us drowsy at night to sleep better. Well, the medicine for my son seems to be working, as he’s been sleeping well the last few days, but mine just doesn’t help. Instead of sleeping well, the last 3 days, I’ve been coughing all night. My chest and stomach hurt from too much coughing, and last night was the worst. I went in to bed at 11, woke up at 12 coughing, tried to sleep at 12.30, woke up at 1 coughing, and repeat the pattern until about 4 before I could get a bit of sleep. The alarm went off at 6, contemplated calling the day off, but decided to go to work anyway.

On the GO train, the coach that arrived turned out to be the disabled coach, which had a lot less seats on the main deck, so being Monday and all, no seats were available. What’s annoying about this? Well, normally the coach where I get on is a normal coach, and I can get seats and have a bit of a nap on the way to work. So, I had so stand all the way for about 25 minutes … or so I thought. 5 minutes before we arrived at Union, the train stopped. We were informed that there were signal problems at Union, and people were working on it. We were stranded for about 40 minutes !!! In between, a lady fainted (note to everyone: eat your breakfast, and don’t put on too much layers of clothing in a packed environment with little air circulation), and at the end many people simultaneously talked on their cells informing employers about the wonders of a GO transit commute. My knees and feet were hurting, and I was really cranky, but tried to understand that technical problems occur on trains.

When we finally got to Union, the door barely opened, when this girl just cut in front of me, seemingly in a rush to go nowhere!!! since in front of me there was a jam of people trying to get out. I understand people cutting off others when there’s a clear passage going somewhere in front of the other person, but this was a slow moving line for crying out loud, what could you do but annoy the heck out of me by doing this? It’s not like you’re gonna get to the office 5 minutes faster or anything, and everyone’s at least 30 minutes late to wherever they were going. Argh, don’t know how that person’s brain was working.

Final straw this morning, I was going to the washroom when I saw a fellow lady worker trying to find her card to get in our building. She saw me, and just like calling a waiter, lifted her finger to notify me to open the door from inside for her. Being a gentlemen, I smiled and pushed the button to open the door. She tried opening the door from outside, but having so many bags on her hand, fumbled at it. I helped her push the door open, and lo and behold… she walked past me, no thank you, no good morning and no gesture whatsoever. Oh my goodness, what is this world becoming? I don’t expect to be paid or anything, but was that rude or what? I looked her name up in the address book, and she was supposed to be a missions critical senior consultant. I don’t know how you could meet clients with such an attitude and expect them to work with you. Felt like just confronting her with a ‘hey! where’s your manners?’, but decided to hold my peace.

Hope everybody else’s week has a better beginning than mine.

Information overload

Ever notice how quickly we get tired these days? Ever notice how we long for a nice vacation, even though we just took one a couple weeks ago? Ever notice how cranky, confrontational and unfriendly people seem in our daily lives? Ever notice that there seems to be tons of depressed, crazy and suicidal people in today’s society?

Welcome to the world of information overload. Although there are many reasons for those situations I mentioned above, I would suggest that one common reason in all of those is the abundance (and sometime too much) of information that people have to deal with in their daily lives.

First, let me define what I think ‘information overload’ is: It’s the flow of information, that comes way too fast and furious, causing us to take new information before we’ve had the time and chance to think about or use the previous information.

These are the days of instant solutions, instant news, instant food; people demand express availability of almost everything, including information, and that’s why there’s so much information flying around the world. People have enough problems to solve in life, and to solve problems, sometimes we need information. The overload of information just complicates the solution. It gives us too many choices to think about and how to best solve the problem quickly.

Let’s examine a couple examples from my morning trip to the office:
- I get off my shuttle ride, and in front of me are 5 or 6 free publications, including 2 newspapers, condo/home buying guides, employment newspapers, car buying/selling publications, training guides, and you know what? They’re all free to grab.
- On the train, advertisements galore, printed ads, electronic display ads, people reading newspapers, people listening to the radio, people listening to music, people using laptops to view their work … If you look outside, billboards, cars with printed ads, buildings with advertisements …
- Off the train, vendors selling food, people promoting a cause all over the station, advertisements on the floor, train display on the LCD monitors above.
- Walking to the office, the usual ads on the walls, people rushing to work all over the place, courier vans parked all over the place. I noted this because I’ve seen many courier vans get tickets for parking illegally in front of office buildings downtown. Information has to be delivered on time you know…

That’s within an hour of me leaving my house, can you imagine how much information we’re taking in a day? That’s why our mind is churning almost 16 hours a day (even more because sometimes I still think while I try sleep, causing me to lose many hours of sleep). Isn’t it any wonder that we’re stressed out all the time? Trying to solve problems, and yet the information that’s supposed to help us solve our problems just adds to what we have to process in our minds.

I’m bringing this up, because I notice that I’m quite confused as what I want to do in regarding to my income. I know that someday I would like to have my own business, and yet when I think about what I have to do, I just feel hopelessly overwhelmed. The information that I have to go through is just enormous in size. What kind of business to start, who I need to deal with, what I need to know, etc. etc. My first instinct as an IT guy would be the internet, and we all know how much information there is out there; filtering the information becomes a priority. Ditto with books, there are tons of authors out there, tons of books, and I need to research them first, which brings me back to the internet, and around the circle I go.

In this day and age, I do not believe that the ‘traditional’ vacation of 2 weeks/3 weeks out of the year works anymore. People need time off monthly, even weekly from the world. We need to take a break from the fast paced life we live in, time to process the information we have, relax and make good decisions.

I know it’s hard to just shunt out the world every now and then, heck it’s even hard to stay still in one place for a couple of minutes. And I know this, because I’m one guy who can’t stand doing nothing; I’m always doing something, checking email, browsing the web, going out on weekends. Sitting down in front of a fireplace and listening to music just isn’t me. And yet, I know that if I don’t take time off every once in awhile, I’ll be overwhelmed by this abundance of information around me.

That’s why for the last few weeks, I’ve resisted getting the free newspapers on the way to work, so I can relax, gather my thoughts and reflect on the train. It’s hard to do, because even if I’m sitting still, my mind still wanders around !!! But I suggest you try do this, it’ll keep your mind from being overloaded.

I’ll end this long post with 2 verses from the Bible:
Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Psalm 46:10a
“Be still and know that I am God;”

*ha-choo* – bless you … *cough cough* – robitussin

The person who came up with the robitussin cough ads should really get a huge promotion and pay raise. In my opinion, this ad is one that will live in lots of people’s minds for a long time to come, and bring lots of profit and sales to the makers of Robitussin.

Of course many of you have seen a couple of the ads, where someone coughs and another says ‘Robitussin … it’s bless you for coughs’. It’s been running for awhile, and I see it around me, workplace, church, people on the commute. When someone coughs, they would say ‘Robitussin’. I’ve seen many ads, and don’t remember most of them after while, but this is kinda hard to forget.

In some way, although we all know that it’s just an ad, you would try it the next time you get a cough won’t you? Just because of that ad. I know I did :)

NBA All-Star game

After watching a 1/2 hour introduction process for the players and coaches for both teams, I was treated to a funny picture: Tim Duncan vs Vince Carter, and Kevin Garnett vs Grant Hill in the front court, while Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady took on Allen Iverson and LeBron James in the backcourt. LeBron vs Kobe and Yao Vs Shaq I could live with, but the other 3 out of the 5 positions were completely out of whack.
Consider:
PG: TMac = 6’7″ vs AI 6’0″
SF: TDuncan = 7’0″ vs VC 6’6″
PF: KG = 6’11″ vs GHill 6’8″

The East were at a height disadvantage, and it looked funny on the court. Oh well, at least it’s an entertaining picture :). Thankfully the coaches soon went to different lineups that gave better matchups for both teams. VC had the play of the half when he was running the break, lobbed the ball off the backboard and threw down a vicious one handed tomahawk as he caught the ball back himself.

After trailing by as much as 17, the East, thanks to AI’s change of pace put the game away in the last 2 quarters. It didn’t help much that Duncan and Garnett didn’t play a single minute in the 4th quarter. It wasn’t a flashy game or anything, and the scoring was pretty much balanced, and was quite competitive with some defense here and there. Hey, it almost looked like a normal NBA game :)

NBA All-Star Saturday

I managed to catch the ending of the skills challenge where Steve Nash beat out Earl Boykins for the win, then proceeded to watch the 3 point challenge as well as the slam dunk contest. The 3 point contest wasn’t too much fun to watch; nobody broke the 20 point mark at all, and many of the shots seem to clank of the back iron… maybe there’s something wrong with that rim, or maybe it just wasn’t a great day for the shooters. Imagine Ray Allen not getting to the second round.

The slam dunk contest was a bit more interesting. The first round saw Chris Andersen get booed for attempting too many dunks and failing before finally making one, and one of the highlights of the competition: Amare Stoudemire lobbed the ball off the backboard, Steve Nash then heading the ball ala soccer back towards Amare, who then proceeded to reverse jam it. That was quite a sight, and brought the house down. Of course, the real story of the competition was Josh Smith, who won it. This guy dunks with grace and flair (left handed too), and showed respect to Dominique Wilkins by wearing his retro No. 21 jersey.

Looking forward to watch the actual All-Star game today, hope it’ll be fun to watch.

NHL cancelled their season

I’m not really a big hockey fan, and I hate it when the sports pages contain 4 pages of NHL negotiations and news while having only 1 page of NBA news. I guess that’s what you get for living in a hockey crazed town. I mean, don’t newspapers have better basketball analysts that could post more than 1 page’s worth of information?

Hockey never really grew on me, even though the first year I was here, I started to watch the games and play a bit. I don’t know why, maybe because it’s too expensive to play (helmet, gear, hockey stick etc etc cost a lot), whereas you could play basketball almost anywhere with just 1 ball and some running shoes, or maybe it’s because I grew up in a country where the average year round temperature was 32 degrees C :).

I symphatize with the hockey fans who must feel let down by the league and the players, but for me, this is great, because maybe now there can be more news about the NBA in the media.

Web Data Administrator

If you need to manage SQL Server / MSDE databases, and don’t have enterprise manager, try this web based tool that pretty much allows you to do most common things: Web Data Administrator.

Crazy days

Phew, my computer is finally back up after being out of commission since last Tuesday. I never imagined the problems that came up relating to getting my machine back up and running. Normally, on other computers, getting a PC up and running takes me about 2 to 3 hours plus minus for applications. This install actually took me 2 days to get running properly.

The problem started with the W2K image that was built for my specific PC. It was an old image, no patches etc, and so I was told by my support officer that I should expect it to get hit by viruses, trojans, etc within a few minutes of connecting to the network. We then proceeded to install all the required patches, updated the antiviruses, scanned for malware, adware and whatever ‘ware’ there is. (This paragraph I just described took almost a day by itself)

Next problem, I’m supposed to be ‘Admin’ on my machine, and yet I don’t have permission to access the registry or admin tools from Control Panel. I also couldn’t right click on my taskbar, hence no quick launch buttons. (Argh.. how could one live without the quick launch toolbar? :) ). I was thinking some Global Policy or script that runs when I login. So I check the policy object, look at the script on the domain, and nothing really stood out. I ask my support officer, and she doesn’t know either. We’re both stumped (This after running virus scan with the latest .dat file and all those spyware removal programs mentioned above). Of course, the next course of action had to be a google search. Found out that I could just rename ‘regedit.exe’ to something else .exe and it ran fine. I then found some keys that had to be turned off so that I could get my Quick Launch toolbar running.

The funny thing here is that after some patch installs, and installation of Visual Studio .NET, somehow my registry gets reset back to prevention of right click and regedit. This doesn’t happen all the time, so I’m quite lost on what’s going on. If anybody could give me a clue on what’s going on, I’d be grateful. FYI, Microsoft’s AntiSpyware, Spybot, Winpatrol, and the latest McAfee antivirus doesn’t return anything even in Safe Mode without networking.

While trying to download Spybot, I also found this nifty util called RegAlyzer, which pretty much is a custom build ‘regedit’. This allowed me to bypass using regedit when it was disabled.

So that’s how my last few days have been going, I managed to install Cognos Impromptu andamp; Powerplay, Visual Studio.NET, SQL Server Client Tools and IIS to round up the last day. Just hope my HD never crashes again, it’s really a PITA to get things back running.

My future plans explained

Another friend of mine recently joined the blogging world, his name is Kurnia Angsana, but we all call him Cun-Cun. He asked me a question about how I came about deciding on my future plans. Well, thanks to that question, I responded with this email (partially edited), which contains some of my thought process and reasons:

” …

How I came about finding out my current career and why not something else?
- I’m thankful that from an early age, my dad pushed me in the right direction. He saw that I was good with technology, and directed me there, so I kinda grew up knowing what I thought I wanted to do.
- The bad part of this, is that he sort of said, well you’re good in tech, but u suck in business …. not having a chance for me to prove that I could learn and get to like doing business / being my own boss.

Why I want to change directions right now?
- Which brings me to a few years ago when I began to have a family. This started opening up more thoughts in my mind. Having a Computer Sci. job doesn’t feel that enjoyable anymore. Of course, I still like being in IT and stuff, but I find that working for people takes away time from my family, and the fact that technology grows exponentially andamp; you just need to be up to date at all times takes away lots of energy some time, while in other fields, you might be able to slow down your learning process since the growth isn’t as explosive as technology. (this is my opinion, might not be true).
- Living paycheque to paycheque, dependant on someone else paying me, predictable income doesn’t seem that attractive to me anymore. I don’t want to live a predictable life, retire and that’s it. I want to life life to the full, spend time with my family, do exciting things…

What do I want to do next and what does Indonesia Vs Canada have to do with this?
- That’s why I’ve been thinking really hard these last few years about business, network marketing, consulting etc, and whatever possibilities that could make me spend more time with family.
- Indo and Canada come into play, because in Indo there are people who can help out around the house with my wife and son, thus giving me more time to actually get something done, whilst in Canada, I have practically no more spare time.

Some thoughts and reasoning:
- Get God’s direction at all times before deciding on anything.
- Make sure that whatever I’m going to do will be enjoyable. I’m finding out that even though IT is what I like doing, I would have no problem leaving IT for day trading, export imports, consulting, business in general, because I’ve researched more, looked around and can grow to enjoy it.
- God’s direction may be different for different people, maybe some are positioned to work and grow to be CEO / CIO’s etc, some will be successful businesspeople, but I believe that God has given us free will for a purpose, that we have an option on what we want to do.

Deuteronomy 8:18b – “… It is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

That ability is in us, so whatever we do, with God’s help and tons of hard work, will be successful. Once you get what you want to do, get confirmation of it, then do it with all your strength. I believe you will succeed.
- Research as many different things as possible and if possible try them out for a bit. You’re bound to find things you like and things you don’t like. Maybe you can combine them someday.
- It might seem that I’m dissing working life, but don’t get me wrong, I totally support working for other people too. People have different personalities, some who need an adventurous lifestyle, there are also some who need peace and structure, etc. If God put you in a working environment, then He must have a plan for u to grow and be a leader in there, CEO, VP, Director… settle for nothing less.
- Don’t get married too young :) It’s fun to have a family, but it’s even better once you are set on your career to support your family. Once you have a family, it becomes clearer and clearer that relationships and time are more important than what we do / money etc. If you don’t have a family yet, really focus on your career, and once you have your own family, really focus on building a strong family.
- Income should not be your primary goal for life, it should be a strong foundation for building your family andamp; relationships with others. A well known Indonesian pastor, Petrus Agung, once said “Money is a powerful amplifier”, when you have it, people will listen to you. Then you can say what God wants you to say.

…”

Cool map from Google

Google has released a beta of their mapping technology. I’ve just tried it out, and it looks pretty cool. You can drag around the map, zoom in up to street level, and when it does find directions to and from a place, each line of direction can be clicked on, and the map will highlight and zoom into the corner/street you have to travel.

It finds some places, but some places still don’t show up yet. I guess that’s why it’s still in Beta. But it’s really a nice tool that Google came up with, keep up the good work guys.

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