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Argh, what should I work as next?

I’m almost at the end of my 1st year rotation in the OIP, so I have to submit my preferences for my next position. I really wanted to stay at my current position because my skillset is a perfect match in this position (C#, ASP.NET, web, database, business analysis), but apparently we’re not allowed to choose the same assignment for our second assignment.

So right now I’m kinda confused as to where I want to go next. What I prefer is to get into project management to expand my skills portfolio, but the only PM related position is a coordinator, which I assume means lots of administrative and paperwork. Dunno if I wanna get into that; I’ve emailed some people to ask for more details about the position. There are many positions to choose from, none related to what I want to do: .NET Web Development (the only one being the one I’m currently in, and I can’t choose this one grrrr….).

Here’s the list that I’ve narrowed down to, some are good because of the work, and some because of the location (Eaton Centre baby!!!), any comments and input welcome (I’ve asked 2 of my good buddies to eliminate some of these based on how cool they sound… what a way to select my next job eh? :) )

- Knowledge Management
- Project Management Office Co-ordinator
- Methodology and Architecture
- IT-SM Analyst
- Application Architect
- IT Security Architect
- Business / IT Performance Framework
- IT-IL Implementation

Well, at the end of my next assignment, I’ll have 5 years total experience mixed with so many different things, I won’t know if I’m an expert at anything at all. I guess being a jack of all trades and ace of none is my career path :)

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The joys of budgeting

I’ve known about budgeting for quite awhile, and yet for the past few years I’ve been working, never really implemented a budgeting plan for the family. But at the beginning of this month, we started keeping track of all our expenses, personal and family, to see where all the money was going. I just created a simple Excel spreadsheet with a main form that gave a general overview of income and total expenditures for each month, as well as other worksheets for details of spending in each individual month.

It’s quite interesting to see that we’re way overbudget on dinner and others (including entertainment) and under budget on certain items like gas and medicine (good thing :) ). Whereas before this budget came into play we had no clue where all the cash was going (we even thought we didn’t spend much on dining out … well there goes that theory), now everything becomes more clear.

I really find out a lot about my spending habits (including newfound addicting habits like coffee), as well as my wife’s and as a family. I would really recommend having a budget in place, even though it’s quite painstaking at first to keep track of all the receipts and bills; in the end, it’s quite worth it as you’d be able to determine where to cut back, and where you’re progressing. It’ll help plan and keep finances in track.

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Starbucks … great service

I just came back from the nearest Starbucks from my office. I went to get a grande White Chocolate Mocca and paid my 5 bucks to the cashier. I the proceeded to wait for my beverage. A few moments later, the server told me that they’re out of White chocolate and if he could make me another drink. I asked for a regular mocca, and guess what, he told me that the drink would be on the house because they ran out of what I wanted !!!.

I say that’s great customer service on their behalf. I would have been ok without the refund, but by doing this, Starbucks probably just got a repeat customer who’d spread good words about the company. So, way to go Starbucks, great job.

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Neat thing to do to your wallpaper

Check these out …. nice trick to do…

So how long’s your cover letter?

I was always taught that a cover letter should describe a bit more about a resume, filling in bits of details that you don’t put in the resume, to catch the reader’s attention. It should be clear, compact and concise, and usually no more than 1 full page of writing.

Well, this morning, I attended a career planning session tailored for the Ontario Public Service (OPS) jobs, and shockingly found out that apparently the procedure in the OPS is to have as much elaboration/details possible in the cover letter, and I was shown an example of a 6 page long cover letter. One of my co-attendees then proceeded to tell me how he has a 14 page cover letter, and has seen some up to 16. I was quite speechless for quite a bit, and the blank stares from everyone in the room was just priceless.

I really wish I could tell you that I’m joking, but I’m not. The presenter has worked with OPS employees for a number of years, and has been in career management for about 20 years. It was just mind boggling to see how much detail was in the sample cover letter that was passed around. For every qualification required, there were at least 7 or 8 points about how the candidate has experience in it. Although she admitted that not all ministries within the government follow the rules, but that was the actual procedure.

Oh man, I think I’ll be having an interesting conversation with my workmates and manager sometime tomorrow to see their reaction :)

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MSDN Deep Dives

Today I went to attend my first ever Microsoft Event. It was a free session on ASP.NET 2.0. Got to the venue (a large movie theatre) about 8.45 and had a lineup quite long. Fortunately the lineup moved quickly since we only needed to get our invitations scanned. Grabbed a croissant (wow.. really good food…) and went straight into the main theatre. The room was almost full already, so I got up to the very last row up top and sat near the aisle.

The topic was very interesting, as it relates quite well to my work. ASP.NET 2.0 introduces some interesting concepts such as Master Pages, a web based administration system, advanced profiling/membership/roles that could use LDAP’s, Active Directory or databases as a backend, web parts and tons more controls being introduced. You could see some of the slides here. The speaker was Adam Gallant, a Developer/Platform Evangelist for .NET. I found him to be very knowledgeable about what he was talking about and really enjoyed this session. A lot of these features really take out some of the grunt work from developing web applications, and will reduce the amount of coding by quite a bit. I even joked with some of my colleagues at work that maybe soon there will be no need for programmers / developers :)

At the end of the session, everybody was given out free backpacks and an Introduction to ASP.NET 2.0 book by Dino Esposito. Overall, I found the session refreshing, as it showed me what could be done with ASP.NET 2.0, and my mind was racing with the thoughts of trying this out at work. I was told that Visual Studio 2005 (they’re dropping the ‘.NET’ from VS) will definitely ship this year, and that Beta 2 will be released in ‘Microsoft’ March (not sure how long that is :) ). I’ve seen really neat features and can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Two thumbs up to Microsoft for continuing to provide great developer tools and listening to public input.

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Indonesian bloggers

Wow, didn’t know there were that many Indonesians who were blogging. A google on ‘Indonesia blog’ or ‘Indonesian blogs’ reveal lots of results and links to them. I was very ignorant in thinking that blogging was somehow more popular in western countries. Oh well, good mind opener :)

How did I find out about this? I was looking at the 2005 bloggies, and looked at one of the nominations for Asian blog of the year. Found this blog and was quite surprised to find that the owner is actually an Indonesian living in Waterloo, Canada :). Even more fun was discovering that she’d won 4 bloggies during the last few years.

Maybe the Indonesian bloggers in Canada should start a community, just to know how many there are? Anybody interested?

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Hitch

Last night we managed to leave our son at my parents place for a few hours, so I could take my wife and watch Hitch. It was a pretty good movie, gave us a good laugh. The storyline was pretty typical of a romantic-comedy: guy meet girl, guy and girl fall in love, some major problem happen and they get back together in the end. In between, lots of funny things happen surrounding the plot.

It was quite predictable, and yet that’s exactly the kind of movie we were looking for after a long stretch of no break from taking care of a very very very .. active 2.5 year old :). The only drawback was the price of popcorn and coke: $10 for a large popcorn and coke; if that isn’t blackmail, I don’t know what is anymore. But it was a good night all in all. Our son had fun playing with his grandparents and uncles, even got a chocolate to bribe him.

Political rant – dumb and dumberer

Okay, I’m not a guy who follows politics on a regular basis, and I don’t profess to understand much of the political world, but I do follow what’s going on in Indonesia since that’s where I grew up and my future somewhat lies in going back there. Some of the actions of the leaders of the country for the last few years truly baffle me.

Take these 3 examples that I want to discuss:

1. A few years ago, a vice president claimed that (paraphrase): “There are no terrorists in Indonesia”. This after 9/11, and increased information from news everywhere that Indonesia is being used for training grounds due to its lack of law enforcement. Of course then the Bali bombings happened.

2. In last year’s presidential elections that was hailed as one of the most democratic elections in the world ever, the incumbent absolutely refused to congratulate the president-elect.

3. The people’s representatives in the government protest the increase of fuel prices, even though the subsidies given to fuel for the last few years have absolutely killed Indonesia’s economy.

Lets start with number 1. This prominent figure who has held the position of head of the highest legislative body in Indonesia, actually decided to ignore all warnings about terrorism from many experts, and made that famous remark. This seemed like a foolish thing to do; after all you’re supposed to be smart and knowledgeable, not ignorant and clinging to false patriotism. Why are you so opposed to receive help from other countries / people / agencies and instead fool yourself into thinking that those entities are trying to trick you / split you up? Can’t you think and make an informed decision based on what’s available? Just mind boggling if you think of how stubborn this guy is.

Number 2: Have you ever seen a democratic country where the next president failed to congratulate / at least acknowledge defeat? George Bush Vs Al Gore, George Bush Vs Kerry … those guys tried to kill each other with words during the campaign, and yet at the end of it, bad blood had to be put aside, for the good of the country. The ones who lose acknowledge the winners, and the winners acknowledge the ones who lost. In Indonesia’s case, our dear outgoing president never made a concession speech, even after the president-elect congratulated her on a great campaign and publicly thanked her for improving Indonesia. This just shows arrogance and stubbornness in my opinion. How could you, as president, not know the protocol for an election? Do you really have advisors that are totally ignorant of courtesy and good sense? Can’t you even bring yourself to admit that you lost and need to support the new government? Instead, after the new president took up his position, the parties of his opponenents ganged up in the assembly declaring that they’re gonna make life tough for him. My goodness, can’t you people look aside from your own selfish needs and think of what’s good for the country? Can’t there be defeat without revenge? Can’t you introspect and think of what you did wrong, then try to correct yourselves instead of assuming that your opponents cheated? Just dumb… dumb… dumb…

The third: Indonesia has one of the largest, if not the largest, fuel subsidies in the world. That’s why gas costs less than 30 cents there compared to 80 plus cents they are now in Toronto. When the oil prices went kaboom last year, Indonesia never took any profit in it since all its supplies to the people were subsidized anyway. The previous government knew about this, and yet refused to do anything for fear of backlash from the people The new government have no choice but to increase prices because the subsidies are damaging the budget and economy. Of course, the little people won’t know or understand about this; they just know that life is going to get harder in the short run. I can symphatize with this, and understand why demonstrations are rampant because of this. What I can’t understand is the people’s representatives (again, some of them are unhappy with the current president for reasons in part 2 above). They actually declared that the price increase is unjustified and refused it. This just drove me nuts. How @#%andamp;^@#$% crazy are these people? These are the educated people and who are supposed to represent the people of Indonesia. Don’t you know the current situation? Don’t you know that the government had to do this? Instead of supporting the move and try to make people understand what’s going on, they decide to try gather public support for themselves and do this idiotic move. These people just don’t understand what running a country mean. They just think that it’s a power move.

Okay, I’m a bit calmer now. Here’s my analysis of all these things:

Indonesians have been brought up in a patriotic / nationalistic education system. I went through this, and up till high school, had this way of thinking that Indonesia is the greatest. Any interference from outside is not needed, and are a nuisance. This of course caused problems when we try to think about everything from our own point of view, instead of trying to work together with others. Pride as a nation is totally different than being arrogant and a pain in the a**.

All the leaders say that unity of the nation is a first priority, and they are all working for its good, yet in practice, most of the time, it’s all about the individual, how to get ahead at all costs, how to get more power, and how to live comfortably. Somehow that mentality has been put in place because of all the corruption around.

The only way I can think of fixing this country is by changing the way of life from a very early age. Changing the way kids are educated, the way they think and the way they are brought up. Corruption, lawlesness and all these things will continue to exist, but the next generation needs to be trained to have a different mindset / way of thinking if there’s gonna be even hope of a re-born Indonesia.

I really believe that it will take a new generation that has the courage to be different, and not be affected by all the corruption/power struggle/me-first mentality, to change Indonesia. It truly is a great country if only the people and leaders can work together instead of bickering amongst ourselves trying to get ahead of everyone else. I’m still planning on going back to Indonesia, and I still love Indonesia, but the antics and attitudes of these supposedly ‘knowledgeable’ politicians just make me want to scream.

Thanks for reading :)

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