Monthly Archives: July 2007

Importance of being visible

Was having lunch with my Hokkien-spewing boss. One of the safer topics we would discuss over the meal would be the state of politics. Yes, far safer than our different views of how the company should be run. One of which was the complaint letter by Li Hongyi, son of the current Prime Minister. In brief, his email circulated and leaked to the outside world, telling all of Singapore about the quality of SAF officers, or the lack of quality.

The boss’s take on this issue is that this email attracted this much attention because of the person who wrote it has a very high profile. If it were some unknown officer, perhaps nobody would have paid it any attention. After all it is not a surprising thing that regulars protect their own, anybody who has served national service can tell you that. But you can still get charged for jumping the chain of command. And to have included so many people, entire departments of units who have nothing to do with the incident, is quite spectacular. Should have resulted in spectacular trouble.

My take is that he was supposed to be the third generation monarch of the lion city, but he has offended some very important people. Uncle Teo could have asked his boss, “Why is your son doing this, airing dirty laundry in public? He could have come to me and worked something out.” And now international presses have also reported on this lack of integrity in our army. Was it out of a sense of frustration that such an email was written and sent out? There are better ways to do things, and he of all NSF officers have other avenues to change things. There is a Chinese saying that an empire or a collection of wealth tends to be ruined by the third generation. The first generation builds it up and the second maintains it. The third is used to a good life and lacks the skills and drive to keep the empire from cumbling. I would worry more if this was done out of frustration, and not part of some sinister plot.

We both agreed that his high profile could have been some sort of protection. Unknowns can disappear overnight, but public people can hardly vanish or be destroyed without notice. There is even this guy in America who sends photos to his blog every few hours, telling people that if he stops blogging, it could be that the authorities have taken him away for some crime he did not commit. And it is also a good idea to raise your public profile before going against the big boys. See for example eastcoastlife. The media is a powerful shield to keep you alive, if you ever need protection from being made to disappear.

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Happiness is… Catching up on the backlog of work…

Yes I know it sounds so pathetically no life, but it is true. Ever since I started making a serious attempt to go off at a not-too-late timing, I find myself stressed up the whole day trying to clear my emails and stay on top of things. Whereas I can actually clear backlogs, dig out evidence to justify my actions and basically clear up and prevent shit from escalating when I’m required to work late, such as when I’m to meet Sunshine for dinner and she ends up working later than most of my colleagues.

Back in the past when I was prepared to work late and finish my tasks, the sense of achievement was what made the tiredness worth it. Along the way, it just didn’t make sense to be putting in the extra work when slackers need not be accountable for their work and still got about as well compensated as the hardworking. And getting a life is suddenly so much more important when viewed in this perspective. Just do what you can within the working hours and get out of office and try to do something that is not work-related. Except that the spectre of the looming deadlines haunt me even when I get home. Takes all the joy out of going home not-too-late. It is a self-made prison. We make rules to measure ourselves and force ourselves to be accountable and to deliver. Even the bosses are going crazy.

Now that we are busy recovering from the massive staff movement and not yet starting on audacious goals, I finally have time to clear some backlog. The good thing about staying back later is that I can focus on squeezing some value into my email instead of being caught in endless email chains that you have to reply to ASAP. I can cobble together some proper explanation to shut people up, let us all progress to the next step and give everyone some black and white to cover their backsides with. Justification and endorsement is of enormous value in this company these days.

If anyone advises to achieve the same by ignoring the urgent and tend to the more important, he probably has not worked in my company or has enough people to arrow and distribute out the fire-fighting. As an ex-colleague says, she is busy everyday, but at the end of the day she doesn’t know why she is busy. At her new company she can really focus on her task at hand.

But while I’m still here, a cog in this fast-moving machine, I can take perverse pleasure in being able to clear up and seal off the shit.

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It has ended

Finally, the biggest segment of my project has been finished and the rest is just mopping up. I can now leave in peace.

I have gone for a few interviews and somehow just did not fit what they were looking for, until now. Until I have finished my task here. I had also apparently been looking in the wrong places. All of a sudden I have 2 jobs to choose from, not roles I would have dared to apply for, but the recruitment agency sent in my profile and the interviewers thought I was a good fit. They might open up better prospects in the long run, which is really the whole point of leaving.

God’s timing is just right. I begin to understand now how I had picked up new skills as my role changed in this company, as I spent more and more time playing the role of a project manager. And now I will have a chance to play this role full time, and force myself to learn new skills. Soft skills instead of technical skills this time.

It is no fun being the last person to abandon ship, having to keep it afloat until my last day. I still have an obligation to my colleagues who have been pulled in to replace us, to tie up as much as I can and not leave too many broken pieces for them to pick up. They will have their hands full just understanding what my team had struggled with the past 2.5 years, even as I had struggled to understand the long history of the suite of systems.

The new place may not be eutopian, but at least when I’m freed of all the baggage of the legacy systems, I may get to grow in new directions. And that should be the main reason for my leaving. Let me remember that.

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More TransformersLive bashing

There is a very good analysis on youtube explaining why the live movie is as crappy as it is. Don’t miss it if you are wondering how closely the live action movie follows the original Generation 1 TV series.

But don’t just take his word for it. Watch this compilation of the trailers and clips for yourself.

For me, it further confirms my suspicion that this movie is nothing like the beloved Generation 1 series that I grew up watching. Yes, the action is good but all the robots have changed. Scorpionok is so tiny all of a sudden! It is true, you can remove Optimus Prime and rename this as “Super Morphing Outer Space Fighting Robots” and nobody will know the difference. It is just not right. Spiderman, Superman, Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings are rare in how closely they followed the original. At least the themes and main characters are still there. The others are just… artistic license taken to extremes. Such extremes that the brand name is totally diluted. And yet this is so Hollywood.

This is one movie I’m boycotting.

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