One thing leads to another

With age and experience comes understanding,
With understanding comes the knowledge that somethings must never be pursued,
With the knowledge that somethings are not meant to be comes deep regrets,
With deep regrets comes profound sadness,
With profound sadness comes great emotional depth,
With great emotional depth comes great inspiration,
With great inspiration comes superb motivation to acquire more understanding and experience.

These set of relationships is non-sense. I think it is time to go to asleep and stop brooding on what Ern expressed to me.

“Since the age of twenty, I have not been happy” that was what she said to me the other day. She choose to embrace this understanding in contrast to Orlando who choose to avoid it.

“I choose to surround myself with people, so that I don’t have to think. Too much thoughts, I cannot stand it” Orlando’s way of life.

Good night my friends.

Roadmap to #1

After talking with Pasha last night, I managed to further fine tune the picture of what I want to do with this new site which I will be devoting my entire time andd effort to for the next two years. It is a whole hearted commitment on my part to this idea I have been envisioning for the longest time. The first prototype ( seemed be getting rather popular amongst the locals, as well as nationalities from multiple countries that frequent Singapore.

By November 2010, I will stop all commercial activites relating to providing customized IT solutions to external third parties as well as all social activites that does not lie in the path I decide to thread.

Now what is aims to be a community platform that allows the easy sharing of location based information that will help make exploration fun and easy for travellers in various parts of the world. Being a natural extension to the original vision behind, this platform will be one that is by the people for the people.

One of the main challenges which me and Pasha have identified is the presentation of information of various forms.Thus far these are the types of content objects we have identified:

  • Bus stations
  • Travel routes
  • Accomodation Types
  • Scam and Rip offs
  • Border crossing procedures in remote parts of the world

With no intention to recreate the wheel, I started the initial prototype with the Joomla Content Management System with the use of the JomSocial component.

I envision that the various content objects will be described with the use of XML documents. A modular struture will be enforced. This will allow for easy system extension to accomodate more content object types as the platform progresses to later stages.

One of the main features for the content insertion process will be use wizards. The main intention behind this is to increase usuability for end users. I am currently pondering on how the use of XML could be used to provide a comprehensive description of a wizard content entry process.

A few months ago while I was less occupied, I did create a component for the Joomla 1.5 called the workflow component. It is somewhat similar. However due to sudden increase in commercial activites on my part, this project was left half baked and never released to the open source community. One of the main things I hope to accomplish now is to salvage chunks of the existing codes into this wizard engine I will be building for

Thus far these are my thoughts which I will slowly make reality over the next few weeks.

Progressing onwards to 2011 and beyond

So phase 1 of my plan for this coming 5 years is almost complete. Come September next month, I will proceed to the Silicon Valley in the United States to attend the Techcrunch convention. During this trip I hope to understand what actually goes in the mind of those people there so as to find some clues as to how I should go about phase 2 of my plan.  In the midst of this, I will also take a well deserved break.

Usually at these cross roads  the story of the boy in the book “The Alchemist” come to mind. “Do I stick with what is already safe and known or do I discard whatever material safety I have acquired thus far and set sail instead into unchartered waters. ” This is the one and only question I deliberate upon at these cross roads.

Past occasions of such deliberations always ended the same. With fear in my heart, I cast all I previously acquired to the winds and set sail for the unknown anyway. Some call it a leap of faith or others call it pure simple stupidity. Whichever way you see it, to me it ultimately makes life truly worth living. Fortune favours the bold!

After United States, thank my lucky stars, me and Luke will step into Abu Dhabi to see how life is like in the land of a thousand splendid suns.

In the year 2011, I will fully focus myself on the next phase of my pet project. If done properly and with the proper applications of the knowledge gained and soon to be gain, I should have no problems financing it for the next 5 years to see it achieve the level of growth I have in mind.

The future I envisioned is yet to come, but I can feel that it is just right around the corner just waiting to happen.

Crazy 28th birthday countdown at 1 Altitude followed by a life time ban from 1 Altitude

It was soon to be midnight and come then I will turn 28. Here I am sitting in the presence of two policemen and a very annoyed bouncer. (he calls himself the head of security for 1 Altitude).

Valerie just came to Singapore again and we agreed to meet up. After bringing her for a dinner of frog porridge and chilli crab,  I brought her to 1 Altitude at the UOB center. The bar was not really interesting, the restaurant was filled with guests from some corporate functions, it was the roof I was most fascinated with. This is the tallest place in Singapore.

Apparently the lady at the entrance of level 1 said the roof was closed due bad weather conditions. But it did not seem like the case at level 62 just beneath the roof. I brought Valerie and merrily walked across the dining area right to the stairway right beside the toilet. While the rooms themselves are private domain, the stairways are public domain free for anyone to enter and exist.

We took a short walk up to level 63 and encountered 2 waitress sitting on the flight of steps chatting away. They stood up and parted for us to walk through. The bar tender tending to the bar at the roof of level 63 let us through as well. So I didn’t think the roof was really that closed. It was open in fact. The 360 paranomical view of Singapore was great!

It was not long before one of the bouncers came and politely invited us to leave the place. Thus we did, this time we took the lift down to level 62. Just when we were about to take the other life from level 62 down to level 63, the HEAD OF SECURITY caught sight of me and bellowed like a man gone mad. So I was escorted into his office, where he started a whole series of verbal abuses which I did not find useful but detrimental to his situation. He thereafter made a call to the police in an attempt to file a complain of trespassing on me.

Meanwhile I requested to be allowed to visit the gents. He got really worked up apparently? Somehow the word gents seems to trigger this really funny reaction on his side. 😛

So I clarified with him, if he will be attempting any of these two things behind closed doors.

  1. Phyiscally assualt me?
  2. Illegally detain me by this basis I meant the deprivation of physiological needs to maintain a proper level of health.

He calmed after a while and got another bouncer to escort me to the gents. It seems he was the only person in this office that was worked up about the whole situation. The other bouncers were absolutely relaxed about this.

Of course the policemen came later and started series a whole questionings. the Head of security for 1 Altitude tried to build a case of illegal trespassing. I meanwhile provided strong counter evidences that the case of trespassing was invalid.

Trespassing will be valid in the two following case :

  1. Entry into private premise from a public domain despite signs about the boundaries of the private premise stating against entry
  2. Forceful entry into private premise from a public domain despite resistance from staff or owner of private premise countering against entry.

My scenario was as thus:

Entry into private premise (the roof level) from a public domain(the stairway) in the presence of the staff of private premise (the waitresses and bar tender) who did not provide resistance against entry. Their action of standing up and giving way to our entry into the roof level could in fact to construed as the act of granting permission to enter in the premise.

Meanwhile I sat in the office of 1 Altitude, waiting for the bouncer to cool down in some other rooms in the presence of the second policemen. Seriously, I think as the head of security he could have done a better job. The security system he had in place to secure the premise of his owner was full of loop holes that could easily be exploited by any hackers (sorry for my use of computer terms in this case, however it seem very applicable in this instance since we are talking about a system).

His choice of location for detaining me was the worst place one could choose from the perspective of security. The office was full of confidential information exposed for uninvited eye. Information such as the contact details of their entire management team, the id and password to connect to their wifi system, the food connosieur they have to told to watch out for.

So after a long long time, the head of security came in with the other police.  I was informed that I was to be banned for life from the 1 Altitude bar. I proceeded this time to clarify the premises of this life time ban. Once again it was full of loop holes. Already there are quite a few major exceptions I could think of that could displace this directive of his.

A simple one would be boking of the entire venue for an events purpose and getting their director to acknowledge the need for my presence in his premise (to pay the bills at least, unless of course 1 Altitude decides to allow me the free use of premise?) 😛

Curiosity and interest driven approach towards open source Joomla 1.5 technology and a backward shift

Recently my actions has been driven more by curiosity and interest than monetary purposes. I just splashed USD99 on this Joomla 1.5 component called the JomSocial. At first sight after having it installed on one of my instances, it looks rather promising. I will over the next few days during the weekends go through the documentations of JomSocial to explore the various features they have. Also I will try to see what cross features they have available with other more established Joomla 1.5 components.

The main difference between working on an interest driven project and a monetary driven project is that of the heart and the soul.

In the latter, there is always someone breathing down your neck, crazy deadlines to meet, the need to manage customer expectations so that interest of stakeholders are not compromised. high blood pressure often results. The downside risk is significant in the event of mismanagement in terms of additional cost incurred due to scope creeping by clients or misinterpretion by the technical team.  The upside rewards and capped. Do your job well or totally screw it up, the budget made available by the client is still the same. Haha, like Garis once said ” get bought, get used, and get discarded just like a bloody condom!”

In the former, I am free to explore any possibilities I can envision and things are pretty much dictated by my imagination with no strict deadlines whateverso. I can choose either to rise to great heights or crash and burn, all for the sake of fun and adventure, without the need to be answerable to anyone. The downside risk is ultimately determined by me (time and money), while the upside potential is remains hitherto undiscovered!

Also in terms of the long run, when we are looking at buidling up the volume of passive income, the former is the area to look at. Already a few of my sites are generating income of a comfortable level. Once it hits critical mass, I will do away with the latter option of selling my time to others for the sake of building their sites.

Taking one more step backwards, I am now spending less time ultilizing the skill set I acquired in university (that of programming and software architecturing) and more time ultilizing the skill set I acquired while I was back in junior college (that of reading financial statements and analyzing GDPs). Surprisingly the staff at the various banks have been very helpful in providing me with the information I need. I am also spending more time now receiving instructions from my dad on a daily basis for another skill set I have been thinking of acquiring for a while now. It seems he does know me very well and started imparting all the knowledge he acquired over the years in this field before I even asked! More than that, it seems I have already crossed path with the people of whom knowledge I need.

Talking about the alignment of stars!

Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it, watch out for the beast

During this same period last year, I was sitting in the park on the grass. I was figuring out how to proceed forward from where I was to where I wanted to be. It felt very similar to backpacking. As usual the destination was but a vision in the mind; a general direction, an inspiration, altogether vague and abstract.

Just for fun, I mentally projected my vision into the future seeking the path that I will need to take to get from where I was to where I want to be. It was almost like an out of the body experience.  Sian call this astral projection. There was a prior occasion when she brought me on one back in London. It turned out somewhat weird since this totally unfamiliar monk intruded into both our visions. Out of curiosity, she left me alone with this monk. The monk revealed nothing but just sat there on this imaginary grass patch smiling merrily while looking far into the horizon. It was as if he knew something that I didn’t and was altogether quite entertained by this notion. He soon got up on his feet and left that patch of grass. Sian came back shortly and guided me back from the astral planes.

Nevertheless that prior occasion was not as psychically charged as this one.  After sitting in meditation for an hour or two, I must have unknowingly stirred up this beast that had previously gone to slumber. In its awoken and agitated state, it bellowed and torn the fog asunder. The path forward suddenly revealed itself and its familiar voice  started this totally new incantation in my head. At first it felt foreign and unnatural but with the passing of each iteration in the head, this incantation became louder and more fanatic, gaining a life of its own. Finally it over powered the reality priorly in existence and became reality itself. Once again I was unfortunate enough to be inflicted with the beast.

“I want more sales leads! I demand for more sales leads! Give me what I want! Give it to me now! …. ” this voice in my head bellowed  and the flesh could only but obey the demands of this voice in the head. Ironically back in 2008, this same voice demanded that I journey westwards. It got content and went quiet when I finally reached and saw the Atlantic ocean with my very own eyes.

Roughly 12 months has past since that day in the park. Magically, out of the ether what that beast demanded for it got. The flesh however was pushed to the limits heeding the beckoning of its voice. Once again after months of raging in the head, it suddenly went silent. Good riddance for the time being at least. However intuition tells me this beast is laying low somewhere in the midst of cooking up god knows what. The signs are there, I just have to decipher what it is.

I thank my lucky star

Just a few evenings ago after devouring this most valuable book by Robert Kiyosaki (Rich dad’s prophesy) which I happened to pick up free of charge from this stack of soon to be discarded books, I decided to sit down and sort out all the financial statements for all my current on going projects. All these projects were in the healthy range in terms of cash flow, however none of them were profitable.

“How so?” one upon hearing this might ask me, being  seriously puzzled ” didn’t you made money and now have more cash in your pocket? ”

“Yes I did have cash in my pocket after being engaged in the these projects. However my profit from these projects is still zero. ”

“Huh. I still don’t get you? ”

“The cash receipts for these projects are called wages, not profit. Profit is the premium derived after deducting all expenses incurred in the process of finishing the project, in which cash includes wage expenses as well. ”

Wages is an exchange of per unit time of effort for per unit quantity of money, one only has 24 hours per day. Thus one can make so much of one’s time for money. If one is satisfied sticking with this business model of exchanging per unit time of effort for per unit time of money, one can simply forget the idea of his bank account hitting the range of millions in this life time.

Like Johnson said last year “bro don’t waste your time with being a self employed, build a proper business model. You techies are talented people when it come to machines. However when it comes to money, you have no idea what the hell is happening!”

I thought I understood him then. However that understanding was still too superficial.

After receiving an advice by Peter, an in depth study of a classical doctrine and the chance encounter of a serious bottleneck, I finally saw the lights.

Peter’s advice “don’t try to do everything yourself, free up your own time, get an expert who is more capable than you to handle what needs to be handled, then you can handle more.”

The truth in the classical doctrine called the book of changes (I Ching) states, do not compete in terms of wisdom with the wise, do not compete in terms of capability with the capable, but rather acknowledge their strengths and humbly seek their assistance in your cause.

The bottleneck when a prolonged through put of more than 24 hours worth of effort per day was required was really the catalyst.

Thinking back to my days in the army, in the university as well as till just a few months ago, this character of mine was the perfect individual belonging to the S category defined as the self-employed in Robert Kiyosaki’s cash flow quadrant.

In his book, Robert states people belonging to the S category, in contrast to people belonging to the E (employees) category who are just concerned about job security, are the perfect individual’s to be assigned a task and given full autonomy. Being self driven and highly motivated by nature, you can rest assured they will accomplish their mission. However such are not people you can hope to keep in your company for long, since what they seek in contrast to Es, is independence instead of job security. They will more likely leave an organization in seeking a path of their own interest instead of stay due to high levels of wages.

One of their major flaws which prevents them from advancing into the B quadrant (business owners) is their inherent urge to do everything themselves, their need to be perfectionist. It is a flaw, I deeply understand and has been a weakness that I had been constantly trying to keep in check.

Now that I finally see th light, it is time to finish the last part of my business model I have been building over the last 2 years. To accomplish this, I will need to take all the task this position of mine is handling and write them down in strict standard operating procedures. Once done, I will need to source for a few talents that belongs nicely to the E quadrant in terms of mentality to fulfill the roles I crafted.

In a nut shell, I will need to craft carefully the algorithm that dictates the roles of the business analyst, the project manager and the sales manager to handle the all aspects of the operations. Thereafter, I shall step out of this system that I have so nicely crafted and monitor its functioning from outside.

Meanwhile since my time will be freed up by then, I will direct my resources and funds into the crafting of the next business model and go through the process of building my next money making machine.

Haha. I am a most fortunate person indeed. It seems like everytime when I am in need of something, whatever I seek will always land right in my lap.

Tactics that salesman uses all the time that totally annoys me

Normal salesman always attempt to appeal to the emotive side of my decision making process (which I leave at home while at work) when I specifically instruct them to come present and just stick with the technical details.

The most recent one just took place this evening. Dad had bought some policy on my behalf years ago and since he is now planning his retirement he was hoping that I took over the financing of this policy. I asked him for the details however he had no idea what it was, thus it happened that we arranged for the insurance agent to come present herself.

Question number one what is my ROI?

Huh? ROI?

Yes. The interest rate per year for this account?

Oh. Sorry but due to regulations by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, we are not allowed to guarantee any interest yearly rates. However, this funds has been performing quite well and will definitely continue to perform well till your age of 55.

Ok then. What kind of portfolio is this fund used for maintaining?

Loans and financing of business operations, stocks and bonds.

Ok then.

I smiled at the back of my mind thinking “so basically the shit that is happening back room is masked from us and we are presented instead with a number that is written on paper.”

One experience like which got me into some really serious shit last year was more than enough. I have no inclinations to repeat that shit again.

I continued pounding the figures away on my excel sheet while she tried to distract me from my excel sheet.

Viola, I got the figures I wanted and it didn’t seem all that good to me. I finally focused my entire attention on her.

But your dad bought this for you, it is a gift from him. You should treat this as a gift and accept it, continue financing it.

Oh yeah, I replied once again smiling merrily,  my dad is a good person. I respect him for that.

She smiled back too, thinking she finally managed to re-secure the deal once again.

So how do I close this account?

She got shocked. Why?

It is just 3% per year barely even enough to cover our inflation rate, I can get more somewhere else.

Ok then, maybe you should return this gift to your dad.

Yes I must.

Suddenly she focused her entire attention on my dad and brought out this new stack of paper about some new scheme which my dad so happened to qualify for.

“Mr Teh….”

“Thanks for your advice. I will consider it. My son should keep this funds for it.”

“Nope, dad buy your long dream about boat. You are retired now. ”

End of scenario…..

Start of next scenario…..

More capable salesman will come forth with a more logical looking proposal.

And here we have with us a product that will guarantee you lose your fats in no time. Here on this banner is one of our success stories. This person lost 19kg in 6 months out of which 70% are fat.

Wow. I am so impressed. He does look better after that. But wait what happened to that other 30%?

The salesman was momentarily caught off guard.


Oh man. 19kg * 30% =  5.7kg of something else that is not constituted by fats. Muscle mass? That is a lot of muscles too lose in just 6 months. Are you sure this drug of yours is safe.

End of next scenario…..

More capable salesman are like the 3 accursed witches in William Shakespear’s McBeth. They always tell the truth. Their truths are always so logical too. However it is just half truths.

What you know, won’t kill you
What you know you don’t know, might kill you
What you don’t know you don’t know, that will definitely kill you!  (the black swan)

Thankfully most cases presented by capable salesman fall into the 2nd group (What you know you don’t know, might kill you) if you bother to spend time to sort through the whole logic of things.

I thank my stars for the instructions I have received thus far as well as for the instructions I have yet received through all the people I met and yet to meet. Each of them bring to me in their own ways some really valuable teachings whether they are consciously aware of it or not. It is always there right in front of your eyes if you just bother to spend time to put the pieces together.

Life is great and always an adventure!

The Mulberry Plant from London

It was late at night. My brother is now in Germany and Pasha is sitting in his room chatting happily with Masha over skype. I have offered to put him up at my place since he is having some problems with accomodation ever since coming back from his trip around Southeast Asia.

He seems happy now. I am glad he finally recovered from this really bad situation he was in last year. Some times the only paths represented in front of you are shitty ones, so regardless of which path you take you will still need to thread through shit. Yes, threading through shit is always inevitable at some point in your life, however much you attempt to avoid. This is Karma, predestined to happen and written in the stars.

I took my cup of water and looked out of my window at the mulberry plant growing from the pot. This was one of the very few things I brought back from my pilgrimage to the west in 2008. How I came to possess this plant was a really intriguing. It is the result of a whole series of coincidences that occurred that spanned across the entire length of the silk road.

Also I could have just happily sipped my tea, puffed on my cigarette while sitting in the garden behind of Sian’s house and simply ignored it when Sian was working at uprooting the entire root network of this mulberry plant. However, there was something about Sian’s complaint about this particular that told me, this was something I need to bring back to Singapore.

I still remember how she said it “oh, this is a mulberry plant. It grows all over the place like a weed, once it gets into your garden you will have a seriously tough time clearing it out. Try as you might to clear it out, if you didn’t do a proper job and happened to leave even just one inch of root lying somewhere it will all grow back suddenly. Plus the thorns are really sharp and hard.”

Since its migration from London to Singapore, this plant had died and resurrected multiple times over. Each time it would grow and take up the entire expanse of space made available to it. Each time towards the end of each phase some shit will happen in the environment and kill off its entire network of leaves. Each time we define the end of each phase by bringing out the scissors and trimming all the dead ends away. Each time without fail it will grow back still.Each time it grew back, its roots and hold on the soil became stronger and more deeply entrenched than the previous time, with more thorns to protect its main stem system.

Now looking out the window still, I thought to myself, this was indeed a very fitting item to have brought back from my pilgrimage westwards.

Positive liberty, negative liberty and the age of the stupid!

It was Saturday afternoon and we were sitting in the holding area of Orchard Central, when Ethan suddenly mentioned that human society has progressed a long way. We first started in stone age, moved on to the bronze age, innovated into the industrial age, leaped right after into the age of Information and we finally landed ourselves in the age of stupid.

“What the hell is that?” I was totally puzzled at first and asked him to explain himself.

“We humans are now in the process of  slowly killing ourselves by destroying our environment and depleting natural resources, we all know it but we all choose to do nothing about it.” He explained concisely the summation of this age.

After giving it some thought, I concurred totally with what he said and replied “yeah that is totally true bro. The way I see it now there are only two options available for us. Option one, we achieve a quantum leap to drastically improve energy efficiency in our technology. Option two, we cull off a major part of our world’s human population changing it from its current standing figure of 6,697,254,041 to something drastically lesser. ”

In terms of ecology, our species is relatively high up in the food chain of our environment. Traditionally, the further up the food chain a species, the lesser its population as compared to those lower in the food chain (pictorially represented like a pyramid structure). However perhaps due to unpredicted but high impact occurrence like the discovery of agriculture and fire as a tool,  the essence of the human as a species started to evolve somewhere in history. Humans thereafter managed to break free on the environmental constrains that had till then been successful at keep their numbers in check.

If we did an X-ray of our environment today and assuming that humans are finally at the top of the food chain, what we should observe is that while the traditional pyramid structure is still in place (though somewhat leaner now) there is now a exceedingly large flat chunk at the top (represented none other than the human population). Ecologically, this is highly unstable structure. We are in fact exerting a lot of pressure on our environment by imposing such a ecological structure on it.

Contemplating on these two options available and the inability to execute them, I could only sigh helplessly.

Option one while being pursued and evangelized by some minorities is not being progressing as fast as it should as the major bulk of us are spending our time with our eyes glued to our work, slogging really hard to pay bills, meet deadlines or acquire our first POT OF GOLD?!? (in the context of Singapore: that idiot that proposed the 5 Cs as a mark of success and went around spreading this message to the other idiots who bought that bullshit lock stock and barrel should be shot and killed!)

I had the opportunity last year to visit the Shan Dong province of China. Alena and her friends were in the hotel room I was residing in then. While they were busy playing some games using the stack of poker cards, I went and looked out the window. Alena noticing that I was studying the scenery outside could not help but bragged “Wei Fang is one of the most beautiful cities in Shan dong and Shan Dong is economically the strongest province in the whole of China.”

I wonder if she would have made the same statement had she saw the expression on my face instead of just my back view.

“Really?” I finally responded. “Look at the soot being emitted from all the surrounding factories as well as the piles of trash lying around beside streets. Why are the factory owners not taking steps to reduce the levels of soot emitted into the air. Don’t the mainland Chinese government have some regulations to control this.”

“Look you are the only person that is naive and innocent enough to ponder and waste your time thinking about all these useless issues. These people are big bosses. They have lots of money, they drive big car, live in big houses, who gives a shit about what they do to the environment as a result. So long as money keep coming in its good enough. Even if we are not the big bosses yet, here in China we just want to concern ourselves with making money so that we will become big bosses one day ourselves too.”

“Wow. Alena this idiot you brought from Singapore really has his heads in the clouds.” one of her girls comment and everyone broke out laughing.

“Ok then I rest my case. But just remember that all of you are women, you will bear kids one day and your kids will have their own kids. Somewhere along the way this environment of yours will become so screwed up, these kids might in fact come forth to this world deformed, with three limbs or four eyes. They will look like you still but they will be deformed.”

“shh..! don’t interrupt me from winning money. ”

Well, there goes option one.

The notion of choosing option two is totally out of the question unless of course you consider yourself a member in the same league as Osama Bin Laden, Hitler, Mussolini. However upon closer inspection, the existence of such a character might not even be necessary afterall. Just simply observe the trends lately, it seems most areas in the northern hemisphere has been experiencing natural disasters of late, with tons of destruction done to the existing infrastructure in those places. Seems like while mother nature has been very kind and accommodating to our non-sense till now, she is slowly but surely taking steps to cull off our population.