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.

just for fun

Life has became somewhat terribly dreadful of late. When I sit down and attempt to think of interesting things in my immediate premise which I have not done before, I draw a blank. On the other hand, it seems I am constantly bogged down with things that are routine, predictable or down right uninteresting.

I talked to my mom about it, this serious lack of adventure in my life of late. She said well life is like that.

I rolled my eye balls and walked off. If the rest of my 42 years on earth is to be no different one day from the other, it is best in my opinion to end it right this instance and avoid the unnecessary waste of precious resources by my continued existance.

Now the one thing that I could think of that is even remotely exciting is this phsycological game that I have in mind that I will play on myself during the coming hungry ghost festival during the 7th lunar month (also known as a phsycological mind fuck to some). Come the 10th day of the 7th lunar month which happens to the a Thursday (an inauspicious day or the week according to the Malays) I will infiltrate the supposedly haunted old changi hospital…. again!

Rumors have it that there is this perfectly symetrical pentagram on level 3 in one of its wings. I wonder what it would feel like to sit alone in the dark right in the heart of this accursed pentagram for the entire night as recommended by the taxi driver awaiting for my bretherns from the netherworld to make contact?

If the devil himself exist, I believe either one of three things will happen.

  1. I would be a dead or missing man by the morning of the 8th day
  2. I would have gone mentally insane from what I would potentially see on that night of the 7th
  3. I would have had the thrill of a lifetime

Regardless of the devil’s existence, one of the following might happen

  1. I will once again manage to get my sorry ass thrown out of the old changi hospital by the auxiliary police
  2. the auxiliary police having recognized me from my previous excursion will have me handed over to the police and the latter most likely press charges
  3. I will have really felt sorry for myself wasting an entire night bored shitless sitting in the center of some stupid pentagram making a fool of myself and a feast for the mosquitoes.

Side excursion for the 7th aside, I just downloaded this open source RPG project and had it installed on my local server. It seems very interesting compared to the commercial projects I have been handling. For once, I get to create something I want to create instead of something someone else wish created. Already I have in my a few thoroughly non-sensical ideas that are politically incorrect in the absolute sense. Then again why not? The worst case scenario is that I receive a warning letter from annoyed parties and my domain gets banned. Now my friend being a public nuisance in my opinion is always whole lot of fun. Haha!

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.

Some how my game got switched

After some changes to the existing business processes within my company, I soon realized that I have more time on hand now to ponder and consider the deployment of manpower available at hand.

My chief concern now is not getting the work done myself but coming up with a logical and structured method to explain to my collaborators the kind of work that needs to be done. Metaphorically speaking, it is somewhat similar to writing a program that instructs people clearly and concisely what they need to achieve for each particular task assigned to them. Its like playing command and conquer all over again. You have troops available at hand. If you have them deployed wrongly, they get wiped out and the enemy will soon be at the gates. However if the deployment is done properly, the enemy will have problems stepping out of their own gates!

Funny, all along I had this notion in my mind that I play this game of life in the fashion of Baldur’s Gate or Diablo. It is a super cool way to live life. Just go explore what is around in search of quests and vanquish monsters encountered during the adventure, helped some times by Non-player charaters (NPC) of course. Now suddenly, it seems some bloody joker removed Baldur’s Gate or Diablo and inserted command and conquer in its place. I can no longer be  myself  concerned about finishing a quest, it became a huge campaign.

Counting off hand, I have unknowingly increased the team I am managing at the moment to 11 people split into different groups, each group concerned with the accomplishment of a single quest. Thanks to the possibilities that arose due to the flat world I am getting quite an interesting team. Lets see the head counts thus far:

2 Russians
1 Ukrainians
2 Indians
3 Singaporeans
2 Filipinos
1 American

Blame this on my novelty seeking spirit, but I am absolutely curious which other nationalities will I have the opportunity to collaborate with in the near future…

taking a leap of faith

Johnson my cousin once told me during our drinking session that faith is a very important element in any business venture. You can always go about gathering as much information as you can, do as much research as you want, at the end of the day there will always exist a gap between what you already know and where you want to be.

Within a few days after taking a leap of faith and testing out this new methodology for my operations, the problem I am pondering over now has shifted from “where to look for quality human resource” to “how to more effectively collaborate and communicate with the available human resources“.

Already I am having some semi-concrete notions of how to segregate work and minimize the turn around time for each development project that comes through the pipeline.

The problem of work segregation inevitably lead me to recall one particular module I took during my days in the National University of Singapore. Every week I would attend a lecture pertaining to the subject called Discrete Mathematics and each time after the 2 hour lecture, I would feel totally drained out mentally.

One of the problems posed by the professor during one of these lectures was the issue of countability. There are infinite numbers between 0 to 10, but there are finite number of integers between 0 to 10.

Suppose given a range of problems, and each problem is metaphorically represented by the numbers that exist between 0 to 1, there will then be no end to the amount of solutions required to solve all the problems between 0 to 10.

Suppose metaphorically speaking if we are able to impose units in terms of integers on this range of problems between 0 to 10, we could effectively solve all the problems within this range by supplying in 11 solutions.

Out of the metaphorically realm and back into this real world, suppose we are able to take any programming question and segregate it into discrete units, in this instance we will thus be able to count the number of solutions we will potentially require to solve this programming question.

If the above assumption is true (which actually is if you take each unit to represent a use case scenario) and further assuming there are unlimited human resources available (or some what close to unlimited) then we will theoretically be able to engage each unit of human resource to one use case. Suppose there exist not dependencies between any use cases, this would mean that a programming problem of a 1000 use cases could in actual fact be solved within the period required to solve just one use case.

Theoretically speaking, this seems to be a sound and workable solution, however I am now still keeping my fingers crossed. Who knows what kind of exception might happen in this system which I have thus far envisioned in my mind and am slowly weaving into reality.

taking the plunge into cloud sourcing

I have been considering a possibility for the longest time now but neither had the opportunity nor the inclination to test out its feasibility. However due to the recent resource constrains faced coupled with the fast turn around time required, I am thus left in need for alternatives to what is currently available at hand.

Today, just for the sake of testing out the feasibility of this method, I decided to take a simple stand alone use case from amongst one of my clients’ many requirements and throw it to the cloud to see what I get. Surprisingly response I received thus far were extremely positive. I managed to take a look at some of the portfolios made available by my would be suppliers and was pretty impressed by some of their work.

I will leave it to bake for a few more days while I get the design out from Talia (another great graphics designer which I believe I will enjoy working with in the long run) and have it approved by the client. Meanwhile, as I have discussed with Steven the other day, I should really start focusing my efforts on how to get my message across to the other end of the communications channel effectively to facilitate an international outsourcing operation.

Perhaps once the design is out and approved by the client, I will subscribe to this service that has been so frequently used by my counter parts in India. I believe whilst it will result in fixed monthly subscription bills, the cost should be marginal compared to the potential cost savings I will received in the long run.

The importance of knowledge management within an organization

Lawrence dropped by at my place this evening, he had some issues with a few of his software packages he apparently had problems solving. In the name of  friendship, I solved it for him. It took but a while.

I was asking about his recently operations and soon realized that he was being extremely occupied of late. Majority of the problem revolves around available resources (time Lawrence has available to him) not capable of existing supporting needs (requirements of his customers)

The secondary problem revolved around the inefficiency of information transfer based on the current most predominant long distance channels of communication, namely voice conversation and text email messages.

Suddenly it occurred to me, that a lack of proper knowledge management system might be a contributing source to his problem. He expressed that supposed he got sick one day and one of his colleagues had to take over his duties, that colleague would be suddenly lost in the midst of a strange environment his is not aware of. He said he had the same problems as well when he first took over the duties of one of his colleagues who departed to join another company.

Also there would have been no need for him to drop by at my place had he been able to effectively transfer his knowledge of the problems he was facing to me via traditional channels of communication.

Thinking back, I realized it was such a waste of the time to have to travel from one place to the next to convey a message simply because long distance communications failed.

Further pondering on this issue of knowledge transfer, it suddenly occurred to me weren’t there multiple instances of developers (me inclusive) around wasting more time than they should because of failure in the knowledge transfer process? To draw a simple example from my experience, there were in deed a few times when I had to commit hours to solve a problem that had already been solved by another of my colleague simple because his knowledge of how to solve the problem could not be effectively transferred to be. Had the transfer been successful I would have to waste tons of time attempting to figure out the solution to a problem and he would not have to waste the same amount of time attempting to guide me through the problem over the phone in real time.

What if there is a knowledge repository over the internet where people could go to for detailed instructions of how to solve their problems? What if someone could solve a problem once and thereafter have his knowledge effectively packaged, stored and there after transmitted to the people who need it without as ambiguity?

There have been past attempts to do so over the internet with the use of forums. However, ambiguity often results due to the difference in the way a message was encrypted in words for storing and thereafter decrypted from these same words for usage. The only site that came close to fulfilling this function over the internet thus far is YouTube which is actually becoming quite popular as a self learning tool used by many.

Just for experimentations sake, and partially due to the inspiration I acquired from my reading of the book “the world is flat”,  during my next IT project, I will attempt to engage a friend in India to aid me in the development of a few functions and components on Joomla. If this method which I envision to use to further promote effective long distance communications works, I might have for myself a viable outsourcing model. Then again fingers crossed.

An interesting and perhaps useful observation

My revenue from Google adsense has suddenly fallen to a record low despite the same quantity of click throughs per day.  At first I thought it was to do with something I did and I thus went to study the data available in Google analytics. All data available shows that things were still pretty much unchanged within the sites I am maintaining.

I was puzzled. I was speculating if some advertisers managed to identify low paying keywords for their adwords campaign. I studied the advertisements on display. They were still pretty much the usual ones. I remained baffled.

Over the period of the past two week similar signs started showing up in other non related areas.

Dad commented that the stock market was experiencing diarrhea for reasons unknown. This was after slowly recovering from beginning of the year. Stock prices were falling all over again.

The volume of sales lead over various channels started to slow down after somewhat peaking from two weeks back. Potential leads that have yet to  enter into closing stage of the sale started becoming hesitant too.

A few days ago, the real cause of things finally reveal itself. The European economy was facing finanical problems within three countries that were in the peripheral regions of the union. Last reported, it seemed that Germany the main power house within Europe was in the process of being adversely affected. All these tell tale signs that were happening before were in fact somewhat related. They were symptoms for the next wave of financial crisis that will be spreading around again.

Nassim Taleb, said in his book the Black Swan that thanks to the vast improvements of our communication systems (internet being one of them), we are now experiencing increased levels of connectedness between different regions of the world. As such we are becoming more susceptible to the black swan phenomenon.

The above statement translates to mean that there has been an increase in the occurrences of  unforeseeable events, per unit time of late as compared to the last century, which affected the world on an extremely large magnitude in terms of repercussion.

The way I see it is that all these events (e.g. European financial crisis, Layman brothers collapse) are like the coming into existence of new strains of formidable viruses of the non biological kind. The effects you see (severe drop in stock market prices) are symptoms. The communications channels (internet, television, newspapers) we have available at our disposal are the like vectors that spread the effects around.

While our communication systems are advanced, they are not altogether perfect. Effects take time to spread still. So if its possible for you to plant a tracker somewhere further up the communications channels, you will get better data faster and make more informed decisions. Thus far it seems out of the various channels for communication available, trackers related to the internet channel seems to be the most sensitive of the lot.

Some issues with google Ajax language translator service

Apparently Google is having some issue with their language translator service. I found out about this problem when I tried to play around with the gTranslate module for Joomla.The below message got shown.

Error: The server could not complete your request. Try again later.
So it seems relying completely on third party ajax based api is pretty iffy most of the time.

Hmmm.. Funny after a while it works????

Huge influx of opportunites and the hidden opportunity cost

Suddenly I experienced a surge in the amount of opportunities coming my way these few weeks. Being faithful to the teachings in the topic of Economy during my times in the commerce faculty back in Junior college and in the stream of electronic commerce  back while I was doing my honours in the university, I understood and felt strongly the other side of the equation.

Opportunity cost!

Opportunity cost is defined as the lost incurred when you forego the next best alternative in the process of deciding on one of the available opportunities.

Let me talk in layman terms for your better understanding. Suppose one day you decide to spend 5 hours of your time reading a book in the library instead of spending those 5 hours sitting by the beach and reading the same book. The opportunity cost to you in this situation is the joy you feel when you sit by the beach. In this scenario, the cost is hard to quantify.

Let me illustrate for you a better example which I will draw from a real life situation.

Client A approaches me presenting before me a deal that could potentially make $4000. It requires an upfront investment of my real time of 80 hours. (as opposed to virtual time – aka asynchronous delay or some one else’s time) There exist 2% chance of complications happening. (this we will define as risk)

Client B approaches me at the same time presenting me another deal that could potentially make $10,000. It requires an upfront investment of my real time of 300 hours. (as opposed to virtual time – aka asynchronous delay or some one else’s time) There exist 10% chance of complications happening. (this we will define as risk)

As both clients came to me at the same time in need of my real time immediately, I am now faced with a situation whereby I will need to choose one and forego the other. To a normal person, he would very likely choose the deal that offers $10,000. However on closer inspection, the second deal is not actually a very good deal as compared to the other.

Let me work out the mathetics

Total likely incurrable man hours for deal A – 80 hours X 1.02 = 82 hours
Total revenue receivable $4000
Actual hourly rate for real time sold = $48.5

Total likely incurrable man hours for deal B – 300 X 1.05 = 315 hours
Total revenue receivable $10,000
Actual hourly rate for real time sold = $31.75

Some might explain that the lower rate justifies for the large sum of potential revenue receiveable in deal A. Ok then lets do the math for the other part of the equation still left invisible.

Given this active period in the market, the percentage of closing more deals simlar to A in nature is around 60%. Translated into hours it would be estimated at  (315-82 hours) * 0.60 = 140 hours

Appling the prevailings rates in deal A to this equation, I will get 140hours X 48.5 = $6,790

So if I choose to take up deal A and forego deal B, below are the mathematics:

I will have saved [315 – (140+82 )] 93 hours of my precious time and still potentially make [$10,790 – $10,000] $790 more.

Also since, I have a few channels which I could devote my time to build up recurring  income, this 93 hours extra time available at my disposal could thus be used to expose myself to the effects of the positive black swan, with zero opportunity cost incurred by me. So basically, the net comparison will be as per below :

[$10,790 +++ versus $10,000 nett]

Actually the equation that brought me to the conclusion of never getting myself employed into a full time job and a fix salary per month is almost similar to this. Get employed with a fix salary of $3000 per month and the possible financial situation you will be facing for the next 12 months will likely be

($3,000 X 12 ) = $36, 000 —

  • The minus sign is just in case your boss decides to fire your ass before the year ends.
  • also your maximum potential income has been capped at $36,000

Go about living life as a free bird

$0+++ = ???

  • Don’t worry God is kind
  • you normally won’t die from what you already, it is usually what you don’t know that will kill you.
  • You know what is your base but your upper boundary has no limits!

Life is great live free!!!!!