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.

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.

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…

Inheritance of will

I was working the entire afternoon at the Great World City on this Father’s day. It was the launch of DBS’s EduSmart insurance scheme. I was dressed as the Judge while Dylan was dressed as the astronaut. The place was full of parents with children. It was expected. After all the edusmart insurance scheme was mainly targeted at young parents with children of pre-school age.

I was chatting with some of the kids and was asking about their dreams. What did they really wanted to become when they grew up. Apparently their dreams were mainly restricted to what professions they would like to enter into during their adult life. Lawyers, teachers, detectives, judges, car racers, astronauts! (at least 2 of these were high enough on the outrageous , and must be applauded on and strongly encouraged!)

Seeing these kids with their future with endless possibilities open before them, I had at the back of my mind some thoughts. How many of them will actually achieve their dreams and live the life they want? How many of them will eventually choose to give up their dreams as they go along in their lives and go for second best?

As one ventures further along one’s path in life seeking one’s dream, circumstances will happen. Some doors of opportunity will open and others will close. It almost feels like a game of deal or no deal. In this hypothetical game as each door closes, the  possibilities available becomes more and more limited. One is mentally breaks somewhere along the way and decides to come to a compromise and go for second best.

In the real world however, the rules of this hypothetical game does not necessarily apply. Till the time of one’s death, the possibilities available will be limitless! There are multiple doors leading to the same intended path. One need not feel despair if one such door closes. All that is necessary is to seek the next door that leads to the same path.

One thing I fear most for these kids that I had the chance to come in contact with today is that some day their parents or the social system in which we live in today might fail them and that they be mislead to believe that the hypothetical rules of deal or no deal actually applies to real life too. Johnson my cousin has one extremely nice phrase to describe this sickness that I have just described “THE SINS OF FATHERS”.

The sins of fathers is when the previous generation in an attempt to protect the younger generation from harm attempts to inculcate values that are already outdated and in some circumstances extremely harmful. These values are based on the norms perceived to work for the prior generation which might actually be very true back in the old days, however no longer applicable due to the rapid changes happening in this century of ours.

I had during today’s publicity event came across a few kids in their early stage of adolescent who gave me this very worrying response to my question “I don’t know!” Obviously something must have killed their dreams somewhere along the way between their times of early childhood and now. With no more dreams these young individuals are now cast away without any true sense of direction for their own lives.

I really wanted to grab and shake them hard then screaming right into their face these words “recall what your dreams are! Don’t let them die in some metaphysical graveyard! Fight for it! Bring it to reality! So what if society says it is not possible! So what if your parents tell you it is not practical. There is never any need to compromise! Put everything that is in your path out of the way and your dreams will definitely come true one day. Even if not, to die trying will really make this life of yours one that was really worth living!” But of course, I didn’t. Their choice of path is theirs to make.

In a sense one has to be extremely selfish and machiavellic a person to follow a path totally according to one’s desire which somewhat explains for the anger, frustration and utter helplessness sometimes felt by my parents and my love ones (or rather ex-love ones before they finally shed one tear too much). Somehow, I could not help myself , attempts to have me shackled with those invisible chains called relationships will always invoke in me either of the following three. Physical aggression, physiological aggression or simply out right rebellion. My will is my own. I was somewhat amazed that Win managed to decipher this from just reading my palm one night when we were out clubbing in Clark Quay. “My way or the high way” he concluded. Which is very true to my beliefs of life. After all, I have but an estimated 42 years of time left, I have no time to waste on making compromises.

time to drop it

This afternoon when I stepped out of the train after 3 long sessions meeting with different clients, I felt somewhat weird. While the train was on its way heading towards Clementi, my subconscious mind spoke to me. It emitted this sense of danger, call it spider sense if you will. I started looking inwards, after a short while I managed to identify the source of this wrongness.

During this recent spate of hectic schedule, I was unconsciously blind siding myself by developing tunnel vision and I knew it could get potentially very dangerous. My brain due to the recent overload of external stimuli had kicked itself  into overdrive mode  (the general direction of my tunnel vision) . This is causing my recent inability to sleep. This inability to sleep further compounded my excessive brain activity. It was a vicious cycle. I was literally walking around like an highly animated zombie during day time in an unnatural state of prolonged hung over.

Pasha a few days ago while we were doing some discussions in the west coast park noted this drastic decrease in my recent span of attention and also this tunnel vision of mine.  I have to admit that is the truth. Information is just slipping off my mind before I could even register it to my memory. In fact there have been more than a few occasions, when I experienced serious time lag when attempting to retrieve from my brains facts and information that should have been at my finger tips at any single time (talk about trying to recall what your own name is, haha!). There are increasingly more occasions when I develop this tunnel vision and enter a state of fixation.

Jim while driving my back to his place to discuss about his website pointed out to me, the time lag I had registering “contest” as “contest” instead of “content” during our IMH presentation. Damned! I should have consulted a doctor while I was there at IMH today. 😛

Hmmm, actually the part about me bringing up the fact that they once had their Hawaiian themed annual dinner and dance at the Expo really got them disoriented. I play my little pranks sometimes, I just can’t help myself.

Back to this issue about my insomnia, I think I got Satheesh really annoyed with it today. Opps. sorry my friend.

Hmmmm… I need to find a solution to it soon.

A possibility to this is taking a long break. I mentioned to Jim while I was in the car that I was intending of taking a two months break in some cheap 3rd world countries with no internet or communications facilities and live under 100usd per month after these current projects of mine finished.

While Jim brought up a valid point about the possibility of me losing lots of business in the process. In this case, it is two against one.

Pasha advised that if I go on anymore like this, something irreparable will break.

Dad has been admonishing me with this statement over and over again recently. “Son, make money for yourself and not for the doctors. ”

Now that Alena is out of the picture and is nicely fending for herself, there is really no reason for my continued presence around on this tiny red dot. Ricky was joking just the other day about this.

“It was weird what happened to you while you started hanging around her two years ago. Now that she is out of the picture, I think you will be getting back to your normal self soon enough. It was even amazing you stayed with her for so long, two long years. It was breaking the guineas world record man. The only other girl that I know of that even got close was just 2 months and you didn’t even see that girl more than once a week. Haha ”

I think for my health, I should really start making provisions for this long over due break of mine. I need to get my spiritual center back.

hilarious nonsense and the failure to be classified

It was just past midnight and I was sitting outside club Attica drinking from my bottle of Heineken.

Suddenly, from where abouts I have no idea of, I  popped this question to those two sitting right beside me “have you ever made a green shooting star? ”

They looked at me totally puzzled.

“Green shooting star?”

“Oh Yes! green shooting star” I insisted. Laughing away maniacly at myself.

“What the hell is that?”

“Alrite I am gonna show you later” I replied in my drunken stupor.

Nash soon walked off with looking for chics. His was quite a profitable venture too, he soon brought back two of them. I was by then on the verge of finishing my bottle of heineken.

I finished the last sip from my bottle of heineken, I once again popped the question but this time to the two new comers.

“Have you ever saw a green shooting stars? ”

“What?” they responded puzzled once again.

“Alrite let me show you”

I stood up then and flung the green empty bottle of heinken across to the far side of the river.

“Now you see green shooting stars. Hahahaha!” I burst out laughing incapable of controlling my mirth.

While Nash and this other dude with a cool looking goatie laughed along. Those two new comers looked at me in the weirdest way possible then and walked off.

“Sigh. Some jokes are just too hard to get” I exclaimed and kept laughed away oblivious to everything around me.

Interestingly, this is not the first time. We have this inherent urge within us to classify everything. In a sense, such an act provides us with a false sense of comfort and security in this otherwise anarchical reality of ours. The same thing goes too with our dealings with other individuals whom we see for the first time.

It is generally true for us to harbour prejudices towards a stranger whom we met for the first time. And this prejudice is often based on something external and superficial such as looks, hair style, height, built, race, clothing accessories. It is just amazing how fast we form this prejudice. Our synapses just forms it within the wink of an eye and it suddenly becomes our overriding reality without any concious decision making on our part. This just goes on to show how suggestible we truly are as humans.

On the other side of the coin, take an instance whereby your prejudiced is immediatlely shattered by a strongly contradictory evidence that shortly presents this prejudice is formed. That really leaves you with two options. The first is to simply ignore the new evidences available and go about the current reality that you have already created for yourself. The second is throw what you think you knew of the world out of the window and relearn everything from scratch.

The defining difference between people who choose the second option over the first option, is their level of openness to change. In some literature, this is one defined as one of the main characteristics of a person live a happy and carefree life despite the fact that 2012 and the end of the world might be coming to theaters near you. Haha!

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.

A very familiar prose

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

After many years, I can finally across the above again, this time while reading through the book Dune by Frank Herbert at page 6. The first time I did so was when I went sky diving in New Zealand. There is really great truth to be found in this 8 sentences. Even Sun Tze ever spoke about it, though in another form, popularly known as Sun Tze’s death ground theory.

Take away all the gimmicks that has been flooding the time and space of our age and the underlying wisdom remains unchanged through the ages.  In a sense, as a species though we might have made advancement in terms of science and technology, we did not really progress in terms of other arena.

Then again the advancement in terms of science and technology is much debateable, historians has made findings that hinted at the existance of technologically advanced civilisations that existed prior to ours.

Maybe we have been and will always be doomed to go around in this meaningless cycle. Well at least if there is any consolation to be had from this time and age, we could at least be happy with the fact that unlike those who past before us, we have the ipod and blackberry to keep us entertained while the merry go round continues.

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!!!!!