{jason : ong}

Note to self

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Why you should move to Silicon Valley

This is taken from a Facebook discussion on differences between US and Asia tech markets.

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Dear developers and software engineers, please move to the US if you can, especially Silicon Valley.

It’s hard for me to say this because for years I’ve been trying to improve developer happiness in Singapore through events and community building.

I’m prescribing this not because of the money. Many of you have suggested right that money is relative and not a good measure of overall wealth.

Take myself for example. Yes, I’m working in Silicon Valley and getting a high salary but I feel poorer because I’ve sacrificed all the social and cultural capita that I have in Singapore.

I’m prescribing Silicon Valley because there’s much opportunities for personal growth; The kind of work you’ll do, the people that you’ll meet and the attitude towards technology systems.

Growth comes from being in a conducive market that’s big enough. As a 5 million city with no hinterland, Singapore isn’t big enough a market for “IT”. For trade, yes, because of our strategic locale with regards to international trade. Therefore “IT” has been sidelined as a functional cost center.

Someone once said to me, “the grass is greener where you water it”.

Yes, I totally agree, and it’s not my intention to get people to start abandoning their roots. But rather, I view it as sometimes necessary to go over to the other side of the pasture to fetch fresh water.

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In response to a discussion whether Singapore is better than Silicon Valley for doing hardware startups

Thanks for the lively discussion. I would like to offer another perspective. :)

SV is a special place, an oddball even when compared to the rest of US. People from all over the country and the globe have self-selected themselves to relocate there to be a part of it. These people, inspired by what they have encountered in the place; For some it’s the all year round weather, others the almost risk free venture backed roller coaster ride. I was inspired by her people and the conversations I had during a 3 month visit in 2011, thus the decision to make this place my base for the next few years.

Likewise, SG is a special place in her own right. She has managed to attract many folks who self-selected themselves to be a part of her for whatever reasons; Maybe tax incentives, proximity to asian countries, comfortable living, or even cheap kopi-o? Who knows? Whatever your inspiration, or in economic term, incentives.

Although I agree with Bunny’s points on all the practical advantages from a business perspective, I chose SV for now because of the incentives that I get so I’m willing to bear with all the inconveniences as rightly pointed out by Bunny. Many generations of folks from all over felt the same and went through a lot of trouble to relocate here.

This self selection process is what makes a place great. It’s a factor of people over a long period. To say a place is better than [x] because of [y] is a short sighted approach. If Singapore is really great for doing hardware then people will naturally come set up shop and make the place vibrant.

In summary, my philosophy regarding places is this; The grass is greener where you water it but sometimes you gotta go over to the other pasture to find water. The adventure is in the journey so go get your own. Great thing about Singaporeans is our citizenship/passport offers much more mobility than other countries so that’s already one less barrier. :)

Original facebook post: 

https://www.facebook.com/calvin.cheng.lc/posts/10151781294506221

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Every time someone, responsible or not, shifts a problem to someone else, there’s compounding interest to the problem incurred.

Jason on why the buck should stop at me.

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Keys to working remotely effectively

1. Timezone.
A remote worker might be in a different timezone so there’s a need to compromise on work hours a little. Eg. Attend online meetings late at night, etc.
2. Invest in a good internet connection.
I often see a how bad connection ruins an otherwise perfect online meeting. All parties must get this right.
3. Diligence in asynchronous communication.
Since a remote worker doesn’t have the luxury of face to face communication, it’s important to work harder at responding promptly and nicely to emails, chat rooms and online discussions, eg. Lots of :) in Github pull requests :).
4. Google Hangout.
We are fortunate to be living in this game changing era where online synchronous communication tools like Google Hangout are available for free. The trick to using these tools effectively is to overcompensate for the lack of dimensions. Eg. Prepare notes beforehand, talk louder, exaggerate expressions.

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Feedback to a rejected job applicant

Hi Jason,
Thank you for reviewing my application and informing me. I understand if it’s not a match.
I have 2 questions if it’s not too much trouble:
1. Would you mind giving me some feedback on what you would have liked to seen?
2. What would you recommend that I do to help improve my Rails skill & knowledge? I’m finding there’s a lack of material beyond the basic blog and e-commerce examples to learn how to structure and write good real-world web apps.
Best Regards,
XXX
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Hi XXX,
Great attitude! I’m more than happy to give you some feedback.
Before I start, I should clarify that it’s not that you’re not a good candidate, rather there are stronger candidates. :)
Here’s some tips for improvements.
1. A strong Github profile.
Experienced teams look closely at your Github commits. I’ll recommend that you either start an open source project to scratch your own itch or join an existing one that has good traction. The idea is to show you’re a capable and passionate builder.
2. Technical blog.
May not have to be entirely technical. Basically an outlet for your thoughts. It’s a great place to understand one’s philosophy and thought processes. Highlight your best articles written so it doesn’t escape the busy.
3. Participate in your local ruby/rails meetup.
Get to know folks. Join teams. Start projects together. You’ll be amazed how that can lead to interesting opportunities even without touching your resume.
4. Ruby Parley.
Join the ruby parley mailing list. Scratch your own itch and get advice from high quality folks.
5. Read books.
Try reading Practical Object Oriented Ruby and Enterprise Rails. You should get a good idea of structuring your Rails code.
6. Watch videos.
There lots of great video from Ruby/Rails conferences available online for free. The trick is to sieve out the good ones.
7. Silicon Valley.
Relocate here if you can afford it or at least visit the place as often as you can. There’s are tonnes of smart folks that you can learn from. Job opportunities will present itself too. 
Hope these helps! :)

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Why is programming fun?

From the programming classic “Mythical Man Month”.

  • The sheer joy of making things.
  • The pleasure of making things that are useful to other people.
  • The fascination of fashioning complex, interlocking moving parts.
  • The joy of always learning.
  • The delight of working in a tractable medium.

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The power of calling

One of the best selling books in our generation is “A Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren. And it’s for good reason, as humans wants and are capable of achieving a higher purpose. A calling if you will.

The Bible says (paraphrased) “Without vision, my people perish.”. We are who we are because of what we can see with our minds. If I see myself as only a family man, then that’s all that I’ll be. If I see myself as an astronaut, I’ll do whatever’s necessary to reach there. Not saying the latter will ever come true, but a vision is a prerequisite in getting there.

I often struggle when people have a lack of vision. Thoughts like “what’s wrong with them?" quickly comes to mind. It’s like their fault for not seeing into their future and maximizing their potential.

But that’s wrong theology. Jesus gave Peter the fishermen a vision when he said “Follow me and I’ll make you a fisher of men.”. So like the word calling suggests, it has to be called out by others. ie, you don’t call out your own calling - that’s called ambition.

In a perfect world, everybody will have the capacity to see the potential of each other and call out each other’s calling. That’s step #1. The other crucial step is to give the person a chance, an opportunity, a platform to fulfill that calling. In my opinion that requires someone who’s truly capable and spirit filled.

A person is truly powerful if he/she can call out someone else’s calling.

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A teacup isn’t fragile. It withstands tiny shocks many times over. Only in the rare event of extreme shock does it break down.