Since finishing my last marathon 3 months ago I’ve had an almost impossible time getting up and out the door for further training. I still get on my feet and move, but it’s nothing like the commitment of the past.
In preparation for the marathon, and to overcome injuries I seem to consistently suffer through, I was training in excess of 3 hours everyday. Despite plenty of work and study, exercising would seem to have been my primary focus over the winter.
No amount of listening to the non-dulcet tones of Jocko Willink’s voice, or his commands to “go get some” seem to set me in motion. It could be a lack of sleep, change induced anxiety or a shift in focus, but I’m suffering from some kind of aversion to physical training. I’m hoping the clear blue skies and fresh clean air of Prince Edward Island might reenergize me.
Software frequently fails to be good because its creators simply aren’t competent enough software writers. There are many qualifications to that charge, many alleviating circumstances, and a very broad definition of “competent software writer”. But it is a helpful start to accepting responsibility. And accepting responsibility is the first step to improvement.
I write poor software. I hope that someday I won’t but that is the current state I am in.
I completely understand how we ended up here. With good intentions, of course. Learning something new, like programming, is daunting. Imposter syndrome is rife. We have all sorts of reasons why we want to encourage and support everyone trying to entice grumpy computers to dance.
And we’ve succeeded to an astounding degree with those intentions. Getting started programming today has never been easier. From open source to superb books and tutorials to bootcamps, it’s a splendor.
This is in sharp contrast to the fact that programming has also never been harder to master, in both depth and breadth. There has never been more languages, more concepts, more frameworks, libraries, tools. It’s impossible to know, let alone understand it all. What an odd dichotomy.
Learning to program feels like the hardest thing I have ever done. It’s so often boring and frustrating. The resources are there to get you started – too many resources perhaps. But the feeling I have after understanding the most fundamental aspects is one of being lost. Finding a good map is difficult. Writing software that you would actually want to use is difficult.
A friend once said that learning php for him was much like learning Chinese. I see the similarities and I certainly struggled for years before I could claim fluency, but I don’t think the experience is as similar as he claimed. With Chinese you can put to use what you have learned almost immediately, which is fun, and it builds upon itself. Of course there is Hello World in Chinese as well, but that is almost useful while in iOS development at least, it is not.
Originally one of my goals was to try a career change, work remotely for someone as a junior engineer, but that idea might have been naive, at least in the time frame I had set forth. Which is just like my experience in studying Chinese. I thought just over 6 months might be enough, then 4 years went by (including almost 3 full-time), and I was only then becoming functional. Maybe programming will be the same.
This past weekend was the entrance tests that determine which high school grade 9 students can attend in the fall. The 1 1/5 days of tests are the result of close to one school year of preparation. The short video above is of all the kids waiting to enter the examination room.
It’s a complicated process, one in which I don’t quite understand, picking which high school you want to go to. The school zone you live in has little relation to the result, you could live across the street from a high school, but due to choice, poor test scores, or enrollment levels a student could end up traveling across the county for 40 minutes each day to attend class.
My daughter didn’t have to write the test, as she will almost assuredly be attending high school in PEI in the fall, but being “mean” and wanting to hedge our bets I pushed her to participate.
Taiwan’s education system at the elementary level is quite good, 7 – 8th grade marginal, and from 9th onward largely a farce. The educational outcomes for these years are largely tests, which produces excellent abilities in rote learning, memorization, following orders, parochial thinking and fixed systematic approaches to doing things. It doesn’t encourage free thinking, creativity, collaboration and a love of learning.
A plus is that there are some vocational opportunities for those kids smart enough to realize that an academic education is not for all. Unfortunately these opportunities are largely frowned upon and framed in a failure to achieve mentality.
I stopped into one of my favorite places this afternoon enroute to the eye doctor. The coffee has been pretty consistent at Ink Café over the years and I am going to miss dropping in occasionally. Though I am sure a place exists, I have yet to find any equivalent in my travels throughout Atlantic Canada. Fueled by a couple latte’s and a piece of cheese cake I managed to be productive for a couple hours before I had to leave for the eye doctor.
Being of the age where its common to require reading glasses or progressive lens, I’ve been driven insane by the constant need to take my glasses off whenever I want to read something near to my face. What generally happens afterwards, is a mad scramble around the house whenever I need to go out or watch TV due to not remembering where I placed them.
Hopefully progressive lenses will eliminate that hassle. Without health insurance the visit cost more – ~$30 CAN for prescription in hand. Another reason I will miss Taiwan, cheap near immediate access to quality health care.
Next up was a visit to the “iPhone doctor”. These repair places are everywhere here and they offer all kinds of upgrades. The place I went into smelled of greasy KFC but the owner and his wife seemed nice enough. My daughter goes through phones like others go through tissue. A new screen for her old iPhone 5s is going cost $60CAN for non-factory original. I might update the battery for an additional $30. BYOD seems to be the best way to go in Canada with the exorbitant fees, so this price certainly beats purchasing through a telecom, or buying off Kijiji.
There is a first time for everything. One of my WordPress sites had malware installed which caused the homepage to redirect to some spam site. Things were much simpler when I used Moveabletype and delivered flat files.
The problem is solved for now, but I still have no idea how “they” managed to get access, nor do I care much to go down the rabbit hole that is exploring all the ways to securing a WordPress install. I already do the most obvious.
— Ken (@Ken) May 10, 2018
The line-ups are long for Chunghua’s Mothers day promotion – 499NT$ for all you use 4G data, thats about $21 CAN. I currently pay $24 to Rogers just to keep my number active. I heard another telecom is offering an online only offer of about $12 CAN.
For the past 15 years or so I’ve kept a diary of sorts, this blog and others also serve as a diary but I haven’t really been able to utilize them as such. I first started just keeping audio recordings, a lazy way of record keeping, and for the past 4 years have been using Day One to write short notes, rants, goals, photos etc. as a form of cheap therapy, and to serve as a record of the days events. I’m not religious about it, but my memory being as it is I find it valuable to look back at the events and mistakes of the past. Day One has a great “on this day” feature that helps with that.
Going through past entries I see that we were all much sicker in the past. My recent bought of sneezes were extremely short lived, all of a morning, and it was truly an anomaly as outside of gastro intestinal issues I seldom get sick. Whether this is due to my relative isolation, better diet, exercise or a combination of all I don’t know. But on a number of occasions in the past I was complaining about bad head colds and other maladies.
Some problems repeat themselves. 10 years ago one of our dogs had me up through the night due to her crying and I was knee deep in doggy poop as a result. Just the other night Sheryl, who does have a bad cold, was up through the night with our other dog who was crying because she needed to go outside to relieve herself.
Lastly, it seems now, as then, I get stuck in these productivity sucking deep dives that take up the better part of the morning. Things like reading past diaries and the resulting introspection.
MEI claims the study is “simplistic and misleading” because it ignores factors that can inflate prices, such as Canada’s geographical barriers and the investments that Canadian telcos have made to provide superior wireless services.
“We have some of the best networks in the world,” said MEI report author Martin Masse. “We’re paying for a Lexus, but it’s worth a Lexus.”
This must be the most ridiculous metaphor I have ever heard but if they want to use it, a Corolla or Yarus at BMW prices might be more apt.
As for the argument that Canada’s wireless services are comparable to driving a luxury car, like a Lexus, not every Canadian can afford — or even wants — Lexus-like services, says Laura Tribe, executive director of consumer advocacy group Open Media.
“Not everyone needs an elite product,” said Tribe. “We have expensive; we don’t have affordable.”
She even gets it wrong.
Months ago, when I created a spreadsheet to budget our monthly expenses in Canada, the biggest percentage change in the budget month over month was wireless and home internet charges. Our current usage habits here were not going to be sustainable in Canada.
As a point of contrast:
Currently we have the kids plans which cost the equivalent of $4.00 CAN a month with 1 gig each of data. They both came with free Android devices which failed and were replaced with older iPhones we had on hand. The plan my wife I have is $43 CAN each for unlimited data – the price was originally marginally higher as it subsidized our iPhones. We don’t care about talk minutes or sms, as everything uses data.
Currently Chunghua Telecom, the national carrier has a Mothers day special available from today until the 15th, detailed below:
- 30 Months contract
- ~$31 CAN/Month
- Unlimited Internet
- Free calls within CHT
- 90min/month free calls to other mobile providers and landline.
Alternatively, limited to 12GB/month and less free calls: ~$13 CAN/Month. If you want an iPhone, the price goes up to ~ $25 CAN / Month.
Phone quality and speed is excellent, and even when you find yourself at the top of some remote mountain you can still stream video.
I’m surprised more Canadian aren’t up in arms over the price gouging they endure at the hands of telecoms.
Since the SARS epidemic here in Taiwan, which served as a sneak peak into a dystopian future, I’ve been very careful about trying to prevent contact with virus’s while out and about in whatever city we are in. Not to the point of developing some kind of complex or OCD, but a gentle reminder to watch where we place our hands, keep them clean and away from our face. Common sense when living in crowded environments.
Unfortunately all these good intentions don’t help when faced with the other peoples lack concern with the health of others. On the train from the HSR Sunday an older woman felt it necessary to sneeze on me, and with boy body being run down from lack of sleep I’ve now caught a cold. My first in recent memory.
My one way ticket has been issued. With only 6 weeks left on this island, the clock is ticking and we are using all of this remaining time to visit those special local restaurants that we have been frequenting since we arrived here so many years ago.
When we travel we have always eschewed fancy restaurants, hotel food, or so-called expat eateries (expat is a term I abhor), as we have preferred to eat where the locals eat. Often these places are found off the beaten path and can require some effort to find. This same philosophy applies to where we call home, as you can walk around any neighborhood in Hsinchu or Taipei and find a new place to experience. Of course as a family with limited resources, there are good sound economic reasons to do this as well.
One of the great advantages of living in Taiwan is that despite being towards the end of the month, when the budget is tighter, you can still afford to go out to a restaurant and feed a family of 4. Taiwan’s “small eats” or junk food is far tastier than what you would find in Canada.
The other great advantage of living in Taiwan, is that this country has such a wide range of good food to eat. Within walking distance of our house the whole world is represented; Indian, Korean, Italian, Japanese, American (Cajun), Thai., and French food is all available. As well, as all the regions of China.
Here is some of the food we have started to sample:
I wrote a short entry recently on the UX of the contact feature, essentially about how sending email is more often than not a waste of time. Company’s keep putting up contact details but can’t follow through with “people systems” to actually reply to inquiries. In Taiwan, using Line or Facebook gets you far better results. In China, email doesn’t really exist and your life revolves around WeChat.
In my very very limited sample set, many of these types of problems in the past year or so have been with Canadian banks, who despite having created complex contact protocols to their staff (sales people disguised as advisors), have a terrible record of communication. Is banking in Canada still an in person business culture?
When finding financing for a home we skipped the email chain entirely and were personally recommended to someone in a bank in my wife’s hometown. A long expensive phone call later we gave her our life story, with a promise to continue the meeting in a couple of days. Having gone through this process before I know if she knew how to use her information system at her desk she would have most of the information she need within an hour but chalked it up to inexperience with international clients. She never did continue the conversation nor reply to further enquiries.
Contrast that with smaller companies we have been dealing with in Prince Edward Island who on the phone and via email have been more than helpful. One of which I will visit in person, despite not going forward with their offer, to thank for their help. Are the incentives different for those with small businesses?
I shared a little over a month ago the difficulties we were having in finding a place to live in Prince Edward Island. It was something that we hadn’t planned for, nor experienced in the past.
To get past this roadblock we decided that we would simply buy instead of rent. We have long planned to have property on PEI of some sort, either for the summer or long term habitation, and this would simply push forward our plans a year or so. Of course thinking of buying a house and actually buying are widely disparate things.
So for the past month I have gone down a deep deep rabbit hole which is the home buying on a budget experience. Doing so from Taiwan made the process all the more difficult and expensive. Not being from the 1%, or the 10% for that matter, we need to secure a mortgage. Being away for so long meant we were treated as non-residents, which we were, despite my attempts this past year to the contrary. So we didn’t have access to programs and rates available to other Canadians.
It’s a funny thing how banks decide what kind of mortgage you qualify for. It’s always geared towards the maximum – you go through the process and they proclaim you can afford a huge home you don’t need. Even the bank’s online calculators are far too simplistic and don’t take into account how a heavy mortgage changes a person’s lifestyle. Luckily we were looking to downsize, and looking at a more sustainable long term living.
Most of the houses we found were of the fixer-upper type. I prefer older homes but not being “handy” I was getting concerned that my first year back on the Island was going to be primarily spent renovating or fixing whatever problems might occur. I had really hoped to focus on my work and getting the kids settled on their other Island adventure.
But as luck would have it, our house buying experience and my deep dive into home renovation how to videos, was for naught. Through a connection, everything seems to be through a connection on PEI, we heard there was an apartment available in the Charlottetown area. A few phone calls later, and after a relative went to have a viewing, I signed a lease and paid the fees to secure the apartment. It would appear we have a place to live.
What a relief.