H1 2017 life update (Part 2)

So, after all those activities, I still need to prepare my wedding on the end of this July. I flied from Singapore to Jakarta from 03 to 11 June 2017. I need to submit all necessary documents for civil registration. I and my fiancee went to our food vendor for food tasting together with my extended family.

And then we went to Ancol beach to do our prewedding photo taking. My fiancee was stuck in traffic jam and we started a bit late (around 11am) but after awhile everything was working fine. I am quite satisfied with the result but admittedly during night time the noises are quite visible in the photos. On the weekend, we visited my fiancee’s home to take picture with her dogs.

On Sunday, we have our last premarital counseling session with my senior pastor. And then, we went to my mom’s goldsmith acquaintance to collect our wedding ring. Unfortunately, the size still did not fit me and hence they need to enlarge the ring but I flied to Singapore that night on the same day.

During my leisure time, I also tried to apply to some job openings from Jobstreet as previously I have submitted my resignation from Hiend and my last day will be on 26 July.

I decided to quit because I feel that currently there is an oversupply of software engineer, business analyst and project manager in IT industry. All of my NTU friends from Computer Science and Engineering (around 20-25 people), around 80-90% of them are software engineers (although later some become business analyst, project manager and leaving IT industry all together).

So I tried to find non-software engineer job related to my specialization (like security analyst, consultant or researcher) but all of them have formidable requirements. I have applied to 7-8 job openings but no response after 1-2 weeks. There is also no confirmation from ADSC about their future funding or if I will be converted to their full-time staff after my internship.

Then, I begin to worry about possibility of financial issue after marriage after I declared my resignation. I am still currently studying part-time and my wife may also not finding appropriate job instantly when she moved to Singapore. But remembering almost sleepless nights during peak period last semester, I decided not to experience another two part-time jobs and two master modules. For me, being able to work for 8 years in Singapore is good enough already. More than that is surplus. I just leave this matter to God as it is already beyond my control.

Then, there is a job opening posted in NUS email. A professor who specialized in software security is looking for research engineer to do automated debugger for mobile apps security. Initially, I ignored that job advertisement for a week. But after no update from ADSC, I decided to try applying. Surprisingly, the prof responded almost instantly (within 2-3 hours). Within 2 days, I met with the professor and he interrogated me about my past projects and after that he explained several projects that he is currently doing. He asked me about my career aspiration to match me with available project.

In the second meeting with a PhD student and a research fellow from professor’s team, I expressed my wish to work on project related to malware detection and analysis. The professor said he may get the funding for such project in second year and he will work with industry partner (Kaspersky Lab, to be exact). If such thing happened, it will be good progress for my career.

Unfortunately, it is just two years contract (Although I think it is fine, since I considered this as entry level job in security domain…). Furthermore, with given salary, I am still able to feed my family, my fiancee and her mom. Given that, I am still grateful. Apparently, my career here has not ended yet. Hopefully, I can survive another semester. End of update for H1 2017.

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H1 2017 life update (Part 1)

After endless assignments, projects, paper submission and wedding preparation, eventually I have a time to write this update (Thanks, God!). From my previous post, readers would already know that for this H1 2017 I have two part-time jobs and two master coursework. I have not done such thing before so initially it seems so overwhelming.

So, ADSC internship turned out not so related with what I have expected. The project they are doing is more related to ICS (Industrial Control Systems), which I think to be more appropriate for electrical engineer instead of software engineer. There was not much coding involved. Basically, my main work during H1 2017 consisted of literature survey, developing attack model and solution requirement, setting VMs for simulation and deployed them into cloud environment (Google Cloud and Amazon AWS). However, I cannot complain because it is just part-time position. They have given me decent allowance (around S$700 dollar per month during study period and S$1,800 dollar per month during summer) and it greatly helped me to finance my wedding.

The sad thing is that most likely I cannot continue my internship into full-time position there. Until now, there is no confirmation on the project funding. Throughout 2-3 months of my internship there, there are around 8-9 full time staffs who resigned and they did not get any replacement. That included my teammate under the same project, who cannot find the job in Singapore and he need to move to Thailand (He got the job in Agoda). Another colleague has a financial issue because his child was not accepted into Singapore public school (Private school is quite expensive in Singapore – it will cost around S$1,000-1,500) and he and his family eventually relocated to Australia.

In the end, my supervisor and me submitted one paper for IEEE SmartGridComm. We will know the result in mid-July if the paper is accepted.

For my job in Hiend, luckily there was not much issues. Admittedly, my manager told me to do UAT or PROD deployment at the same time as NUS assignment deadline and it is really tiring to go to three or four places at the same day (ADSC office in Fusionopolis, Hiend office in Tai Seng, NEA in Newton, and NUS SoC for meeting with my group mates). I am supposed to have one project with Ministry of Education which need to be done. However, due to unavailable schedule, I need to postpone it after exam period.

One interesting thing is that when this project is signed I am in dire need of cash because of my wedding’s vendor payment. I am not expecting pay cut last year and I also underestimate my wedding cost. Hence, I requested my manager to give me the cash bonus first because the project has already signed-off and confirmed. Usually, I am only able to get my bonus after completion of the project. But, surprisingly, my request was granted and I am thanking God for that =D.

For my NUS coursework, I took two modules this semester – Wireless Networking and Advanced Operating Systems.

I took Wireless Networking because ADSC also has IoT project, which I am interested to do. The substantial portion of module content is related to hardware and physics. Some physical formula involved such as radio signal strength and energy capacity. I never have to deal with such thing before as computer science so it is some learning curve for me. Then, this module also has tutorial which need to be done and your attendance is part of assessment. The tutorial is done during working hour as this is undergraduate course. Hence, it is quite challenging for me and I never have a time to even take a look at the tutorial.

Furthermore, I need to deal with some teammates which seems do not have much appetite or time to do assignment properly. From my estimation, I need to do around 70-80% of the assignment and even then one of them cannot finish their part. One of them lied to say he has finished his part (data collection for Wi-Fi fingerprint at assigned public place) but the night before deadline he said he has not done it, because when he reached the place, he was running out of battery and did not bring any charger. During discussion, he also never present and even for presentation although I already told them the time and venue. Eventually, we have no choice but to report him to our lecturer (He actually asked us where is our teammate and we said that he is not contactable).

For another course (Advanced Operating Systems), I found it more beneficial as I learned about kernel and driver programming. Most of the time, we always coded at the surface layer using Java or C# and hence it is quite interesting experience for me. But last part of the module is very challenging because we are given research project (20% of the grade) and also driver development project (also 20% of the grade) and the deadline are quite similar.

Hence, I need to do a trick to complete those assignments on-time. The research project gave us option to find topics on either distributed operating systems, mobile operating systems and NFS (Network File Systems). Because I have done research project on static analysis of obfuscated code in Android platform for another module last semester and I got really good result (A+), I simply rephrased existing report and added some new contents inside (elaborate on dynamic analyzer). It saved me a lot of time. Otherwise, I may not able to get good result for this. Eventually, I still got A grade for this module =D. (Sometime you just need a bit of luck in life to have success…)

I will continue with part 2 sometime later

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Another Life Update

So a lot of things happened just after 2 months. I was told by my manager that he planned to discontinue all government projects from our company by mid-2017 and we will work on his new venture in fintech (quantitative trading). Essentially, making portfolio decision for investors by leveraging computing technology combined by historical valuation data.

I just went through proposal ceremony one day after Chinese New Year with my girlfriend in Jakarta and other than a bit of unexpected need for some cash, the event proceed really well. It has a feeling like mini wedding, because it was attended by the extended family from both sides (roughly around 40-50 people). My girlfriend’s family introduced themselves to us and vice versa. They prepared the food and we have a lunch there. We brought some parcels to her house, and some jewellery. I put the necklace on her neck and we have a talk about our wedding plan and living arrangement.

Meanwhile, I have decided to take research option for my Masters degree in NUS. It means that I need to accomplish the dissertation in 2 semesters. There are options to do this either in external organizations (such as DSO, DSTA, I2R, Huawei, Acronis, etc) or with NUS internal professors. Hence, I applied for honeypot project for ADSC (it’s currently one branch of ASTAR). The interview went quite smooth. I like the environment and the colleagues. And most surprisingly, we are paid for our project (although NUS course coordinator said to me previously that no allowance involved for our Infocomm project).

So right now, I am in uncharted territory where I need to juggle between two jobs and taking two courses at the same time. Granted, the job in Hiend does not require me to continuously stationed in the office but it does not mean that it is walk in the park. If everything run well, I plan to move to ADSC although it means that I need to re-learn most of the things (languages, platforms, domain knowledge).

In the end of the March, I plan to arrange appointment with dermatologist to remove birthsign below my right eye. It is just nicer thing to do as my wedding day coming near.

And thank God so far because of allowance I got from ADSC, I will be still able to fund NUS school fee for next semester (My wedding cost more than what I expected).

Right now, the future milestone will be to finish my dissertation with ADSC and get the full-time job there. Hopefully, my wife is able to get a job here too.

 

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A visit to The Animal Resort

Since I have passed my peak working and study period, I have quite some free time and hence I thought it is a good time to make a trip to a farm. Especially this farm, because there is a horse inside :D. I thought I may get some inspirations for my future organic farm.

The main star of this farm is the stallion named ‘Pin Number’ (not sure why they named him like that, quite unsuitable for me). He used to be a horse race but now he has retired.

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Pin Number 2

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We have a bunch of other animals inside this farm, like peacock, ducks, cassowary, golden retrievers, rabbits, guinea pigs and Japanese kois.

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Here is a place where you can buy foods for the animals:

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Overall, it has been a pleasant experience for me and considering it is free, I will recommend it to bring along your kids for entertainment and education purpose.

 

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The reflection of life when you are 30

I seriously used to think that I will never touch this blog anymore. I have experienced quite a lot of turbulence in this 1-2 year of my career. My company did not get any major project and as the result, it discontinued many of its staffs’ contract and cancel staff recruitment. I also received around 50% paycut and I heard stories many of my friends who were retrenched because of bad economic condition, particularly those people worked in oil and gas industry.

Nevertheless, I am grateful to God that I am still able to sustain myself and provide allowance to my parents. It is not easy to know that the world is on the verge on global financial collapse and be able to keep your coolness. After initially opted for polytechnic course, I submitted my application for NUS master degree and get accepted. I also think that it is a good opportunity to enhance my rusty skillsets because I felt that I hardly learn any new concept in the last 1-2 year of my job. The job is notoriously demanding not because of conceptually difficult but because they are damn a lot.

You can say that I got partial scholarship on this master because our company gave me 3.5 months of bonus and it covers around 80-90% of the school fee. And it is a good thing, since I am about to get married next year. So far, I enjoyed the course. Relearning old stuffs and new languages and tools (like C++, Python, PHP, Android, LLVM). and security-related concepts (XSS, CSRF, SQL injection, buffer overflow, return-oriented programming, etc).

Moving forward, I plan to share more about what I am doing instead of my philosophy on various things. This is because I think that people is not only defined by their thought and belief but also their action. Here are the things I am expecting to happen within 3 years:

1 – Finishing my NUS master degree in Infocomm Security

So far, I have taken 3 subjects (Web security, software security and system security) and planning to focus more on courses related to network, for example: network security, wireless computing, cloud computing, internet architecture, advanced computer network, distributed system, and so on. I chose this option because of conviction that near future there will be great possibility of warfare between great powers and those that possess skillsets to protect public infrastructure from cyberattack will be greatly in demand.

2 – Getting married mid of next year

By grace of God, I have found my future wife after struggling around 2-3 years for futile use of online dating sites. Basically, I think that both of us come from similar family background and can understand limitation and strength of each others and willing to corporate to overcome the challenges. She can accept that we need to build our relationship temporarily by LDR and her parents also do not have much financial demand. Next month, I will go through first pre-marital counseling session inside my church

3 – Setting up agricultural business as side income

It is just the matter of time before virtually all pension fund in all countries declared bankrupt. After securing enough saving in precious metal, it is the time to build my portfolio to generate income. However, I intend to avoid stock market, as it is highly manipulated by central bank which can print infinite money and corporations use this money, borrowed with ultra-low interest rate, to buyback their stock. Planning to buy a piece of land using money I got from working in Singapore to do this. It is also more sustainable as I would not expect my career in security industry to last for more than 10-15 years.

Hopefully, I can get my goals achieved, by strength and grace given by God. Me with my family can survive the end of world order.

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