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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Some random topics to think about these few weeks

Probably due to my living condition (staying alone), I can allocate time to think about various things in church, society and family. This thing, if done in moderation, is a good thing as long as you do not try to be too strict or judgmental in order to be perfect.

These viewpoints can be right and wrong and I am open about it. However, I do not presuppose these things are true in the beginning and find some arguments to rationalize it and hence in general I think these viewpoints are thoughtful. I decided to share some of my insights for the readers here.

1) Most of the theological arguments are just dispute about definition of keywords

In the church seminar I attended last week, they talked about predestination and human’s  free will, whether there is any contradiction between these two concepts and to address some of difficult questions to this topic. After I watched the seminar, I start to think that if we cannot even agree to the basic keywords we use such as ‘responsible’, ‘plan’, ‘permit’ ‘freedom’, and so on, it is useless to attend such metaphysical debate. I am thinking that probably the only reasons why theologians are interested in these topics is that they can publish a lot of books with their names on it and become famous speaker on the community of believers.

Take for example the classical question: Is God omnipotent? Well, that also depends on what is your definition of omnipotent. God is not omnipotent (able to do all things) if you include all things such as lying and sadistically torture believers as it contradicts His character.

We can similarly apply the same thing to word ‘responsibility’. Is God responsible for the damnation of unbeliever as He is allegedly omniscience but still creating them, even when He foreknew that they will rebel against Him? We can play around with definition ‘responsibility’. The unbeliever will still be ‘responsible’ because they are ‘freely’ choose to sin. They are ‘free’ to choose only sin. Of course, the definition of ‘freedom’ here contradicts our common standard definition of freedom. Can freedom be properly called freedom if it only has one choice?

I believe you can get my point. I have retired to this debate because it is not edifying nor building fellowship with fellow believers.

2) The inherent injustice in modern financial system

After the seminar, I and my friend went together for dinner and we discussed again about the usury and its application in modern financial system. He proposed that people are mainly borrowing money not for daily living but for start-up business which can reasonably generate profit and hence interest is acceptable in this case.

My main objection is because in this system, no matter for what purpose the money is borrowed, the lender carries virtually no risk whereas the borrower carries all risks. When the borrower failed, the lender has the collateral and do not suffer loss. When the borrower succeed, the lender also take part of his profit. I view the transaction where only one party is guaranteed to obtain profit inherently exploitative and unjust, in contrast to normal trade transactions (buying goods and services) which is mutually beneficial to both parties.

Of course, this extends to other financial schemes as well like gambling, insurance and multi-level marketing. In those schemes, one party is guaranteed profit whereas all others may get profit or loss. This also includes rent to goods such as housing, vehicle, etc. The landlord will always receive rent even if the tenant is unemployed or out of business and rent will continue to rise even if the wage is not.

Due to this principle, I have previously rejected any job offers from financial institutions (banks) and also would not accept spouse who is working in financial sector unless she quit her job.

3) Income is largely determined by economic sector and not individual capability, job difficulty or gender

I have read some articles such as this where it said now a lot of women out-earn their husbands and it affects dynamics of the relationship in the family. The traditional assumption that husband should be head of the household because of paycheck seems no longer valid. The article suggested that this thing can cause strain on relationship.

I would suggest that we approach this problem with different perspective. Worldly people will always translate the prestige with the amount of money you can earn every year. Having prestigious job means you are alpha, the leader of the herds. However, from my observation, the amount of paycheck does not correlate much with the difficulty or intellectual capacity required for the job or even the values the job generates for the society.

The most well-paid economic sectors are engineering, business administration and finance whereas religion, early education and social work typically belong to the least paid. So, if the husband is a pastor and the wife is a banker, it would be normal if the wife can out-earn his husband (It does not mean that the pastor is less important than the banker. On the contrary, it is the most important one!) Of course, even with this rationalization, typically many people (in older generation) still cannot accept or content with this fact.

However, differ from the author, I do think that if the wife is the breadwinner, she should be head of the household. It is true that the Bible laid out the guideline that the wife should submit to her husband (Ephesians 5: 22). However, it has implicit assumption that wife is weaker partner than her husband (1 Peter 3: 7) as said by apostle Peter. This assumption is obviously general guideline and not applied to all cases. Some wives are really more educated, out-earns, more mature and even physically taller than their husband.

Of course, in ideal situation, it would be preferable that all husbands are stronger than their wives. Unfortunately, this is not ideal world. Instead of thinking about the negative, I am trying to think the positive side. I believe it is the command of God for all believers to marry (Genesis 1: 28) for procreation and hence if we insist to follow that guideline, many alpha woman and gamma man would not marry and it will be biological dead-end. However, if they do marry, I think that they should agree that the wife will be the head of household from the beginning and assume her all duties as provider and vice versa.

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