Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

I’ve been cycling for a while now. When I was young I cycled as a means of transport. Those days the gear didn’t matter. You cycled because it was faster than walking and gave me more freedom to move around. And since I want brought up as a spoilt kid, my first bike was a hand me down and I used it for a very long time. I think I only got a new bike as a present for getting through an exam.

As an adult I started cycling. Again. But this time around its more as a sport. It’s my weekly cardio workout. Is time around, I started with a locally made bicycle that I we picked up as gift that was given to a kid. Since my kid already had a kiddies bike and since we had a choice I picked up a bike for me. When I was freelancing at home I used to cycle alone on and off.

Then I wanted to do it regularly. So I joined up with a gang who cycled regularly. They are a really fun bunch. Also, thy are serious about their gear. So I too upgraded my bike to better bike, albeit used but with better components. But else or guys are far more serious than me. They keep upgrading their gear. Their gear becomes better and better. So I too keep getting tempted. Since then, my bike also has been getting accessories. It got lights, speedometers, better lights and now better speedometers. Then there is the temptation to upgrade the bike itself.

But the minimalist in me somehow keeps pulling me back. A voice within me keeps saying, it’s not the gear, it’s the usage that matters. It keeps telling me to make do with what I have. Use the gear I have to e maximum potential. And once the you have really outgrown the gear, when it’s been used till the end of its life, only then to upgrade, which will be in a very long time as these gear will last a lifetime. They just need e components to be replaced. And even those components, to use them until they become unusable.

They say cycling is the new golf. I think a lot of it has to do with the new sexy gear that keeps coming out. Bicycles nowadays use space age materials and this designs themselves are eye catching. So it’s natural to end up wanting so etching newer. More than the performance, I think it’s more eye candy. Of course they keep getting better. But I am determined to stick to what I have as long as its usable. And I think that’s a pretty long time.

Family time

I work pretty long hours during the week. Even though I strive to do a split schedule of working the morning session and taking the afternoon off to spend with the kids, most of the time it doesn’t work out as expected. I end up running an errand or getting back to work after lunch. And with my scheduled meetings in the night I end up staying very late and the kids go to sleep without me around.

And due to our hectic schedules on weekdays we have planned the classes for the kids for Saturdays. So Saturday is the fun lessons day for my kids. They do singing, piano and ballet. Ad it’s pretty much a full day program. And Sundays are the relaxing day for them. They pretty much have the whole day to themselves and to complete their school homework.

I strive to spend the Saturday with the kids. So no matter how late I stay up on Fridays I am up on Saturday morning to take them to classes. And I enjoy this me and the kids time very much. Today I tagged my son along for a two hour lesson for my daughter. These two hours I usually spend at a car wash getting my car washed, vacuumed and waxed.

So today, my son spent time with me at the car wash watching the car being cleaned. But his interest in cars being washed waned pretty fast. And I had got ready for such eventualities. He loves playing kiddies games on the iPad. Usually, it’s tussle to get his hands on the iPad when his sister is around. Today he enjoyed uninterrupted play time.

Ad I need to work on my patience with the kids. I have a tendency of getting pretty impatient with them when they do not listen to my instructions. I guess they are just being kids and I’m forgetting the fact. In order to make the most out of my time with them, this is one area that I need to improve. I wasn’t a very patient person at any count even previously. But I guess that SOS,etchings need to be improved when you become a father.

I am scared that I will miss out in their growth years and suddenly find them to be all grown up and distant from me, busy with their own lives. I want to be a part of their lives, not just by virtue of being their father but also as the person that teaches them about life, their friend and mentor. I had a pretty good relationship with my own father. I don’t recall doing too many things with him, he was more of an academic person. But he was always there whenever I needed him and he gave me the space that I needed as well. If I can emulate him in those aspects I would be successful as a father.

I also have a DIY streak in me so I try to get my kids involved when I do things around the house. My son was pretty interested my computer upgrade and networking projects around the house. He is also showing a keenness in cycling which I hope will prevail, so he and I can cycle together.

I even bought a book titled “Now that you are a father” to find inspiration in what I can do with the kids. I want to find interesting things to do with them which will be interesting to both me and them, apart from getting them to do homework. Hopefully I will get some inspiration from that book and by googling around.

Switching to coffee

This week seems like a series of posts about switching. Well, at least second one in a row, within a week, after a long pause!

Anyway, I’ve not been big on coffee until probably a few years ago. Coming from a family which was in a way involved with growing tea, we’ve always been tea people. Growing up coffee was used more as for medicinal uses, in case if you were experiencing a stomachache.

But since coffee shops started to become fashionable hangouts in Colombo, I started opting for a coffee instead of a tea, if I was at one of those joints. But still tea remained my main beverage. I never really experienced any caffeine inflicted hyper activity.

But since of late, if I was working late or if I was starting the day after a late night, I’ve been opting for a strong black coffee, to tingle my nerves and get me going. And I’ve noticed the caffeine at work. It’s not instantaneous as I would like it to be, but it works. After a little while my body wakes up and can keep me going for a while. Sometimes longer than I ‘d like it to last (specially at nights, after a cup of two of caffeine I find it harder to fall asleep)

Earlier my beverage of choice when working late used to be green tea. But I find coffee to be far more effective.

But still, I ‘m not an expert on coffee. I still don’t know the difference between an Americano, a cappuccino and a latte! And the coffee that I have been having is instant. But hey, it works for me!

I was never a gym person. I’ve never been to a gym in my life, ever!

My attempts at working out at home had been sporadic. I own three exercise machines, but they lie around, unused. I’ve attempted to walk, which kind of worked while I was working from home, alone, but after I moved to an office, it fell by the wayside. I’ve attempted to go for a walk during the weekends and that too was never regular. One thing, which I have picked up is cycling on Sundays with the Pedal Pushers, which has been somewhat regular.

With my weekly cycle rides one thing I came to realize was how unfit I was! All this time my fitness was not an issue as I hardly engaged in any physically demanding activities. But cycling 25-30km’s just showed me how unfit I was. And secondly, my wife become pretty interested in staying fit. She took up a Zumba class twice a week. I joined her once a week and and it was an eye opener to my fitness level.

With all this when my wife wanted to join a neighborhood gym, I tagged along and joined too. So now, I’ve committed myself to working out three times a week.

I was asked to define my goals of joining a gym and here’s what I came up with:

  • Lose 10 kgs of weight
  • Lose 2″ on my waist line
  • Generally improve my fitness and stamina
Losing weight and waistline has remained a goal of mine for quite sometime. But this is the first time that I am going to be doing something specifically targeted towards achieving it. So let’s see how well I keep to my commitments. Hopefully I will be posting periodic updates about progress here. And if nothing is posted, over time, it would probably mean I would have not achieved my goals or have not kept my commitment. This post is an attempt of a public declaration, so that I will hold myself accountable.

It’s my anniversary

Happy Anniversary Wifee!

I can’t imagine the last 6 years. Its been a bliss. I know we’ve had our ups and downs, but hey, we’ve stuck through things together and I don’t think we’ve done that bad!

I have a lot to thank you for, besides the unconditional love you shower upon me. To start off with, thanks for putting up with me. Thanks for putting up with my weird work schedules and un-godly hours. Can’t thank you enough for understanding my urges to do somethings differently.

Thanks for giving me the courage and the strength when I needed it most. I wouldn’t have started a business of my own by stepping out of a full time job, if it wasn’t for your courage. Thanks for standing by me and letting me choose freely. Pretty soon we will be reaping the fruits of all that labour.

Above all, thank you for the two wonderful kids you’ve given me. I know I’m not doing much for the kids, though I am physically there at home most of the time, because most of that most of the time is spent in front of my computer. And trust me live, you’re doing a wonderful job!

Here’s the the last 6 years and for the rest of our lives!

It has been raining since this morning. It has now healed a bit but still the drizzle is on. I am forced to write blog posts in offline mode as my broadband is also not working.

I made use of this offline time to rearrange my desk. I raised both my LCD and my laptop using two plastic low-stools. Now the monitors of them both are slightly above my eye level. I am going to give this arrangement a try for a little while. At least it will make me lean back on my chair rather than an leaned forward hunched position that I am usually in all the time.

I have been looking at some lifehacker posts of featured workspaces with raised monitors. Some of them have the monitors raised even more. But I am not entirely convinced of the ergonomics of those arrangements. But in the process of typing this what I realized is that with my current raised monitors I can easily lean back on my chair and rest my head against the head rest and type. Which is something that I was unable to do with the level the monitors were in earlier.

My workspace is my never ending project. I get inspired to do something with it every once in a while. But with the absence of an Ikea or a Staples in Sri Lanka, most of the tweaks are out of reach unless I attempt to do them DIY. I have been thinking about investing in some power tools for me to attempt the DIY. But have been putting it off as I can think of better uses for money. Therefore I am making to do with what I have.

The other reason that prevents me from spending a lot on my workspace is a conversation that I had with my client. When I told him that I finally got a U shaped work area he congratulated me and then said that he is working with two small desks one enough to fit his laptop and another for the mouse. That point made me wonder whether I was on an overkill!

But I want to create a workspace that is both practical as well as inspiring. I want to have a workspace that makes me want to spend time in it rather than something that would make me want to get out of it every few minutes.

A few things that are pending: need to fix the speakers on the walls. And I need to hang some fun/inspirational artwork on the walls!

I recently attended seminar series about investing in Unit Trusts. The whole idea of a unit trust is it allows lay investors like me, who are clueless about the stock market and all the acronyms that are associated with equity investments to put their money in a Unit Trust, so a fund manager can invest in the investment instruments available in the market and get me a return on my investment.

The last presenter, who is the CEO of one of the fund management companies touched upon planning your financial goals and wealth creation. This was an eye opener for me.

Personally, for me, investing in the stock market has been like a game for me. I did it because the general perception was that it was a place where you can make money. Also my interest in the stock market was kindled because in one of my previous jobs I managed a project that attempted to build a back office application for stock brokers. And they also had an online trading solution which caught my interest.

But this seminar, opened my eyes to the more important aspect of planning your investment and to treat it as a mechanism to create wealth. The aspect of growing your investment at a rate greater than the rate of inflation so your money retains its value down the line. And also choosing your investment instruments that match your financial goals.

Upto now I have never thought of planning for retirement. I have also never planned to save for my kids future, or higher education. I live with the thought that when the need comes I will be in a position to meet the needs. So far, I have managed to do that, upgrading my income as my expenses grow. I would worry about them when they become the necessity, but not prior.

But this seminar opened my eyes to the fact that these are things that are better addressed through planning and smart investing. Of course, they positioned the Unit Trusts as the smart investment in this case, but nevertheless the point about the need to plan is very valid. If planned and executed gradually, myself and my family will not feel the pressure when the need arises.

There are a few things that I need to plan for, and start investing and growing the money for:

  1. Retirement
  2. Children’s education
  3. Holidays/vacations
  4. Life-style upgrades

Out of those the first two are paramount. But thankfully, those are things that can be done at a slower pace.

Retirement

I haven’t foreseen myself in retirement. I would like to be actively engaged in some sort of gainful activity till my death. I always thought that I would have some kind of a business, that I can hand over to my children or to an able management but would still keep me occupied. I don’t think I would want to go into a full retirement and end up doing nothing. I would find that to be too boring.

But in any event, it would be a good idea to invest for retirement. So that there would be money, for expenses and to indulge in whatever activities, be it charity or social service or travelling or having fun, that would take our fancy, without having to depend on others.

As we grow old, our battles with health can also become more intense. In other words the health care expenses can go up. So an income stream that can foot these expenses would be welcome.

 

Saving for children’s education

This is probably the expense that would occur first and the most pressing and necessary requirement. I want my kids to follow their dreams and desires when it comes to what they want to do with their lives. I will give them only one piece of advice. ‘Be the best you can be!’.

So in order to fulfill their dreams I want them to be able to get the best (higher) education or training that they can get. Cost of which should not be a worry on them and definitely not hinder their dreams.

 

In any case, the one general lesson is that investments should be made in instruments that give a real return, a return greater than that of inflation. And the value of money should be greater than the value of the amount now. Considering that our needs are going to grow as we age as a family, this is a basic need. And these investments should be done regularly and be made to become a habit, much like the habit of saving, but instead of saving, it should be investing. As things stand now, the simple savings schemes do not cut it anymore.

Finally moved.

We finally moved. After a lot if coaxing and pressurizing we managed to get the house into a movable state. But the work was not complete and even to this date there are small finishing up tasks being done.

The move was hectic and was done in stages. First night it was just me and Lushi. Then a day later the kids came over. Stilk some kf out stuff are at Wattala. We will be getting them over the next couple of months. There are a still some more work that needs to be done, like getting the closets built in some rooms before we bring the stuff. But it was a good feeling to be here finally. The little bit of finishing touches are being done now and being here helps to get them done exactly the way we want with constant supervision.

The major thing that they have not done so far is my office room. Since there are people still working, they have been using it as their quarters. I am hoping to get them off of the place within the week and tart setting up my homebase there soon. I will be writing a seperate post on setting up a home office. I went through a lot of blogs about setting up offices and want to record my own experience.

It is a major convinience living here. Dinara’s school is just ten minutes away. Lushi’s office is also ten minutes away. All the malls and the offices that matter are also within ten or fifteen minutes away. Once this convinience sinks in, it will be very difficult to move back anywhere else.

Finally a big thank you to Lushi’s parents for all the trouble they went through in getting this place ready for the move.

Wow! Another year has gone by. Whatever happened to time? Doesn’t it always make us wonder.

But for me, I felt the year going by. The year 2009 had been a year of major changes. My life has taken a new path!

The year started a bit rocky for me. I was not seeing eye-to-eye with the owners of the company that I was working for. So the year started with me contemplating my future. It was clear that I was not going to have any future working there.

The good thing that came out of it was instead of looking for another job, me going into business for myself. I turned into a freelancer. While I was transitioning from being a monthly paid normal office worker to a uncertain and new territory of freelancing, my wife was expecting our son.

While all of this was going on, our son came into this world. That made us forget all our woes and enjoy his arrival. I think he truly brought in a new dimension to out lives. I stepped into the unchartered waters without much excitement or nervousness, initially. And I have to thank wifee for standing by me through all of that. She was brave to accept that I might have to go for sometime without a proper income or any income at all.

For me, things didn’t turn out that bad. First of all, a friend of mine came into my rescue by giving me a project. That kept me busy initially. And during the first month itself, I landed a gig with a LA web development company. And I am happy to say, 8 months and few projects later, I am still working for them. And we are exploring the possibilities of taking business to the next level.

Freelancing turned out to be better than I bargained for. Of course the initial couple of months, though I had an income, it wasn’t what I used to get in the job. That was mainly due to my erratic schedules and getting used to being my own boss slippages. But once I came to terms with my new life and the fact that no ones going to look over my shoulder to make me work, but it is the paycheck at the end of the month that will suffer, if I don’t out in solid work, I turned out pretty well.

Actually from about the third month of being a freelancer, I caught up with my salary and from the month after started to exceed it. That was the best thing and also took away my worries of financial stability. I have been earning much more than what I had earned in any job, for the past four months as a freelancer. The beauty of this is, if you have the capacity freelancing gives you the option to earn more. But if I was in a job, I would have had to wait for the annual reviews and all the other bullshit to get a raise. Even then, with the current economic condition,that was a far cry. With my last boss, it was definitely a non-starter.

And the other major thing is that we are going to be moving houses. We are moving to our own place and we are currently in the process of doing it up to our tastes and needs. And that gives me an opportunity to setup my ideal working environment. I have already designed the furniture and setup. Now it is just a matter of getting them done.

All in all, 2009 has been a good year. An year of changes, but looking back, it is an year that I am happy about. It has been an year of achievements. Looking forward to the house move and starting 2010 in a new house with a new lease of life!

We planned to move closer to the city when our daughter starts schooling, which is January 2010. We evaluated several plans and finally decided to move into our own home in Colombo 5. That house was given on rent, but we decided the benefits of living in the city will out weigh the rent income benefit.

We decided to do a few renovations and to give the house a bit of a face-lift before we moved there. We decided it would be easier to do the modifications before we moved so we don’t have to go through the hassle of living in a construction site.

We gave our tenant notice to leave but he overstayed by a month until he found a suitable home for himself. Then we started the renovations, with the initial plan of moving there by the beginning of December. And I was determined to put the project management best practices that I apply daily in my work to the construction and keep it within the plan and the budget.

The first thing that went off the window was the budget. When you start building, you cant always keep to the original budget. While some of the estimates given to us were way inaccurate, we also overspent on some things. It just happens that when you shop for stuff, you always end up seeing things that are far more expensive and you end up buying them.

For example, we are adding a new room to the house. First we weren’t sure if we were going to go ahead with this plan. Then our architect convinced us that it was a good plan. Building the walls of the room was the easiest thing. But getting finishes for it, was another story all together. Our bathroom is going to end up costing three times the initial estimate. Then again, we are going to build only once and we want to build it up to the standard we want.

Then came the time lines. As it turned out, the contractors estimates were etched in rubber. They kept stretching. First he would tell us that he’s finish something in three days. Then on the end of the second day he’s tell us that he needs another three days. Then at the middle of those second three days, he says he lost two days of work due to rain. Man, software is far more easy to manage.

To be fair by him, the weather didn’t exactly go our way either. We had some of the highest rainfalls to hit Colombo during this time. So he and his crew actually did lost a few days of work (about 20 man-days all in all so far).

The third issue was coordinating the different contractors. We were working with separate contractors for the masonry, carpentry, electrical wiring and aluminum excursions.  As all of them were independent contractors, coordinating their schedules were a bit of a nightmare. Made me realize how better I am in committing and keeping my commitments to my clients as a freelancer.

So on the brink of the month of December, I am there at the site trying to supervise the work. But our chances of moving during the first week of December are pretty bleak. Now I would be happy if we can move within the month of December.

So the lessons learned:

  • When building a house, either go with an open but realistic budget or be ready to not to have the dream home. The dream home, costs money, lots of it. I am somewhere in between. My theory was things that are hard to change/remodel, go with the stuff that your heart tells you to get. For things that can be changed without a fuss later, go with the stuff that suits your budget.
  • Get professional advice on estimates. Our contractors are trades people, not engineers. So their estimates change, and they don’t feel bad about it. They are used to that. They don’t feel bad when they cant meet a deadline. On the other hand for me, as an IT contractor, that is one of the hardest things to do.
  • Have some buffer. We lost our buffer time when we allowed our tenant to over-stay.

Finally, wish for loads of luck. So that you’d find the things fast. We scouted for days sometimes to get the things we wanted. Some examples were bathroom fittings,tiles and light fixtures. After weeks of scouting we still didn’t get the things we had in our minds. We settled for the next best things, at a higher cost than anticipated.

 

Powercuts have been a common occurance the past few days. Everynight ther seems to be a powercut of at least half an hour. And to add pain to the misery there was a full day powercut yesterday. Not only did it make getting through the day extremely uncomfortable with the prevailing heat and humidity, it alo made me miss my work.

Since excuses such as those are not acceptable to people in the USA, I ended up working till 4 AM. And now I am trying to get through today like a zombie. I can tell you this, neither my kids nor my wife are impressed. No who said life was all rosy?

This is a very quick note to record the birth of our baby boy on the 15th of March. He was born early in the morning and by the looks of it seems like he is a pretty active kid.

Both Lushi and the kid are doing great. Lushi has not had a full nights sleep since he was born as he keeps waking up throughout the night and needs to be fed.

Dinara, our elder daughter has instantly taken up the ‘malli’ under her wings. She talks to malli all the time standing beside his cot. Whenever someone comes to see him it is her who takes them into the crib wanting to show malli. I think she is a little bit upset that malli doesn’t come to play with her and wants malli to grow up fast!

With double the responsibilities, honestly I haven’t discharged them as well as I would have liked. The changes on my professional life are keeping me pretty busy and I seem to be preoccupied.

But the changes are going to be good in a way that at least for a month I get to work from home starting April and that gives our little family a chance to be together most of the time.

With the arrival of this baby I had a pretty strange feeling of completeness. It is not as if I had been missing something and now that it was fulfilled. I was never feeling as if I was missing something. But this is completely new feeling that came in, not to fill a gap or a void, but a new one all together.

I think the work is just beginning. Now the task on us is to nurture them to become good citizens in this world, to educate them and to keep them safe!

Contrary to the official stance of the government recession is having great impact on Sri Lanka. One of the most obvious signs are the drying up of the job market. Take any weekend news paper and check the employment sections and you can see this for yourself.

A few more pointers, notice how many times properties and vehicles for sale ads are being repeated, and the going rate. Property prices are being slashed quite significantly. And how long rental properties have been vacant without new occupants. These are tell tale signs of cash drying up from the hands of the consumers.

And the stuff that usually do not hit the news stands. How many companies did away with their annual bonuses in December. How many did away or curtail the spending on Christmas and new year parties, calendars and diaries they were printing?

So what does it tell the average salary earning professionals? Hold on to your job like its dear life? Damn, I am praying for a speedy recovery from the recession.

We are experiencing an interesting time these days. Our little girl is starting to speak English and has come to a stage where she is picking up everything that is being said around her. She also seems to understand the meaning of what has been said. Accordingly, she has also learned to express her desires and needs in English.

It is amazing to see how fast children pick up what is going around them. They do all of this naturally without any concept of learning. When you grow, you tend to think about the concept of learning more and more. In your younger days learning comes to you naturally.

I remember when I was doing my Ordinary Level exams, I had a major dileama on the concept of learning. When my parents were telling me to study, I had no idea what studying was. I just kept reading my notes, sometimes without much of an effect.

Anyway, now I am enticed and thrilled at the opportunity to watch my daughter learn to speak. It is amazing to watch a child learn and grow!

Had a peaceful weekend. This was one of the weekends recently where I spent the least amount of time in front of my Laptop. I spent quite a lot of time with Dinara, playing with her, talking with her (she in her own language and me in my language), watched some TV and read papers. This weekend being the 4th of July weekend also helped a great deal as my headoffice in US was closed for business and everyone over there was enjoying their holidays. It was also the last weekend without Lushi’s parents. They are returning to the country from their European vacation early tomorrow morning. As I write this post they must be on a flight back home.

Talking about them being away, everyone seems to be missing them a lot more than anyone expected. They are also missing home and specially our little baby. They are so used tobeing around her, and she is more used to being with them than with us. She also has been missing them quite a bit. There were instances where she kept walking all around the house, looking in every nook and corner, calling out for them. I guess she’ll be one of the happiest people to see her grandparents back at home.

So with everyone returning to work tomorrow, after a vacation in US, and a peaceful weekend over here I have a feeling this coming week is going to be pretty hectic for me. I have two new recruits starting off tomorrow. So from tomorrow onwards I will have two direct reports to manage. Since I am the person who recruited them as well, I am directly responsible for their performance. I am quite confident about them. Just need to wait and see how fast they are going to pick up the work.

So with new recruits starting off at office my work from home days will come to a standstill as now I will have to be at work, setting a good example for them. Eventually I hope to get all the people to work from home sometime, with the rising fuel costs, I think that will be one of the best ways to be productive and to cut down the costs as well. The good news is my boss is all for telecommuting. So as long as my two new employees are still being productive from home, I will have no problem to allow them to work from their homes. I am in the process of setting up the necessary infrastructure to allow people to work from home. Once the VPN is setup, everyone can log into the VPN, download the source codes, access the required systems and securely work from virtually anywhere from the world.

So let me take that task to my weekly task list: ‘Complete the setting up of the VPN’.

Today a bus crashed in to the side of my car. It was no fault of mine. I followed all the traffic rules to the dot and then a bus comes along, unable to brake because it is overladed and travelling at a speed it cannot bear, brakes, brakes, but still keeps coming and BANG!

I was watching the bus coming towards the leftside of my car but I was helpless. I was hoping the bus would stop any minute, inches away from the car, but it didnt. It came and BANG!

Then came the war. People on the bus were trying to prove that it was my fault, which got my blood also heated up. Then the conductor of the bus was trying to teach me how to drive. That took the lid off my anger. Eventaully the driver came to me, obviously realizing that it was his fault and that he was in trouble if this ever went to a court of law, started to plead! A two sided attack on me. On one side total aggression and on the other they were playing the pity game.

But I got the Police to come, told them that I didnt want to press charges but only wanted them to advise the bus conductor on how to behave, gave him a piece of my mind and got my insurance to come and asses my damage!

I would have defintely wanted to go to courts, not to claim the damage, it was negligible, but to teach those b******s a lesson. But the driver seemed innocent and with his pleadings, my heart also melted a bit. So hopefully I will be able to get some of the existing scratches also painted with the insurance money 🙂

I was expecting glass shattering and major upheavals, but my car being the german tank that it is was just scraped with two minor dents on a door! Man both I and all the by standers

I discovered this morning that my mobile was disconnected due to my bill exceeding the credit limit. Since I had some things to be done in the office and had no time to go out to make a payment, I chose to pay online through www.dialog.lk web site.

So I made a payment that was adequatete and was waiting for my phone to be reconnected. Since it was taking way too long, I decided to check up with Dialog’s online customer support. (I had no way of calling the hotline as well).

To my horror they told me that they cannot see the payment I have made. It had been about two hours by then and I had recieved a payment confirmation from the dialog website. But unfortunately I had not written down the transaction id nor had I taken a printout.

But since getting my connection up was really critical for me, I made another payment online. Same story, they could not see it on their side. This time I had the transaction id, but still they could not trace it! And guess what, they told me it’ll take 24 hours for the line to get connected!!! 24 Hours??? C’mon, online payments are meant to be instantaneous.

But I guess in our part of the world, online means 24 hours! Man, was I disappointed to hear this from a company touting to be on the cutting edge of technology. But yet, their systems seem to be operating offline!

A word has to be said about the Sampath Bank Payment Gateway that they are using. It is too damn slow! And once after I paid the confirm button to make the payment, there was a time out on the server. So I was lost and had no idea whether my payment had gone through or not. But in any case I went back and made the payment again. Sampath Banks online banking solution is another story. It shows me credit card transactions as of last evening and even in that list, some transactions that I had made days ago are missing. At some point they will suddenly appear on it! You cannot really rely on it for an accuratete picture either!

So now I don’t know whether I have ended up making three payments instead of one. I guess these companies and banks that claim they are on the cutting edge and connected and online, need to look at their systems and their integrations to see whether they are as good as they claim.

Happy Wesak everyone. At least those of you who are in Sri Lanka are enjoying an extended weekend of 4 days this weekend. Some of you have been lucky enough to go out of Colombo. But I am in Colombo for several reasons as there were a few things we had to attend over the weekend.

To start off with there was a ‘bana’ and an alms giving on Friday and Saturday. Then there was Vidara and Thedara’s birthday party. Then there is the fact that my parent company being in the US, requiring me to be in Colombo with broadband connectivity in order to support thier operations. This is one of the things that I will have to do, working on US calendar as my head office. Something I figured would nt be much of a hassle. But in the long run I will have to get some Sri Lankan holidays, at least ones like the Sinhala New Year.

Coming back to Wesak, the recent bomb blast and the security situation in the country will put in a lot of restrictions on the Wesak celebrations. At least people will be a bit reluctant to travel to see the wesak celebrations due to security fears. Even my mother did not go to the usual temple that she goes to obtain SIL as today there is some big program with a lot of big shots in attendance and hence she was scared about being at a locations which is a prime target.

So on this noble day my wish is for peace in this paradise island. May we be allowed to celebrate wesak in  peace and harmony next year wihout the fear of bombs and loss of life!

Changing careers

I changed jobs! Well it’s a bit more than changing just the job, I kind of changed careers. I was working as a Project Manager for a little over 4 years now. I have had many wonderful experiences as a PM as well as a few experiences are not so fond memories. But the thing was I was getting a bit too used to the routine of being a PM. If there is anything that I hate, that is routine.

So I took up a job as an IT manager for a company whose primary business is not IT! That is a change for me since my last two jobs were in IT companies. And I was more or less involved in technical aspects of the job and I wanted to move on to more operational role. That I got and I took up the responsibility.

There was somewhat of a hesitation in the decision process. Since I was in a permanent job and had a few financial obligations such as a mortgage and a lease, getting on board in a start up operation and taking up the challenge of setting up the operation involved a bit of thinking on my part. But eventually I decided to take it up as it matched my career aspirations.

To be honest I am more of a generalist. I am not someone who likes togo very deep into technologies. I like to keep pace with the developments on the technological front, but not so much into the level of nuts and bolts. So this new opening that came my way paved a path for me to take up a more general path.

Let’s see what the future holds!

 

A Tribute to a Father

Dear Thaththi,

I remember that day, four years ago. The day that changed our lives in a flash. Can’t imagine how time flies and how we coped up. But life goes on and we have come to terms! Thought I’d write a short note in your memory!

I am what I am today, because of what you made of me. The values you instilled and the love you bestowed. You taught me to live by principles and values. You taught me that knowledge is more important than money. You taught me love is unconditional. You taught me the virtue of patience (I was a brat and a half, wasn’t I?). Above all, you taught me what a father should be to a child!

Today, when I stand in front of my kid, I ask myself, is this how thaththa dealt with me. Because I know, if I parent my kid, the way you parented me, nothing can ever go wrong!

It’s been four years since you took your leave from us. The gods must have thought that your place was among them rather than among us! But what they failed to see was the impact it would have on us, how we would go on without you around!

We depended on you for everything. The mere fact that you were around was so much of a relief, we knew you would be there to put things right, if we messed up! Now that we are left to mend for our selves, I had no idea of the weight you were shouldering. Responsibilities you bore, with so much ease, you made it look like it was a breeze. Once they fell on our shoulders only did we realize the breadth and depth of them all. But with the grooming we received from you, we are managing!

We are all doing good Thaththi. I am sure you will be proud of us all. Then again, you must be knowing that! You gave us what it takes to live honourably and justly in this world. It wasn’t money or assets. But it was an education!

I am not wishing you the bliss of Nirvana purely for selfish reasons. That is because I want you as my father in my journey through Sansara!

Till we meet again,
Loku Putha

Lately, all my blogging had been related to moBlog. This blog was supposed to be my personal blog, but for the past month or so, it was more like the official blog of moBlog. It’s time to re-claim my blog! I am thinking about getting moBlog its own blog!

Anyways, on the personal side, the past few weeks been a bit hectic with work. Been spending quite a lot of time at client sites. A lot of my projects have come to the implementation stages, so there’s a bit of running around to do.

Lushi has been having a hectic time too. She seems to be getting landed with a lot of work, some of which I feel are outside her scope of work. But then, that’s what you get when you prove your capability! So goes the saying, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person! That’s exactly what’s been happening on her work front.

Little Dinara is amazing. She has started to walk and she just can’t seem to get enough of it. As much as it is an exercise to all the rest of us, she doesn’t seem to be getting fed up of walking and running about. The thing is, she is so fast and agile, it is very difficult to keep up with her.

My week days has been a bit hectic and that has resulted in the time spent with Lushi and Dinara coming to a minimum. I am trying to carve out some time exclusively for them, and more than that, to spend the little time spent with them, completely on them. I know I still have not perfected this art, but that’s what I am trying to get to. Quality over Quantity!

Other than that, I have had this craze to buy a Ford Capri MK1. Went and saw one, seems to be in a pretty good condition but the price is absurd. Then there is one which seems to be of a reasonable price, but it is minus its wheels. Now I know I wont find a Capri for the price I have in mind which is in perfect condition. I am still trying to make up my mind whether I want to wrestle with an old car. I like the idea of getting an old car. I just dont like the idea of spending my tille free time in garages!

They say to really appreciate the value of the things you take for granted, you should be deprived of them. Well it is true to really appreciate the value of family. But in my case, I am going to be deprived of their company only for a short period of time. But I have come appreciate the value of their company, just after being away from them for two days.

Being here in Mauritius, after the end of the working day, all by your self, made me realize, how much I had taken my family for granted. I mean, I knew they were there and hence I was indifferent to their company. But now, at the end of the day, I have to come back to an empty hotel room. Lush is not here to welcome me home. Dinara is not here for me to play with and cuddle. I can’t drop into my mothers place after work to say hi to her. I mean, those were the things that I took for granted when I was back home. But being here now, without them around, it is making me feel all lonely. All I have for solace is just a phone call.

I realize that I may have not shown them how much they mean to me. How much they were a part of my life. How much that their presence filled up my life.

There is a lesson for me in all this. I need to start showing them, when I am around them, what they mean to me. It is a good thing that I can go back to them, and get a chance to make sure that I don’t let the moments just pass me by. I need to take the time appreciate them and make them feel the specialness that I feel for them in my heart.

Well, I won a shirt. I answered some question on the radio one evening and I turned out to be the first person with the correct answer and I won an Emerald Leonardo Designer Shirt. I was thrilled!

So after a couple of weeks I was told that i could go pick up my shirt from a shop and they asked for my collar size and ID number. When I turned up at the shop, they had not recieved the shirt I had won so I was asked to come again later. After a couple of days I got another call asking for my collar size and then I was told that teh shirt will be ready at the same shop. So I went there and picked it up. It was packed with my name on it!

So I got home and opened the packing. It was a nice shirt and it had a matching tie too! BUT it was PINK! Now, I dont have anything persoanlly gainst the color pink. But if I were to choose a shirt, I dont think I’d ever buy a pink shirt. I was contemplating even returning the shirt and thank them for the courtesy.

Then again, since I would have never bought a pink shirt on my own, maybe it is good for me to try out a something I wouldnt normally do. So I am taking it as a an opportunity to see myself in a pink shirt!

So if you see me wearing a pink shirt, you now know how I got around to wearing it 😉

Got myself a new notebook. Actually, I wasn’t in the market for a new notebook computer untill Rukshan suggested that he get one for me from US. And it was him who suggested a few models to me as well.

After browsing the net for a while, I set my sights on a Acer Aspire 5100-5840, which is an AMD Turion 64 X 2 with 2 Gigs of RAM. The price seemed pretty much reasonable for a machine with these specs.

I got my hands on it today. It is a pretty sleek machine, well not as sleek as Rukshan’s tablet PC, but I made a concious decision to not to go for a Tablet PC as I felt a normal notebook PC was better suited for my needs. I am still playing around with the PC. I want to check its performance for my hobby activities (I know its more than enough for my work activities, as all I need is email, MS Project and MS Office). So I am in the process of insalling all the tools I need to do .NET coding.

I have already got the first warning when installing Visual Stdio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 Express. Hope it won’t be a nagging issue for me to continue. I will keep the progress posted on this blog.

PS: One small snag with the notebook though. Acer ships this notebook PC range with Vista Home Premium. But they give the 32 bit edition. I think it is a bit stupid as the whole point of getting a 64 bit processor is because you need the 64 bit performance. Putting a 32 bit OS version on it defies this purpose all togerther. I have complained to Acer and waiting for thier feedback.

I assumed they were shipping it with 64 bit OS edition. But seems I have assumed it wrong!

It is Lushi’s Birthday! I wont tell everyone how old you are, but I am pretty sure it is quite a different birthday for you this year. It’s your first birthday as a mother! Hey I am not trying to make you feel old!

Just wanted to wish you the best birthday ever. And in wishing you, our little daughter Dinara is also joining me! She want’s to say “Happy Birthday Ammi!” Well she can’t say it in words yet, but that’s what she is saying with her aaaaahhh’s and eeeeehhhhh’s!

I hope you’s enjoy the little party we are throwing for you. And darling, just remember, like good wine, you get better with age!

I love you darling and happy birthday!