Picking up again

I can’t believe I let myself stop following through my new habit of writing daily for more than 2 months, a habit which I have only developed at the beginning of the year and thoroughly enjoyed since. Well ok, 2 months is not that long if you think about it but the amount of ideas, thoughts that I may have forgone by letting them just swim in my mind based on my readings, learnings, personal and professional experiences, conversations with various people, could be enormous, as these are the reasons that have kept me busy with over the past 2 months.

I have just finished watching Bill Gates’ latest docu-series on Netflix which have provided me with a dose of inspirations. In the show, there’s one thing he said that triggered me to write again today and that is – you have to pick a pretty finite number of things for your brain to work on. I remember the daily writings helped me to dissect, compartmentalise the thoughts that ran through my mind and expand further the things that I wanted to focus more on.

A couple of days ago, I came across Seth Godin’s blog entry on streaks in conjunction to his 11th year of writing daily and it reminded me of how over the course of 7 months (from Jan to July), I have turned that daily writings into a streak, something which I thought impossible before. I really should continue with this habit again, before the momentum is totally lost and it will take a lot of effort to pick up again.

After all, this is not just for myself, but also to show my son, Aariz, that perseverance is rare nowadays, but highly essential to survive, in life.

Take charge

If there’s one key takeaway for me to document from today’s experience/conversation with people, it is to take charge, of your career, of your life.

I guess it goes back to my life/work motto where I believe that everyone has a choice, in everything they do. We shouldn’t wait for the opportunities to come to us, neither should we let others (be it people, system, culture, stigma) decide for us and ultimately define our success. If you want or believe in something, pursue it and remember to always trust your instincts (no matter how much you love facts 😁, note to self).

Take charge people, take charge.

Why we should continue believing that every company needs to leverage on data analytics

For someone who had a glimpse of the peril and promise of data analytics, I still have hope and aspiration that companies within public and private sectors in Malaysia should believe in the benefits of using data analytics to help solve their business problems and making it a priority. After returning from the US thinking that Malaysia is still far behind, I was not entirely correct. There is awareness certainly. More and more companies are jumping in the bandwagon to try and do it. The word “big data”, “analytics”, “machine learning” or “AI” pops up in multiple pages of the public listed annual reports.

However, I have to say that sometimes my belief/faith in the future of this too sometimes got tested. Firstly, because of the quality of the data and the state of data infrastructure that the companies have require a lot of massaging and improvement. Secondly, the lack of talent in this area. Thirdly and most importantly, lack of belief or buy in from the CEOs/senior management to enforce the execution and thus provide the right support/environment.

Hence, we need more advocates by the leaders in Malaysia, especially from the ones who believe in the promise of data analytics, as rightly captured by the article from the recent Future of Work conference. You can read it here. Mad at myself for not attending that conference.


Hello 1 July, Hello 2H 2019

In every point in your life, you must always be ready to hit the refresh or restart button because you will never know where life takes you, beyond what you have planned for. For example, when your kid is sick and hospitalised, you just have to drop everything. Nothing else matters.

Hello 1 July.

Hello 2H 2019.

Checking all my goals early in the year and assess which areas need to be pumped up or let go.

Hit refresh button.

How’s your 2019 coming along?

Heart for Data Analytics

There are many reasons as to why I am passionate about data analytics.

But one of the reasons that have kept my interest going is as explained by Bill Gates in his recent post – Here’s one great way to use your tech skills. While I’m not the coder like the William guy he mentioned, I certainly know the endless possibilities that data analytics could do to solve social problems. And if there’s one problem that I could apply to solve, it is the education.

Imagine if we are able to collect the data about students’ activities and behaviour in schools which includes the time they get into school, the number of times they are on MC, miss class, their grades, their responsiveness in class, their areas of interest, we can identify trends and root causes of why some students perform (or not) and understand the drivers behind it to help us come up with a more customized solution to help the students excel.

Of course it’s easier said than done. Coming up with the analysis is the easy part. The difficult part is to get good data. We need to encourage the teachers to start collecting the data from the students, they probably have but only pockets of it and not in structured manner. If you are interested with this problem, do let me know!

Resistance to new tech

A colleague of mine shared this great article about how workers resist new tech at the office. The article painted the reality on why is it so difficult for some companies to innovate. I personally could relate to it as I see some resemblance in some of the people in my organization, across all levels – juniors, mid-management, senior management.

While some of them do appreciate new technology, they want to take the time to understand first before they can use it or encourage other people to use it. I thought that’s fair. However, in the midst of your day-to-day work, when will you ever have the time or make time to learn how to use the new tools. And as a result, does the organization be on a stand still and wait for everyone to learn how to use it before we can enforce them to use it?

I don’t think so. That’s the recipe of being left behind.

Less than 1 minute survey on post layout

Hi guys!

I’ve received a feedback from a reader that she prefers to see every post in full, rather than only an excerpt, so that she doesn’t need to keep clicking the Continue Reading link at every post. So I’ve changed my blog layout recently to show all the post in full, which means, you just need to scroll down to read all the posts.

I personally prefer to show only excerpt as I think from a reader’s perspective, they have an option to select which post they are interested in to read in full, so less scrolling for them too. If you view on phone which I believe most people do, it can be quite an exercise to keep scrolling down. So I’ve changed my layout back to show only excerpt, as it is right now. And I received the same feedback again haha.

So I’ve decided to do a survey on this (see below).

Appreciate if you could spare less than a minute of your time to let me know your preference (it takes 5 seconds only to be honest).

Thank you!

AI in Microsoft PowerPoint

Just came back from my fil’s 65th surprise birthday party. Phew, what an eventful day! Husband and I actually spent half a day producing a slideshow video for him. It was intense. We were afraid that we were not able to finish it on time. But we made it nonetheless!

Thanks to Microsoft PowerPoint. I wanted to use Windows Story Remix (previously known as Windows Movie Maker which I’m very familiar with) but the software kept crashing on me. Thank god I decided to use Microsoft PowerPoint. And I was really blown by the advancement in Microsoft’s Office Intelligence service. I could easily insert 5 pictures on 1 slide and Microsoft PowerPoint would recommend a few designs! I didn’t need to arrange the pictures myself to make a collage. It also recommended how I can position the title of each slide. Very very impressive.

This is the power of AI! Of course there’s still a lot of improvement to be made – for example, it doesn’t know what to recommend when I combine both pictures and videos in one slide. But still..when more people use it, it will remember and then know what to recommend. You should try it!

Here’s a picture of me and my family at the birthday party.

I guess you can never go wrong with Black and Gold!

Why I Couldn’t Blog When Travelling with Family and a Toddler

Hello all!

I’m back from a long holiday with my family in laws. I thought I could give a short update everyday when I was travelling, but I underestimated the dedicated family time required throughout. Let’s just say, when you are travelling with a toddler, you just can’t take your eyes off them, not even a minute, except when they are asleep at night, and by then you are just dead tired. I also personally feel it’s selfish of me to be using my phone when I’m with everyone else. I believe that when you are with family especially during holiday, your mind and heart must be present there with them. So I consciously decided to ignore my daily blogging rule when I am on holiday. I hardly checked my phone too. And it felt good!

Now I’m fully recharged, ready to embark the journey of 2nd half of 2019! I have a lot of readings to catch up for sure.

Let’s do this!

The week ahead and What I’m excited about

If you are one of my loyal readers you would know that I have not been diligent in updating my blog everyday for the past week or so. I had to back date some of the entries and I’m going to do it for the past 2 days that I have missed. There’s just so many things to be done and I could only do it in the early morning, late night or whenever my son is asleep. Too many things to prioritize that I have to put this blog aside. But I’ve missed blogging. I can’t believe I just said. Well, after 5 months of doing it everyday, it’s just part of my routine so the feeling does come naturally. Hence I’m forcing myself now to ignore the things that I have to do and just spend some time for my blog.

So basically the Eid celebration (Raya in Malay) is coming in 2 days time. What unique about this Raya is that my little unit will be going to Brisbane and Gold Coast for 8 days with my in laws! So I have loads to pack. My living room is currently filled with all the things that I need to bring. That’s one of the things that I need to do. So hopefully I get to sort that out later when my son is at school. I’m actually on half day today just to settle all these things.

And most importantly, to visit my late dad’s grave. In Islam, it’s a sunnah to visit grave in the morning of Raya but it’s impossible to do it when you have a toddler, so just a few days before Raya would do. When my dad was around, we would go back to his hometown every year for Raya and every morning of Raya, without fail, he would bring us along to visit all the important graves – his late parents, i.e. my grandparents and some of his close aunties and uncles. When I was much younger, I didn’t really understand the meaning of this tradition, I would sometimes ramble because I had to wear the normal costume first to cemetery before I could wear my new Raya costume which is something that almost everyone look forward to (well mostly the kids and teenagers). But now, given that it’s my own dad that I’m visiting, the feeling is very different. I look forward to go. I’m sure he would want all his daughters to visit him as it is something that he has taught us to do since young. Love you Daddy.

Also, just a heads up that my posts in the next couple of days for a week so will be delayed since I’ll be travelling. In fact it’s going to be the first time I’m travelling this year, i.e. since I started blogging. Not sure how other daily bloggers do it so let’s just see how this pans out. I’ll find my own rhythm.

I’m actually quite excited to go to Australia because it’s been more than a decade since I last went there. The last time I went was in 2005 with 2 of my best friends who studied there. We were in our 1st year of uni and I decided to spend my summer doing a road trip around the land down under (instead of the UK, the country where I did my degree and masters, can’t really remember why I did that but I think the idea just popped out and I just did it). It was one of the best road trips I had to be honest. I can still remember how I awed at all the states I went to – Perth, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne and of course the driving along Great Ocean Road. So yes, I’m excited to see go back!

Another thing that I’m excited about is that this time, my side of family (i.e. my siblings and mom) will be gathering at our house where we all grew up. My eldest sister, who got married recently is currently staying there with her husband and they plan to cook my mom’s traditional raya dish since my mom’s not that strong to cook for all of us. I’m excited because it will definitely bring back all the good memories we had when we were living in that house, when my dad was still around with all the Raya pictures we took with him in that house, and the fact that it’s my eldest sister hosting, it feels right, given that she’s the eldest. Ahh, this brings tears to my eyes.

I guess that’s enough update for now.

Ghost Work behind the Future of Work

If you are into AI and stuffs, you can hardly dismiss the term “Future of Work”. It’s a concern (some feels it’s rational, some feels it’s irrational) on how automation could sweep away some, if not all, of the low-middle class jobs. This topic itself requires a series of dedicated posts but I just want to highlight a sub-topic related to this because I’m seeing more and more headlines on this – the Ghost Work, in laymen terms, the invisible labor.

Have you ever wondered how much of manual work is required before you have sufficient data to wrangle? Have you ever wondered the amount of labor work is being poured to digitalise data? You need humans to capture images in old albums before you can upload the pictures online, you need humans to label each image (whether this image is a cat or not, for example), you basically need humans to perform lots of labelling, classifying and much more before you can perform the sexy work which involves machine learning, deep learning, data science etc.

Some of the articles highlighting this:

  1. Inmates in Finland are training AI as part of prison labor
  2. A white-collar sweatshop: Google Assistant contractors allege wage theft
  3. The AI gig economy is coming for you 

There’s also a book dedicated to this topic called “Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass”.

Yes, there are jobs that will be replaced by automation. But before we get to the stead state of automation, we need a lot of labor work that are mineal, i.e. does not require a lot of mental thought, if fact probably nil. This type of jobs will still be around, the question is who is willing to do it if we are all emphasizing the sexy work.

Purpose of reading books

I had a brief conversation with my colleague a few days ago, who just became a mom end of last year. She had a list of books that she plans to read but not sure if she would have time to do it in between being a mom of an infant, having a full-time job and part-time baking. I could totally relate to her. But because we love reading and we want to inculcate the reading habits in our kids, we will try our best to find the time to read.

Our conversation then led her to conclude that our purpose of reading is different and she believes that there are 3 types of people – (1) read to learn and better ourselves, (2) read to escape reality and (3) read because they are being forced to because they hate reading. I fall in the first category while she falls in the 2nd category. To add to that, I like to read books that paint me a glimpse of the future, one that gives me hope, that inspires me, and that makes me dream of what I want to achieve in the future and learn how to get there.

One of the recent interview questions I had to answer is “Which book do you think every investment professional should read?”. An excerpt of my response was as follows (can’t show all given that the interview will only be displayed only in the next few months or so):

Nothing specific because the books we read should also evolve as the industry evolves, more frequently than we expected. In fact we should read all the books recommended by the successful billionaires from the likes of Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates to understand how they think and do. One thing is for sure, they read a lot every day!

I guess that testifies my purpose of reading.

What’s yours?