common sense

In a conference call the other day, someone after screaming at the person on the other end of the phone blaming him for providing poor customer service said: He doesn’t realise that if we are happy, we will potentially give him some more clients.

While there’s some sense to what’s being said, the thing is trade doesn’t happen on a potential basis. Quite understandably, if you use something for free, you are expected to operate it on your own. Of course, there will be businesses that provide excellent customer service while keeping the cost chargeable to user low. However, the baseline is if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Funny in that meeting, when someone else on the other end said: well look at how much you’re paying him compared to how much you’re paying other services? Balls! But truth.

A little sidetrack… There was this senior developer that I used to work with. His rate hour is expensive, and he doesn’t do bargain. But his service is generous! There was so much initiative in his work, sharing of tips, putting in a little extra hour here and there, and the way he carries the relationship with the clients. Both sides are happy!

So when someone has already put in efforts to go the extra mile beyond their original scope, that person should be recognised and remunerated fairly. Why is it so convenient for the company to ask more of the employees, but when employees ask more from the company they can be shut down with reasons like the budget is locked, the hiring is freeze-ed, the market is not good, the changes will come later… Companies can have business goals to meet, but employees can’t have their own career goals to meet too?

At the end of the day, everybody has a life to sustain. Have some common sense and empathy will ya?

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relationships

Someone said to me the other day "I really want to be friends with S. but I just couldn’t" referring to how she wanted to have a friendship with this particular person, yet finding the person hard to work with and upset her at work.

Someone else told me about how her manager wanted her to have a friendship with the other team member with very specific expectations set eg. going to have a coffee with each other once in a while. Dreadful!

I believe each relationship is unique in this own way and you can’t really categorise or generalise them, at the very least use "friendship" to blanket relationships. Like flowers that bloom in appropriate climates, relationships need to be naturally nurtured in the appropriate environments.

So I said to the first person: you don’t have to be friends with her, just be professional.

And I said to the second person: I will be professional. Coffee is unnecessary.

Writing challenge day 2: My breakfast today

Today I’m going to have overnight oats for breakfast which I made yesterday night. I was actually very excited to wake up and have breakfast before I even went to sleep a couple of hours ago…

So what is overnight oats?

I had oats, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds mixed with unsweetened yogurt. Mix mix mix… Then I had soy milk poured into the mix. Mix Mix Mix again until everything is well blended. I put that in the fridge and left it overnight.

Today, I’m gonna take it out, put a bit of coconut shreds into the mix and have it like that.

For flavour, I can also use dates, dried cranberries, honey or sliced banana… however, I usually keep it very simple.

Writing challenge day 1: What I wore yesterday

I had to attend a workshop that required formal attired, hence I picked the items that could present me in a smart casual style.

So I had:
– a white blouse with embroidery of flowers on the front
– a plain black jumper
– jeans
– sneakers in a neutral tone
– an oversize coat.

Google Mobile Sites Certification

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Google Analytics Certification

Freewriting Edition n: the five Cs in my writing

What I aim to achieve for my writing and how I’m going to address it:

Confidence
Before writing anything, I will start with “I want to….” (e.g. I want to tell readers about the publishers of this story) or put in a question to prompt my thinking (e.g. “What do readers need to know about the story?”). This tip has helped me so much with overcoming the writer’s block, as well as keep my thoughts from being disconnected when I had to take a break.

Because I start from what I’d like to communicate, rather than speaking from the third person, I feel that I’ve owned my messaging (which is manifested in my written words), which gives me the freedom to express it more easily.

Clarity
My writing is a reflection of my thoughts. So until I have clarity in my thinking, my writing will be murky, foggy and muddy.

Many people use mind maps, or list, or post-it notes to visualise their ideas very clearly. They will all help.

Now that I’ve realised this. Before I write anything with a computer, I will sketch on papers the key things I want to say and draw lines between each point. I will actually (re)plan out what the structure of my chapter or key points to be included in each section. In fact, I have a big wall of post-it notes with the structure of my thesis. And my handbooks are now filled with handwritten notes of what I want to say.

Coherence
I find this is one of many challenges with writing, especially dealing with (1) a large number of words (40k words for a Master’s thesis) which have been written (2) throughout a long period of study (2 or more years for a Master’s thesis). Somewhere along the way, something will get derailed very easily.

What I am trying to do now is always go back to my research questions, and make sure whatever written down will point back to the research questions. I would also like to finish the whole thesis, take a few days off and go back reading everything with a fresh mind. It sounds like an unbelievable luxury to have especially in the interest of time that I’m currently coping with.

The other tip I’ve learned (which I haven’t had any chance to do) is getting someone else to read the writing and critique.

Conciseness
No one wants to read something that has no focus and goes on and on. Once I’ve completed the whole thesis, my mission is to cut down all the unnecessary parts!

Captivation
Tell the story! So easy, yet so hard.

I have read papers that are so easy to read and give me incredible motivation, and papers that I can’t even finish the first paragraph (cos I can’t understand a thing!) I strongly believe that the impact of your work lies in the receiving end of how it’s perceived and understood. So what’s the point of hitting all the technical marks, yet the readers don’t find it interesting?

This gives me the courage and confidence to keep my writing very simple, reducing the pressure that I have to sound academic by using sophistical words…

This episode of freewriting has taken me longer than I had planned. But hey…

Colours

“Prominent kinds of meanings with which colours have been attributed: in particular, colour symbolism and colour naturalism. The former is illustrated with examples from the Middle Ages, with traditional associations between colours and values or ideas—such as the conventional adoption of particular colours for various saints and other biblical characters in art works or broader associations such as, for example, ‘black’ with ‘death and sin’ and ‘white’ with ‘purity and divinity’ in Western traditions. Colour naturalism, in contrast, is situated against the backdrop of a loss of conventional, or semiotic, uses as colour became more of an embellishment, a way of achieving naturalistic effects, of recapturing the world as it appears to the eye.”

The Language of Colour: an introduction
Theo van Leeuwen (2011)
Reviewed by: John A. Bateman

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van Leeuwen’s colours and Fairclough’s discourse dimensions

This is a 10-minute reflection writing.

In Theo van Leeuwen’s 2011 book The Language of Colour: an introduction, he pointed out that there are three organising dimensions informing the social semiotic investigation of colours.

First, the semiotic resources of colour themselves. What materials are colours made of? What technologies used to produce the colours? What’s the characteristics and textuality of colours.

Secondly, the cultural practices of which colours are used and developed as a communicative resource. What is the message that the colours want to convey?

Thirdly, the societal practices of semiotic change, as the values and meanings attributed to colour within changing practices also change. How have the colours been traditionally, conventionally and symbolically perceived? Does one colour contain different meanings when put in different cultures and contexts?

These dimensions fit in well with Fairclough’s three-tier of the social theory of discourse.

AUT Writers’ Retreat Day 2

Here are some reflections of Day 2:

I attended the morning workshop. The first half is about Writing your paragraph, and the second half is about Peer Review.

Key takeaways:

  • Have a purpose for your paragraph. Use the first sentence as the statement to communicate the purpose of the paragraph with the readers.
  • Use questions to prompt yourself. For example, I put “What do I want to tell the readers about this article” as the headline for the first paragraph. By answering that question, my first paragraph will come together.

Decide the structure of the paragraph, do you want to bring the readers to a point, or do you want to expand an idea? Have someone to read your writing. It will trigger questions and tease out assumptions that you made subconsciously. Before leaving your writing, always put down what you’ll want to do next so you don’t lose the chain of thoughts. These workshops are highly recommended! So important to be reminded of the basics and best practices in writing.

My realisation:

  • When I OWN what I want to communicate, writing will come more naturally and easily. This comes in 2 ways:
  • I have to know what I want to say exactly
  • I have to know how to say it (How will I say the same thing to a friend?)

Explain explain explain! Articulating addresses 2 issues:

  • It will be easier and faster for the readers to grasp the topic
  • The pressure to meet the word count will be lifted.

Have a clear structure helps A LOT. Visualise the structures, using post-it notes or drawings or whatever. Break down the writing into smaller portions. Plus have a clear purpose for each paragraph. The writing will come much easier.

What I’ve done today:

  • Headed to the beach for a walk
  • Read through the first article that I’ve picked
  • Made an outline of what will go into the analysis. Feeling like I can write it much easily now.
  • Have written about 900 words for a new article. Better than I have ever achieved in a couple of hours.