Year review of 2019 - Est's Blog

Year review of 2019

(Note: This article is written with the help of Engkoo from Microsoft, an English writing review service much like Grammar.ly)

The year 2019 is coming to an end, this is a year full of ups and downs for me.

I started a small Internet company last year spring as a partner, and left this summer. Initially, I wanted the entrepreneurship to be very agile and of talented engineers working together to build something new and cool, but reality hit me hard. It turned out to be a mundane job working with a bunch of in-house solutions for outsourced business from big corporates, CRUD, analytics web apps and Wechat integrations and even one-off scripts. Things went sour in 2018Q3, there was a series of endless internal disputes like intersecting holding percentage, arguments between shareholders and parent shareholders, and worst of all, constant moving business targets because of the high customization process. The software development itself is always in a hurry and leaves little time to polish, features fulfilled in a rush before bugs get fixed, changing of product direction is constant and since we as a second party had a weak voice over important decisions. This leaves a toxic and pessimistic experience of my professional career. Evidently doing business is hard in China and a good connection can get you contracts and profits no matter what level of technology you can provide.

Luckily I was recalled and rejoined the old company before June, a come-back like this is not easy, it's a land mine of office politics and I had to sail carefully since now I am the underdog. The HR lady surely gave me an uneasy look because she wonders why I was a "deserter". It's funny because the startup business is not my original plan at all and I had little choice because of stupid reasons (again: Guanxi matters). I took the old position, kept the old salary, the jobs left for me were familiar but different. Our team positioned as a back-office supporting role for a NASDAQ public company, our service is required to keep the whole user base healthy but most of them are offline computing and do not impact end-user directly or at least not in real-time. The code I left is 60% intact but the rest 40% is much harder to read and maintain, apparently the contributors just keep adding IF branches everywhere as bandit fixes. Refactor the program structure is proven difficult as a layoff happened some months earlier and everyone works their ass off to keep work up to date with fewer hands available. The higher goals I set before I left were never finished, the number of functions was increased but the system consistency was regressed to a pile of crap. Python 2 end-of-life is imminent but I just stick with miniconda2 forever.

I bought a condo last year at the suburb of the city after won the property-buying-ticket lottery, thus began my lucky and miserable life as a debt payer, the glorious bag holder in the value relay of the slowed-down property boom. The trade war made the economy suffer, but the interest rate (3.25%) established in 2015 kept rolling. There are rumors that PBOC will switch benchmark for LPR, I honestly have no idea what will happen next. There were good news though, the new condo is delivered this December, ahead of schedule, my family can finally enjoy more space and an extra room for activities.

My child went to the 1st grade of a private primary school this September, the first few weeks were fun, the grind began when homework was assigned. It was a dark moment for my boy and parents. The homework were full of gimmicks, everything looks more like reading comprehension than actual problem-solving. For Chinese class, students are expected to learn 5 or 10 new words every lesson but the practice nothing like it, learners have hard to grasp the intention of the tricky question and wording of the problems are mostly about guessing. I really miss the good o' days when I was young, the homework were just practicing the writing of the words learned at school, often a few lines of work can be done in minutes. The Math class is full of bullshit process. A graph showing 8 toys on the left and 7 on the right, asking how many of them in total? Also, 10 toys are expected to be outlined together. Why circle 10 toys? Later I realized that pupils are expected to remember 8+7==10+5 thus 10 is an important variable in the middle step, and 5 was added afterward. WTH? I think 6-year-olds are fully capable of remembering 8+7==15 and be done with it. Rote learning is perfectly fine during the early stage of arithmetics.

I read very few books this year, as always. Watched significantly fewer movies, played hundreds of hours of GTA V and Paladins, I adopted the habit of listening to podcasts like Luogic Talkshow during the commute. This programme is meh but it's refreshing to hear what's happening from a non-technical person's perspective.

As been said, 2019 might be the worst year so far, but also the brightest amongst forthcoming years.

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