Cafes Are Not Just About Exhorbitantly Priced Coffee

3 minute read

Have you ever found yourself trying to work on something for hours and still ended up with nothing at all? Sometimes, the best way to actually get work done is to just walk away from it and have a change of scenery. Let’s admit it, there will always be times when you’d want to just get away from the cubicle dungeons and I’ve found that one of the best places to seek refuge on would be the nearest cafe.

Why coffeeshops just work.

it’s not so much about the expensive coffee but how it makes itself conducive for work. A cafe is a good balance between a prude office environment and your home that’s too comfortable for real work to get done. It can be surprising what you can accomplish in just 30 minutes to an hour. As I said above, while coffeeshops are technically more distracting than the confines of offices, the change in environment is what we’re really after. Simply put, it’s peace among strangers.

But for me, it can’t be just any coffeeshop. I still do have my preferences as far as choosing which coffeeshop to lay a nest on. Here are some tips you might want to consider in your own pilgrimage.

  1. First, leave your AC charger behind.

    While current laptops’ battery performance have greatly improved, somehow, without it, you’ll be “encouraged” to get your stuff done right away and get back to the office soonest. Besides, you won’t be staying there the whole day, or are you?

  2. Do, however, leave with a fully-charged mobile phone.

    This needs no explanation. If Houston needs you back, they need to be able to reach you even if you’re behind the moon.

  3. Get a good pair of headphones.

    While cafes usually feature relaxing house or chill-out music, sometimes, it’s just not enough to drown out the noise the other customers make, although sometimes the whitenoise is something that turns me into an energizer bunny. Music with words in it can really grab attention so stay away from it, unless it’s in a language you cannot understand, process, or sing along to. As soon as you can establish your OWN world, the sooner you can get to work, or at the least, catch up on your reading/research.

  4. Choose a dead hour so you can have the place to yourself.

    That means several minutes after lunch or after office hours is a no-no. I find that one of the most ideal windows to go there is in the early morning and in the mid-afternoon. Perfect for coffee! Weekends are great too as most people will just be lazily hanging out recovering from a hangover the previous night.

  5. Find a cafe on a not-so-busy street.

    The passing of vehicles and the noise they make can be very distracting. I’m also more particular for cafes with roadside parking in front of it. The sooner I get my coffee after getting off the car, the better. Be mindful of parking schedules though or else you may find yourself chasing after tow trucks. So, no, I’m not going to drive into mall parking and walk hundreds of meters just to get to a coffeeshop. That’d be a total time-waster.

  6. Stay away from cafes with groups of friends in it.

    if you really want some peace and quiet, you’d want to be with loners people who are busy themselves. A cafe frequented by serious post-grad students is best. Those with high school and college students tend to be noisier. Let’s see you go through that chatter and I’m sure you’ll be heading back to the office in less than 10 minutes.

  7. Stay off the grid.

    WiFI and 3G is a near-must and very reliable but sometimes, it’s good to be just offline. The less distractions you have, the better.

  8. Keep your NDA in mind always.

    You don’t want to be broadcasting your killer idea on public. So to be sure everything’s safe from prying eyes, adjust the size of your screen font so it can be less readable by that guy sneaking a peek over your shoulder.

  9. Stay focused.

    Lastly, I would suggest that before you leave your office, plan well what needs to be done so your new-found freedom is not wasted. Forget multitasking. Just concentrate on just one task and get it over with. The objective is to get to work. And when i say work, it’s not about FB’ing or chatting with friends on YM. :)

Are you a coffeeshop junkie or are considering taking your work there? How did your experience go? Can you say it’s for you or would you still rather be elsewhere? And is the price of designer coffee really worth it? Of course, not, unless the time used to sip it was used really wisely.

Top Reasons Why You Might Want To Get That Backup Harddisk Already

3 minute read

Regardless of the interests that you have, it’s most likely that you have already accumulated huge amounts of data across the years. However you put it, these data is a big part of your life already. From your college papers, your business presentations, to your accounting and tax sheets, from your technical whitepapers to personnel performance reports, from your photos, to your scanned artwork and your music. You bring these along with you in your laptop, or maybe stash them on a home or office computer and feel secure that they’re all there safe and sound.

There has been significant advances in harddisk technology especially as far as their robustness and reliability are concerned. So, what’s there to worry about, right? Murphy’s Law. :)

Based on my own and others’ experience, these would just be some of the reasons why you would want to have a really good and reliable backup:

  1. These robust, reliable, and nearly-shockproof harddisks still do fail.

    While these disks may be covered by warranty and easily replaced, once they conk out on you, your data may be gone forever. What warranty can cover that? Sometimes all it takes to make a man cry is an accidental but jarring drop on the floor resulting to a catastrophic hard disk crash. </li>

  2. Your laptop may be stolen.

    Laptops can be replaced as disks above but not your data, your precious data. A friend of mine got her Mac stolen from a half-open car window. Nothing stopped the thief from doing so despite the car being in motion. If she had a Time Machine backup, I wouldn’t have felt sorry for her. After all, she can always get a new Mac and restore her backup there. But she didn’t and now, she’s practically redoing everything. Has she learned something from that lesson? I hope so! :) </li>

  3. Merciless Acts of God.

    Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis. Yeah, this world is nearing its doom. But if you can have your data secure somewhere, you’ll have one less problem in your hands. :) </li>

A Paranoid Advise

Disks are getting cheaper already. For general use, the more portable 2.5” drives which just requires a single USB or FireWire port is always a good choice. While it may be pricey for some of us, just consider the peace of mind it’ll give you and that’ll be your ROI already. Some companies provide for their employees’ backup requirements but most likely than not, you’re on your own. Either way, it’s in your best interest to make sure that your data is well secure.

  1. Use tools like Time Machine, Super Duper, or Carbon Copy Cloner.

    These tools are so advanced (actually, the tech is quite old, they just made the process simpler) that after making a full backup of your system, they are able to track the tiniest change (a new or recently editted file, etc) and back that up. They also allow you to back track on a timeline so you can easily restore that file or folder that you accidently deleted.

  2. Backup periodically..

    At least, once when you get home from work, and once before you leave for work. That way, any work you do in and outside the office is safely backed up. If you’ve done a considerable amount of work in less time, feel free then to do a backup as necessary. Autosave sometimes just ain’t enough anymore. </li>

  3. Store your backup somewhere safe.

    I choose to keep my backup disk at home while it’s sometimes a better idea to store them in the office. If needed, keep multiple backups for paranoia’s sake and store them at a friend’s house across town. Just like your meds, these are better kept in a cool and dry place, away from rowdy children. </li>

  4. Keep your backup disk fresh

    Replace your backup disk every three to four years to ensure optimal disk health. These disks, like the ones you’re using on your laptop or workstation will die eventually. Make sure you have an alternative before that happens. </ol>

    You see, I’m that type of person who carefully puts laptops on desks making sure there is no shock at all, and yet, I’ve had several close calls myself with disks being populated by bad blocks, and with disks which just died conveniently on me. There’s just too much to lose but doing backups definitely minimized the risks. For your sake, I hope you do, too. :)

An Insider View Into Job Interviews

5 minute read

This month, in particular, is a special month I’ve always been interested in. This month, thousands (or millions?) of students graduate and look for jobs. And as an employer who’s always on the lookout for people to hire, it can be a bit frustrating most of the time, to know that a lot of the graduates that turn up, lack a lot of the skills (fundamentals, basics, whatever) that I need in a potential hire. We’re not asking much really. All we need are students who took their studies seriously and took the time to, at least, read ahead in preparation for the real world. Or, just a bit of common-sensical take on their chosen profession. Hiring has always been hell for us and most of the time, a big waste of our time. But we have no choice but to still believe. Here, I attempt to list down some of my and my colleagues’ observations, questions, and frustrations, as we wade through tons of resumés, and sit through hours of eyebrow-raising interviews. While it may seem that this is only for fresh graduates, believe me, there ARE job-seekers out there with supposed years of experience who are just as bad. This is for them, or you, too. If you’re a job applicant, this is very useful insider tip.

  1. Applicants failed to take their studies seriously.

    You thought simply graduating was the key. Cheating is not good. And it’s worse if you didn’t understand a thing. And surprise! That class you took about Software Engineering, Data Structures, and Algorithms ARE useful. And oh, Philosophy and Logic rocks too.

  2. Applicants didn’t really know what they were getting into.

    Please have the initiative to at least research about the company you’re applying with, and whether what they do is really what you want to be doing. We’re not forcing you to apply, you know. You came here on your volition right? But what piqued your interest, really? One of the things we keep looking for are people who really are interested in the job, not just ANY job. And if one really wants the job, then s/he must work hard for it. In my company, we keep saying at the onset, that, it is a bi-directional interview. We want and encourage people to ask questions, the right ones, that is.

  3. Some applicants can be delusional about salaries.

    Everyone has to start from scratch somewhere. Did you really believe that that dream job will simply be outside the university gates when you come out? One has to work hard for it. But yes, there are graduates from a minority of schools who can actually pull off a good leverage. And most of them are really good, I must admit. But, just not everyone.

  4. Some applicants think they can get away with populating their resumés with buzzwords they barely know about.

    It does get our attention, but we will find out if you’re lying! So spare yourself from embarassment. While we don’t really humiliate applicants ourselves, it would be better if you were honest with yourself in the first place. Yes, we do notice those small beads of sweat and that sudden stammer in your voice. Just the same, exams should bring the humility out in everyone. Come on, I’ve known MD’s and Journalism majors whom I can discuss Linux and other geekiness with, which are totally out of context of their respective professions. These people can beat these so-called IT, CS, etc, graduates to a pulp. Heck, I even know a restaurateur who now does software development for a living. That, kids, is called genuine interest. So, unless you can stand by your bluff, just lose it.And despite most of them seminars being introductory, they can be useful, especially, if people started doing follow-through studies. If the topics didn’t interest you or if you didn’t really understand them, it ain’t going to do anyone any good.

  5. And most especially, some schools need to re-think their ancient curricula.

    Schools are supposed to be teaching stuff that will actually help the students get better jobs, and not just simply milk money out of them. Some curricula I saw were just mediocre. Or archeological. I guess it’s one of those dangers of having teachers who never really got out of their college comfort zones into the industry. Hey guys, help us out here!What’s funny too, is, I’ve talked to cum-laudes who barely know things outside college! No, textbooks are not everything (especially if they’re dated already!). Got ‘net? Use it and read up. It’s not only for Ragnarok you know. It’s just a sorry state when some more street-smart people are able to outdo cum-laudes. It really makes me wonder what kind of education and quality control his/her school had in place. And the bad thing is, it’s the students who suffers. If these cum-laudes found it hard to get a job, what about the others?And maybe, schools should also re-evaluate the relevance of each subject. I, for one, have yet to find good use for Integral Calculus, Differential Equations, and Strength of Materials, in my current job, or in those of my other batch mates’. Nevertheless, despite failing them at some point, I did enjoy these subjects, because, yes, I was actually interested in them. But sometimes, I can’t help but wonder about the man-months I spent on them, man-months which could have been better spent learning more relevant stuff. But then, a lot of my friends kept saying I might have been in the wrong course all along. Okay, okay, I was in Computer Engineering when I was supposed to be in CS. After all, I’ve always been a software guy.Man, there’s something wrong wth this picture!

Anyway, I can go on and on, and I’m sure I missed a lot of others, but let’s start with these. If anyone has something else to share, please do drop a comment. I’m sorry if i had to be blunt about stuff, but being saccharine doesn’t work for me anymore. A lot of times, people really just need a good jolt. I just hope that for you, or anyone who’s looking for a job, that what I wrote here does serve its real purpose.

During interviews, anyway, I have learned to make good use of my poker face to hide the disappointment, unless, a spunk-wielding-applicant who thinks he can take me down decides to test my patience. Great skillsets are good but the last thing I’d want to have on board is a prima donna.

So, are you still wondering why the unemployment rate is this bad? Sigh.

Oh, well, congratulations to you, graduates! I hope you find what you’re looking for! And if you didn’t, well, it’s the price we pay for the life we choose.