Redditech Blog 2.0

Thanks to all those who have and who continue to read and leave comments that help me make the content of this blog more professional and useful.

This blog has now moved to Blogger as a hosted site.
Blogger is the Google Apps alternative to Wordpress.

This was done as I wished to focus more on building my skills as a writer and actually producing higher quality content, and less on the administrative tasks of running blogging software myself.

Please check out The Redditech Blog 2.0 to see updated content from Redditech.

Living in Trinidad…working in Trinidad…is it worth it?

I dreamt of working in another country for as long as I could remember. Ideally it would have been a first world country like the US, Canada or the UK. As fate would have it, my first opportunity to work abroad came as an option to work for a Caricom agency in Barbados. It was overall I think a positive learning experience, although at the time of engagement the beauty of Barbados beaches and idlyic nature of life there was also rife with negative experiences as I learned the harsh lessons of incompatibility between independent thinking, innovation and bureaucracy within the public sector of the Caribbean.

I returned to Trinidad almost a year after my Barbados experience, determined to make the best of opportunities in my homeland till fate lent me the chance to work again abroad. I had this opportunity in a twisted sense through my current job as a Software Developer for Medullan, which took me to the city of Medford, MA just outside of Boston for 4 out of the last 12 months on 2 separate trips.

It was, to say the least, a very maturing, and eye opening experience as I dealt with both the joys and the pains of working within a 1st world country, coming from one classified as third world.
The obvious advantage of working within a 1st world country is of course the variety of novalties and essentials to purchase and things to do. By just being present in such an environment you experience the opportunity to explore your individualism to its fullest.
As a result, I personally discovered my liking of American theatre, and an affinity for particular US lines of clothing.
The not-so-obvious disadvantages are the enormous costs one bears to purchase goods, especially in states which have a large sales tax like New York. Budgeting is key to survival in this place where everyone is buying. The high cost of health care for those without insurance is also a huge negative, especially for those who come from “3rd world” countries where healthcare was free to all. The concept of paying $800US for 6 hours at a hospital emergency room visit where all that was done was a blood test is just ludicrous to one who’s experienced similar for free or under private care for about $50US in his home country.

I have yet to decide whether Trinidad life is for me, especially as I know there is so much more out there I have not yet seen in this world, so many cultures to experience, so much things to do and places to see. What I do know though, is that the grass may seem greener on the other side of the ocean, but it’s not all green.
Wherever I decide to settle, there will be challenges, obstacles and temptations to quit and return home, but at the same there will be positives untold as I continue to search for my spot in this huge place we call Earth.

Trinidad life -Almost losing my dad because of crime…

My father was held up and gunpoint yesterday in our family business, and if not for the chance occurrence of the shell/cartridge falling out of the shotgun held by one of the robbers while he struggled with them, my father would have been murdered yesterday.
My dad still didn’t come through totally unscatched. In the course of struggling with the robbers he fell and broke his ankle, and now has to walk with crutches for the next several weeks.
This is a man who I love so much that I can never express in words how much sorrow it would have caused me to have lost him.
I hope my little brother doesn’t read this before we speak of this to him, because this is definitely not how I want him finding out about it. Lord knows he already has enough struggles having to excel in his U.S. Naval AcademyNaval Hospital Corps. School exams while being so far away from all he knew.

This isn’t the first time one of my family has been held up at our business.
This time though it came closer that it ever has before to being the last time for my father.
And for what?
Human life is now so insignificant to some that the chance of acquiring a few hundred dollars is all the motivation some need to take one.
Is life really that hopeless for these people?
Or is this because they realise more and more daily that there are no consequences for those actions, not in Trinidad anyway. Trinidad life over the last few years has consistently reinforced my thinking that we just have the facade of a civilised country.

Criminals could have stolen from me one of the few precious gems I keep in my life. Our family business still runs, it needs to so that we all can eat tomorrow, so what happened yesterday could (knock on wood) happen again today, or tomorrow, or anytime again, with worse consequences. Criminals continue to have more motiviation to commit crimes and less disincentives to find honest means of livings. This is the reality of living in Trinidad today for me.
And I find that so disgusting.

Are Trinidad workers all about the money?

Are Trinidad workers all about the money when it comes to picking their jobs?
If not all about the money, how much should it be about the money?
Is being “all about the money” in Trinidad the strong indicator it is believed to be of the worker’s work ethic or level of loyalty to a company they sign on to?

In the first years of my working life, I shared the opinion that salary was all that mattered when it came to considering competing jobs. This is not uncommon thinking in Trinidad. Among my peers, when you first mention a job opportunity, the majority promptly ask “How much does it pay?”

This brings me to Seth Godin’s blog, one of the blogs of which I read frequently.

His recent post is one statement:
“Maybe the reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is…

... that you haven’t given them anything else to care about.”

This somehow jumped at me.
“Salary as the number one priority in considering a job” may not be as strong an indicator into one’s core values as I previously thought.
Maybe local employers are contributing to the reason that the salary question is the first one raised and usually the only one considered by candidate employees.
Employers in Trinidad haven’t given their candidate workforce anything else to care about. They’ve been bad salesmen.

I have worked at Medullan for a year now. It will become my longest job with a single employer very soon.
The salary isn’t the most I’ve ever made. It is actually the second lowest level of income I’ve been at in my career. I made, and continue to make, personal and financial sacrifices to work with them.
One may ask then, “Why am I here still then?”

I’m here, I now realise, because the leadership team were excellent salesmen. Maybe I’m also here partly because I am a very bad salary negotiator. However, I digress.
The Medullan leadership did give me the “something” besides the salary to care about that continue to make my working with them worth it. This also had the side effect that it kept my consideration of alternate employment in Trinidad with higher salaries that were made over the past year minimal and my loyalty to Medullan high.

I’ll try my best to quantify what the “something”, or rather the “somethings” I care about are.

I care to be challenged everyday to grow, to learn, to think.

I care about my personal and professional success.
Working in the Medullan culture has opened my appetite to succeed and fed my desire to be the best.

I care about my own career growth.
Medullan has nurtured that growth. They also opened my mind to discovering and understanding new ideas, new markets and a fundamentally new dimension of doing business to what I knew previously.

I care about building Redditech, or some other business venture, someday.
In all humility, I have assisted significantly with the growing of Medullan so far.
I continue to assist, and through this effort I build and hone the skills and experience needed to make any future venture a successful one the day I undertake it.

Finally, I care to work with people who share these same things I care about.
No job before has offered me all of the above. No job that was offered to me since starting at Medullan looked like they were going to offer this.

How many other Trinidad employers can you say give you anything else to care about other than the paycheck at the end of the month?

Still, the salary issue should not be thrown to the wind. It remains as a very real issue. We all have bills to pay, personal dreams to see realised, various things we work and save towards doing or achieving.

How much then does salary matter?
That is the question that challenges me today.

While job satisfaction is great to have, something beyond pocket change is desirable as well. Living “hand to mouth” just doesn’t seem worth the knocks taken getting a degree and working to build a marketable skill set and professional reputation over the years.

The sacrifice of time and effort given to Medullan has reaped me the benefits of my increased business acumen and my growing ability to see a big picture yet still design and execute to detail smaller plans to get there. My code design and writing skills are also much improved to the point where I can now mentor others in good design technique and coding style.

On the dark side of this though, it has also shown itself through my increased weight, the manifestation of several health issues, my reduced time at home with those I love, and my reduced network of friends with whom I have time to keep in touch.
My inability to move out of my parent’s home or to take on the purchase payments of my vehicle without my father’s assistance also remain major issues for me.

These are all constant reminders of just how much maintaining my position at Medullan takes from my previously enjoyed independent lifestyle despite what it gives to me otherwise.

The model used by Medullan Inc started with two guys from the US and a dream. It is now a near twenty person organisation distributed between Boston and Trinidad. Most of that growth happened forward from the date I signed up. I am very eager and excited to see where it leads to in the next year.

But I wonder daily if I can afford to.

Facebook – am i the last to learn about it?

Most Trinidadians are social by nature, so the concept of an online social network lends itself to us trinis who like to “maco”. At least this is the explanation I gave credit to when I was pretty amazed at how hi5 took off in the last several months, an online social network I started using despite its questionable “email addressbook reading” policies. Now I find another, smarter competitor, called Facebook, which I find growing on me quite rapidly. (more…)

Reenergised, refocused….

So my restart to blogging took another side track as I was off to the US for another two months on company assignment.

Thankfully, I’m back now, in warm weather, and with a new focus on what I want to do with this blog. The Boston experience this time was a challenge, I stumbled quite a bit, but hopefully am back stronger than before. I will be writing several articles hopefully in upcoming weeks based on the experiences there.

Hopefully being candid will get me clarity and not a pink slip if my boss(es) in Boston read them. Topics will range from good software engineering practices to good team leadership practices. I look forward to sharing insights made over the last several months and discovering even more as I get feedback from readers of my posts.

Let’s get this party (re)started

Ok, I haven’t blogged in almost 4 months now. That’s the level of busy I’ve been with Medullan. Unacceptable, considering how much cool stuff I’m working with and should be keeping track of. So at least twice a week I’m dedicating time to blogging again, if not technical stuff, then non-technical, since my new role as a track-lead on a project has been giving me some interesting learning experiences when dealing with people….

So let’s see how this works out….

July 4th Fireworks in Boston

Me at fireworks displayIf you’ve ever wondered what a million people look like, you should visit Boston’s fireworks for July 4th. The new apartment I’ve moved to also made it a “close” 25 minute walk to Mass Ave bridge where, according to one of my coworkers, approximately one million people gather to watch the display. And what a display it was!

Every year they load a really large barge in the middle of the Charles River with enough fireworks for a 15-20 minute completely computer-controlled display that was well worth the hour and a half packed crowd wait on Mass Ave bridge. The enormous bursts of lights were evenly matched by the incredible booms they created as the fireworks exploded, some strong enough to shake the Mass Ave bridge so slightly, and give this ‘roller-coaster’-like thrill to the event.

They have fireworks in Trinidad especially at New Year’s when everyone is launching their own fireworks and I have a prime view of it from my hillside home, but I’ve honestly never been so close to such a huge display. Definitely a memory for me, I hope someday to be able to witness those spectacular displays again.

Moving day, a night with the Finns and meeting Blue Men…what a weekend

Me and a Blue ManWow! A tonne happened this weekend. First there was the move to the new apartment Saturday, a most tiresome experience especially given the setup of the taxi company to send a promised cab on time. Never will I call those guys again for a cab. Having moved all my stuff just a few blocks from Harvard I wonder how I’m gonna make it moving back out to Trinidad with all the stuff I’ve accumulated in just a month, all those little extra trinkets sure do add on weight to luggage, especially luggage that has to be carried up 3 flights of slim stairs where the new apartment is located. (more…)

Redditech’s Boston Chronicles – Moving day’s coming

At AMC Fenway So they’ve kept me really busy here at Medullan...not that I’m complaining, in the last few weeks since I’ve blogged I’ve built perhaps some of the most powerful applications I’ve ever had to. And the challenges keep on coming. Work is slightly off my mind today as I contemplate the dynamics of moving over to a new apartment on Saturday. I call it the “haunted house”, not in a bad way though, just because it’s quite an old Boston building, “quite Bostonian” according to my Boston-based coworkers. It is in truth quite liveable, but it is also quite different from the Harvard Business School apartment I currently occupy in terms of its environment and location. It’s alot closer to the humdrum of Boston proper, since it’s closest T station is Central Square as opposed to Harvard Square, but it’s still a very safe neighbourhood from what I’ve been told. O, and I have a housemate, a very cool dude and my coworker from Medullan.