Thoughts at 40

It was weird how the day I turned 40 in August was the same day I became long-sighted.

Suddenly, I had to hold my smartphone further away to read the fine print, and the same goes for my Pebble 2 smartwatch which features tiny fonts thanks to its millennial designers.

How did my eyeballs know when to start degrading with clockwork precision?

Indeed, 40 is a strange age to be in. I’m not old enough to be a cranky elderly citizen, nor am I young enough to be considered a spring chicken.

Continue reading Thoughts at 40

Outrageous to legalize online gambling in Singapore

I’m outraged and I’m disgusted.

I came home from work today and read the news that the Singapore government had allowed Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club to operate online betting services.

Just like that.

No Parliamentary debate. No call for public feedback or consultation. No protests from any PAP minister or member of Parliament. No squeak from the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Maybe I missed all of that, let me know if I’ve not been keeping up with the news.

(Update: A reader shared the 2014 Parliamentary debate on this matter, thank you! This obviously flew under most of our noses. Here’s the brief 2014 Straits Times story covering it, and I thank MPs Denise Phua, Png Eng Huat, Pritam Singh and NCMP Yee Jenn Jong for trying to prevent today’s tragic situation.)

When do we really have a say?

People like to call Singapore a nanny state. Honestly, I do not mind living in a nanny state if the nanny appears to know what it is doing for the people’s well-being.

Sometimes, this nanny state insists it wants to have a conversation with its citizens to solicit your precious feedback. Other times, you do not know best, so let their experts decide.

Continue reading Outrageous to legalize online gambling in Singapore

Hard advice and mentorship

This is the second part of my thoughts on surviving the seismic changes in the economy and staying relevant at any age. The first part is “Skills and the fight against irrelevancy“. But I have learned that even wielding the most updated skills is not enough if you do not get good advice on a constant basis.

Recently, my children asked me over dinner why I have a blog and why do I write all these articles (690 posts since 2005!)

I said : “Firstly, this is a record of my thoughts and ideas for you. Kind of like the fancy ‘memory crystal’ that Jor-El hands down to Ka-El in the Superman movie. So if I die tomorrow, you cannot complain your father did not tell you anything.”

“Second, this blog is a repository of my experiences and ideas, so my friends and readers can read what I would otherwise spend a long time telling them. ”

The kids shrugged and went back to eating their dinner and quarreling with each other.

Oh well.

Channelnewsasia recently ran a very sobering chapter of Talking Point, on how many PMETs in their 30s and 40s are hardest hit by job losses. It’s a long 23-min episode that is worth your time to watch (I didn’t embed it here because the video uses the obsolete Silverlight plug-in, so just click the link).

In both the video and my previous post, there is a lot of discussion about changing mindsets, obsolete skills and skills upgrading. The usual shebang of dealing with being 40+ and jobless.

But people make the mistake of thinking it is just about skills.

I’ve seen that the root of the problem (of becoming irrelevant) goes deeper than that, and starts at the beginning of one’s working life (or perhaps even during the schooling years).

To stay ahead of the curve, to fight irrelevancy and to survive, we need to seek out hard advice and mentorship. This is a practice from the beginning of time, but many people reject because they find it too hard to do (when it isn’t).

Continue reading Hard advice and mentorship

Skills and the fight against irrelevancy

This blog post was written about four months ago but it took me a long time to think through it and observe more about what was happening to my generation of people hitting their 40s. Retrenchment, job dissatisfaction, disruption and so much uncertainty. This first part deals with some observations of modern work and skills, and the next part will cover my reflections on all the advice I have received on these matters. This is a long rambling article, somewhat reflective of the constant churn of thoughts and emotions in my head.

I recently came across an online story of an SAF army regular who said he was changing jobs to become an Uber driver so that he could spend more time with his family. I did not read the story in detail, but the story angle stuck in my mind. (Sorry, I lost the URL link)

In Singapore, Uber and GrabTaxi have vastly improved the taxi network by matching users with drivers in an efficient manner. Many people have also found Uber to be a good fallback when they lose their jobs, or an opportunity to make better use of the inactive family car. Some young folks are using Uber as a way to possess a car for driving when their own finances won’t allow it.

Putting food on the table is critical. However, what happens to your personal development when you become a crowd-sourced driver?

Continue reading Skills and the fight against irrelevancy

We have an IT literacy problem

On 8th June, I woke up to the news that the Singapore government would be cutting off internet access to 100,000 civil servants’ computers in May 2017 as a major security measure.

It is not a total ban though – there will still be internet access or terminals for those who need them.

My first thought was : “Wow, that’s a pretty ballsy move, and it makes sense.”

Continue reading We have an IT literacy problem