Iron59 Answers the “50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind”(?)

I’m a sucker for Quora posts, especially the ones that are related to Life Hacks and Self-Improvement. This one post that caught my attention asks:

What are the best questions that will free your mind?

Among the several answers, my top pick was the one that points to 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind. Upon searching further, I found the original source of the content which is written here. I’m setting aside the attribution problem for the Quora answer. That’s for Quora support to handle. I wrote this blog post to answer each of the 50 questions as briefly as possible. To be honest, I don’t see the effectiveness of some of these questions, but I’ll try it nonetheless. Here it goes:

  1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
    • 25. I think I reached a new milestone in maturity in this age.
  2. Which is worse, failing or never trying?
    • NEVER TRYING. I hate “What If’s”.
  3. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
    • Probably it’s part of what we do for the living. Life is short. Maybe we don’t want to make it shorter.
    • Perhaps to sacrifice something for the people we care for.
  4. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
    • Nah. I don’t want to consume my time arguing with people who are committed to misunderstand me.
    • ‘Step up and act now’ is what I usually do.
  5. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
    • If there are no limitations? Create a more liberal education system where people can choose what they want to learn and the final examination would be to create a difference or an impact in this world with their acquired knowledge.
  6. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
    • Anything related to game development. Sure it’s stressful at times, but that’s where my passion is.
  7. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
    • Partially trying to do what I believe in. I’m aiming to do it totally, but circumstances has its constraints. Improving it one step at a time. 🙂
  8. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
    • I’ll have more dates.
    • I’ll be more adventurous in financial investments.
    • I’ll give more time to education.
    • I’ll do less overtime
  9. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
    • Enough to be independent of basic needs and navigate my career track.
    • Brave enough to decide which company to keep.
  10. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
    • 50 / 50. Depending on the situation…. okay maybe 60 / 40 in favor of doing things right because I’m still experimenting a lot on different stuff.
  11. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do?
    • Defend my close friend in the most diplomatic way possible.
  12. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
    • Learn things as fast as possible. Don’t mind failure. It’s part of learning.
  13. Would you break the law to save a loved one?
    • It depends. If it’s my mom, yes.
  14. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
    • A lot of times. Creative works are fun that way.
  15. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
    • Maximum tolerance on undesirable situations and people.
  16. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
    • People have different aspirations. We are created that way.
    • People have different contentment.
  17. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back?
    • Venture into other investments. Still worried about the risks involved.
  18. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
    • I think there are a bunch of things that I need to let go of. Maybe I’m hesitant because it’s outside of what I’m used to. Will probably figure something out.
  19. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
    • Japan, probably in Tokyo. Stayed there for three months. Love the people and the place. Plus, I’m surrounded with stuff that are related to my hobbies.
  20. Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
    • Is this a question about patience? Anyway, no, I push the button only once. If I’m in a rush I’ll take the stairs instead, unless it’s several floors away.
  21. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
    • Worried genius. Being genius doesn’t mean you’re perpetually sad.
  22. Why are you, you?
    • Upbringing + Experiences + Acquired Knowledge
  23. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
    • My circles tell me that I’m a positive company, so yeah.
  24. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
    • Losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you. Such instance may have been caused by an undesirable circumstance.
  25. What are you most grateful for?
    • People who care for me
    • Basic needs to live
    • Acquired knowledge and skill
    • The chance to live another day
    • Morals and values that shaped me into a better person
  26. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
    • Hmm what a tough question. Doesn’t sound like it will free my mind :?. Anyway, never be able to make new ones. Good or bad, I learned a lot from my past experiences.
  27. Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
    • I don’t think so. Not challenging the truth at worst case can lead to impractical and/or unjust tradition as well as false teaching that defies morality.
  28. Has your greatest fear ever come true?
    • No. The thing is, my fear periodically adjusts to something worse than what is likely to happen. Come to think of it, it doesn’t make sense. I need to work this out.
  29. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?
    • 5 years ago… hmmm… Oh yeah I remember something. I don’t care much about it now.
  30. What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?
    • Can’t tell if this is my happiest moment, but maybe when I received this one specific toy. As far as I remember, I rarely receive such toys when I was a child, or to be more specific, not as frequent as my playmates do.
  31. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
    • When I entered the game development industry.
  32. If not now, then when?
    • Uhmmm tomorrow? Whut? XD
  33. If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
    • My fear of risks
  34. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
    • NO. Being with someone and not saying anything at all is totally depressing for me.
  35. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
    • I wonder…
  36. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
    • If you’re talking about universal good and evil, probably not, but I will stand on my own morality.
  37. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
    • Maybe, but not in an instantaneous way. I’ll make sure that everything is ironed out like the turnover process. And I’ll use some of my funds to help the company grow for the better.
  38. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
    • More work I actually enjoy doing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for work-life balance. Just had to make a choice.
  39. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
    • ‘Hundred times’ sounds too much. I have my Déjà vu moments.
  40. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
    • I haven’t experienced that yet. Maybe because I plan beforehand. I’m not a fan of guesswork when it comes to life choices.
  41. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
    • Everyone I care for.
  42. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
    • Tempting, but no. I prefer to work hard for fame. As for attractiveness, I’m not that bad hahaha.
  43. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
    • Being alive is just being born here in this world. Truly living is seeking the reason why you were born.
  44. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
    • When you need to overcome your fear.
  45. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
    • Because some mistakes result to a lot of pain. That’s what we’re afraid of.
  46. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
    • Openly support stuff which most people consider taboo.
  47. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
    • When I meditated. Probably two or three weeks ago, which reminds me, I should get back to this habit.
  48. What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
    • Creative works. It’s where my career currently revolves.
  49. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that?
    • Probably not. Gee, I don’t think anyone does.
  50. Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
    • I make my own decisions most of the time. There are instances though that they are affected by my present circumstance.

Whew. That took longer than I expected. Did these questions freed my mind? Partially. Some of the questions left me pondering further. Some gave me realizations that I have to act on as early as now. Other questions left me puzzled on its significance. What I’m sure is that somehow I learned more things about myself, especially on my way of thinking. As time consuming as it looks, I suggest you give it a try. ‘Til next time. (~^_^)~

Original source of questions: 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind by Marc and Angel Hack Life

Online Courses – An Alternative Learning Experience

It’s always good to learn something new, but given that you have your full-time job, family, social life, and other stuff that occupy your time, taking up a short course with a concrete schedule can be inconvenient if not unfeasible for your day-to-day routine. Luckily, there’s another option that can fit with your busy lifestyle. There are online courses both free and paid that are more flexible to handle. I’ve tried a few courses, and I like the learning experience so far.

Flexible Schedule

Online courses give you the freedom to have your own schedule. Take the lesson when you can. You can even go through more than one module if you feel you’re on-the-roll. You can repeat a module as many times as you like, so you don’t have to worry about having any time constraints if you’re having a hard time grasping a particular topic. A module can contain a video, audio, or reading material, with other external references if applicable. The content is also available through a tie-up mobile application, so you can access your lessons on-the-go. Take note though, don’t place long gaps in between your study sessions, or you’ll end up not retaining what you’ve learned. All skills take regular practice to master or at least to acquire progress.

Sample course page from Coursera

Sample course page from Coursera

Discussions and Consultations

Like a formal class, you can consult the instructor either by sending him/her a private message or posting a comment to a particular module. Each of them has different availability of schedule, but as far as my experience goes, they really respond to queries as much as possible. Some take a day or two, while others will reply after a week. Either way, this is a great option for further learning the course and find more applications based on your current circumstance. You can also post discussions that are open to fellow students. Their inputs are sometimes as valuable as the instructors’. You can also follow their questions so that you’ll get notified if it receives a response. Based on these student reactions, instructors tend to update the course for modifications and additional content, and you don’t have to pay for these changes. You’ll be notified for such instances if you’re enrolled in the course, even if you already finished it.

Stack Social offers bundles for online courses ala Humble Bundle

Stack Social offers bundles for online courses ala Humble Bundle

Certificate of Completion

I really love the fact that you’ll get an online certificate for the completion of the course. It’s available online so you can include it in your credentials if you want.  Courses are tracked based on the modules that you completed. Mostly, there’s an audio or video that you have to go through per module. Finishing the media will mark the module as complete, but that is not required. You have the option to skip the lesson (marking it complete) just in case you already know the topic. There’s no strict monitoring from the instructors. You’ll decide if you can proceed with the next module. Even if you cheated, it will be your loss. Here’s a sample of my certificate for a course that I completed in Udemy.

My certificate for completing the course “Become A Super Learner” from Udemy

Thanks to online courses, you don’t need to be frustrated to learn a new hobby or add skills for your career and lifestyle advancement. However, take note that even if they are flexible, they still require discipline. Again, you will need to follow through regularly to make sure you retain the stuff that you just learned. If you’re ready to take your first course, you can go ahead and try the sites like Coursera and Udemy. There’s also StackSocial, which gives bundles to a collection of Udemy courses for significantly discounted prices. You can also subscribe to the sites’ newsletters for the latest deals. Enjoy! (~^_^)~

Things I Want to Learn for 2015

My renaissance soul is always craving for something new to learn, and this year is no exception. Whether it’s something to increase my proficiency in my chosen field or something that I want to emulate from amazing people, I always make sure that the year won’t end without adding something new in my skill set. As Irish novelist Michael Scott once said, The Day We Stop Learning is the Day We Die, so I will continue to live and build a better me. Here are some of the stuff that I want to learn this year.

Speed Reading

Spreeder - an online tool for practicing speed reading. http://www.spreeder.com/app.php

Spreeder – an online tool for practicing speed reading.
http://www.spreeder.com/app.php

Regardless of the type of book, I’m not really fond of reading for several hours. I feel envious of my friends who can finish more than a hundred books in a year. Given that I give less time for such activity, might as well utilize what I have. I’m more into informative books (software development, self-help, etc.) so it takes more effort to process the information, making my pace slower. With this, I considered trying Speed Reading. The ability to read at the average of 600 words per minute will be a lot useful for my continuous consumption of new knowledge. It doesn’t promise a 100% comprehension of the material, which is quite a low for me given that I have a bunch of new concepts to tackle, but I’m taking my chances anyway. If it doesn’t work for me, then time to find another alternative or find some way to increase my time for reading.

Last December, I availed a speed reading course in Udemy for a big discount. It’s my ideal setup since it’s an online course, so I have full control of my training schedule. Just like any useful skill, it takes a significant amount of effort to master. The practice exercises need to be done everyday for several minutes a day. It’s barely two weeks since I started so I can’t claim that I’m already seeing some results, but I’m hopeful that I’ll see some progress soon.

Options for Passive Income

Cashflor Board Game - mobile version. Image from - http://play.google.com

Cashflor Board Game – mobile version.
Image from – http://play.google.com

One of the valuable things I learned from Cashflow board game is the importance of having a passive income. It’s not saving that will get you to financial freedom, but producing passive income that will exceed your expenses. I know a bit about stocks, mutual funds, and UITF, but not familiar enough that I can invest without too much worrying. As I grow older, I’m becoming more and more frustrated on getting rich, so might as well explore the options on how to upgrade my finances and lifestyle WITHOUT sacrificing the job that I want to do (i.e. game development).

I’m having a really hard time pursuing a financial venture that I’m not passionate about, no matter how lucrative it is, so as much as possible, I’m for something that can be gamified in some way. Heck, I even have a design for a game that will try to improve one’s personal finances. I’m aware that regardless of the option, there’s no fast and easy way to such path, but at the very least, I’ll take risks to a field that can really pique my interest.

Aerial Flips

Being a big fan of Martial Arts Movies, I always wanted to learn how to do those fascinating acrobatics, especially the back flip. Part of my bucket list is to direct an indie action movie someday, so I need all the skills I can get to be an action star, or at least to train some action star LOL. Other than it’s impressive to watch, it will push my physical capabilities to the limit, and that’s good since I want to age gracefully.

Last September, I enrolled to Ninja Academy for a training in Tricking. I’m learning more stuff than I expected, and I’m enjoying the session despite the demand for physical endurance. I’m on the preliminary training of back flip now, and I know it will take some time to actually do this specific trick, but I’m not in a rush. After all, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it right?

Advance Techniques in Guitar

Lesson Screen for Rocksmith 2014

Lesson Screen for Rocksmith 2014

I’ve been playing guitar for several years now but only in a casual manner. I described it as such since I never went through any formal training, and I still don’t know the advance techniques. I will need this more than before since I’m now part of the band. Good thing my bandmates are well-versed musicians so they know how to guide me accordingly.

When I started playing Rocksmith, I discovered the bad habits that I developed when playing the said instrument. Thank goodness, this game had all the features in a progressive and comprehensive manner that I know what to do next. It even has its wide library of songs for practice. This will provide more options for our band’s cover performances.

Advance Concepts of Mobile Game Analytics

After working on Dragon Snack, I learned the basics of implementing an analytics engine to observe the players’ behavior and other game parameters. It’s such a useful tool, but it introduces several terms and concepts that run deep beneath the surface. Having my own dream of making it big as an indie developer, it will be helpful to utilize the capabilities of the analytics engine to improve my games and hopefully pull more players in turn.

I have my eyes on the Udemy courses for analytics just in case it lands on sale again. I’m willing to wait since I still have a handful of courses at my disposal anyway, and I don’t want to suffer a burnout from studying a lot of stuff.

Whew! A lot of stuff to learn for the entire year. In the end, it all revolves in my aim to improve my quality of life and be a better person than I am now. How about you guys? What new things are you planning to explore for 2015? Whatever it is, I hope you’ll achieve your goals and move forward with the sense of accomplishment. Happy New Year and cheers for our future success! (~^_^)~

Dealing with Multiple Pursuits and Interests – The Craving of a Renaissance Soul

One of the things that I like about video games is that it’s a convergence of different disciplines resulting to an entertaining and fascinating creation. Its field of development is something that matches my interests because other than my passion for gaming and programming, I’m also fond of a wide range of interests and I’m always hungry to learn something new. Music, Literature, Asian Culture, Otaku Stuff, Martial Arts, and everything in between are the other things that makes me tick. It’s a lot of fun to have such holistic learning experience, though at times it can get out of hand, and it feels like the twenty-four hours of the day cannot fit in for everything that you want to do. Here, I’ll try to share some approaches that worked for me in order to keep progressing with my pursuits and interests.

Keep a List

If you have a lot of hobbies and tasks, chances are you’ll miss some of them if you don’t organize it into a list. Creating a list reminds you of the pending items that you want to start or continue. It’s also useful for prioritizing which ones you like to try the most. If an item gets stagnant in your list for quite a while, then you might want to reconsider if it’s actually worth keeping in your list. By elimination, you’re removing clutter from your tasks, which will give you more focus on the things that you really like. If you want to go hardcore, you can also set deadlines for each task so that you’re bound to progress for each item, but don’t impose it to the point that you’ll experience burnout. Schedule enough time to recharge and unwind with a different type of activity.
I use the To-Dos feature of HabitRPG. Gamification is motivating for me, so this web app is my weapon of choice. You can try other note-taking apps as well, but if you’re a gamer, especially of Role-playing games, then this productivity tool is for you.

Find Activities That Will Cater More Than One Interest

Zombies Run: A Game That Combines Real-life Running with Zombie Survival Mehcanics Image from http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_content_width/hash/7a/dd/7add9234834237b0b01c0d3bf0ec8002.jpg?itok=H1s8LrDf

With all the stuff that you have to attend to from full-time work to relationships, you have to utilize the time that you have as much as possible, and what better way to do that than to address more than one interest at once. It’s not multitasking but rather choosing the right activity that caters two or more of your interests. Review your list and try to come up with possible combinations that can be formed into one hobby or job.
I’m a bit lucky that a lot of activities are being gamified now so it can address my crave for gaming while doing something productive. A good example would be Rocksmith 2014 which is a rhythm game that features an actual electric guitar as your controller. It has the expected core gameplay of playing songs by following the timing of hovering markers for plucking and strumming the guitar. Beyond that, there are also lessons from basics to advanced concepts for playing the guitar and arcade games that test your skills from controlling your strum volume to playing different scales. These  features are useful that I found some bad habits that I need to correct.

Get Involved in the Community

It’s always fun to meet people who share the same interests with you. It’s also motivating to follow through if you have someone to compare your progress. Just keep it as a healthy competition. You’re there to gain more friends and get motivated, not to pick up some bitter rivalry. Ask for tips from experts of your chosen activity or field. You can also contribute by assisting your colleagues or classmates, especially the newbies in your specific activity. As one of my programming professors taught me, to understand something, teach it to a person. There’s also the possibility that they’ll introduce you to a new hobby that you will enjoy.
For hobbies that let you attend classes, this will be a given thing, unless you want to sit in one corner and just participate to the actual practice, but you’ll miss the opportunity to learn more from other people and get some useful feedback. For other activities, you can join online forums and Q&A sites. Join contests if applicable. It will be a good avenue to hone your craft and find out what you still need to improve.

Having a lot of interests and pursuits gives you a wide range of knowledge and a myriad of skills to take advantage of. Just remember, you’re supposed to be doing these things because you really have fun doing it, and it makes you feel alive. Take it one step at a time and don’t put any unnecessary pressure to yourself. Live the moment and embrace your renaissance soul.  (~^_^)~

Time

This is my shortest blog title ever. I just can’t think of a subtitle that will cover all the stuff that runs in my mind when I read, hear, or think of this single word. For the past few years, I’ve been trying to catch up with my life on things that I always wanted to do, acquire, and achieve. More than ever, I felt that 24 hours is pretty short to do all the things that I want on top of responsibilities and proper rest. Somehow it felt unfair that I see some people have a luxury of time in their hands. As for the other people I know who has the exact opposite thing (i.e. perpetual haters of free-time), it left me wondering why they are always preoccupied? Observations and thoughts such as these led me to several realizations on how I view time.

Time is a non-renewable resource

Image courtesy of http://julettemillien.com

This is one of the biggest frustration that I have. This is where a lot of my ideals revolve.  I’m always embarrassed when I make people wait, especially when I’m late since I’m implicitly consuming their time which I cannot return by any means. That’s why I try my best to arrive earlier than the agreed time. Then I’ll just try to think of something to ponder on or maybe read something while waiting, so as not to compromise my own time.

I also weigh the pros and cons of prioritizing between saving time and saving money. Sometimes, if something can be done faster with an acceptable amount of extra cost, then I’d grab the chance. After all, it will give me the advantage of accomplishing more things or just simply giving more time for myself on whatever purpose I have (extroverts have ‘me-time’ too, contrary to popular belief). Besides, I can earn that money back if it’s not that expensive. If it is, then it’s a different story, because my stinginess will kick in. Hmm, but come to think of it, time is still saved in that choice because it will take a considerable amount of time for me to earn something that big given that I’m not rich (for now, who doesn’t want to be financially free?).

In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey mentioned that the most genuine form of love is trust. Well, I recognize its importance, but I think time has a greater bearing given that it is a non-renewable resource. When you give your time to someone, you’re basically giving or risking something that you can’t get back. In worst case, you don’t get anything in return, but you gamble anyway because it is necessary to invest time to create such bond (at least if you’re aiming for something serious). Not to get cheesy here, my general perspective is that whatever or whoever you’re allotting your time to, is the most important thing or person for you at that particular moment.

There are better ways to spend your early years in life

Image courtesy of http://longforsuccess.com

Tim Ferris’ book, The 4-Hour Work Week, discusses how you can earn more and live a seemingly luxurious life with the least amount of work as possible (not exactly 4 hours though, but definitely lower than your standard 8-hour job). The book made me realize that the irony of money, energy, and time is not totally inevitable. It teaches you to use mini-retirements instead of one big permanent one that you claim when you’ve gone old. You distribute these in between time frames of your work life. It makes sense since some of the things that you want to do can only be done at your prime, and it only comes in a specific period of your life. Sure, you can physically train yourself to age gracefully, but  even that has its limitations. I’m not the adventurous type who goes to “YOLO” activities every now and then, but at the very least, there a lot more things that you can try while you are young. Remember, responsibilities stack up as you grow older and that consumes time too. The aim is to lessen your work time by making your schedule more flexible through various approaches like remote access and outsourcing as well as availing products and offers, which were mistaken as expensive. You just have to look at the right places.

Other than physical capabilities, risks in financial investments also change through time. Starting early in availing life insurance will give you genuine savings (its value doesn’t degrade since it follows the inflation rate) at an earlier time. It’s also a better time to start investing on stocks or a small business while you’re young since supposedly, you have fewer financial responsibilities. However, take note that other than an early start, it’s also required that you study their underlying systems beforehand, or else you’re bound to lose. Yes, you are there to take greater risks for greater rewards, but it pays to study to increase your chances of succeeding.

What you will have and what you will become is determined on how you spend your time

Regardless of your circumstance, you always have the choice on how to spend your life. All those previous actions stack up and made you who you are now. This is one important thing to keep in mind whenever you lose your motivation to pursue a difficult goal or when you feel like wasting your life for all the difficulties that you experience. It is normal to get depressed at times; you’re human after all, and such feeling also proves that you’re alive, but don’t dwell too much in the past that you’ve sealed your future. We tend to rationalize things and find an excuse to get stuck to where you are now. Perseverance is a key component. Learn from these three Filipinos on how they overcome their challenges. After reading it, tell me if you still have a valid excuse :).

“But it’s too late for me. I’m already past my peak. I can’t make a paradigm shift now.”

It is never too late, and you’re just further wasting your time with such mindset. These people proved that old age is not a hindrance at all. They have shifted their careers past their 30’s or older. Invest on yourself in every way you can. Be conscious of how you spend your time. Are you taking the steps to further advance to your goal? Are you seeking continuous improvement? Such questions will make a clearer path and build a better you. As mentioned in Oliver Emberton’s post, Life is a Game, every single thing you do affects your state and your skills. Choosing the right tasks at the right time is most of the game. However, remember that while working on things that you want to attain, never forget to hit the brakes from time to time. Part of investing on yourself is to maintain a good physical condition which can only be achieved through a healthy lifestyle. Get enough rest to get the recharge that you need for the following day. Failure to do so is like signing for an early retirement in a bad way.

I still have plenty of stuff left on my mind, but I think these three are the most significant ones when it comes to my take on time. After all, I actually spent a significant amount of time writing this post. Other than speaking my mind, I wrote this with the hopes that I could motivate other people to make better use of their time, improve themselves in the process, and in the end achieve their goals. Do you have other insights about time that you wish to share? Let me know in the comments below. May you achieve the quality of life that you deserve. (~^_^)~

My ProjectHT Experience: An Insight on What It Really Means to Help

Last Saturday, I had the chance to help a group of advocates named Husay Talents, who spearheaded a project called #ProjectHT which aims to aid kids of unfortunate circumstances to unlock their full potential in the field of creative works. They can use this  as a tool to improve their well-being as well as their quality of life. I believe in this approach since it will be a lot more beneficial for people in the long run to acquire the skills that they may use to provide for their needs rather than just giving them what they actually need. It was a fun and fulfilling experience, and here I will share the insights that I’ve gained after participating in their activity.

Before that, let me give you a brief background on #ProjectHT’s ideals. The people behind this are driven by what I personally dub as “three pillars of goodwill” namely:

  • Faith: “Maniwala sa Husay” (Believe in your skills) – you should believe in your skills for God gave you these gifts for you to benefit and enjoy. This was the focus of Day 1 of #ProjectHT’s three-day class series. The volunteer instructors were able to bring out what these kids are made of which in turn gave them…
  • Hope: “May Mararating ang Husay” (You can achieve something with your skills) – hone your skills to make your dreams come true and lead a better life. This is the theme of Day 2. The instructors’ credentials proved that their abilities gave them more than enjoyment, and these kids can do the same as long as they have hope. They were taught out of goodwill which is a perfect example of…
  • Love: “Ibahagi Ang Husay” (Share your skills) – one form of love is to give something that you have without expecting anything in return. It doesn’t require any material resources to share something to others. Your skills may deem valuable as well. Share it to other people and make them realize the gifts that were blessed upon them. For the last day of classes, the students will have a song and dance performance showcasing what they have learned from the previous classes, an inspiring moment waiting to materialize.

The Things You Can Give For The Ones in Need

Usually, when I see a project like this, the first thing that comes into my mind would be to give financial aid. It’s a need for every outreach project, and #ProjectHT is no exception. However, there is something more precious that I can share to these children, and that is time. For me, it’s the genuine form of Love, and the advocates of Husay Talents have set a good example to the kids of giving your non-renewable resource for the sole goal of helping others. Witnessing this drove me to give as much effort and assistance as I can to push their goals forward. These people showed me that you don’t have to be financially abundant to initiate such advocacy. They were able to execute the project in a month’s time.

(Coach Gie taught them how to vocalize and the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.)

With all the bad news that are spreading throughout our country, it’s easy to make an excuse not to give a helping hand, but with the people who volunteered for #ProjectHT, I realized there’s always hope… a hope that people will share their skills without reservation for a good cause, that hindrances brought by poverty won’t matter anymore because of the efforts of goodwill, and that no one will ever feel lost because of the people who are ready to help to bring out the best out of them. The instructors totally inspired me, like Ms. Anne Gelli Dimapilis (Graduate of Bachelor of Music from St. Scholastica’s College, studied under Ryan Cayabyab Music Studio) and Mr. Bill Barrinuevo (4th-year student of BA Film and Audio-Visual Communication from University of the Philippines, Diliman, former member of the U.P. PEP Squad) who willingly gave their expertise to teach the students. I can see the depth of their proficiency from the pointers that they gave to the approach that they used to tackle the lessons. I’m amazed that they’re doing this without expecting anything in return, and it encouraged me to do the same. Maybe not for voice and dance lessons, but if opportunity arises and ProjectHT offers something that crossed my scope of expertise, then I’d be willing to teach these children.

(Coach Bill taught the same song but this time by dancing. The kids enjoyed learning both disciplines!)

A Seed of Hope Has Been Planted

As the class wraps up, I learned and enjoyed as much as the students did. I just can’t call it a “day” for I saw several lives changed for the better in a span of a few hours, and I’m grateful to be part of it. I believe a seed of hope has been planted on each of us, and it will grow and spread as these children show other people what they can do with their gifts. I can’t wait to see the other things that they can do. Husay Talents is with them in every step of the way.  Now I’m thinking of starting something similar on my own, but I still have a lot of things to know before making such initiative, so for now I’ll help this project spread hope and love to other people. Truly, this is one of the moments that restored my faith in humanity.

(Fun times with the volunteers, participants, Brgy. Loyola coordinators, coaches and the HT team!)

Now, for all of you who gave a nod in Husay Talents’ goals and visions, and wondering how you can help, don’t hesitate to inquire through email husaytalents@gmail.com or Facebook www.facebook.com/HusayTalents. You can help in cash, in kind or even volunteer to assist in their activities like me. Let’s believe in these kids’ talents, show them what they can achieve, and encourage them to share what they can offer for their improvement and the betterment of our society.

 

This blog post was originally posted in http://www.husaytalents.com – My ProjectHT Experience: An Insight on What It Really Means to Help

Some Articles that Prove the Greatness of Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there! Such is the greatness that they possess. From carrying us in their womb until raising us to the point that we reach our maturity and become independent to decide for our own path, she’s with us in every step of the way . To further recognize how awesome they are, I compiled some set of articles that prove how tough but at the same time compassionate they can be.

  • Moms Who Have Risked it All To Save Their Kids (WOMANSDAY.COM)
    • Mothers will do everything to ensure the safety of their kids. The stories found in this article literally proved as moms featured in this article bravely faced criminals, fierce animals, and even the force of nature just to save their kids. One of the stories involves one mother taking five bullets to protect her daughter from being shot by a robber. Another amazing story is the middle-aged mother who was able to lift a car four-inches above the ground and held it up in order for the neighbors to pull her son who was trapped underneath.  The story that really struck me features a mom covering her daughters as their house crumbles over a tornado strike. The children survived at the cost of losing their very loving mother who was willing to risk her life for them.
  • 21 Inspirational Stories That Prove Moms are Superheroes (MASHABLE.COM)
    • Mashable asked its community to share their inspirational moments with  their moms. All 21 stories really made a mark on how a mother can touch her sons’ and daughters’ lives by being a good example or gracefully facing the challenges with their heads held up high. One mother fought against cancer defying the doctor’s restriction from pregnancy. Her daughter is now 23-years-old, living healthy and enjoying her company. Another one was able to compose herself in the midst of losing her husband two weeks after having her first granddaughter. If that wasn’t enough, she was also in the middle of an election for a commissioner position in her hometown, and she won. One entry actually came from the Philippines. It was about a mother who sewed her children’s uniforms all night during the time that they were studying. As her daughter said, it was made from love.
  • Five Remarkable Animal Moms (WORLDWILDLIFE.ORG)
    • The greatness of mothers can also be seen outside of our own specie. Animals too have bonds between a mother and her young. From orangutans to emperor penguins, the mothers teach their children the skills needed for survival like hunting and building shelter. They stay with them for a period of time ensuring their safety. When the right time comes, they set them off to learn to live on their own. This serves as a reminder that if animal mothers can show such compassion, what more can a human mother do.

I hope all of you can find some quality time with your mother, not only during mother’s day, but for any chances you have. Twenty-two hours of labor and years of love and guidance is more than enough for you to give back the compassion they rightfully deserve.

Just like the daughters and sons in the articles above, I’m blessed with a great mother. My mom sacrificed a lot for us to graduate in College and is continuing to help us in anything we need in spite of our shortcomings. I learned a lot of valuable lessons to her. The most important one would be that there is no perfect life, and you have to find your way to accept it and be happy regardless of the circumstances. No wonder she stays strong after all the hardships that our family had experienced. So to my amazing mother, Happy Mother’s Day! (~^_^)~

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! 🙂

My Personal Tips For Handling a Home-Based Work

I started working for Chronicle Games last December 13, 2013. All of us three members are working remotely from each other and in my case, I do my tasks at home. This is a new setup for me, and so far I’m enjoying it, not to mention that my work is also output-based, so as long as I get my daily tasks completed, I’m done for the day. However, the shift of environment and work setup gave me some difficulties or challenges that I have to address beforehand.With this, I would like to share to you my personal tips on how to handle these things and utilize the advantages of having a home-based job.

Time Management for Task Completion

Though it’s not always the case, home-based jobs give you more freedom on running your own daily schedule. It gives less pressure for you to take breaks whenever you want to or have your own start and end time for work. Sounds fun? It is! However, with freedom comes with responsibility. If you don’t keep a defined schedule in hand, you may end up accomplishing less by the end of the day and at worst, leave you in a crunch time because of the piled unaccomplished tasks.
Before making a schedule, the first thing to do is define the target tasks for the day. To-do list may sound like a cliche, but for a home-based setup, it will be more important than your usual 8-hour job. In my case, my task list is usually updated twice a week. I receive my tasks in the morning through email as a response to my report from the previous day, and another one through Skype call with my boss. After listing your tasks, it’s time to organize your schedule. I prefer to start my work early in the morning so that I can go to any planned or impromptu meetups with my friends which usually happens after their work. Furthermore, my brain is more active during daytime so setting this time frame will give me maximum productivity. Depending on your ideal number of working hours, you have to track the duration of your actual work. This is really useful to give you the indicator of when to stop especially if your task is too big to fit in one day (in which case you subdivide it into smaller tasks and make it clear which ones will be accomplished for the day). I use the pomodoro technique to keep my tasks time-boxed. Basically, it’s a time management method which divides your tasks into a fixed-time subtasks called a pomodoro ( the reason is that the inventor used a pomodoro-shaped clock to time each tasks and break). Each pomodoro comes with a specific duration of short break and after accomplishing a certain number of pomodoros, you get a longer break. After that, you go through the cycle again until the job is done. One rule of pomodoro is that during the time that you are performing your tasks, you are not allowed to have distractions like facebook, youtube, and the like. Strictly follow your timer as to when to start and when to stop. It may be tempting not to stop your work when you’re in the zone but I suggest to stick with the duration as much as possible. This way, your body will get more accustomed with the duration of the task and get the proper amount of rest it needs. I tried to modify the parameters until I found one that suits my working pattern like the length of one pomodoro, frequency of long breaks, etc. In the end, I can observe which tasks are taking more time to accomplish and compare my progress to the planned project schedule. Moreover, regardless if I feel like working or not, the timer triggers my body to just “get up and work”! If you need a timer, there are available mobile apps for Android and iOS. I use Clockwork Tomato.

Internet Connection for Remote Discussion and Information Sharing

Working remotely from each other, one necessity would be to have a strong internet connection. I don’t in your country, but here in the Philippines, it’s quite hard to find one. If you have the same case, then the least you can do is get a prepaid backup connection. I prefer prepaid since it’s just your backup and you’ll use it occasionally for just a limited amount of time, so you will pay for the duration that you’re connected. It’s better to make it mobile too so that if you feel like you’ve been caged in your room for quite a while, then you can go out and bring your mobile internet connection with you and continue working. You can use a separate Wi-Fi dongle or if your mobile phone is capable of tethering, then you can activate it as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Just make sure it’s fully charged since it can drain your phone’s battery.
Possibly, there are SOP’s for your setup with regards on the schedule of meetings, report requirements, file sharing, etc., but in case there are none, I can suggest the following tools and routine:

  • Setup Google Docs for MS Office / Open Office documents
  • Setup Dropbox accounts for other file sharing needs
  • Use Skype accounts for voice calls but Jabber or other IM specialized software for private messages. Skype’s IM is sometimes defective, creating delays between instant messages.
  • Use Asana or Redmine for task management. A task management software can save minutes or hours of unproductive meetings, plus you can track the progress of each task without the need of any verbal discussion. Just make sure that you update your tickets regularly.
  • Use BitBucket or GitHub for source sharing. This provides a free repository server usually applicable to software development projects which makes practical use of source control tools such as Git or Mercurial.
  • Give daily reports of your accomplished tasks, encountered issues, notes, and other valuable information you can think of. This will save time for your succeeding meeting.
  • Backup revisions online or in the source control repository if applicable
  • Notify any related parties for any file updates that you’ve done

Payment Systems for Salary

Unless there are local office counterparts for the company that you’re working on, you will need a payment service in order to receive your salary. Here in the Philippines the most reliable options that I’ve seen so far would be Western Union and Paypal. If you have no bank accounts or you don’t want to you use any of your bank accounts for any reason, then Western Union is for you since it’s a direct remittance from one of their international branches. The transfer fee is calculated for every specific amount of money to be transferred so your employer might be hesitant with this approach. Paypal is more convenient since the transaction is done online. The money is automatically converted to the currency appropriate for the country that you have registered. It’s also a widely-used payment system for online purchases, so you can buy stuff online without using a credit card. You can still withdraw your money and transfer it to any local banks. Most if not all banks here in the Philippines have support for Paypal. Supposedly, all withdraw transactions that cost 7000 pesos or more are free. Otherwise, an additional cost 50 pesos will be charged in your account. However, banks here in the Philippines charge an additional 250 pesos regardless of the amount that you transferred. I suggest that you use Union Bank’s EON card so that there will be no additional charge for the paypal transactions but will charge you with 10 pesos per ATM withdraw. If used wisely, you can save a considerable amount of money compared to other local banks.

Union Bank EON Card lets you withdraw funds from Paypal without any local charges. Each ATM withdrawal will cost you 10 pesos though, so use it wisely. (Image From: www.filoutlet.com)

Union Bank EON Card lets you withdraw funds from Paypal without any local charges. Each ATM withdrawal will cost you 10 pesos though, so use it wisely. (Image From: http://www.filoutlet.com)

 Social Life for Sanity

Lastly, I recommend that you go out of your home, at least once a week to socialize or just see other human beings. Working at home is more comfortable at times and save you from the inconvenience and stress of commuting, but being stuck inside your home for a long time can drive you crazy, especially the extroverts like me. Leave me caged in my home for four days or so and I’ll be able to see the social bunny. Even if you’re an introvert, you still need some work-life balance and meeting with friends or other people in general would be a great approach to achieve it. It also cuts down the monotony of your week preventing any possibility of getting bored with your work in the long run. Yes, there are hobbies which can do the same thing, but even that can get old if you do it for a long while. At least leave some time to catch up with your circles. Who knows, maybe you can set some time with some of them who have similar jobs to meet up and work in the same place, just to break the usual pattern. 😀

I hope my tips can help you utilize your home-based work. It’s really fun and convenient once you get used to the new setup. If you ask me if “work-from-home” is something that should be done for all applicable jobs? I still don’t think so. Not everyone is built for this type of procedure. If you are someone who can manage and discipline yourself to accomplish the task, then this setup is for you, but if you’re the one who needs more supervision or can’t work alone, then this is not suitable for you. In the end, it’s all about finding what you really want to do and figuring out the ideal setup that works for you. From there, find a company which offers such opportunity, hone your craft to excel, and progress further in your career. Good luck! May you find your ideal job. (~^_^)~

A Retrospect on My Goals for 2013

This is my 28th time to write here. You’ll know by the end of this post why I suddenly said that. Anyway, like some of my fellow bloggers, I want to write a review of my goals for the past year. It’s usual to say that a lot of things happened (after all it’s 365 days, it will be pretty sad if you can’t find any significant moments in that span of time), but I can say that a LOT more had happened compared to the previous years. We moved in to a new place twice, I had a new job, I became an educator, and the list goes on. Well tackling all those events will result into a novel if I write about it, so let’s keep things simple and focus on my last year’s goal instead XD.

1) Learn a New Skill

I learned a lot of new things in my field, hobbies, interests and everything in between, but if I have to be strict that it has to be something really new, I should say it’s… swimming. One colleague of mine (actually one of my producers back in Anino Games) patiently taught me how to swim during our last company outing. I’m kinda embarrassed to learn this in a later age (I’m 27 years old and I don’t mind saying that XD) but it’s better than never learning at all. The only problem is, I’m not sure if I’ll remember this the next time I go to a beach or a resort. So to my colleague of mine, thank you very much. You helped me attain one of my goals ^_^.

2) Bring My Ideas To Life

I fulfilled this twice through OneGameAMonth and Global Game Jam. Too bad, I only completed three games for one game a month, please spare my early withdrawal. Being a game, developer, teacher, blogger, gamer won’t cut through for a one-year game development challenge. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the short ride. As for the game jam, it’s a fun experience to meet new amazing developers and witnessing their one-of-a-kind creations. All these works done in 48 hours or less. Sadly, I’ll probably pass for this year since I’m adjusting with my new job. I’m not closing my doors. If I find my groove, I might change my mind. I still have several days to think about it. By the way, anyone willing to volunteer as my 2D artist just in case? 😀

3) Decrease excessive work and increase time for fun

Last year, I significantly decreased my overtime work, which is a good thing. Then, circumstances pushed me to find a second job, and so I craved for free time again (-_-‘). That’s actually the reason why I looked for a job that’s output-based and if possible, work-from-home. I was fortunate enough that my desired job setup found me (yep I got the offer, but the admission was not a “walk in the park”). I definitely enjoyed my previous jobs, it’s just that I reached the point where I want more freedom in handling my time and do stuff in a schedule that I prefer. This is one of the things that I’m most thankful for the past year.

4) Join and Win Some Contests

To be honest, I’m not that convinced that I pulled this off. First contest I joined was the Global Game Jam which I lost. I had a lot of fun though, and the competition was really tough. I’m still happy that I was able to create the game almost all by myself. I asked for help for the sound effects, but other than that, I pushed everything on my own. My colleagues in Anino actually won the jury’s choice, so kudos to them. They really made a well-polished game in the span of 48 hours.  It was totally impressive.
There’s this one contest in Game Career Guide called Game Design Challenge. This happens every two weeks wherein they give a specific theme, and the participants will propose a game idea based on that. I joined twice this year and well… this and this happened. If you’re into making game ideas of your own, I encourage you to try this. Other than the chance to win (no prize at all, mind you), the chosen entries are also fun to read.

5) Start a Blog

Yeah, 28 posts and counting! This blog is actually a product of my goals for 2013. Last year, I thought, “I love to write, and I come up with ideas out of thin air, so why not start a blog?”.  Just like any hobby or activity that you dive into, you experience the peak of your enthusiasm, so I started with a fast pace. Gradually, it slowed down since it takes a lot of time, and I already mentioned the things that I had to attend to last year. This time, I plan to make it more frequent since I have more control of my time now. I actually have a lot of pending posts that I want to publish, but I’ll take it one step at a time so as not to lose the motivation and suffer another slow pace. At the end of 2013, this blog of mine is one of the things that gave me such fulfillment. No matter how few people have read my posts, I’ll continue to write more, so cheers! More ironfiftynine for 2014!

Flix - 8bit Happy New Year

Three Modern-Day Filipinos Who Will Teach You About Perseverance

I’ve been always strong in my stand to follow my dreams regardless of the obstacles that may stand in my way. One’s current circumstance is not the hindrance, but more on the will to achieve such goals. If you think it’s unrealistic or it’s a case-to-case basis, think again. I have three amazing stories of modern-day Filipinos who proved that challenges can be beaten by sheer perseverance, no matter how hard it can be.

Challenge of Poverty

Courtesy of Yahoo News PH

Emerson Paguia went to Manila to look for a job, but the ones he have is not enough to feed his family. For additional income, he worked as a Balut (fertilized duck embryo) vendor at night. He saved a few pesos to rent in an internet shop to look for jobs online. That’s where he found his opportunity to land a better job as TESDA in partnership with Informatics provided a Training for Work Scholarship Program (TSWP). There, Emerson learned data programming and PHP server-side encryption. The challenge did not end there. He also needed some money to sustain his studies. With this, he takes a three-hour work from Angono, Rizal to Eastwood to save on transportation expenses. At night, he still sells Balut so as not to cut down his financial resource. He knew that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He knew that this will pay-off if he can overcome this challenge. By the end of the program, he became one of the top scholars and was hired by Informatics as part of its web development team.

As a DOST scholar and a graduate of Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, I can imagine how hard it is to pursue such study. At times, I rant on how hard it is being a student, but this guy endured difficulties, a hundred-times-fold as mine. The tenacity to look for better opportunities and the willpower to withstand hardships paved his way to fulfill his dreams.

Challenge of Physical Handicap

Courtesy of Reader’s Digest Asia

Maricel Apatan had a very traumatic event during her childhood. She was eleven years-old back then when she and her uncle were assaulted by four men while they were fetching some water. Armed with long knives, her uncle was hacked and died in turn. She got hacked in the neck and both of her arms. After the four men ran away, she got up and ran home, bleeding profusely as her mother saw her. It took four hours for them to reach the hospital, and the doctors thought she wouldn’t make it. Miraculously, she survived but her arms cannot be saved. A distant relative helped them covered the bills and bring the criminals to court. Surviving the incident was not the sole miracle that has happened to her. A non-government organization called Tahanang Walang Hagdan (House with No Steps) helped her finish her studies. She graduated from a course in Hotel and Restaurant Management and even earned a Gold Medal for Arts and Crafts. After that, she continues to study as a chef and was later hired by Edsa Shangri-La Hotel as part of the hotel’s Care for People project. Her fellow chefs are impressed with her performance and would only assist her if she needs to move hot containers from stove or open slippery bottle caps.

I sometimes worry about my shortcomings in terms of skill, but after learning about Maricel’s story, I have no excuse to lose the motivation. She proved that even the physically handicapped people can live normally and moreover, display impressive skills.

Challenge of Standards and Rejection


Courtesy of GMA News Online

Jica Lapeña graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts (Magna Cum Laude) in University of the Philippines, Diliman. However, before she reached such achievement, she failed the said university’s admission test. She was shocked back then since she’s used to getting high grades during her high school days. Furthermore, most of her families and relatives studied and graduated from this university. There was another way to enter UP  and that is to take the Talent Determination Test at the College of Fine Arts. She passed the test, leaving her a dilemma between studying in UP or pursuing a course in Fashion Design and Merchandising in a school which she liked a lot. She can’t recall the exact reason that brought  her choice,  all she knew was that she wants to be a part of UP’s atmosphere so alive with intellect, passion, and creativity. From there, she experienced trials and triumphs just like other students, but it’s impressive how she proved herself that she has what it takes and moreover, excel at her chosen craft.

I have a loosely similar experience when I failed an admission test for a public science high school. I was trying to follow my sister’s footsteps so it greatly affected my self-esteem. My mom thought that it was necessary to pass the admission test for UP, but I passed the exam and graduated in my chosen course. Jica’s story showed us that our planned route towards our goal may not be the only possible path. Sometimes, we just need to look for alternatives and then persevere from there.

I only cited three people, and I know there are a lot more awesome ones that will inspire us more, but my point here is simple. Do not focus on the challenges that come between you and your dreams. Keep your eyes on the prize. Persevere, improvise, adapt, and overcome. May you achieve your dreams in life. (~^_^)~

Sources:

Emerson Paguia – Yahoo News Philippines
Maricel Apatan – Reader’s Digest Asia
Jica Lapeña – GMA News Online