Friday, June 29, 2012

Global Edge - Working for a Software Incubator Company and Stuff

Work

So it's been a week since I started working at my placement at BeaconWall. BeaconWall is a software incubator company, which essentially means that it's a company that survives on creating software ideas and pitching it to clients. If the client likes the product, then the company goes ahead with the product and creates it.

It's a fairly small company, with really just five us in the office right now. As a result it's actually a really relaxed environment since 4/5 of those people are UOIT students/alumni. We don't have really have to work overtime, and our work times are pretty flexible.

BeaconWall. Not BaconWall.

Even though I'm working in Hong Kong, programming is programming. Doesn't really feel any different when I'm sitting there in front of my computer with Visual Studio open. Kinda feels like home actually.

If it wasn't already apparent, my job is to be a programmer, since that's what I do. As a software developer, I've been primarily focusing on programming in C++, but I have also been doing a few things here and there in HTML and PHP as well.

Never said it was complex PHP >_>

It's been kind of different than what I've been used to though. I've obviously done programming projects before, but they were always more client and graphical based. What I'm doing now is more networking based, so it's different.

It's still in C++, but I'm using a bunch of new libraries that I have never used before, and I'm coding things I have never done before. It's kind of interesting to do this type of programming though since I'm learning things I never do normally, but at the same time it's kind of frustrating to not really know what's going on.

Why heaps. Why. Also threads.

Like it's been cool. I've been working on essentially the control module for the system we're developing so I'm writing the module that talks to different parts of the system.

So for example a user could interact with an HTML file and then data from that file would be sent to my C++ program which then sends information to a PHP file for authentication which sends back response data to my C++ program which I can then send back to the HTML file for fun.

In other words theres a lot of data jumping around within the system in our network.

I'm making B.

Thinking about the potential game dev applications of this is really interesting to me though. Like I now know how to talk to a server that hosts information, so if I really wanted to I could say, set up a high score system on a server and then have network based high scores for a game.

Taken to even more extreme measures I could even due a pseudo-cross-computer multiplayer type game. Not sure how good it'll actually be, but it's interesting to think about. All in all though, being able to program again after such a long break from programming has been fun, but encountering errors I don't know how to fix annoys me so much.

Also I legit love this picture. Thanks Enrico.

Misc

Since I'm working now, I obviously have less time to do things in Hong Kong now. Having to work like 8 or 8.5 hours a day Monday to Friday kinda sucks since by the time I get off work at 6, I'm tired and the day is practically ending.

However, it's still been really fun though. It actually feels like I'm living in Hong Kong now, not just visiting. I actually went ahead and cooked a few meals too, which I thought was a solid accomplishment since I never cook and I'm still alive after eating it.

It takes way too long to cook chicken like this.

Hanging out with people on a regular basis is pretty fun too. I'm definately doing more of this socializing thing now than I did back home, which I guess makes sense since for one I'm living and working with a lot of people my age, and second because the people here are actually really awesome.

I've also been doing things I've never done before in Hong Kong such as going skating in a mall, going to an underground Cantonese metal concert, or even just randomly playing badminton. I haven't skated in like 10 years but apparently I'm still not terrible at it, and despite being so out of shape and out of practice, I'm also not terrible at badminton.

The concert was really awesome too.

It makes me kind of sad that I'm almost halfway through my trip in Hong Kong. I've considered trying to switch my flight so I can stay an extra week or two, but I couldn't do so back in Canada and haven't tried since I got to Hong Kong. I kinda want to though. If it's not too expensive >_>

Regardless, this trip has been awesome so far and I'm sure to hold fond memories of the things I've done and  of the people I've met. Even walking around aimlessly around the city is fun if you're with people you like.

I should make a photo album of pictures of me being a creeper in the background. 
Although that's like 90% of all my Facebook photos.

Also there's a typhoon going on outside right now and it's really windy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Global Edge - End of Part 1

So today marks the day where part one of my trip to Hong Kong ends. We had our final day of class today, and starting Friday we officially start part 2, the work part. Here's a recap of the last two and a half weeks.

The Class

The class itself was alright. The vast majority of my post secondary education was at UOIT doing Game Dev stuff. Yea, I also briefly had a thing at Seneca, but that didn't really count. So comparing Game Dev at UOIT to this Contemporary China course at CUHK, it's really different.

For one, the school is a mountain. Meaning that in order to get to class, you either have to walk up a mountain or take a shuttle bus. Now, as a game dev student, I don't really do this whole walking thing, so it's really tiring.

Dat mountain.

The classrooms themselves are pretty normal, we've been really only switching between two types of class, a typical classroom style room and a lecture hall room. Both were pretty normal. However, as CUHK is not a laptop based school like UOIT, it wasn't as designed for laptop use. Things like having accessible power supply and ethernet ports that we take for granted at UOIT aren't available at CUHK.

Also they have these sweet desks.

Just looks like a regular desk.

Which are cool and all, but then you find out you can open them up and your mind explodes.

IT OPENS UP OMG

The class content is also obviously a lot different than the content at UOIT. A class based on historical, political, economical and societal aspects of Hong Kong and China obviously is not game dev related. Some of it was interesting, but to be quite honest I couldn't find myself paying attention most of the time.

In fact, I'm actually currently typing this out while listening to the other Canadians doing their coastal defense presentation. It's a very interesting presentation and I'd like to hear it again one day. Promise.

It doesn't help that I feel like I'm on vacation, with all the mini adventures after class and on weekends, it's really hard to focus in class. Especially when it's so early in the morning. Also, walking up a mountain in the heat sucks.

The People

I'm doing the same "Whyarepeopletakingpicturesofme" face in all the group pictures. Which is awesome.

So naturally I've met some new people on this trip so far. The first group would be the Americans. The UOIT group isn't the only one doing the course at CUHK, a group of twelve students from California joined as well.

As a result, we have been living, learning and adventuring with them throughout the last two and a half weeks. It's been pretty fun actually. They have some pretty cool people. They'll be leaving tomorrow though, but I'm sure both sides already have a ton of stories to tell about the other group for when we get back.

White T-Shirt Mike, I will miss your white T-Shirts.

The other group of people we've met would be the local Hong Kong people. Apparently CUHK also has an exchange type program where some of their students are going to be going to the USA/Canada in July, so they figured having them "mentor" us so they get to know more North Americans, practice their English, etc etc.

It's really a win/win situation for both groups, since the North Americans get to know some of the locals and have people to lead us around, whereas the Hong Kong people get to meet awesome North Americans. Unfortunately though the group going to Toronto in July would be going in July, so we won't be back home for that to lead them around or whatever.

Also I found out that Dr. Hung is pretty awesome.

This is not an awesome picture of him though.

The Language/Culture

Once the locals realized that I could speak Cantonese, they ended up talking to me in Cantonese. Which is great, but it honestly made me realize how terrible my Cantonese is. Their depth of vocabulary and linguistic knowledge outclasses mine so hard. I'd often need to ask them to clarify what they're saying because even though I can understand the words they're saying, I can't understand the meaning a lot of times.

Idioms and slang are pretty much the death of me. I never use those ever at home, so I really never get it when they say them.

This is me having a conversation. While awkwardly scratching my leg.

However one thing that has been pretty awesome was that literally everyone I've met so far has complimented me on my Cantonese. They were all pretty much surprised at how well I could speak it considering I was born and raised in Canada. That was pretty cool. Talking to non-family people has also definitely made me more comfortable in speaking it too, which is great.

In terms of reading, my reading is still pretty terrible. More often than not I can only really just read 20 - 30% of what I'm trying to read. And the things I try to read aren't even that intense, AKA street signs or random signs I see.

I don't have a picture of a cool sign, so here's a poster for a concert I didn't get to go to :(

The last two and a half weeks though, I've been trying to learn and recognize more characters, and I definitely have learned some more. So I'm making progress, but it's slow. The goal is to still learn a lot more before I get back, but we'll see how it goes.

The Part After This One

So yea, we start work on Friday. We'll see how that goes. I'll be back to programming the entire day again, which is great. It was weird since I realized that the past two and a half weeks I only really spent like a few hours programming, which was just completely weird considering how much time I spent programming in the nine months prior to coming to Hong Kong.

I kind of miss programming, but at the same time it makes me kind of sad that I'll have less time to do things. Working 9:30 - 6 is going to be pretty lame. However, since we'll be starting the work part now, I'll have to do weekly blogs. I got lazy the last two weeks, so I didn't really do much, but I'll have more content coming soon.

I get the cubicle to the right closest to the you.

Oh God I need to pack still. Aksnflsanflsanflsaf.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Global Edge - The Mosquito Bite Saga

So mosquito bites suck. They've always sucked, and they'll always suck.

Now, back in Canada, I don't really ever go outside, so mosquito bites are kind of a non-issue for me. However here in Hong Kong I'm outside a lot. Also after factoring the fact that there are more mosquitos here, its probable that you'll get bit.

Warning, pictures of nasty bites follow!

Intro

So the day we went to 6/4, I went out for dinner out at some cafe. They had a patio and it was a reasonably nice day so the people I was with wanted to go out there to eat. I knew it was a bad idea, considering how it was like a treed area with a small ravine/creek thing, but I went with them anyways.

I knew it was a bad idea the moment I sat down and started eating since I got itchy almost immediately. But I was like whatevs. Heres what it looked like the day after.

Sexy.

So my leg got all red and itchy, but I was like whatever. It'll go away.

Body

And I was right! The itch did go away the next day! But it got even redder and my ankle started to swell up. Being the boss I am, I decided to pretty much ignore it, like I got some stuff to help deal with it like allergy medication and some aloe, but for the most part I didn't really pay too much attention to it.

Both legs got hit pretty hard, but my right leg the most.

I totally shouldve, since it only really got worse from there. I decided I wanted to go get it checked out at a clinic since that would be a good idea, so during the break in the class, I went walked down the mountain to the school clinic only to get rejected by them since I wasn't a full time student.

So I was like whatever and walked back up the mountain to my class. I figured I'd go to another clinic afterwards.

I found directions to a meth clinic before I realized it was a meth clinic.

So I went to look for it after class, but apparently you had to go through this ginormous mall in order to get to it. As a person not very accustomed to malls, I just got lost and eventually gave up on looking for the clinic. Instead, I went to the pharmacy and just told the girl whats up and she told me to apply some ointment which I bought.

I bought sandals too since they were more comfortable to wear that shoes. Anyways, the next day, it swelled even more!

Ew.

So I went to a doctor to get it checked out. He said I had a bad reaction to the bug bites so he prescribed some drugs for me to have.

I have another check up on Tuesday so we'll see how that goes. But apparently drugs are good and I feel great now and the swelling has gone down.

Dem Skittle drugs.

Outro

I got a few other bites recently (I really need to go buy mosquito repellent or something) including a few on my foot due to wearing sandals. Other than that it feels a lot better. So yay.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Global Edge - Yuen Long and 6/4

Kinda feeling somewhat blah right now. Blahhhh. Will explain in a later blog post as to why blah.

Yuen Long

So for our class we have to take here, we take it with some other students from Sacramento State. On day 3 we finally had a formal meeting as we were to head out on a trip to Yuen Long, which is the northern part of Hong Kong.

I've never been to anyplace near that side of Hong Kong, so it was kinda different. We visited a lot of memorials and small temples and just in general looked at a lot of the historical stuff they had there.

We also saw this cool rock. It was cool.

At one point, we were crossing this parking lot and I saw this one street vendor off the side of the parking lot selling food. I normally don't eat stuff sold on the side of the street, but one of our group people bought something, and I kinda wanted to try it, so I bought a stick of fish balls.

It was ok.

The place we went to lunch was pretty cool. It was near the harbour and was one of the traditional fisherman markets they have here where they offer a lot of seafood and have a trillion shops and restaurants selling things.

The restaurant we went to was alright. What suprised me though was the food we got. Since we were on a tour, the food was covered, but I expected like basic, simple food. However they gave us stuff like fish, oysters, shrimp and even abalone. Like I know that its probably the most high end stuff that they gave us, but it was interesting anyways.

We didn't eat this cat. But it looked really chills.

Afterwards we took a walk around the market a bit more and checked out the ocean. It was low tide, so a lot of waterbed was visible and we could see small crabs and some jumpy fish things jumping around. It was kinda cool. Everyone there was kinda just doing their own thing though while we looked around.

People opening oyster shells.

I normally don't follow a picture with another picture, but when I do it's sometimes for a picture of the low tide ocean with a bunch of empty oyster shells to the right.


Afterwards we went to more historical sites. Most of them were much the same though, some old Chinese building with some stuff inside.  However later on we went to this one temple thing that had a lot of incenses burning. Like a lot. My grandma frequently burns incenses as well so I'm used to the smell of it, but there were literally a lot in there.

The best part of the incense house was the curly ones they hung from the ceiling. I actually didn't notice that they were incenses until someone remarked that some ash dropped on them. So I looked up, and I was like. Whoa, those are incenses.

Whoa.

We then went to an even older district where people actually still lived in. It was really old and looked really dirty, but people lived there. Compared to all of the places I've ever lived in, it didn't even seem fair. Really makes you think about some of the conditions people need to live in, even in one of the largest international ports like Hong Kong.

White t-shirt Mike is in the way.

6/4

On day 4 we went to visit the 6/4 memorial vigil. The vigil is for the events that happened on June 4, 1989 at Tienanmen Square.

We learned about it in class.

I was originally planning on going to my grandma's house for dinner, but earlier that day she called and told me not to come because of that event, and how there was going to be a lot of people. She advised me to not even go outside since there was going to be a lot of people.

I wasn't planning on going outside. But then the entire class wanted to go, so I ended up going to the thing.

Zero personal space when I was there.

My grandma told me the day after that the newspaper said there was over 180,000 people in attendance. I could believe it. While I was there there was literally an ocean of people there. I had to wade through thousands of people to even get anywhere.

It also seemed really dangerous because all the candles they had were surrounded by some paper. I mean, what if the paper caught on fire. That would be bad.

I sniped this picture from behind some Asian couple. Felt pro.

There were actually a lot of people there.

I can't get over the fact that there were so many people there, yet I was there, and I saw them. There were literally people everywhere. People were crowding the park, crowding the streets, sitting on bleachers, sitting on rails, everywhere.

Soooo many people.

No words can describe how many people there were there.

So here's a really shaky video instead.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Global Edge - Day 2 in Macau

So yesterday I threw out a number of how many steps I took according to my 3DS. Apparently that number was wrong because I forgot to change the time thing to HK, so it actually only recorded half the day of walking. So in short, it wasn't that number of steps, it was more like 20k+ steps. So between that and yesterday's trip to Macau of like another 16k steps, I'm actually dying here.

Like actually.

Macau

So we had to go to Macau yesterday so that we would be able to activate our visas. We didn't have our work visas going into Hong Kong, so we entered as tourists and when we came back in from Macau, we activated our visas so we can now officially work/study here.

As mentioned above, there was a lot of walking involved. Like I swear, I've walked more in the last two days than in the previous two weeks. I've also gotten less sleep in the last two days than any other two days in the last month. I'm tired and my feet hurt a lot, but it's been pretty fun so far.

This is my tired face. 

So it all kind of started yesterday with a trip to the ferry docks to get on a boat to Macau. It's like an hour boat ride, and it's actually not all that interesting. They offer helicopter rides to Macau, and I totally want to do that one day instead. I mean, boats are cool, but helicopters are cooler.

Our boat.

The first thing we did was walk. Because that's really all we've been doing lately. We walked to the bus terminal and then bussed it to some casino and then walked to a McDonalds for lunch. It's day two and we already had McDonalds for lunch. Not the most exciting meal, but I did find out that they have some sick Pokemon Happy Meal toys.

Unfortunately I didn't get one. Kind of regret it though. Those toys were awesome.

Rob did find this creepy doll on top of the garbage can though.

Afterwards we found a store that sold a bunch of stuff like jerky and cookies. Jesse actually went and bought some kangaroo jerky. I really want to try some haha.

Moving on, we started to walk around town a bit more to look at some of the major landmarks. It was kind of interesting because we literally looked at the same three things in the same order as I looked at them years ago when I first came to Macau with my family. Nothing really changed since then in terms of these landmarks.

It goes without saying, but it was so hot and humid.

When we made it to the remains of St. Paul's Cathedral, I went ahead and bought three boxes of snacks for my relatives in Hong Kong. I didn't get them anything from Canada, but I figured since I was going to be in Macau anyways, might as well get them stuff. It was a good idea, but I also ended up carrying a bag full of snacks for the next ten hours, which wasn't the most fun idea.

After taking pictures at the cathedral for a while, a lion dance group came out of nowhere and started to perform. It was pretty cool to see it juxtaposed in front of the cathedral.

It was also really loud.

Following that we walked more. And then more.

We made it into a casino where we literally just walked in, walked in a circle, then walked out. I wasn't sure what the point was, but we did that. After that we went back to the ferry docks and took another bus to the Venetian casino. It was a huge casino and there was a lot of stuff to do there in terms of food, gambling and shopping.

I ended up spending 50 bucks (HKD) at the slots and getting a single dollar back for my efforts. Hurray for casinos stealing money.

The mall looked nice though.

We ate there as well and I got some Korean food. We ended up leaving the casino at like 10 PM. Which is great.

But we got back to residence at like 2:30. Having the MTR be unavailable really makes things suck when it comes to commuting. As a result, I am so tired. We'll be going to Yuen Long today for a trip with the Californian kids too. Not sure how that will go.

I don't think I'll be blogging about that tomorrow though, I'll save the content for a future blog post.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Global Edge - Day 1 and Intro

First HK blog! Will be probably updating this at the very least once a week, but most likely more often than that since I'll probably be doing cool things, so expect awesome things and funny pictures.

Pre-Departure and Intro

So this is the first time that I'll be in Hong Kong without my parents. More than that, I'll be living away from home for 2.5 months, so naturally when I was packing I tried to bring all the things. But obviously that's not going to work since I have a limit on things I can bring, as well as the fact that I need to bring things over for family members there.

My room is awesome btw.

So I had to bring a lot of things. It was kinda exciting to be knowing I was going away for so long, but at the same time I really wasn't sure what to expect. I mean, I've been to HK many times before. But I've never done anything quite like this before, so I wasn't sure how to feel.

I have a lot of things I want to do though that I might not have had the chance to in the past when I went to HK. So here is a blog talking about the things I do.

Flight and Plane Jam

So flights suck.

People who know me probably hear of me complaining about public transportation a reasonable amount. I'm not a big fan of public transportation because of the fact that I hate waiting and dealing with other people on public transit. Planes are no exception.

I mean, the first like twenty and last twenty minutes are interesting since take off and landing is cool, but after that it's like 14 more hours of sitting there being bored on the plane.


I compiled a list of all the fun things to do on a plane. (PS there's nothing inside)

My initial plan was to get on the plane, sleep for eight hours and then program for the remainder of the flight because I could and why not? I ended up not doing that though because apparently they wanted to serve dinner immediately after we got on the plane, so we ended up eating dinner at like 3 AM.

Afterwards I tried to sleep and got like two hours. The next four hours after that I don't remember. Like I just don't. I got off the plane and was like "I have no idea what I did during 7 AM to 11 AM. Why is this.". I don't think it was important though.

After that I programmed a bit for two hours. The goal was to make a game in the time slot that I had on the plane, but obviously it wasn't very ergonomical, although it was a lot better than I thought. It's kinda like a ghetto game jam, so I called it a plane jam. I opened up Flash and started to make a top down shooting game.

It's more interesting if you saw it moving.

Ever since I started doing more awesome things in C++, every time I open up Flash and program in Actionscript, I also get my mind blown on just how easy it is to get things done. It's actually really awesome and simple to do things in Flash, people really need to not kill it off with HTML5 :(

I actually got a reasonable amount of mechanics done in two hours, but it was definitely a lot less than I hoped I would get done. And it also doesn't look very nice. Honestly I got just kind of annoyed of programming on the plane since I had some issues with lighting (physically, not progamically) and whatever, so I just stopped.

Trust me on this, it's (a bit) more exciting in person.

Eventually we got off the plane though.

Day 1

So day 1. Man, day 1.

We did a lot of things in day 1. We walked a lot. Like a lot. My 3DS ended up recording like 13000 steps, but I can guarantee we did more. Also it was outside in the heat and humidity. It wasn't too insanely hot, with like 70 something percent humidity and like 28 ish degrees, but it still sucked, especially since walking sucks.

First thing we did was head over to the CUHK residence to check in and check it out. The view is really nice.

The view is nice, but after seeing the bloom effect in the corner that's all I can see now.

But the rooms leave more to be desired.

Never thought I'd say it, but I kind of miss South Village res now.

Also the washrooms suck. Like I feel so spoiled by the other places I've lived at in Hong Kong. Like blah the washrooms are so nasty. Don't know how I'm going to live like this for the next 2.5 months.

After eating lunch at the residence, we traveled as a group to like everywhere. We went to a surprisingly large amount of places like the ladies market (they don't sell people there), flower market, goldfish market and the bird market. We also checked out the place we'll be living at after the residence and just did some general stuff in Kowloon.

Stuff is really cheap here man. You can get so many things for so cheap. Food, drinks, stuff, like everything can be gotten for so cheap. I forget what it's like to have things for so cheap. It's awesome. Didn't buy too much yesterday, but I do definitely plan on it.

I promise I will find you. (Jefusion)

We also went to an Ikea. Like I didn't even know they had Ikeas here. It was like the same as Ikeas at home though, except for the fact that you could get a hot dog combo for like 10 HKD. Which is like $1.25 for a hot dog and a drink. That stood out to me, no idea why.

Also apparently the residence doesn't give us pillows, hence the Ikea trip.

I feel like I could talk about so much about what we did on day 1, but at the same time I have no idea why but I can't write anything right now. Just feel kinda ugh right now. Might be the lack of sleep. Trust me when I say many interesting things happened though >_>

But man, that was day 1, there's like a trillion more to go.

Will be going to Macau today though, so I'm probably gonna blog about that trip tomorrow morning as well. Should be fun.