Processing Feedback

Feedback has always been a very interesting thing. Sometimes it gives you bad feelings because one and other things, but oftentimes you receive an actionable item that propels you to the next level.

In the past, It’s not rare that I feel sad and depressed when receiving feedback. Most of the time this happens because I can’t proses the feedback well. Either because it is bad feedback, or because I’m just stuck in analysis paralysis because of the inexperience.

Bad Feedback

What do I mean by bad feedback? It is the feedback that doesn’t have a concrete example, is not specific, and is not relevant.

If the feedback receiver is a software engineer, the following feedbacks are feedback that can be improved:

  • “Your code is not following the standard” is the feedback that doesn’t have a concrete example.
  • “I don’t like your attitude” is a feedback that is not specific,
  • “You are beautiful”, is a feedback that is not relevant.

The feedbacks can be improved like the following:

  • “On yesterday’s pull request, you aren’t running linter before merging to master and it has unsorted import order. It’s not up to our company’s standard style”
  • “When you are talking to me, I feel attacked because you sound condescending”.

And please, don’t do this:

You can try to improve the feedback that you received by letting the other person know that you need more information on what his feedback is about.

Analysis Paralysis

Analysis paralysis come from internal, rather than an external factor. You received decent feedback and causes a lot of things to come into your mind. “Do I always sounds condescending?”, “Did I break something?”, “Is my mistake will smudge my performance?”, “What I can do to fix this?”, “I’m so stupid I don’t realize this!”, and many other thoughts.

In the past, I’ve been very pessimist that it affects my mental health and me being suicidal. I always see the bad possibility that can happen. Add that with the analysis paralysis. When that happens, I closed my thought, and at worst, I become depressed.

I’ve been able to handle that process much better. I know what to analyze, how to take the next action, and how to ensure things don’t derail. Read 3 things that changed my life.

3 Things that Improved My Mental Health

In the past, I’ve been too pessimist that it affects my mental health and me being suicidal. I always see the bad possibility that can happen. Add that with analysis paralysis. When that happens, I closed my thought, and at worst, I’ve become depressed.

It was a gradual recovery, and a never-ending process, exactly like what this comic illustrates:

Now, I’ve been able to handle that proses better. I know what to analyze, and how to take the next action.

These are the learnings that helped me recovered.


Proactive is the first habit from the book of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able”. I learned that I don’t need to blame genetics, circumstances, or other external sources for my behavior.

The most enlightening part about this habit is the realization about “Circle of Influence” and “Circle of Concern”.

Circle of Influences are concern that I have some control over. My attitude, my behavior, what I buy, what I read, who I surround myself with, what I post in social media, and many other things.

Circle of Concerns are mostly concern that we don’t have control over. The news, coronavirus, other people’s behavior, political issues.

Circle of Influence, Circle of Concern - eBiz Facts

In the past I was very affected by my circle of concern. Even if my concern is for greater good (who don’t want a clean air and no traffic jam?), it’s outside of my influence. Instead of focusing on what is in my circle of concern, I can focus to enlarge my circle of influence, so that in the future my influence can encompass my concern.

This shift of focus allowed me to reduce my thinking scope into something that is much more manageable.

Getting Things Done

This is actually the title of a book: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.

The book name is cheesy, but it actually explain about a really good framework. It allows me to open up my cluttered brain, and remove my analysis paralysis by doing a brain dump and let it settle for a while before going back to it in a well mannered approach.

I learned how to differentiate between a to-do list and a project. Whether a thought is actionable or not. If it isn’t actionable, what should be done with that? It’s an obvious thing that wasn’t obvious to me, and reading the book helped me clarify a lot of things.

Risk Management

On one of my conversation with my friend, he told me when doing a design document at his works on a high-risk project, he feels much safer, because people pointing out all the risks. Those people are not trying to shoot down the project but to understand how he will handle it.

In a short word, if things are going awry, what is the exit strategy?

We can also illustrate it with the following analogy related to Triathlon, a sports competition where you’ll need to run, bike, and swim to reach the finish line.

No matter how good you are, but if you can’t cover your critical weakness, you won’t reach the finish line. Read more about it in this presentation slide.

All those things helped me to have a healthier mind. But all of those wouldn’t be possible without me having a healthy relationship that helped me to break the chain, the circle of negative thought.

If you are still in a depressed state, please talk to a professional. When you are in a healthier mind, my experience probably will help you to fight your biggest enemy, your self.

ITIN -> SSN Letter Template

If you need to let IRS know that you now have an SSN instead of ITIN, send this letter to IRS.

Make a copy, modify it, print it in a legal-size paper (or any paper), put it in an envelope, write your address and IRS address in the envelope, put a stamp, and send it through post-office / mailbox.

IRS address:

Internal Revenue Service
ITIN Operation
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342

Influence Circle

One time, I felt angry when watching the television full of misinformation. It affected my mood for the whole days.

This experience is not unique. You might be affected by what your friends post in social media. Or the rumor that passed to you.

It was not fun for me experiencing that. I’m full of anger, depressed, for something not directly affecting me. And it’s overwhelming me because I don’t know what to do, or how to fix the issue.

It was until I read seven habits by Stephen Covey, where he mentioned about the concept about Circle of Influence. I realized that all the news, all the rumor, are outside of my influence circle. If I want to care about it, I had to increase my circle of influence. It changes my perspective from how to solve the problems, to how to make that I have influence in that problems.

Once I know what to do, it’s easier to make conscious and rational judgement about should I or should I not do something about the problem.

What are things that is outside your influence circle that affects you?

Autoscaling Infrastructure

What great about clouds is you delegate and fastrak provisioning your hardware. That can be your server rack, your networking cable, and down to a new hardisk.

I started my first year working with clouds and take for granted all of this things, and isn’t easy to wrap around my head that provisioning server isn’t easy, because what I know is just click here and click there and you have the machine provisioned, ready and accessible from the internet. Compared to physical infrastructure where you would have the supply chain and wait for weeks before the machine is ready.

Now, how would you imagine autoscaling transportation infrastructure? One way to imagine it is like Uber. You would outsource provisioning the transportation to the 3rd party, with the final vision is to have autopilot driving the car.

I think we can do more than 4-7 seated cars.

What about autoscaling public transport? How would you envision it?

What about other physical infrastructure? Is it possible to “autoscale” it?

Sunny San Francisco

It’s rare.

San Francisco is a unique city where it’s surrounded by sea on three of its side. Its climate is very unique, where you always have around the same temperature, 1-10°-16°C (50°-70°F). The sun is warm when it shines, but the wind is forever cold. The wind is cold because of it’s coming from the sea where ocean currents come from the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic. The Pacific Ocean current moves southward along the western coast of North America, beginning off southern British Columbia (west of Canada) and ending off southern Baja California Peninsula (west of Mexico).

Coming from a tropical country gave me the perception that beach is warm or hot. I suggest you dress in layers when you visit San Francisco. Even in summer.

This is a picture of my wife that I took with my phone enjoying the rare sunshine in Union Square, the center of the city.

3D TV hologram

I went to Google Next Conference 3 weeks ago and attend a lot of exciting sessions.

What I want to share is not the session, but one person who looks interesting.

If you look closely, you’ll see he is watching a hologram from his tablet look-alike. The hologram showing a concert/dance video and three dimensional. I’ve seen something called “Hologram Advertising Projector,” but what he used seems more an advanced version and more consumer friendly. Not that people might want it though. Hololens has a lot more potential in my opinion.

The VR world and AR world is still in its infancy, and there will be a lot of unsolved problem in this area before it’s mature. What do you think? What is the most exciting thing you heard from AR/VR world?

Compounding Time

You’ve probably heard about compounding interests, and I would like to tell you about compounding time.

I shared previously about the Pareto Principle that I used in my Toastmaster Club speech. If you focus on the most impactful activities, you will earn time. The time you saved, can be used to optimize other activity, which will again, increase your availability time. But, is it worth optimizing an action that usually takes 10 hours to become 4 hours?

There is no right answer to that question, yet. If you must, the correct answer is you need more data. How long optimizing the operation will take? 1 hour? 1 week? 1 month? How frequent the activity is? Daily? Weekly? Yearly? How many people doing the same operation? Only you? The whole team? The entire company?

You can do the math, or you can refer to this xkcd post:

Is it worth the time?

If the time it takes to optimize is longer than what is in the cell, that means the break-even point is longer than five years. That’s a long time! Even for an enterprise. Unless 500 people are doing the same stuff. Your optimization might be able to be used by everyone, which mean you saved everyone’s time. The time you shave off should count for everyone’s time if you are working in a company.

Have you heard that time is the most expensive things? If you present your case with the right approach, you can start your own project in the company