Category Archives: monthly

Monthly highlights: January 2010

What a great start to the year! A vacation to Siargao gave me a chance to get to know my family better. I brought my cat on the return flight (that was quite an adventure!). It took me a while to recover from jet lag and a sore throat, but it was good to get back on track at work. W- and I formalized our engagement, and our parents have been helping us plan the wedding (August!). I bought a new point-and-shoot camera so that I can take more pictures. What a month indeed!

Here are some of my favourite blog posts from January 2010:

Useful work-related stuff:

Weekly reviews:

Monthly highlights: December 2009

Monthly review: February 2010

My first full month back in Canada this year was packed with goodness. I dove into interesting challenges at work, presented The Shy Connector to an international audience, and wrote a lot about writing and presenting. One of my mentors gave me a fantastic opportunity to learn not only about interviewing skills but also about Smarter Cities by taking me along on his interviews. I learned a lot about life, too, and got back into the swing of preparing lots of stuff ahead so that life runs smoothly.

What’s up for next month? Lots of work involving documenting and organizing assets, connecting the dots, and sparking people’s imaginations. I’ve also got three presentations scheduled: The Shy Presenter (IgniteTO), a presentation on collaboration for a client workshop in the UK, and an internal IBM re-run of Remote Presentations That Rock. I tried to keep it to one presentation a month, but sometimes opportunities are hard to pass up.

Blog posts:

Sharing what you know


Reflections on presentations

Wedding planning


Weekly reviews

Misc: Winter, Fixing SIOCSIFFLAGS: Unknown error 132 for Karmic wireless on Asus Eee 1008HA, ACM Hypertext conference in Toronto this June; paper deadline Feb 14, Bug-hunting spreadsheets, Teapot, Always look on the bright side of life

Last month’s highlights: January 2010

Monthly review: March 2010

For the third year in a row, March was a flurry of presentations. I started with “The Shy Presenter” at Ignite Toronto, did a recorded replay of “Remote Presentations That Rock” for IBM Canada’s International Women’s Day celebrations, gave a 5-minute presentation on collaboration for a client in the UK, gave a short talk on personal brand to the IBM A/NZ social media marketing team, gave a talk on “Presentation Kaizen” at PresentationCamp, and did another replay of Remote Presentations That Rock. I also gave a brief overview of Sametime Unyte and Lotus Connections Communities to my second-line manager. I even gave a short presentation on microblogging, too. Eight talks – new record for frequency! I’m looking forward to a quieter April, although the next few months already have talks scheduled.

March was also a month for career planning. I drafted my personal business commitments and individual development plans after many conversations with my manager, dotted-line manager, and various mentors (including one who is about to retire from IBM). I mapped out what I wanted to learn, and people have been helping me find opportunities to do so. I realized that travel wasn’t as scary as I thought it was, so I applied for IBM’s Corporate Service Corps and indicated my availability for occasional overseas work. I learned a lot about facilitation, too. I helped one of my mentors facilitate a large-group discussion around Smarter Cities. Hooray!

March was a month of transition from winter to spring. I’ve been biking – yay! The tulips and lilies-of-the-valley are starting to poke through the soil, and I’ve planted a few seeds in the garden. Can’t wait to get plants going again! We’ve been very busy baking and filling our freezer with all sorts of goodness, so that’s working out just fine.

April promises to be quieter. I’d like to get back into Emacs tweaking and sewing, and maybe free up every other weekend instead of cooking all the time. =)

For some reason, people really liked On circumstances and somebodies. Here are other blog posts you might’ve missed from this month:

Presentations and public speaking:

Other communication skills:

Work and career:

Automation and lifehacking:

Weekly reviews:

Previous monthly review: Monthly review: February 2010

Monthly review: April 2010

The world is an explosion of colour. It’s gardening season, and I can’t wait to explore herbs, vegetables, and fruits. It’s biking season, and I’m lovin’ the exercise. As for sewing, I’ve swapped out my fleeces and started sewing linen. Spring has sprung!

I’ve been slowly working on improving little things in life. For example, I picked up a few more porcelain saucers from Goodwill so that I’m not always scrambling to find clean saucers for guests during my tea parties. I’ve also been doing lots and lots of gardening, and the plants are starting to poke up. Lots of drawing, too.

Monthly goal review: One of my goals for April was to figure out how to free up a weekend instead of doing batch cooking all the time. Now we’ve got the roast-chicken-for-frozen-lunches extravaganza down pat, and have a month of frozen goodies ready to go. Yay! I’ve been doing a bit of sewing, too, and have made a few tops I enjoy wearing. I haven’t been doing a lot of Emacs tweaking, though. That’s okay – I’ve been busy doing other things.

What’s up for May? I’m going to focus on slowing down and being mindful. I want to focus on the moment and giving myself time to tidy up, double-check, and reflect. I occasionally misplace or forget things, and I can get better at remembering. So May is spring-cleaning month. I’m going to get the hang of this!

April recap:

After preparing my personal business commitments in March, I spent some time thinking a lot about career growth. I thought I’d figured out my dreams of wild success, but I suspect there’s still a lot missing from that picture. Here are some thoughts on work:

I’ve been exploring leadership, collaboration, presentations, and creativity:

I’ve been thinking about life, too:

And writing about other stuff!

Weekly reviews:

Monthly review: May 2010

May was quite a learning experience. From an oh-no moment when I accidentally mail-flooded around 70 people to a new hobby (woodworking!) that led to lots of shared time with W-, to more hacking in Lotus Notes… It was a very fun month.

I have a new manager at IBM. I’ve talked to him a lot before, and I’m looking forward to working with my new team, which is really mostly my old team plus some people I’d worked with before, so it’s more like a logical reorganization of people I enjoy working with anyway. =) This probably means there’ll be plenty of coding in my future. I know this high-flying strategy/consulting/marketing stuff is more prestigious, but I do like code. Maybe it’s time to flip back.

One of my goals for May was to declutter, get better at keeping things tidy, and remember things. I’m happy to report that my dresser top has been clutter-free, my bedside table has remained simplified, and I haven’t forgotten my keys once. I still have a lot of work to do on the decluttering front, but I’m slowly getting there.

The garden is growing merrily now. The chicken-wire-and-wood cage we built is doing a great job at protecting our garden from the predations of squirrels. Lettuce and radish harvests regularly fill our salad bowls. The first green tomatoes dangle from stems. The pea shoots have stretched almost all the way to the top of the twine supports. There are even some bittermelon plans bravely giving Canadian summers a go.

Woodworking turns out to be an awesome hobby. It’s fun making things with your hands. I’ve built three boxes so far (including a bread box that’s now keeping our bread safe from Neko!), and I’m looking forward to building my fourth. The next box I build will have a floating bottom and a sliding top, I think. I’m not sure if my 1/4” stock is too thin to cut a groove into, so I might go up to 1/2” sides.

Woodworking + deck repair + shedding cats + warm weather = no baking and no tea parties. However, people have been hosting barbecues and things like that, so I’m happy to catch up with people at other people’s events instead of mine. =) Perhaps I might still have a fresh fruit party. How would we do it? We’d move the kitchen table outside and clear out the living room, I think. More decluttering…

I also realized that I’d like to get to know a whole bunch of people more. Taking a look at my interests (which were practically all home-based), I realized I needed something that involved some kind of regular social interaction, too. I wondered how people manage to make friends outside school, and how I might work that back into my schedule. Going to people’s get-togethers, though, I realized that I managed to make good friends somehow or another, and I’m looking forward to getting to know them and other people. Fortunately, the tech scene is absurdly well-connected through social networks and things like that, and good weather + daylight savings time gives people an itch to get out and meet up.

So, what does June look like? More adjustments at work, a flurry of wedding preparations for August, lots of woodworking while it’s fun to work outdoors, lots of writing, a bit of gardening and sewing, and some more conscious attention to people’s lives. It’ll be awesome.

Posts this month:
Travel kaizen and the meaning of life
Exercising the senses
Getting the hang of big companies
Exponential awesomeness
Getting the hang of gardening
Braindump: On face-to-face and online social networking (xpost)
The garden in May
Presented Remote Presentations That Rock v2 for the Best of TLE 2009 series
Thinking about the path ahead
I want to learn how to make drawings/videos like this
Custom fields in Lotus Notes / Domino? You may need to set the SUMMARY field flag
Picking hobbies that fit together
Even more awesome LotusScript mail merge for Lotus Notes + Microsoft Excel
Quick notes from a conversation about speaking and facilitation
Dear future Sacha,
Holy cow, that was a lot of mail – so sorry
Quick guide to domain names
Remote Presentations That Rock (revised)
May 2010: Remember and declutter
A letter to my 8-year-old self
Holy cow, that was a lot of mail. So sorry!
Squirrels, shop class and drafting: making my peace with high school
Bread of salt and taste of home
Braindump: What I learned from our virtual leadership conversation
Thinking about what people remember

Weekly reviews:
Week ending May 30, 2010
Week ending May 24, 2010 (Victoria Day long weekend)
Week ending May 16, 2010
Week ending May 9, 2010
Week ending May 2, 2010

Last month: April 2010

Monthly review: June 2010

June was a great month for building. I built my first piece of furniture, a folding Adirondack chair I built from Lee Valley’s plans. The community newsletter tool I built for work turned out to be wildly popular, and it’s inspiring how people from different parts of IBM are helping me make it even better. I re-built my website to work on PHP+FastCGI+Nginx instead of PHP+mod_php+Apache, and it should be faster now. I built friendships, too, adopting a newcomer to Toronto and helping her find her way around. =)

If my family gets their visas sorted out, W- and I will get married in less than two months. Exciting times indeed!

Last month, I said:

So, what does June look like? More adjustments at work, a flurry of wedding preparations for August, lots of woodworking while it’s fun to work outdoors, lots of writing, a bit of gardening and sewing, and some more conscious attention to people’s lives. It’ll be awesome.

Work is terrific. I’m interested in exploring this sales opportunity that looks tailor-made for the kinds of skills I want to learn, but I’m also very much enjoying the work I currently do and the other projects that my new manager has lined up. It’s hard to decide! I’m looking forward to discussing my options with my mentors and old friends at a tea party I’m hosting this Saturday.

It’s been great woodworking weather. This weekend I’ll be busy with social events, but next weekend, I can start working on a storage bench and a kitty litter box hideaway. The two projects should come together pretty quickly. After all, they’re just big boxes. ;)

New interests like woodworking and playing the ukulele tend to be incompatible with writing, but I’ll see if videoblogging can help me get more stories down. At least there will be raw material to work with. I feel self-conscious watching myself on video – do I giggle too much? stutter too frequently? – but as I realized in my post about the ukulele, you can’t get to excellence if you won’t risk mediocrity. Besides, it’s good to show people that it’s okay to learn. ;)

What will July be like? I want to polish my community toolkit and share it with more people. I want to explore sales and see what I can learn even in my current role. I want to invest more time into developing relationships. I want to build a few projects. I want to learn how to play at least one song on my ukulele. It’ll be busy and fun and amazing.

Here are the blog posts from June:

Risks, personal brands, and findability – in which I get on my soapbox about being people instead of brands
Book: Making Peace with Your Office Life – surprisingly great guide to debugging your office environment
Keeping my name – just so you know, I’m going to stay Sacha Chua forever. ;)
Growing up – yay for my sister growing up!
Editing audio and embedding it into a MS Powerpoint file – I didn’t know that before
Thank you, David Singer – friends are awesome
Using supervisord for Nginx+FastCGI+PHP – useful for geek bloggers
Seven Tips for Short Talks – quick tips
The fruits and chairs of our labour – look, my chair!
Say the steps out loud – share what you’re learning
Planning ahead – I like it
Notes about business communication – More tips
Happiness – for my mom’s memory book
I want to learn how to draw better – Practice!
On libraries at school – I heart libraries
Braindump: Automating repetitive tasks using AutoHotkey – yay automation
Thinking out loud: happiness – for my mom’s memory book
LotusScript: Checking another database for categories that do not contain a document of a particular type – geek stuff
The work of self-understanding
Passion – for my mom’s memory book
Personal finance – for my mom’s memory book
Goals – for my mom’s memory book
Some of my favourite quotes – for my mom’s memory book
Influence map; introspection – filling in stories

Weekly review:

Last month: May 2010