Interning at TellApart

My Summer this year was unique in many ways. It was the first time I ever see the Pacific, the North American West Coast, California, and the San Francisco Bay Area. It was also the coldest Summer I ever experienced, having to wear a sweater on most nights. Apparently, this is the "normal" San Francisco Summer. More importantly though, was my Summer internship at TellApart.

TellApart is the fourth company I join for an internship and, over the course of sixteen weeks, my internship at TellApart grew to become the most rewarding and memorable internship I have experienced so far.

One of my main goals in joining TellApart was to experience the startup culture in Silicon Valley. TellApart has a very open and transparent culture; every member of the team knows about everything that goes on in the company. The team, aside from being super-talented, is always willing to listen to ideas, comments and suggestions (even from the intern!) A big portion of my internship was spent working on ideas that I proposed myself, and I started working on them within a week of proposing them!

Being a small company, it was very insightful to see the company evolve over a period of 16 weeks. Continue reading “Interning at TellApart” »

From the Far East to the Far West

So the past few weeks have been quite hectic, having to relocate from the far East (Singapore) to the far West (California) along with starting my internship at TellApart.

Within a span of eight days, I surfed through six cities in five flights over four continents. Here's the timeline:

  • May 7, 2011: Singapore, Singapore ✈ Dubai, UAE ✈ Cairo, Egypt
  • May 14, 2011: Cairo, Egypt ✈ Paris, France ✈ New York, USA
  • May 15, 2011: New York, USA ✈ San Fransisco, USA

My one week visit to Egypt marks my first visit after the January 25th revolution. Traces of the revolution are certainly visible everywhere you go - stickers on street carts saying "January 25", spray painting on walls and bridges denouncing Mubarak and his regime and barbed wires around the Maspiro Television building. There was also a protest to express solidarity with Palestine in Tahrir square on Friday, May 13th. Hopefully political and economical improvement would be as visible in the near future.

For the first ten days in California I stayed at USA Hostels near the Civic Center in San Francisco. The commute time to work was around 75 minutes. One of the weekends the hostel was fully booked and didn't have room to accommodate me. Thankfully, Stan Chen, my workmate, let me stay over at his place then. I have now settled in a house a few blocks away from work.

I am really enjoying my work at TellApart so far. In many ways it was exactly what I was aiming for this work term. It's a great mixture of really smart people to work with, a startup environment, and serious scalability issues to deal with.

Aside from that, I really don't know what else to say. In fact, I have no idea why I am writing this post right now. Off to bed.

I Want That Arabic T-Shirt

A few days ago I attended the TEDxKRP 2011 conference hosted here at the National University of Singapore. The conference was heavily geared towards social entrepreneurship and featured some really interesting talks by well respected speakers from all over the world.

Needless to say, all the talks were very beneficial and enlightening. However, there was one particular talk that caught my attention. Before I dig into that though, let me first give a brief prelude so that you would understand why I became interested in that particular talk.

If there's one thing you should know about me, then it would probably be my obsession with the Arabic language. I immensely enjoy reading Arabic poetry and literature and I am compelled to admire Arabic's beauty and descriptive power. The way the characters are designed and how they are conjoined leaves a lot of room for very artistic works of calligraphy.

Descriptive power and calligraphy are not the main reasons of my obsession with Arabic, however. The main reason is the strong connection binding Arabic, the language, to Arabs, the people. As fractured and divided the Arab world is today be it on the political, economical or racial level, Arabic is one of the very few common denominators that are left.

If Arabic is one of the very few denominators that portray an Arab's identity, then why is it the case that Arabs try to run away from it? Continue reading “I Want That Arabic T-Shirt” »

Tossed Off My Bike

I was really thrilled yesterday after receiving my first paycheck. So, the first thing I did this morning was grab my bike and set off to the bank to deposit the check into my account. Everything went really smoothly (aside from the weather being a little sketchy). I was biking my way back home thinking to myself the infamous "I am rich, bitch!". Then, in a split second, I find myself lying in the middle of the street, with my glasses lying three feet away from me. I have been thrown off my bike amid being hit by a car that was leaving the parking lot and entering the main road. A few seconds later I realized that my left leg is bruised and my shirt ripped in half (well, almost in half).

Ken, the car driver's name as it turns out, was a really a nice guy. He quickly apologized and offered me a ride to the hospital. I checked myself out (not in the usual way people check themselves out in) and told him there is no need for that. To make a long story short, he gave me $100 as an apology and drove me back home, as my bike was completely busted.

Since I became bikeless, and Walmart was a fair distance away, my landlady was nice enough to offer me a ride to the store. There, I imagined I'd either have to pay to fix the bike or buy a new one. Luckily, they were able to fix it. Not only that, but I was able to exchange it for a much better bike and pay the difference (which was around $50).

So, honestly, having a "bike/car" accident worked out nicely. I was able to replace my cheap bike with a much better bike, make some cash, and make my Saturday interesting for myself. How better can it get?