No, this article was not written (or sponsored) by Hillary Clinton. Nor will it be a didactic monologue on spreading awareness about a global phenomenon that threatens the social fabric unless a systemic solution isn't immediately enforced on unprecedented levels. No dear readers, I'm afraid this text will simply be an insignificant rant by a despondent Filipino yuppie who has endured, along with many others, what 2020 had in store since it first knocked on everyone's doorstep. So if you have something better to do other than reading the qualms of a quarantined hopeless romantic, now is the time to press that 'x' button (unless you're anticipating the author will ingeniously meld something worthwhile into this article *ehem* with the rant serving as a mere base *ehem* then please do read on *wink* *wink*)

For starters, many curious minds will wonder - what has made this looney start writing again. Well, I'll gladly tell you the progenitor of my renewed inspiration - one from a group of seasoned engineers I highly look up to. In a recent interview, he was strongly emphatic on the scarcity of engineers who know how to write and make the drudgery of imbibing a lengthy set of technical mumbo-jumbo into a fun interesting learning experience. With pride, I would like to introduce to you (maybe some are already well-aware of him and his unique writing style from his articles in embedded apps) - Mr. Clive 'Max' Maxfield.

In the interview with Engr. Jaime Villela, founder of 'Software Speakers', he retraces his footsteps on  his writing career and explains the niche skillset required to transform difficult engineering concepts into an exciting engagement. His arguments have managed to convince me that writing, aside from the distinct all-time high you get from playing a prank on your readers, is in fact worthwhile and pays dividends to many aspects of one's life.

In the words of Mr. Maxfield himself - "being able to write and speak publicly opens doors to you". Many engineers may have a brain bigger than Uranus (I hope I spelled it right), but time will pass and Charlotte's webs will start mounting on one's office cubicle. It's imperative to not only focus on the technical, but also the pragmatic soft skills in communication that improve one's chances of success.  

Oh, and another rather impertinent reason as to why I'll start spewing weird articles again - I've managed to secure a reliable internet connection (for now). If you're in the Philippines struggling to load a web page, the following may just help you during these trying times. (if you want to skip the drama - go directly to the subheading titled 'The Solution')

The Battle to Stay Connected during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Near mid-March this year, my handy dandy portable wi-fi threw in the towel at the most inopportune time - right when the lockdown began. I was stuck without as much as an iota of a signal for two (2) weeks, unaware of any news except from SMS text messages - not knowing whether an apocalypse has descended outside or not. The cause, I can only deduce, was due to the sudden high load of internet traffic caused by everyone abruptly being forced to stay at home. Network congestion was inevitable and something had to be done to mitigate the immense load. Though it's honestly harrowing being barely informed during a time of crisis with many certainly sharing my experience. Fortunately, I also became a skeletal worker (due to special characteristics that qualify me and necessitate my skills and abilities, bwahaha -insert conceited smile here-) so I was able to keep up when reporting to work. 

As a skeletal worker, and being cognizant of how things operate outside of my job description's purview, executing emergency tasks became a walk in the park. It's times like these where a diverse repertoire comes in handy, augmented by recalling those subtle details your fellow colleagues drop during coffee breaks and casual chitchat.  At this point, I would like to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to the well-executed response ROHM had (the company I work for) to the pandemic. One of ROHM's top qualities is that they provide utmost care and support towards employees (almost like family), and they definitely showed it during this time of peril. I cannot go to the nitty-gritty details thanks to an NDA, but all I can say is I am wholeheartedly proud to be a ROHManian!

Now back to the Skynet dilemma, I was needed in the office for a few months until I embarked on a 'work-from-home' arrangement. The prerequisites, of course, was a stable and reliable internet connection.

Dun, dun, dun...

So the company provided me with a mobile router (somewhat better than a pocket router), and the connection improved. However there were still brief sporadic episodes of network outage, hence I was compelled to strategically divide tasks - those that can only be done connected to the company's intranet, and those that can't. It's blatantly obvious I would tackle the tasks that can be done without connectivity during network outage, but once I've run out of such tasks I would have to file a time-off or leave (RIP leave credits).

This undeniably posed an obstacle to productivity. I had a couple of options to choose from, each with their own drawbacks. I could subscribe to an expensive line or cabled internet connection - but I'd be fettered by a contract for 2 years (and I'm not a heavy internet user so it'd be inconvenient when the pandemic ends - hopefully). Or I can visit the ISP's call center and take everyone hostage with my sense of humor (but it's a high stakes gamble given I've been out of writing for so long).

The Solution

Purchase 2 mobile routers each with a different ISP. In my case, one was from PLDT (Philippine Landline Disconnect Trauma) and GLOBE (Get Low On Bandwidth Everyday). When one was down, I'd simply shift to the other. And since both ISP's charge by data, it does not weigh heavily on my already limping wallet (hush little guy, there's always a silver lining behind a hurricane). There's a slight probability that both ISPs will go down, but I'd have to win the bad luck jackpot for that to happen (which eventually did happen but at least it's an improved situation).

The Inconvenient Truth (Part 1)

The reason why this will be a series of articles is because there is not just one, but a multitude of inconvenient truths spawned from the disastrous events of 2020. The first should already be as conspicuous as a spy played by Johnny English, that is - society is ill-prepared to face a pandemic (an inconvenient truth worthy of an "I told you so!" by Microsoft's founder and CEO) - a consequence being people not getting a reliable internet connection to continue their function - ex. students who need to attend online classes who have undoubtedly misunderstood a topic due to miscommunication, employees who are working from home not earning enough income to sustain their families, inconsistencies in contact tracing apps from irregularities in the database, and the list goes on. And to top it all off, these are only from a personal self-centered standpoint. 

With regards to situations that come in tangent with politics and media (ex. misappropriation of funds, the closure of an established broadcasting network, what could have been done to mitigate the pandemic and number of deaths, etc.) - those will not be discussed here as I lack sufficient insight and data to make a final statement or conclusion - wherein doing so may bring more harm than good. For now, I think what people need is faith and solidarity towards one another. It would be disruptive to inadvertently become an additional source of discord.

As a member of society who struggles to achieve his purpose of being, this past year hasn't been that fulfilling at all. All my friends and comrades in the maker movement have initiated amazing innovative solutions to combat the coronavirus pandemic, from 3D printed PPEs to contact tracing badges. For my part, I hope I can put my past experiences into these series of articles along with anything of value. May it be a philosophy or way of thinking, to a simple laugh that can brighten someone's day. (*wink* *wink*)