Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

When entire your life goes up in smoke

'Let me know when your entire life goes up in smoke, then it's time for a promotion.'

'Let me know when your entire life goes up in smoke, then it's time for a promotion.'

This entry is a filler entry. Something like a personal vent for things that happened to be over the past week or so. This post will probably give you a satisfactory explanation of why am I absent from this blog for awhile lately, as if I’m relapsing into yet another period of hiatus.

My cousin installed a copy of Left 4 Dead on my laptop… and yea, it’s a bootlegged version, so I hard a very hard time getting it off my harddisk when I desperately needed the 4GB worth of space it’s occupying. The uninstallation wizard was doing fine at first, but at a certain point, all my Windows font turned either bold or italics, meaning that there’s a corruption of the regular fonts (yep, most fonts ship in 3 different styles – Regular, Bold and Italic, so even with Bold Italic). I panicked, Googled about it and immediately thousands of results blamed it on the crappy uninstaller.

I redownloaded the corrupted fonts and attempted a system restore to recover the damaged registry file. Everything was fine except that Verdana could not be restored! Verdana is one of the most common fonts, and more importantly, it’s the default font used in Firebug and when it’s corrupted, I’m seeing good ol’  Times New Roman in the Firebug console.

I wet my pants.

I downloaded the .ttf file of Verdana. They all opened up blank. I frantically restarted my laptop for a couple of times but that didn’t help. I edited the system registry files, didn’t help too… until I restared the laptop again. Whew.

And there’s another thing.

I just had to get this off my chest.

I accepted this first freelancing job from a friend, and a big multinational corporation’s local branch has hired them to create a blog for them. At first not much instructions came, except for a few notes on how they wanted the colour scheme to be done and the general layout. I rejoiced, slapping myself awake that I’ve finally fount one MNC that actually respects artistic freedom. Did a few tweaks here and there after I was done with it, sent it over to that friend of mine, who forwarded the designs to the MNC.

It was a bomb.

The people there barked orders at my friend (I felt bad for making life so difficult for the middle person), saying that I totally had no idea about their branding. Well, they didn’t give me anything detailed at the first place, so what the hell am I supposed to start off with without your so-called divine interventions?!

Now they finally sent me what they wanted – to make the blog looking like their corporate site. Exactly. Like a verbatim lift. That appeased my inner hell a little because a verbatim lift of their corporate site’s design is as easy as cheese to me – I’ll just need to measure out some dimensions in Photoshop, download their graphics, optimize their CSS and HTML (you would not believe such a famous MNC actually paid so little attention to semantics and etc). I shall stop lamenting about their design – probably not worth a mention in my entry.

So I finished up the layout, and after a few modifications which I’m more than happy to do because knowing that I’ll get paid at the end – which screamed danger! danger! danger! – I was informed yet again, last Friday, that they wanted a makeover of the header navigation to look like one of their community subpages. I was like, come on duuuuude! You guys work for a multinational corporation and you’re as flicker-minded as everyone is, which is not expected of you.

And thanks to the nature of the project and its pre-agreed terms, I will only get paid when this is all done. Basically I’ve fell into their evil trap for not asking for 50% of the total payment first, and telling them – in black and white – that I’m not doing complete, functional (not drafts, you know) layouts over and over again with absolutely no guarantee of payment. Basically, that’s spec work.

Edward Murphy1 is right. Things will go wrong when they can. I knew the dangers of not asking for a 50% pre-payment first, and I thought it’ll be over soon. Instead, I landed myself in the middle of a never-ending circuit of exchanges between flicker-minded numbskulls (who also initially refused to accept WP thinking that it’s insecure. What, you want yo make your own CMS?) and myself. It’s an all-or-none principle. I can’t quit halfway. I either forgo all the previous month of hardwork and accept that I’m not going to get my – for crying out loud – FIRST pay, or I just have to trudge on and accept everything they throw at me ahead. I’m not going to be surprised if they ask for another gazillion edits, with the project extending well into my semester or even worse, exams.

I have one of the biggest time-sucking black hole here. They shouldn’t have built the large hadron collider. I have it right here.

Moral of the story: All freelancers, listen up! Read up on NO!SPEC and then select your projects carefully :)

Just like the line in the film The Devil Wears Prada, Nigel told Andrea Sachs, “Let me know when your entire life goes up in smoke, then it’s time for a promotion.”2

  1. Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”
  2. A quote from the film The Devil Wears Prada, found on Wikiquote.org
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