We visited Nijmegen, The Netherlands to attend the thesis defense and doctorate ceremony of my Sister, Mirrin. In short, she studied wound infections in an Intensive Care, find her study here. It’s a conclusion of a 10~13 year study, I needed a dictionary (long live the Kindle) to plow through the document. I am incredibly proud of her and wish her good luck with her next step!
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The Dr. Panda team keeps growing so it was time to do some activities together. Last Saturday we gathered at the Baihuatan park. We started with a nice barbecue. It was a ‘xiaokao’ barbeque where you could get all the food you wanted from a nearby freezer, and could prepare it yourself. We ate way more then we planned to but it was fun. Once established, the team could pick what they wanted to do themselves. Some went cycling, others turned to the Mahjong tables, to laser-gaming. I started with cycling but the busy roads felt dangerous. (some cycled for the first time) so we turned inwards at an unintended horsetrail. It was fun getting offroad and exploring the neighborhood. After which we had some beers in the sun whilst playing a game. After an hour or so, we went for lasergaming. After a packed afternoon, we still had one more activity and that was an amazing buffet at the Sofitel. I liked the grill but some just jumped when the saw the deserts. A great day!
When we moved to Chengdu during the early summer on this year, we carried only the most critical with us and shipped the rest of our belongings with a moving company. Our stuff took way longer then expected to arrive at our house in China. I estimated the shipment to take at most 50 days but it turned out to be exactly 125 days to arrive. Unpacking the stuff yesterday felt almost like we send ourselves a time capsule, I forgot about a lot of our possessions over time. So what went wrong? Basically the paperwork were not in order and the Shanghai agent messed up on a few parts. To be clear, our moving company ‘Passies’ orchestrated things to their best intent and I don’t think they are to blame at all. They picked up the shipment and packed it in a wooden crate as promised. Shipment to Shanghai went smoothly, then we experienced a problem. My China residence permit was one day short to fall in the category to be allowed to import household goods. Yes, my residence permit was only 364 days long and I needed one which is 365 days! One day short triggered a lot of paperwork and visits to customs service. During the time the appointed agent was very unclear about the steps ahead, this was very frustrating. We started getting worried that our goods would be stranded in the Shanghai harbor forever. News came out that there are hundreds of containers from expats were stranded as the law was just changed recently. In terms of the paperwork for the import; Once the legal hoops were jumped and things were arranged, things should have been in control again but the appointed Shanghai agent BridgeRelo arranged a very unprofessional courier service. Not only were they not able to give any ETA, they also supposedly experienced car trouble in Anhui province (?), leading to us waiting for days to hear anything. But finally I got the call yesterday. So now we finally feel at home in Chengdu, with all our fall/winter clothes and my bike etc. Someone told me, in China things sometimes look bleak but with patience and diligence problems are always solved in the end. We are very happily unpacking at the moment!
How do you launch an iOS game with confidence? When we approached the end of this #drpanda production, which was built with diligent coding and even more diligent professional testers, we threw a ‘bughunting’ party and the whole company + spouces joined in playing the game all evening long in trade of delicous pizza. The QA team set it up and kept great score of the valid and not so valid bugs. They even gave a price to the person who found the most bugs, which were surprisingly little. The winner found three bugs in the game after playing for a very long time. The next day we solved all of them already and have improved further. Generally, a ‘bughunt’ is a nice and fun way to involve and prepare to get ready!
China celebrates it’s national days with a week vacation so we decided to use days exploring Chengdu. So far we have visited the ‘bamboo park’ (wangjianglou park) where we ate a spicy lunch next to the water side. The next day we visited the Chengdu temple of marquis which features a touristic but nice street full of night snacks. We then went to people’s park, dubbed the noisiest park in the world. The heat of the summer kept us indoors, but we finally started exploring our new city.
Sit down at a random corner in Chengdu (city of the panda) and you’ll probably spot a (non real) panda within 5 minutes. Inflatable panda’s, trucks with panda’s on them, statue of panda’s, Dr. Panda and souvenirs.
It was getting awkward that still after a few months, we didn’t see any real pandas! A dear colleague couldn’t bare it anymore and offered to take us along to the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Base. So on the early Saturday morning we drove off to the north east of the city to the panda base. Upon gazing the animal, my 1.5 yr old daughter simply froze with her mouth open. It was a wonderful expression. Now… you have to imagine what this ment for my daughter as she loves Panda’s. Being surrounded by that many panda’s left and right, just made her repeat the same word over and over! I stopped counting at the 50th “PANDA!” – I estimate she said that word at least 200 times. At the end of the day when we where home and all was done, she dozed off quickly. I bet she dreamed of panda’s.
Our spacious Dr Panda office is located at Raffles city in the center of Chengdu, China. After HR helped us find a house, I started working daily at the modern (air purified) office, which is a 10 minute walk for home. Working with the Dr. Panda team has been a great experience so far – with product-commited teammates from all over China but also Poland, Sweden, Belgium, France, US, Vietnam, Spain and The Netherlands; some speak only a bit of English, some speak only a little bit of Chinese, some both. For the interested there are free Chinese and English language courses in the office.
Meeting colleges outside office hours is normal in China, which is pleasant as a foreigner moving in. The office turns into a ‘cafe mode’ in the evening, some will go for dinner together, others keep on working (deadlines are fierce) but others just play board- or video games or play ping-pong in the after hours. Besides cozy evenings the mood is generally great at the office, free fruits, guess-where-we’ll-rank competitions for each app launch, and every now and then we have ‘happy hours’ with food and drinks.
At Dr. Panda, we make kids feel familiar with life through role playing games. I’m proud to be working on our next title. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been pitching new concepts and idea’s and now we are making actual playable prototypes. Today we delivered its second iteration at a product demo, we keep iterating and testing with kids until we get it right. Looking forward to the next steps.
On the upside; Our new place features a community pool which is nice and cooling in this hot climate. Mia loves to swim there and we all go time to time. I have to say my little to girl adapted quickly to or lives here.
Whoa… 5:30 AM already? My mind was hazy whilst Suna and I ate a quick bite before driving the 70km back from my parents to our apartment in Nieuw-Vennep. Our voices sounded hollow in the empty apartment – sold off most of it in the previous months. The moving van arrived, and work went swiftly. Had to walk down to the Albert heijn downstairs for a tray of their complementary coffee at 8 am. Thanks Albert Heijn! The crew packed the boxes, we dropped the key off and were on the move. At Schiphol we found a bus which was campaigning our new destination: Chengdu! Famous for Panda’s KLM now offers direct flights with it’s new dreamliner planes. After living in China until 2012, we kept returning (2013 and 2014) for holiday to meet up with friends. But todays trip to the P.R.C. isn’t a holiday; we moved back! Currently residing in a hotel and exploring the city tomorrow to find a place to live.
Yours truly has quit his job at Sanoma and has his last working day today.
It was a difficult decision; Sanoma has been my rescue back in 2012, hiring me straight after the crash-and-burn of my Chinese startup. Starting in the fancy Amsterdam office I felt proud finally working on ‘major league‘ websites with a shiny new Apple laptop. As architect the door was open everywhere and I learned a lot about performance based web business. Particularly about MVP’s and making decisions based on traffic instead of assumptions.
Later my work moved to the city of Culemborg when I became IT development manager at Kieskeurig.nl (a price comparison site owned by Sanoma) where I established a new development team and we developed a brand new site. I was part of the strategic board and I got my first lease car ever! When Kieskeurig’s office relocated to Hoofddorp, my family moved along. However, As things at Kieskeurig.nl were pretty much setup I moved departments to Kids & Teens.
Ah, Sanoma. Lot’s of great memories with it’s infamous office parties, company outings and investments in their employees but the publishing company does struggle with reclining ad-sales and orders. The 500 colleagues being let go back in 2013 signalled the publisher’s change of course.
As IT manager Kids & Teens I became part of a game development team building a game strategically aimed at countering the stagnating income from print. After the game was launched and put in maintenance we developed various other websites related to the kids and Disney realm. But things cannot last forever, I’m leaving. This week my colleagues set-up a goodbye drink and we went for Korean Barbecue in Amsterdam! I’ll be missing all of you, keep in touch!
As I’ve got a new opportunity I’m moving on. I have a double feeling because Sanoma feels like home (little village) to me now. As it’s my last working day I’m handing in my laptop symbolising the end of my work here. I’ll enjoy a week of free time and then prepare our flight back to China for our next chapter!