The little details

From time to time, you still find some delightful details in Apple’s software and hardware. Today I noticed that, when trying to activate Do Not Disturb on my Apple Watch, there are options from “activate until I leave this location” and for “activate until I finish this activity”

Colour me delighted

One of those times where it just works.

That is not going to age well

As part of the expansion of the MTR network, there are some retrofitting works going on at Admiralty Station.

Months ago, when the South Island Line started service, I noticed the decor of this flight of stairs.

Yes, that’s a QR code. That is a not attached to the wall, it is a mosaic wall.

I can’t help but wonder if that QR code will age as well as this, in another corridor, a few metres away

WordCamp Taipei 2018

I am still on the long bus ride home from the airport, after an exhausting weekend in Taipei.

Earlier today I spoke at WordCamp Taipei. The experience has been draining, and at the same time extremely rewarding. So rewarding that I might actually consider doing it again 😊

Anyway, I would like to thank the organisers of the first ever WordCamp Taipei for the amazing work they have done. The event run smoothly, so smoothly that you can’t help but thinking “wow, these people have put lots of work and care into this”.

HomePod

I love music, I have always spent insane amounts of time hoarding and listening to music, and I the only thing I dearly miss from having a “regular” home, friends and family aside 😛, is having a good sound system (and the accompanying collection of vinyl records).

So I have been interested in getting a HomePod since it was announced, but I have not been able to actually get one until last week, while on a trip to the US.

Here are some random thoughts, after a few days at home:

  • The quality of the sound is very good. Maybe it’s just because it’s not that hard to fill a small Hong Kong apartment with sound, but music sounds great. It is not as good as my recollection of my old sound system, but I have to admit that my recollection is probably a bit off, due to a combination of time and the emotional connection to it.
  • Siri in Spanish seems to fail consistently in some queries and commands that Siri in English can manage perfectly, even with my accent. It might be because I have not found the keywords in Spanish yet, but I think there is something more to it.
  • Entering the apartment and whispering “Hey Siri, play some indie music”, and get some actual music to play, makes me feel like we are truly living in the future.
  • I have a couple of Hue lightbulbs, and setting automations (i.e. switching on the living room’s lights when anyone enters the apartment at night) also makes me feel like we are living in the future.
  • Getting the HomePod through airport security was interesting. I had to go through two security checks, and while in the first one they didn’t bat an eyelid, on the second one the HomePod had to go through the X-ray machine three times.
  • Did I mention it sounds great?

In a nutshell, being, as I am, fully invested in the ecosystem (Apple Music, HomeKit, iOS & macOS) it’s great to have a source of quality sound again, particularly now that I am working fully remote.

Welcome and thank you for choosing Canada

That is the beginning of one of the letters accompanying my brand new Canadian Permanent Resident Card.

However, reaching the point where Canada thanks you for your interest in moving over there has been a long and convoluted process that started about two years and three months ago. This is the full story.

Points

Getting a Canadian Permanent residency is, on paper, simple. Candidates submit an application, the application is assessed and if the candidate’s application has enough points, the candidate receives an invitation to apply for Permanent Residency. When the invitation is received, candidates will need to submit all the paperwork required (which varies depending on the scheme). CIC reviews the required paperwork, and if everything is okay, they issue a Confirmation of Permanent Residency. That COPR is what grants entry to Canada.

At the end of October, 2016, I landed in Vancouver with all the paperwork necessary to be granted a temporary work permit on arrival. That paperwork was, in a nutshell, a job offer backed by a LMIA.

A LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) is a document that shows that a Canadian employer has tried their best to hire a Canadian citizen / Permanent Resident, but because couldn’t find any suitable candidate, and therefore, they need to recruit a foreigner.

So, I landed in Vancouver, with my LMIA and my job offer, and as expected, I was issued with a Temporary Work Permit for two years. The work permit only allowed me to work at my current employer (the one that applied for the LMIA), and could be extended every two years.

The good thing about a LMIA was that, at the time of my landing, it granted enough points to be issued an invitation to apply for PR. Have in mind, that due to my age and the fact that I don’t have a college degree, I needed those points to be invited to apply for PR.

Everything changed two weeks after my arrival. Suddenly, the regulations changed, and the LMIA stopped being worth to 650 points, to just be worth 50, not enough to grant me an invitation to apply for PR.

Plan B

Suddenly, instead of being able to apply for PR in a matter of one or two months, I found myself without any prospects of getting a PR.

After consulting with a couple of immigration lawyers, and having a couple of chats with my management, we came up with an alternative plan.

The Government of British Columbia provides a Provincial Nomination program. Basically, the program is a way to facilitate recruitment of foreign workers in high-demand jobs (aka tech). The way it facilitates that is by having attached an invitation to apply for PR.

However, in order to apply for a Provincial Nomination, the temporary foreign worker (moi) needs to work in BC for at least a year.

So, the plan B was: remain employed for a year, apply for a Provincial Nomination, register into Express Entry via the Canadian Experience Class, and get invited to apply for PR.

The Provincial Nomination

The Provincial Nomination requires some paperwork from the employer (basically, they have to explain why the contribution of the foreign worker is important to the economy of the province) and requires some other paperwork (basically, proving two years of work experience in a similar position).

The processing time of a Provincial Nomination is about 2-3 months. However, it is safe to expect that, for jobs in tech, that tine would be much shorter.

And indeed it was short. My Provincial Nomination was approved in 10 hours!

Canadian Experience Class

With the Provincial Nomination granted, it was time to move on to the next step: registering for Express Entry.

In my case, the lawyers suggested registering for the Canadian Experience Class program, partly because that simplified the paperwork necessary to be granted the PR.

We had to provide the following:

  • certificates proving work experience in similar positions.
  • certificates proving at least one year of work experience in Canada
  • certificates proving the required language level (IELTS)
  • police certificates from every country where the candidate has lived for more than 6 months.
  • certificate of Provincial Nomination

Invitation to apply

Once the invitation to apply was issued by CIC, it was time to submit all the paperwork, and sit and wait for CIC to review it. This happened by the end of January 2018.

CIC commits to review the applications for permanent residency in less than six months. In our case, we got approved by the end of April.

COPR

Once we got the COPR, the next step was validating it. In our case, we did what is called “flag polling”, which is basically leaving Canada and entering again, so that the final interview with an immigration officer happens when re-entering Canada.

That happened on May 24th, and that is when we actually became Permanent Residents.

Permanent Resident Card

But that is not all. There is one final step: the Permanent Resident Card. The card is supposed to be mailed to your Canadian address when you arrive in Canada. But this is where things got a bit messy.

During the landing interview, the border officer will ask for a Canadian address. That’s where the PR card will be mailed. The processing time for the PR cards is about two months.

The PR card is important because it is necessary to present it when boarding a flight to Canada.

Have in mind that the cards are send in envelopes marked as “do not forward” so it is important to notify CIC of any changes of address while the cards are being processed, and setting up an email forwarding with Canada Post, as we learnt the hard way, is not enough to grant that the cards will be received.

Because the cards did not arrive after six weeks past the two months of expected processing time, we had to submit a solemn declaration to request a new set of cards. In this case the processing time was just a couple of weeks (even though CIC mentions it’s three months)

Here we are

“Welcome and thank you for choosing Canada”.

To be honest, I can’t think of a more Canadian way to start that letter. And you are most welcome. 

A day in Seoul

When people ask me “what do you like the most about living in Hong Kong?” I always reply the same: the geographical location. Every destination in Asia is within reach of a 5 hours long flight.

So, this weekend, after 11 years of living in Hong Kong, this weekend we finally crossed Seoul off the Travel List.

We spent only one full day in the city, and we only visited Gyeongbokgung, the Royal Palace, and the Bukchon Hanok Village 

Being the mid-autumn festival, there was plenty of people dressing traditional, which made for some good photos.

Selfie time!
The Royal Palace. Every  country has its own Versaille.
Royal Palace Gardens

There were a couple of things that caught our attention. First, the gas masks in the metro stations:

And, as expected, the ubiquitous wi-fi. Like in this metro car:

🤔

In today’s episode of I don’t understand the economics of global trade, I present you a box of the most British tea ever.

So far so good.

Now let’s take a look at how this box of the most British tea ever made it’s way to Hong Kong (which, by the way, happened to be a British colony not that long ago)

So, the box of the most British tea ever was imported from Britain to the US, and then from the US to Hong Kong.

As I said: 🤔

So long, twitter.

I am aware that nobody really cares about it, but I just deleted all my tweets.

Actually, there is one person that cares: me. And that’s precisely why I have deleted them.

I have had an on/off relationship with twitter for a long time. I am not sure when I signed on to the service for the first time, but I still lived in Madrid, so that would be at least 11 years ago. In these 11 years I think I have deleted and reactivated my account at least twice.

This time it is different though.

This summer I have jumped into the iOS beta track extremely early, and on all my devices, including my phone.

One of the new features of iOS 12 is something called “Screen Time”, which provides a very interesting view of the way you use your devices.

I had never realised how much time I have been wasting on twitter every day until I saw the charts in front of me. It was more that two hours per day!

So I decided to set a time limit for my twitter client (1 minute a day) and to remove the app from my home screen burying it in a folder.

It’s been a week since I did that, and this morning I noticed that I wouldn’t have even needed to set a time limit. I have not launched the app in more than a week!

That has given me an opportunity to realise that:

  1. I am a bit more clam. I am perfectly aware that the world has turned into a place where racism and plain old fascism are rampant, enabled and promoted by some governments and most of the media, but I don’t need to be constantly reminded of it, for hours, every day.
  2. Twitter is guilty of that spread as well. They keep justifying giving a voice to those spreading hate speech. I don’t want to be a part of that.
  3. I read books again. I have the privilege of deciding my own work hours, so I have the privilege of being able to set aside some time, every day, where I have nothing to do. Now I can spend that time reading.
  4. I haven’t written anything in this blog in ages. I miss writing, even if there is nobody reading.

Twitter and flickr were the only two social platforms, that I’ve ever participated in, actively. I still miss flickr, I don’t think I’ll miss twitter.