Joyce Huang


Author: joycehliting (Page 2 of 3)

Reflecting on 2015 and new beginnings

I can’t believe it’s 2016.

all we need in lifeLast year on this day, we were on a train back to Taipei from Hsinchu, in Taiwan. Lugging a backpack with all the belongings I’d needed, getting ready to finally come back home to Singapore and start my next adventure.

It’s been a tough year emotionally. Mainly because I didn’t keep promises I made to myself. There have been many great opportunities and transitions in 2015, and if I had to give a theme to my life this year, it’d be “The Year I Settled Back In Singapore. For Good.”

It’s strange because I thought that long-term travelling doesn’t really change you. But it did, it made me see that no matter where I was I could be doing what I’d actually wanted to do in Singapore, with abundant opportunity and no stress of having to cover for rent. It’s where my family, my friends, Reuben is. There is no urge for me to leave right now. It’s mostly about analysis-paralysis, my fear of failure and procrastination.

Philosophy has been a major source of comfort. Reading The School Of Life‘s newsletters and watching their YouTube videos have made me feel slightly better in my GYPSY narrative.

Now is a good time to reflect upon 2015.



January was the month where the magic of our Round-The-World Trip would end. We were so exhausted from travelling and were glad to be able to head home. It was bitter-sweet writing this epic recap of our trip on Medium, looking back on a year of travel around the world.  Looking back, I wish I took more time to write about our journey instead of the haphazard manner it was done on Let’s Go Loco, which has since been abandoned.

Despite telling myself that I wouldn’t go on another airplane so soon, I would find myself in Thailand, Philippines, Myanmar, China, Indonesia and Malaysia. The most pleasant of all the trips was in Boracay, Philippines where we celebrated Reuben’s birthday, and in Yangon, where old friends, Celeste, Yiwern and I re-united.



Went back to work part-time at JFDI.Asia. It’s THE accelerator program in Singapore and most possibly the only legit one in South East Asia. I was put to manage the content marketing and PR team and met some lovely people there. It made me see even clearer the inner workings of startups and how the odds are stacked against you even when you get some of the best help in Singapore. Hugh was also my lovely manager who allowed me to continue with our part-time arrangement as I started on Singapore Geek Girls stuff again.


SG Geek Girls talks were resumed and we started with Denisa Kera, an ex-professor of mine who  gave a fascinating talk about the maker-community and culture in Asia. She’s been a source of inspiration for me, breaking the stereotype that arts and science are separate entities, when in fact, it’s very much inter-disciplinary.

Link to her talk here:


In March, I got an invite to attend an event called Stream Asia. It’s an unconference for the advertising industry in Asia and is organized by WPP. Strange that no matter how I tried to distance myself from the advertising world, I would come back to it.

StreamWPP paid for the 3D2N stay at Club Med in Phuket and I got to meet some very interesting startups, including this company that developed an app for surgeons to practice surgery anytime, anywhere.

Special thanks to Gwen, who made this possible. I had a great time catching up with one of the most important mentors in my life. 🙂


A really busy month.

I finalized on my Xiaomi contract in early April and knew I had to make more effort to organize Geek Girls events while I could. I was really thankful when Anna and the guys at 12 Geeks spoke and co-organized the 2 events respectively.

annaAnna is a fantastic speaker. Her talk on the myths about the open source community really made me feel hopeful that it would be the perfect entry point for females to find more kindred spirits in the tech industry. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of engineers that attended the session as well! Many of whom had never gone to other tech meetups.

SG Geek Girls Maker Series #2: Anna Filippova: The Paradox of Open Source software

The second session was mostly impromptu. I asked the 12 Geeks men, Fazli and Luther, whether they’d be interested to host an arduino workshop and was really glad to tinker with the rest of the ladies around. One of them was working on a startup idea that would help you automagically feed your pets. An arduino was part of the prototyping phase.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 3.35.48 am

Miraculously, Hugh still sent me to Cebu to meet with the lovely teammates I had there. I had a good time getting to know Crystal, from our content marketing team better. She’s a fantastic writer and inspired me to write for myself again. Here she is below (left) with our other intern, Cui (right).

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 3.35.26 am


Myanmar in May. It felt like forever since I saw Yiwern and Celeste together. We used to take a yearly trip, so it felt good to be able to reunite with them in Yangon.

There are some truly magnificent temples across Myanmar, possibly the most elaborate in the world. You can tell Myanmar’s a sleeping dragon, but a lot’s to come in the next 20 years. I’m glad I saw it before the rest of the world did.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 3.36.01 am

And just like that, I started my full-time job in Xiaomi and within the next week, I flew to Beijing to start my 3 month stint learning from the Mi Community team and employee #9, Da Li, who pain-stakingly created the vibrant community that Xiaomi has in China. Perhaps I’ll write what I’ve learnt from him later, when I’ve the time to organize my thoughts.



June come and went in a frenzy as I struggled to get used to work in Xiaomi. I’m grateful that the company allowed me to return home once a month to continue with SG Geek Girls activities. I’m even more grateful for Laura, our fantastic Android App Coach, who had a great session with the ladies who attended and taught them how to create a temperature monitoring app. I was really proud of them.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 3.37.32 am


My birthday month was extra special because of a spontaneous trip to 海坨山, or Sea Dolphin Mountain, somewhere in the outskirts of Yanqing County. I signed up on a whim with my Beijing colleagues and to my surprise, found myself totally awed by the views on the mountain. We trekked in rain but were rewarded with a sea of clouds, colorful tents and an unbelievable sunset. One of the best I’ve seen in my life.

11403161_10153497470045439_3094459193780765595_n 11666051_10153497470675439_2853466696590001002_n 11698794_10153497469120439_4579856002251773278_n

At SG Geek Girls, we had the pleasure of hosting Cindy Lin, another maker. Her talk blew my mine with it’s inter-disciplinarian perspective on the maker culture and spirit.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 3.38.09 am

Cindy’s made art with snail poo, created her personal lubricants, and created a community of tinkerers, enthusiasts and amateurs in Singapore creating a space of transient food fancy and bacteria economies. Her networks and experiments in Indonesia and Shenzhen gave a great overview of the maker movement across Asia.

Make sure you check out her super interesting talk:


I attended my first Xiaomi product launch event in August. It was so well executed and the love from the fans in China was overwhelming. They were crowding all over the community team post-drinks and had such a genuine interest to get to know us. It’s nice to feel appreciated.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 4.34.54 am

I really missed home on National Day. Which I spent in the Singapore embassy, with other cool Singaporeans in Beijing!

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 4.35.12 am


I don’t really remember much about September, except that I appeared in that month’s issue of Cosmo. And wore a $2000 dress. It was a funny experience, but so unlike me. I don’t think I’d do it again. Just not much of a power poser.

Fun Fearless Female


In early October, I felt I finally got what I came for when I was given the chance to sit in Lei Jun’s lecture of Xiaomi’s vision and the company’s history. His passion for life, technology and his humble, honest outlook makes me believe that the world doesn’t need to be filled with entrepreneurs who are dicks like Donald Trump. He talked a lot about the importance of community building in this session with many examples, and made me feel even more hopeful that Xiaomi’s not a company that only pays lip service to it’s customers.


Somehow, Reuben and I also got featured in this Channel News Asia short about our one year travel. Another first for me. A Singaporean couple emailed us after this, telling us they’re also on their trip! Amazing.


My first Xiaomi Global product launch was in KL, Malaysia. Really liked working with the bigger team and was amazing how it came together!


For Reuben’s birthday, I surprised him with a trip to Boracay, Philippines. It didn’t disappoint with its white powder sandy beaches and cliff diving. Was a good way to test out the Yi Action Cam too!
Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 4.34.15 am

By now I was feeling immensely guilty for not having planned a SG Geek Girls event for long enough. So I did, with my long-time friend Tan Liren, who shed some important light on the importance of design innovation in Healthcare. Liren’s amazing at her job as UX lead at Alexandra Healthcare (based in Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital), giving some great real world examples of how simple design changes can make big differences in our habits.



I hit a few work milestones in December, throwing an oversubscribed party, proving that the intangible work we do leads to sales. It’s heartening to see that hardwork pay off. I’m going into 2016 more confident of my abilities and maintaining the “do-the-right-thing” attitude that Lei Jun has set for all Xiaomi employees.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 6.03.30 am

A perfect way to end the year was meeting with Sandra, a travelmate we met in Argentina, Chile and now in Singapore! Her friend, Flo, is doing her 6 month trip across the world now too. It just feels like it’s all come full circle. Slightly surreal too to have brought her for Tau Huay and Char Kway Teow in a hawker center. sandra

Thanks for letting me settle down, 2015.

2016, I’m ready for you. Bring it on.

My Ideal Home: Berlin Inspired Apartments

Now that Reuben and I are in the process of getting a new place, I’m obsessed with surfing home decor websites. We applied for a tiny 3-room HDB flat at Joo Seng Road, not far away from my parents’ place.

Joyce room

My table in my current room, inspired by the Berlin apartment we stayed in. $169 from Ikea.

After sleeping in strangers’ apartments around the world for a year, you’d think it’d be easy for me to decide what style I’d want to go for. But there are so many choices out there that I can’t really put my finger on it – Japanese Zen, Scandinavian Chic (this seems particularly popular at the moment), Minimalist / Essentialist / Quirky / Eclectic.

It seems that I’ve gotten it all wrong. It hit me that this was a great opportunity for me to re-create a space that I’d always wanted to live in, even though I couldn’t physically be in the country. Then it struck me – hands down, it would be Berlin.

Berlin? Yes, Berlin. From the minute I stepped into the youthful, spirited, hipster capital of Germany, I knew this would be one of the places I’d want to spend some part of my life in. And although it was a short 3 weeks, Reuben and I had a fantastic time living in it – meeting programmers, artistes, lying on the grass on Tempelhof Park. We both agreed that this would be the place we wouldn’t mind living in if we had to choose one for RTW.

Our Berlin Apartment

Our Airbnb apartment in Berlin

Our Airbnb apartment in Berlin, my table at home now has the exact same legs.


Again, from our Airbnb apartment in Berlin with the poofi-est and most comfortable bed

Berlin apartments share very similar traits. They are always functional, frugal, yet remain very cosy and inviting. The warm wooden hues of their floors and cupboards coupled with the sunlight that Germans love letting into their homes really go well together. The table is also a drafting board and the pretty scarf, a cool deco piece for the room.

Our homes have a tremendous impact on our well-being, both physical and mental. I like the idea that a home reflects the values you hold dear. For me, it should enable us to create and make things, be a space to share cosy moments, remind us that some of the most important things in life are those that money can’t buy.

Here are more photos I found online of this quirky, cosy, Berlin home.


3881022617_7f2952c8f4_o 3881022921_4efb890524_o 3881023087_f4dd22ff92_o 3881023201_3f9ac8df83_o 3881820678_5e16faa1d7_o 3881820764_368b388b47_o 3881821080_67fbdb25e8_o

What do you think?

Twelve Crazy Things in 2016

It just hit me that it’s 2016 next year. The final year of my 20s. Yes, I’ll be 29 in 2016.


To commemorate the blast of a ride I’ve had, I’ve decided to list 12 crazy/things-I’ve-always-wanted-to-do-but-haven’t in 2016. I’ll do one thing a month. Sounds do-able, right?

Here are my 12 things for 12 months of 2016:

Update: 2.30am, Friday, 23 September.

  1. Dye my hair a totally different and new color I’ve never had. Get red / grey highlights. Just cause. (Done)
  2. Learn how to draw. I signed up for a Visual Diary Workshop by Public Garden: (Done)
  3. Write everyday for a month and publish it here. It could be a sentence. A paragraph. An essay. But write. I. Must. (TO DO)
  4. Write a 5,000 word short story or essay. (WIP)
  5. Go sky diving in New Zealand. (Went to NZ but didn’t skydive – half done, will have to do Sentosa version instead)
  6. Register a company. Any company. (TO DO)
  7. Learn how to cook 5 fancy dishes properly. (WIP)
    Ngoh Hiang // Pork Lasagne // Udon Noodles // Taiwanese Sesame Chicken // ?
  8. Take a photo everyday for a month. (Done. On Instagram. Not a month, but it’s definitely motivated me to post more than 90 photos on Instagram this year!)
  9. Grow my own plant. Any plant. (Done. Terrarium from Daffy and Jas)
  10. Read 10 books. (10/10): (Done)
    Midnight in Siberia // Start Something That Matters // How To Live In The City // How To Be Bored //  Wonder //  Its Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be // Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear// Black Coffee // Essays in Love // The Course of Love // The Sirens of Titan (WIP) // The Artist’s Way (WIP) // Kafka On The Shore (WIP) // The Art of Thinking Clearly
  11. Write a short letter a day for someone I’m thankful for in my life for a week. (TO DO)
  12. Reverse Bungee (Done)

I’m leaving #12 empty. For suggestions and spontaneity. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think 🙂

Have a smashing 2016 everyone!

Society’s Crazy Demands Of Our Generation

Society’s demands on our generation are crazy.

I graduated at age 24, slightly older than my peers because I spent an extra year in university for exchange programs. I’m 28 now, just shy of 2 years to hitting the big 30, but it made me think a lot about what I’m expected to achieve by then.

I’ve always thought of 30 as a definitive milestone in life. This is the age where you are supposed to know what you want to do with your life. By now you are expected to have found a life partner, bought a house, get married, have your first kid, achieved some sort of career milestone, lived out all your crazy adventures such as travelling the world, or exited your startup by selling it for millions.

Maybe it’s because of the pressure from friends that I hang out with, or the people I look up to, but damn, that’s a lot to have accomplish by 30. When I look at what I’ve done, it’s easy to feel dejected. Wtf have I achieved? I haven’t started my own company and I’m definitely not any closer to earning millions. I think a lot of people my age feel the same way.

Nobody told me that I’d only have 6 years before I would be expected to accomplish all these feats. And it’s crazy – this rat race.

I’m trying to focus on the things that I have accomplished. Travelled around the world for a year, found someone who I can live the rest of my life with. Be on track to buy a house. Found work at an exciting startup with big dreams. But it never seems to be enough.

Crazy, right?

Welcome to November

IMG_2279Welcome to November. My plans to have read more this year have gone severely awry. But one of the things that have disappointed me the most is that I’ve failed to read more.

I’ve been making it a point to read more fiction instead of the regular self-help books. I just finished Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In my head I kept picturing the voices as they were in the movie, but I realised that there were so many details left out from the wonderful book because of time.

Jane Austen had such a clear, critical perspective of life in her days. In Mr. Darcy’s pride, you recognize that money can’t buy everything, particularly, Elizabeth’s respect at the start of the book. It’s only towards the end, when he started acting out of love to help her that they grew fond of each other and won her heart. For Elizabeth, her prejudice against him made her blind to the wrongs that Darcy had had to endure with Mr. Wickham, and in the end it was her own sister that would suffer from her prejudices.

It’s interesting how a story can help you learn lessons.

From Pride and Prejudice, I learnt that a couple has to learn together to become the best versions of themselves. I think it’s naive to say that, “if you love me, you will accept me as I am.” A large part is realising that you are wrong, and wanting to improve.

It might have had a good ending, but it’s also far from a fairy tale. I’ve never seen so much critique in a love story about the effects of money in society and it’s power in determining who we should love. I do feel she’s a romantic at heart, because in the end the love Elizabeth and Darcy had far outdoes the pragmatic kind of love that Charlotte opted for when she decided to settle down with the annoying Mr. Collins.

Jane Austen was an excellent judge of character, reminding us that it’s more important to be a moral character, than a rich one.

It’s a joy to watch people do good work

Left: Dedicated kopi-uncle who makes the best kopi in Hong Lim Hawker Center

There’s this kopi-uncle working in Hong Lim Hawker Center. Everyday I get kopi from him and it’s pure joy to watch him make coffee.

What sets this uncle apart from the rest of the kopi-uncles is his dedication to making a perfect cup of coffee each time. He douses hot water on the cup, whirls it around and throws it out to make sure it’s clean. Then he goes on to make the best cup of kopi, making sure everything is properly stirred and the coffee is a good brew, even if it might take a little longer than what other stalls require. It’s not hard to see that he’s truly enjoying it as well.

I guess that’s why people don’t mind waiting in line to get their daily fix of coffee. As I sip on my Kopi-C now, it’s a good reminder that no matter what you do, making the best of your craft is an important facet to enjoying what you do. And when it happens, it’s brightens up people’s day and makes them appreciate it – even if it’s just a cup of kopi.

From being a romantic to a classical as you grow older

I’m obsessed with School of Life. It’s started by contemporary philosopher, Alain de Botton.  There are three bite-sized videos each week and it’s a super practical YouTube channel, using concepts from Philosophy to help viewers lead better everyday lives. I love that it makes the subject much more accessible to the layman, instead of being shrouded in mystery and with the idea that it’s only for intellectuals.


I was re-watching this video about being a Romantic vs a Classical person today and it got me thinking a lot about how we evolve as we get older.

When I was much younger, I thought that many things in life were about following your instinct. We live in a age where it’s all about “following your passion” and “do what you love” or “never settle”, very American concepts that have personally led me into becoming slightly disillusioned about my own achievements in life.

More and more, I’ve found that being a better human being is very much a work-in-progress. It takes courage to accept that you are not perfect, and we all need to take a step back to reflect upon our status anxiety, envy and gradually learn to become a better person, just as we learnt to walk, talk or play sports.


Building a job board in Rails

So I’ve been following Mackenzie Child‘s online tutorials for ROR and managed to build a job board by following his screencast!



Interesting things I learnt during this tutorial:

  • HAML -Beautiful, DRY, well-indented, clear markup.
  • Adding models via the console.
  • Adding filters (categories to jobs).

I really enjoyed this tutorial, please try the app and let me know how I can improve.

Why beginners should attend technical meetups

I’ve attended, sponsored or organised possibly  a total of 100 hackathons, technical meetups,  workshops, talks and conferences combined in the last couple of years. I realised that a lot of people don’t come for those meetups because they think they won’t understand the content. I’d like to change that perspective today.

You go to meetups to learn and be inspired by the community.

Some people approach meetups thinking  that everyone else around them understands exactly what the speaker is talking about and end up feeling depressed when they don’t actually know. But most meetups don’t work this way.  When I was at the last Ruby meetup I had little clue what was going on because I’m still a beginner rubyist, but when I asked my seasoned ruby dev friend sitting next to me if he understood what was going on  he whispered in my ear, “nope, no idea what he’s talking about too.”

Learning to code is like learning a new language, you need to constantly put yourself in an environment where people are speaking that new language to get good. The more you listen, the easier it is to get used to the terms people are using and how to apply them in everyday context.

Of course, you should do all the tutorials you can get your hands on and build projects, but if you couple it with attending meetups or hanging around other helpful developers who are working in the same field, you’d be surprised at how much more you can learn.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Not fully understanding is actually a good thing. If you understood everything the speaker is sharing about, then these meetups would have little value in exposing you to new ways of doing things, or new technologies.

I know its hard to see value when you’re just picking up a new skill, but this pushes you higher up the learning curve and you never know when that tip the speaker shared about could help you become more productive in your work.

There are so many times that I’ve found out about a cool open-source project, a new tool, a better framework, a new tech initiative just by showing up at these talks.

You might find a job, a co-founder, or someone who can be your mentor at these meetups

I’ve seen how these meetups facilitate serendipitous encounters. Encounters where you may find yourself a job, a co-founder, or even someone who could be your tech mentor. The tech community in Singapore is so vibrant, so active and most importantly, so helpful. Ever since I started Geek Girls, there have been so many people who are volunteering their time to teach, coach or speak for free.

If you’re the shy type, then don’t stress yourself out about having to meet people at these events. My good friend Valerie attends meetups and tells me that she’s not there to meet 100 people or exchange namecards with everyone. She’s there so she can find one person to have a good conversation with and exchange insights about the industry for an hour or two. That’s how she decides if that event was fruitful for her.

OK, so where are the meetups in Singapore anyway?

I’m glad you asked! WeBuild.SG or TheList.SG are great resources for tech meetups in Singapore. See you there!

Building BentoBooks #launchin30

Hi everyone!

Today I’m excited to announce that I’m going to build BentoBooks for my #launchin30 challenge, inspired by Mackenzie Child‘s 12 x 12 challenge.

In thirty days, I will launch this new book exchange app. I’ve already completed OneMonthRails and built a small Pinterest clone – although the images are disabled because AWS is crazy expensive for hosting!

Purpose of the app:

To facilitate easy book exchanges between a book club community.

Here are some of the features that I can foresee this app having:

1. User Authentication

2. Private Messaging

3. Image Uploads

4. Validations

5. Pagination

If you’re starting just like me, some guides that have been really helpful so far (will be updating as I go along):

Install Rails – For a step by step guide to installing Rails on your Mac or PC.

Ruby Toolbox  and Ruby Gems – For DB of Ruby Gems

Heroku Toolbelt – headache free way to deploy your apps

I’ve really enjoyed building the Pinterest app, but have totally dropped the ball and this is a good chance to reboot! Good luck to me! You can check out Bento Books‘ progress.

Page 2 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén