26 November 2005

eGenting Programming Competition

I'm postdating this one to tomorrow because I won't be around. As the title implies, I'll be coding my ass off at the eGenting Programming Competition, up in the City of Entertainment.

I initially found out about the competition weeks before my last semester ended. I asked some friends but it was received with lukewarm response - they think it will be too hard. I thought so too, but I decided it was important to use it as a practicing ground and meet professional coders. After all, no one goes from zero to hero - a guy must slowly build up his skills from zero to lame-wannabe-hero to small-kampung-hero, and finally become a full time superhero.

What was perplexing to me was the lack of support from the school. My college loves publicity, and I expected them to push everyone in Computing programmes to enter the competition. But no... they only made a small mention of a briefing 1 week before registration ends.

So I attended the briefing with Alvin, Jackson, and YY. The briefing was simple but it managed to rope in both Jackson and YY, who were a little doubtful at first. Alvin was already very enthusiastic about it, so he didn't need convincing. There was another guy, Chan, whom I later found out to be our senior in Computer Science. Basically, out of almost 200 senior students in Computing, only 5 turned up. But our facilitator took down our contact information and promised to fix a training session during the break.

When we met up again the following week, we set 15 Nov for the training. I would be in Penang then, so I planned to fly down. I purposely proposed 15 Nov, which was a Tuesday, so I could get cheaper Air Asia tickets for weekday flights. Alas, that was not to be. With the recent hike in fuel prices, the RM1.99 holy grail is no longer attainable. Also, the tax is now RM30 instaed of RM16. In total, return air tickets will cost around RM140. Of course, it only stayed RM140 for a few days. When I checked again to book, it was RM200+! I then found out that my hostel block will be closed during the semester break so I had no room to stay. Alvin offered a place at his apartment, but I began to have second thoughts by then.

After careful deliberation I decided not to go for the training. I felt bad because I suggested the date and all, but paying more than RM200 for a single day of training is not what I had in mind. And as I soon found out, it was the right decision. 2 days before the training, Alvin told me that it was cancelled. I was shocked! I wondered what happened? Did the school pull out its official support? Or did the lecturer in charge cancel it? Regardless, I was quite angry. Imagine if I had bought those air tickets! It would have been a lot of money down the drain! Alvin said he is pulling out of the competition because he felt 'empty' without the training. I tried persuading him but he did not rejoin the competition until the training was rescheduled to 25 Nov (today).

Apart from that, I faced a lot of problems in trying to get accommodation. Knowing that the college is chock-full of cash, I tried getting the college to sponsor a couple of hotel rooms for the participants. But they wouldn't! It meant extra trouble for me because the competition ends at 6pm but the last bus to Penang leaves by 4pm. So I was hoping to get a free room to allay the RM140 price tag for a miserable room in First World Hotel. Again, I felt that the school wasn't being very supportive in this aspect. Their final word was "No" so I tried asking the guys if they were interested in boarding with me. If so, I could share the costs and it wouldn't be very expensive at all. But their main problem was that of transport back to their homes the day after.
It was then that Dad suggested I stay with one of my friends in KL and then go over to Puduraya the next day. It was a good idea, I admit, but not one which I'm comfortable doing. After all, it's a bit embarrasing (for me) to do sleepovers with friends I only know for slightly more than a year. But that plan didn't work, and I finally decided to return home after the competition itself. My final plan is this:
  1. Take the free coach service to Wisma Genting after the competition

  2. Hop onto the Raja Chulan monorail and ride to Hang Tuah

  3. From Hang Tuah, switch to the Star LRT line and ride to Plaza Rakyat

  4. From Plaza Rakyat station, walk 500m to Puduraya station and get my bus ticket

I heard that the last bus to Penang is around 12am, so I'm not that worried about getting a seat. In fact, I plan to get a later bus so I can actually walk around Bukit Bintang for a bit. I haven't been around that area at night for 2 years, so it will be nice to soak up the atmosphere (and pollution) there.

Whew! That was sure an unnecessarily long post. I will be bringing my MP3 player there, so instead of writing, I'll be trying out audio journaling. It was one of the reasons why I got the MP3 player in the first place - so I can talk instead of write about my Singapore trip next month. I will post up the audio posts after I come back, and I hope you guys can tell me what you think.

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