Thursday, 25 August 2011

Working with Asperger’s

Something I found in my company's website about Autism that I would like to share.

23-Aug-2011 Diederik Weve has a mild form of autism that makes his mind work differently to other people’s. But that’s also a good thing.

Two years ago, Diederik Weve found out he has Asperger syndrome. It’s a mild form of autism which makes his mind work differently to other people’s. But that’s also a good thing. “Many mental disabilities are an ability in disguise, and we just have to make them work for us,” he says.

Diederik Weve has recently joined the disABILITY network in the Netherlands to help break the taboos surrounding autism, and to encourage people to better harness the talents of employees with autism for the company’s benefit.
“People with autism can provide companies like Shell with a sound foundation. Their talents often lie in contributing highly specialised knowledge, as well as providing structure in the form of manuals and procedures,” he says.

Now in his 28th year at Shell, Dutch-born Diederik is a Senior Engineer for noise control in plants, but also designs flare and relief systems. He came to Shell as a graduate chemical engineer and over the years he’s chalked up experience in a good many specialist roles. “In this one, I’m able to apply many elements of my previous jobs in research, operations, modelling and technical safety,” he says.

Two years ago, he was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. It’s a kind of autism formally known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD, which occurs in people often with average to high IQ, and it means they process information in a different way to most. While they often have difficulty with social communication, they also have a good eye for detail and exceptional focus.

ASD might explain Diederik’s passion for all things technical and mechanical, but it also has a profound effect on the way he thinks and functions. His condition challenges him in three areas – social interaction, seeing the bigger picture, and the brain function needed for handling new or unusual situations.

“A big challenge is dealing with a lack of context,” he says. For example, a colleague calls, asks how he’s doing, mentions an earlier project they worked on, tells him about a new one, and explains how he came up against a problem. “For many people that might be a natural way to deliver and process information, but not for me,” Diederik says. “I need to know where the story ends before its starts, otherwise every twist and turn and change of context is confusing.

“That’s because I have to switch modes – from small-talk and searching my mental archive to capturing new information without memorising lots of trivia, and then trying to work out what they actually want.”

To cope with it Diederik has learned to interrupt his colleagues and ask them directly what they want to know. “This stops me getting frustrated trying to understand what track they’re on.”

He also learned to compensate for his ASD. “Most of this won’t be perceptible at first sight because I mimic what other people do, build a ‘rule base’ of what normal people expect in behaviour, and that generally works.”

Diederik thinks that the key lesson from his own experience is having an awareness of his limits and strengths, which has helped him and others to work much better together. This is what prompted him to become a member of the Shell disABILITY Network, joining many colleagues who’ve been able to overcome physical or sensory impairments to make the most of their talents in Shell.

In a recent interview with Dutch financial daily
NRC Handelsblad, Diederik spoke about the contribution that autistic people can make to complex, technical operations like Shell. He said that autistic people had long been stereotyped as mentally disabled. “In a high-tech environment such as Shell it can be difficult because you want your intelligence to stand out. There are autistic individuals who have serious limitations, but there’s a much larger group that doesn’t.”

“disABILITY understands how to focus on my ability rather than my disability, and I want to add mental disabilities to the agenda. My ability contributes to Shell’s bottom line and is an asset to its diversity.”

Diederik says Shell has given him plenty of opportunities that match his abilities and interests. When his managers suggested adding project management to his role, he told them about his ASD and context-blindness. “An open and honest discussion helped them realise that such a move may not be the best for me or for the company. It shows that only in the wrong context does ASD become a disability.”

Ultimately, like any employee at Shell, it is important for autistic individuals to use their initiative to demonstrate what they can achieve. Diederik’s last project was flare software, now it is spreading awareness about autism. He says, “Sometimes I make a conscious contribution that other people aren’t capable of, helping make up for my less strong points. In this way, I feel that I can make a difference for Shell.”

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Mizi Movie Review: Fast Five

I just go back from the cinema with my wife catching the latest sequel of The Fast and The Furious series. This time it is called Fast Five due to mainly being it is the fifth installment in the franchise. Again it is directed by Justin Lin for 3 consecutive row starting from Tokyo Drift. I dig some digging and it is also written by Chris Morgan who also wrote for Justin Lin both previous Fast and Furious movies. The movie can be somewhat akin to Lethal Weapon 4 where they bring in all the characters from every sequel including the hot and sexy Gal Gadot as Gisele from previous Fast and Furious. Heck, they even bring back Vince from Dominic’s original crew.

The story takes place right after the end of the previous movie where Mia, Brian as well as Tego Leo(Tego Calderon) and Rico Santos(Don Omar) busting Dom out of the prison bus. We get to see how they manage to pull it off. How they manage to do it with not being seriously injured in a toppling bus is beyond reasoning! In the same tradition as other Fast Furious movies, big city locales is a must. This time its in Rio de Janerio (starts from LA, Miami, Tokyo then probably back to LA with some action at the Mexican border). After the breakout attempt, Brian is now an outlaw and in a serious relationship with Mia and on the run with Dom from the authorities. We see Mia and Brian coming to Rio to see Vince who still has some issues with Brian but acknowledges that he was saved his life as we see the scars was portrayed. It is interesting to note that, in the beginning of the movie Brian was driving a classic 1972 Skyline or colloquially known in Japan as the Hakosuka. If you can remember, in Tokyo Drift, Han made a bet with Takashi that if Sean Boswell wins the race against Morimoto, he would get Takashi’s 86 Corolla but only if Han puts down his ’72 Skyline as well. Could this be the one?
Vince offers them to take on a job with him and also with the hopes of Dom will join in. They have their reservation but finally agreed due to shortage of cash. The job was to rob some exotic car off a train. When the heist on-going, Dominic arrives and they start transporting the cars off the train in spectacular fashion using a modified truck. Dom suspect something with the other crew members fascination with one of the cars i.e. Ford GT40 and alter their plan and have Mia drive the GT40 elsewhere. This of course does not sit well with others and all hell breaks loose with lots of butt-kicking, shooting and stunts. It is after that they realize it is all a set-up just to get an important chip from the GT40. The other crew were working with a big bad business tycoon in Brazil, Hernan Reyes(Joaquim de Almeida), who serve as this installment antagonist. Knowing that the trio have the chip which contains the information on where are all the dirty money is, Reyes relentlessly hunts them down. If that wasn’t enough, they were also being chased by the law in the form of Lucas Hobbs(Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnsson), from Diplomatic Security Services (DSS). Decided that they had enough of running, the trio decided that they would do this one last job and also getting even with Reyes, then disappear. And that is where all the gang come in.

Most of the premise of this movie is the preparation work of Dominic and the team getting ready for this one last job. You kinda get the feeling of Ocean Eleven meets The Italian Job. There are more car chases than street racing in this installment which is a departure from the previous three movies. In fact there is only one race scene where they did the quarter mile drag race in Dodge Charger Police Interceptor. Also they change the formula a bit where it was usually drive import cars or Japanese cars from beginning and middle of the movie until use classic American muscle cars for the grand finale but instead most of the car have little screen time save for the 2011 Dodge Charger at the climax. Most of the cars are only driven for show not for racing or chase.

Now I am a big fan of cars and the import tuning/street racing scene that kinda was popularize by the first The Fast and The Furious. I love Initial D, Hot Version, Best Motoring and use to subscribe to Sport Compact Car magazine until it end of publication (the event itself kinda signals the end of the the import scene culture). The Fast and Furious franchise used to be the embodiment of this but I fear that it has divert itself into a more general action genre starting after Tokyo Drift. You see the evidence itself where there are more car chase than street racing and I would think if there is a Fast Furious 6, this trend will continue. If you are a diehard fan of what was the original The Fast and The Furious is all about or Tokyo Drift, you might be a little disappointed. Car modification culture is dying out. It is inevitable that the import scene is at its twilight and to keep the franchise fresh, I think producer Neal Moritz have to evolve the series into something that fans and newcomer can appreciate.

Having said that, by no means that this is a bad movie. It is one of the best action movie I have seen this year. Again Justin Lin delivers in giving us non-stop adrenalin over top action with smooth execution. For me, the best part of this movie would its awesome camera work that manage to capture the action and setting the right mood for this type of movie, well done. The feel of Tokyo Drift (with scenes showing Tokyo) is there as we are treated to scene of the wonders of Rio and especially the Cristo Redentor and also the darkest part of favelas(slum).  I think this would be the benchmark for my car movies to come as it is always had for previous installment(ala Bullit or The Italian Job). Hauling a safety vault through the streets of Rio, I wonder what are the casualties rate?hmm...There is also parkour scene(being a trend these days) through the slums area and we got o see Brian and Mia jumped into a rusty zinc roof house with Mia secretly being pregnant! I was almost afraid she would have a miscarriage. 

About acting and dialogue, its not King’s Speech level nor it has to be one. Having played their characters more than once already, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster certain manage to evolve their characters and given some depth to it. Especially Dominic desire to have a family again now that he is an uncle. The characters seem to have reconcile any past issues (Brian vs Vince) and manage to find closure towards the end of the movie. Many elements from previous installment used for comedic effect. Indeed there are quite a few laughable moments and especially with Tego Leo and Rico Santos. Thank God those latino bros don't turn out like Skids and Mudflaps from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Provide comic relief without stealing the spotlights from the main stars. Come to think of it, previous Fast and Furious were pretty serious in tone. Tej(Ludacris) and Roman(Tyrese) also are pretty funny as well. Couple of time I hear laughter in the cinema.

You may wonder why I didnt mention much about what cars is in. There are pretty interesting model such as the new Subaru Impreza, the 370Z and others, but that would create disappointment as screen time for most of them is only a couple of seconds. But all thing considered, it is still a good action movie and manage to be entertaining. Briliantly executed. The star car is the Dodge Charger. The new one not the Dominic’s classic 70s charger which got destroyed. Again.

My minor gripes in this movie is that when they decided to bring all the gang back together, suddenly Tej is a safe expert, Gisele is a weapon specialist and former Mossad agent (Gisele doesnt sound hebrew to me) and Han is ‘someone who can blend easily in the crowd’? Seriously, an Asian dude blend-in in Rio? Plus, we didnt actually see how these so-called skill being utilize. I think all they need are crazy drivers.

Forgot to mentioned that this is not ‘The Rock’ better performance. I actually enjoyed him more in Faster. This Hobbs character is pretty stiff. During trash talking between Dom and Hobbs, Vin Diesel puts a better performance than the former WWE champion. Which is kinda disappointed really since ‘The Rock’ should do better than this. The fight scene between Dom and Hobbs sort of redeems its as ‘The Rock’ incorporate some of his wrestling moves(nice kip-up...).

In a nutshell, the movie manages to deliver over the top action with some humour albeit reduce cars screen time. Fast and Furious always will become a fan favorite for summer blockbuster and in that sense it doesnt disappoint. I have heard that part 6 is already in the works and slated for 2013 and involves Dom’s old girlfriend Letty still alive and Brian and Roman old nemesis Carter Verone(Cole Hauser) returning as well as the hot and sexy Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes). Then there is also rumours that part 7 is being considered. At the current rate they are going, they might be the next successful movie franchise after Star Wars or Harry Porter.
To that I say, “Long live the franchise!”