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Showing posts from 2011

How about solving a bigger problem

The Existing Great PainIn China, writers can hardly survive. As one famous Chinese writer, Han Han wrote in his blog that: “Most writers in China can create one book in two-three years’ time. Normally, they can earn 10,000-20,000 Yuan(which is around 4,000-8,000 SGD) for each book. It’s like 800 Yuan/month(160 SGD/month) salary. They’ve got no social insurance and they have to pay taxes. Most Chinese writers have a very low income, except for some very popular ones. Many writers would have to write 10,000 words/ day on websites to make a living. They can earn 2 Fen(0.4 cents) for every 1,000 words downloaded. In Qidian.com alone, there was more than 150,000 writers writing online to make a living(Qidian, 2008).大部分作家两三年才写一本书一本书就赚一两万这些写作者们可能才年薪一万块啊朋友们月薪八百啊朋友没有社保啊朋友还得交税啊朋友比你更惨啊朋友除了几个顶级畅销书作家中国作家绝大部分都收入微薄很多网络作家更是一天要写一万字靠着千字两分钱的下载收入维生.Say a book cost 10 Yuan. A writer can get 1 yuan, publisher 1-2yuan, raw cost(paper, printing,etc) is 2-3 Yuan and the stores can earn 5 Yuan. 假设一本书…

About Value

Say, you gave birth to a kid who's very talented in music. However, you do not have the money( or else) to find a great musician to teach the kid. Just then, a local musician sees the talents of your kid. He is willing to teach the kid for free, on the condition that the kid will have to stay with the musician forever(of course you have to right to visit the kid any time). The musician is not a talented,  but at least he can teach.  Will you make the deal?

It's the case with our final project, Yun Reading. We're facing the problem with the future development of this app. Our money is dying out and our team mates will probably be too busy to continue with the monetization part next semester. We know our app is having a great potential, like a talented music kid. But we've got no time and money to make the talents shine. A ebook publishing company seems to be envision the value of this app in the future. The company want to acquire this app when its value is still unseen…

Farewell-CS3216

As stated, CS3216 will become a history forever from tomorrow onwards. Wish the spirit still keeps going on.

Honestly, I like the course very much. Not only because I met and worked with so many astonishing people in the class, but also because the course changed my perceptions and probably my life.

Before writing the personal statement, I already prepared to die in the class. I knew the nasty course will be very challenging and bring me many sleepless nights. The reality turns out to be better than expected. Yes, it is challenging to me and I worked late at night, but not as bad as worked overnight.

It's a pity that Prof. Ben will never teach the course any longer. I'd like to recommend nasty courses to friends who really want to learn sth. Actually I've already recommended some of my friends to take CS3217. Hope they'll be brave enough to take the challenge. I find people who have attended that course are much stronger in programming skills and more deliberate in sof…

Contents and users are the most important keys for the IT industry today

I got a bit discouraged when I contacted the ebook retailer last night when he said technicians are not that important in the IT industry. He said contents and users are the most important keys for the IT industry today. Well, that's somewhat true, but that's just too discouraging for us technicians. The guy is actually my first entrepreneur friend and I find him quite trustful.  However, we had conflicts when we discussed whether to make it a platform for all or simply an app for his company. Honestly, I wish we can make it big by allowing many people involve in the content contribution, either by allowing all users to upload and share or allowing retailers to sells their books on our platform. As I know from Shucang's CEO, it's legal for a site to reformat, save and share. We can handle the conflicts if people claim for abuse(delete the database immediately). However, if we try to allow retailers to sell books on our platform, we've got to develop secure DRM syst…

Long Long Way to Go

Honestly, our group is doing pretty well in this project. Though we thought we are a bit slow at the pace, we managed to show most of the functions in this week's class. Thanks to all the testing people who have gave us many feedbacks and nice suggestions, our app now has a much clearer logic flow.We kept on changing and changing, from the UI, the javascript implementation to the logic flow. We're still changing according to the feedbacks. The offline reading implementation has been changed three times. Initially we planned to store the latest 10 books the user read to the local storage, that might be good for the user if they want to read the books offline. However,that may consume too much money for them if they are using paid services to download the data. That's also slower for the loading as some ebooks can be pretty big(like 1MB). Then we changed to only download the current book. That's not nice, either. What if the user want to read another book, or else the bo…

Need to Stop and Think for a While

My life is really buggy these days.  So buggy that I even cannot figure out what I am doing and where I am heading. I really need to stop and think for a while.
1. CS3216 is not about grades, but all that count are grades.That's a bit mysterious. Honestly, I do think my group is doing pretty good in the final project, except the time management is not well conducted. My group members are all very intelligent people. Hu Qiang has a very clear mind on what direction he should be heading(not only in terms of UI). Yingbo is fast in coding. Aldrian thinks really deep and  comprehensive. I am also doing pretty well in this project. In the first week, we've developed the ePub file handler(Aldrian), REST api(Me), reading page(Hu Qiang) and  the basic javascript functionalities(Yingbo). However, when I look at the final project requirements, it says the prototype needs to be as good as the previous assignments and that counts for 10% of the total mark! I'm very worried though. Thank…

Some Thoughts

I didn't realize the real problems our app is going to face until Zit Seng shared his thoughts on Monday's lecture.

Loading time is critical. We won't meet a user's satisfaction if it takes too long (say more than 2seconds) to load. That's pretty disastrous for a HTML5 app as the app may include heavy framework js/CSS files. On one hand, we shall do as many computation as possible on the server side and cut down clients' JS files to reduce the loading time. On the other hand, we can hardly make it as we need these files to perform offline functions. This challenge will unfortunately happen in our new HTML5 app. Even people in China will be accessing it. What if it takes 10 seconds to load the page?!

I also felt worried when Zit Seng said that we shall avoid .htaccess and reduce http requests. Thanks to him, we can at least avoid some of the bad designs in our app. We previously thought to use more javascript to process the ebook reader. Later we decided to util…

Final Project App We Are Going to Build

Prof. Ben keeps emphasizing that CS3216 is not about hard coding, but about solving problems and making a difference.

1. What is the app that we are going to build?

We are trying to build a HTML5 reader that works on different platforms including desktop/laptop browsers, tablets (ipad,etc) and smartphones (iphone /android). I initially came up with the idea of making a HTML5 ebook reader when Hu Qiang and I discussed with an ebook retailer who are currently making a native ipad reader. We think that more people will be able to explore the app if we make it a cross-platform one despite of their physical devices limitations. We also would like to take the advantage of HTML5 and the cloud to allow content synchronization and offline reading.Yingbo enjoys reading novels on her ipod touch and she finds the idea pretty interesting. Aldrian also thinks it's a good project, then we four decide to work together and make it happen:)

2. What is the exact problem that our app is trying to sol…

Kind of Familiar with Sleeping Late

I was very excited to write sth last night after Monday's class. However, I was stuck with a bug in the previous assignment and thus lost the passion to write this blog.
Here I am today, to write some thoughts down before my passions gone.

About Project Management.

1. Idea First or Team first?
I agree with Yingbo that it really depends on the projects. If the timeline is as limited as CS3216, team definitely goes first. It's very dynamic to polish the ideas and make them work later. But for very large projects, ideas should not be easily changed, then teams would have to go next.
I experienced the team first approach in the first two projects. It works perfectly fine. In that approach, everyone actively contributes and there are no hierarchies or non-negotiable conflicts in the team. Though there may be unequal workload distributing problem due to merits of different people in the team, people will be dynamically switch their roles when they finish their jobs. Idea First would…

Case Study 1

Fig1.Home page(create new help)
I think the team's goal of making it super easy for users to post helps is really good. However, this page involves too many checkboxes and privacy issues that on the contrary increase the complexity of posting a help. For instance, how can you calculate the reliable people? The criteria we assumed in our algorithm may not match the user's mind. Neither can we assume that all the friends have SMS and other information included in their profiles.   It's also very sensitive to post to all friends' walls. In our first assignment, we tried that and the whole news feed will be filled with the same content. That's very annoying. The checkboxes also have some overlaps. Say if one selected "all my friends"+"reliable friends", same people will be informed twice or even more times. That's even more annoying. Furthermore, the additional "needs quick help" option makes it even more complicated. The text input of…

Random Stuffs

Long time no blogs.
Record some random stuffs here.

1.Monday, entrepreneurer's share.

VSee-- a successful online conference provider.
CEO:Milton--a computer scientist graduated from Stanford and UC Berkley.
Ideas: It's hard to promote your product, even it's a good one. I know from Milton that many great people have tried to do video conferencing but failed. The technology is really challenging but Vsee survived. I admires Milton a lot, for his perseverance. It's really hard to imagine that  one can hold this belief for so long(five years) when there is no sign of getting profits. I know it's not about making profits(at least for Milton), it's really about creating values and making a difference. But how can one survive in this REAL world without worrying about his/her essentials? By essentials, I mean the basic needs for food, living, etc. without relying on other people's help. Well, maybe those who are just too rich to worry about those stuffs or those …

Ideas Worth Recording

Today we had our pitching session in LT19. Prof. Ben invited many speakers from the industry to share with us their ideas. Some of the ideas are really interesting and worth recording.

Personally, I like the idea of Cliquefund, a new investment idea that focus on impacts rather than profits. It sounds like a non-profit charity funding, also like an angle with no technology support. I think the idea would be beneficial for the people or companies who receive the fund, most likely startup companies, but may not be fair for the investors. This idea will definitely make a good social impact, but I'm really doubt whether this idea will actually become reality as the monetary really depends on the investors, whether they are money-oriented or not. This idea reminds me of a facebook app named Causes, which makes small portion of money out of the funding people raised for a social problem. There are nice people around. Hopefully some investors are that nice, too. How Cliquefund makes the …

Followers>>Leaders

Well, it is indeed a tragic fact that there are many more followers than leaders in the world. I realize this when we launched our first Facebook app last night. Initially, we thought that most people would love to try something new, but the fact is that more people intend to watch others first, then decide whether they want to join.

When we first added the news feeds, we fully considered about people's privacy concern. i,e., we only post news feeds on the initial gossip creator's wall and never show the feeds on other related persons' walls. That's a way to eliminate duplication of the same message displaying on one's news feeds. However, the initial gossip creator may not be a big node in the social network. It's the people being gossiped that really make the difference!

Why these people get gossiped? Because they attract followers' eyeballs, they are different from these followers! Unless these people love to gossip, otherwise, our app would…

IPAD/FB Seminar- Thoughts on Pulse News

Monday's presentation was full of interesting sparks. Of all the eleven teams, only one chose to present FB app, which is Sims Social. The others all chose to present ipad apps. That's not so surprising as Ipad(Tablets) is the most recent platform and there are a lot of blank spaces for us to fill in. The ten ipad apps shared in the seminar covers various fields like e-payment, news-media, education. What surprised me most is that many of us find education a very promising area for mobile app development...As ipads are being utilized as an educational tools in various educational levels, education is really going to be a great pie. Wait, I need to finish comments for my assigned app first. Pulse News, a news media app with good social features.

News media are getting more social and mobile and probably "cloudy" in the recently years. Organizing news media contents can be a promising area since there are always interesting things happening around and people just have …

Take the Soy Sauce(打酱油)

When it came to the end of today's lecture, many classmates started to choose their teammates for the mobile-cloud project. I felt a bit lost when I realized that I still didn't form my new group yet. The IOS guys should be very popular and they should have already been booked ahead. As the programmers normally tend to form groups with technical guys, there might not be enough programmers left in the end. It would be good to form a group as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I didn't take the good timing for grouping. I am still not over with the FB app yet. However, many groups have already formed. I do feel a sense of insecure. Who will I be working with? The cruel thing is the that stronger people will tend to choose to work with strong team members. What if there are not enough programmers in the team? That's almost impossible to get things done.The fortunate thing is that the people in the class are really astonishing. But I'm also not that confident on my progr…

People Rock

Really awesome to work with my FB app teammates. They are really great great great people! Fast learner, elite programmer, dedicated executor , warm-hearted contributor. The app is around the corner, we are going to publish it in a few days. Though there're still many problems remaining to be solved, I really feel some sense of achievement. My teammates really rock. Even with no web programming base at the beginning, we picked them one by one at a very short time. Even though I am the slowest learner in the team, I also have self studied HTML&CSS(Wrox HTML5 24 hour  trainer), PHP(O' Reilly Head First PHP&MySQL), Facebook Graph API(plus many previous FB Apis), a little bit of JavaScript,MySQL,J_Query, J_Son from W3schools,Google and many online resources. Our app consists of four pages, two of them are very important pages. I help develop one of the important pages. It should not be hard, but really takes me quite a lot of time for me to make something. It takes some ti…

Something is Wrong

I've got to reflect on the things happened yesterday. I'm pretty worried about the FB app when Prof mentioned in the class that our team has got no designers or web programmers. So are Yingbo and the other two members. One senior in the class suggested that people with the foreseen picture in mind and most passionate becomes the leader. Yingbo came up with the idea and she knew most of the app we are going to build, she undoubtedly became the leader. Since we both lives in RVR, I was assigned the job of developing the pages together with her.After discussing for a short while, we immediately developed a page in the first evening.

I'm pretty free yesterday except one lecture in the afternoon and one make-up lecture in the evening. I should have developed 2-3 pages in the morning, but I didn't.  I was wasting some time on project team grouping in another hypermarket project. Though I spent half an hour studying the syntax of PHP from W3, the fact is that I did not make …

Getting Started

This is the first week we take CS3216, anxious but excited.

The first lecture was encouraging. It's full of interesting shares from Prof. Leong, the seniors and the classmates. I was not confident at the beginning, but these talented people in the room just make me feel good. They are nice and passionate:-)

In the show-and-tell, people shared their fabulous talents in various ways. There are designers, guitar soloist,nerdy engineers,dancers...I was really astonished by many great works they have done. I can even recall most of their great works now, an electromechanics robotics hands with sensor controls, handicraft-buildings made from hundreds of matches, a fancy video with automatic Microsoft voice, an original guitar solo song for his girl, a wheeled robot with complex control algorithms, a serious Q/A website for sex,an ipad app,a web app, a WOW video, poster design leaflets... So many interesting stuffs! I myself played a short guitar song, "Don't Panic" by C…

Part-Time in a Start-Up?

These few days, I was spending some time doing random stuffs in a start-up company inside the campus. The company was initiated two years ago by a year3 Electrical Engineering student and his Prof. Their service is mainly focused on Human-Machine Interaction solutions. The founder is currently doing his Masters in NUS and has already settled up two company branches in China. In my view, he is pretty successful. He has settled up his own company at such young age and he is really making a difference to the world.

Though the founder earned only 500 dollars/month when he first graduated from NUS to open up his own company, he is doing quite well now. As I know, the Singapore branch has so far made a wireless projector controller, a Tai Chi cross-platform app that can run on Ipad,PC,Web,etc(implemented using a game engine called Unity), an automatic temperature reader.They have sold 10 of their project controllers to a Korean company for 80 dollars each. The Tai Chi game is sold to a gov…

"The Road Not Taken"--One of My Favorite Poem

Robert Frost (1874–1963).  Mountain Interval.  1920.                          The Road Not Taken
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth;Then took the other, as just as fair,And having perhaps the better claim,Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that the passing thereHad worn them really about the same,And both that morning equally layIn leaves no step had trodden black.Oh, I kept the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should ever come back.I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.