Friday, 28 December 2012

Rethink about Dreams


"We already walked too far, down to we had forgotten why embarked."——Kahlil Gibran

It's my forth year here in Singapore and it seems that I am a bit lost.  Maybe it's time to reexamine myself before moving forward. Where am I heading?

The first time I wrote down my future plans was five years when I bought a time management book named "How to get control of your time" written by Allan Lakein. The book requires us to list down the top goals for 3-5 years, 3months, etc. It also provides an efficient way to organize and prioritise daily tasks. The methods worked great for me for a year before I came to Singapore. I started to realize that by noting the dreams down, dreams become step-by-step plans and are no longer difficult to accomplish. 

Fortunately, most of the so-called dreams I listed 5 years ago got accomplished. For instance, getting admitted by a good university, being able to cope with the new environment in university,traveling overseas, buy parents some gifts with my own money, etc. 


However, after coming to Singapore, life became more uncertain. I tried to use the same approach to list down the daily tasks and short-term plans, but it doesn't work any more. One of the reasons might be language. I started to think in English while the old methods kept pulling me back to a Chinese mind state. I sought for alternative ways to manage my own life, like another best-selling management book named"Get Things Done". However, it doesn't last long before I switched to different noting devices from paper to phones then to Google Calendar. There should be something/someone that I can really turn to. I thought for religious sustenances,but the churches I have attended cannot really help fully open my heart. I've been constantly seeking for the way/path, but there doesn't seem to be an answer.

There are basically three paths: academic, engineering job then management, entrepreneurship. The best and most honorable path is probably academic. My original plan was to learn Engineering, then get a CAP of around 4.5 and then apply for a US graduate school. Or else to apply for the Singapore-MIT alliance program with a CAP of >=4.2 without worrying about bonds. However, after learning Engineering for a year, I realised that I am not really interested in it. Neither am I intelligent enough to compete with some of my peers academically. 

Then I decided to switch to computing which was one of my interests since secondary school. I was fairly good in Mathematics,especially Geometry in secondary school and high school. I also learnt Pascal programming and some algorithms in high school. However, by the time I switched from Engineering to Computing, I knew that it would probably be very difficult to catch up with the top computing students. But I strongly believe it a right decision since it's out of my personally interests.

At the end of the second year, my academic record is around 4.5/5.0 which is fairly OK but not good enough for academics or research.  Then I read an article saying that the "A" students are doing physics/etc research, what should the "B" students do?  That's when I started to think about switching to the entrepreneurship path. The root of starting my own business grew from a very young age.My father started doing his own career after finishing high school. My mum was one of the workers he hired at that time. They later worked for a government company. Before long, they got fired from the company privatisation transformation in China. It's never secure or rewarding to work for other people. I remembered when one secondary teacher told the class that a senior went to work in Microsoft and earned over 1million RMB/year, I myself didn't feel excited at all. I was thinking that the senior should work for his/her own instead of working for other people. Then I applied for CS3216, involved in startup projects, then got to know more about other entrepreneurial aspects besides technology... 

Now the plan for the next few years is more of doing project management, becoming a computer architecturer and at the same time, seeking for opportunities to build a product/team and start my own business someday. I will probably write a more systematic plan later in a physical paper so that I would be more clear of what to do in the next few(3-5) years.

The topic is a bit too broad. I started to write this topic two days ago but ended up with lots of words. I think I'd better stop here. Hopefully, I'll have some other time rethinking about dreams.

[Yesterday's Reminder]
Last semester's exam results are out. The results are pretty bad. What are the true reasons for not doing them good?

Previously, I thought it's because I was distracted by too many stuffs and didn't work hard enough on those subjects. The previous conclusion is 1.Be more focused 2. Work harder. 

However, when I reviewed my mid-term test of NLP before the final exam, I realize that I won't be able to solve the unsolved problems even given another 2 hours working on those same questions.  
The total score for the mid-term test is 40 marks, and the average is only 19 marks. I got a mark of 17, which is below the average. 

The distribution is very similar to the blue curve here in the right hand side which was posted by Prof.Andrew Ng in today's talk. He also mentioned that the amount of time spend on learning is extremely important for weaker students. Sometimes, students need to review the same concepts several times before fully understanding them. Honestly, I wasn't as clever as many of my peers in that class to understand every topic in the class. Neither did I use other approaches to improve my understanding besides reviewing the lecture notes and assignments. Peer discussion and other collaborative learning should be involved to get a better result.

In summery:  
1. Not spending enough time understanding the lecture contents when I didn't learn as fast as the peers.
2. Fully relying on lectures will only guarantee a normal grade. Need more engagements.
3. Didn't personalize the learning material for my own understanding. 


[Coursera Talk]

I really love Coursera. It encourages learning and provides quality education for everyone. Prof.Andrew NG is very humble and caring for students. I took his machine learning course last semester which is a pleasant experience. I finished 100% of the CAs and programming exercises. The encouragement makes me more self-motivated in learning the contents of the course. Compared to Udacity which dumps the contents on the web and doesn't set deadlines, Coursera's approach seems to be more close to the students' real learning experience. It is also great to know that Coursera is more of a non-profitable organisation than a VC supported company. There can be plenties of ways to earn money and coursera's approach seems to be a win-win situation,providing students with career mapping services, licensing contents to universities, etc. That is really great.

Fortunately, I had the chance to ask a question to Prof.NG. I was thinking about the potential job threats which Coursera may bring to the less prestigious university stuffs. Similar to Google's replacement of the traditional publicity medias, highly machine-based automatic system can actually steal people's jobs. There will be a time when coursera can teach all sorts of classes like circuit design or music instruments, that might be fairly destructive to the education industry. Well, I personally think it a good thing. Haha. The traditional teaching approach has a lot of problems. There need to be some changes.

Good night:-)











Friday, 21 December 2012

About Memory

Today, I went for an Evernote Sharing event in an incubator named Blk71. The event is more on user feedbacks and marketing. There are three thoughts to be highlighted.

1. Attending this kind of entrepreneur events is a very good approach for reaching out more contacts. Many people who have their own businesses or plan to build their own startups will come and attend this kind of events.There is one entrepreneur who shared his experience of how he used Evernote to design his own app. He got the chance to advertise his own app while sharing the experience. Another software developer shared how his company integrated Evernote's public API. He indeed shared a lot more on his own product rather than Evernote. During the break, I talked with two entrepreneurs. One is a NUS computer engineering alumni. He is now running his own retailing company on baby products. It works well as there weren't competitors in Singapore when he first started his business. Though there is no relationship between baby products and software engineering, it was good to know that he liked doing it. Another entrepreneur is a PHD who invented a sensors-based jacket which helps parents monitor their children's body temperatur by remotely control the jacket temperature. It doesn't sound to be a right problem to solve. But at least they utilizes both hardware and software, which is pretty cool. At the end of the events, there are also quite a number of entrepreneurs who shared name cards with the presenter. So it is a pretty nice way for sharing contacts and knowing more people.

2. Psychology matters. My friend who invited to this event is an Evernote fan. He has created almost 1,000 notes since he started to use iPad few months ago. He is very interested in Psychology and he raised several questions for Evernote in a Psychological point of view.

First question is about privacy. Unlike Google and Facebook which publicly utilizes users' data for targeted advertising, Evernote is more of a filter for a bunch of private data. That's why it makes more sense to utilize free-premium model rather than to sell advertisements like the big brothers. However, as the cloud is never secure enough to protect every data, it will never be trustful enough when a cloud-based company claim itself never use the users' data for commercial purposes. That's part of the reason why Instagram lost so many users when they changed their terms and conditions.

Second question is about memorising. Evernote's CEO once said that the company's mission is to help people "remember everything". In a psychological point of view, simply"remember everything" is not enough. As claimed by some psychologies, human brains are similar to computer which allocate information in segmented memories. If people stuck their minds with too many things, it is likely that they cannot retrieve information very effectively. A good information retrieval mechanics is somewhat more important than memorising. An efficient data mining technic is needed to get the information instead of just memorising the information.  Thus collaborative data and public data are necessary to be integrated to the system if the company is going to grow beyond just"remembering everything". That's why self-learning should be accompanied with peer learning and etc.The company cannot jump out of the box if they keep training the private data(login user's data) without making use of other user data in the system. However, that's a contraction with their own privacy policy. This raises another question, which is"how the company is going to grow". The CEO said they want the company to be a "100 year old startup" which is a fairly big dream, but very hard to accomplish. Today, the world is more openly-connected. Software companies can make use of talents all across the world to make great products. That's a great opportunity. But how the company can grow to be both a big company and a startup, it requires a lot of wisdom. I've read an article which introduced how Spotify scale in an agile approach which is really interesting. Other startups may learn from them.


3. The combination of both the online stuffs with the offline stuffs(OTO). It was very interesting to know that Evernote worked together with a pen&paper company named "moleskine" which utilises color tags and convert them with digital tags. Digital applications are making things easier, but not necessarily making us smarter. There are some reasons why traditional medias cannot be replaced. One of the reason is that the smart devices are not able to provide all the possible functionalities a traditional media can provide. Human can receive a lot of rich data from their own sensors(eyes,ears,etc). Some of them are much more advanced than the digital sensors. However,there are a lot of restrictions on our own sensors which digital devices can help make into reality,like geolocation. That's where the augmented reality concept come. I may work some apps related to augmented reality in the IOS class next sem.


Monday, 17 December 2012

About Religion

Today, I invited some of my friends to the Christmas Gathering in our home church. By"our",I mean the church is at the apartment where I live and I've been attending the church for a whole semester. I cannot claim myself as a Christian as there is still one key fact I cannot accept at this moment, which is "Is Jesus God?". I've been seeking for the answer in Bible for weeks, but the conclusion I can draw is that "Jesus is the son of God" or "Jesus is part of God",but Jesus and God are not completely identical. However, I do believe it beneficial for people to know more about God. In fact, I invited five of my best friends who are non-believers, but only two managed to come.

This time, a Deacon in another Church came to our church to share God's words. It is very persuasive and I cannot pick significant flaws out of his words. At the end of the preaching, the Deacon prayed to God for guiding us to God. I prayed with the Deacon line by line. "...Believe that I am sinner...I will be judged by God...Jesus Christ is the only son of God...He died in the cross for us and resurrected...Only through him can we go to Heaven and sit at the side of God...Pray in the name of Jesus Christ"Believe or not, I accepted every line he mentioned in that pray. I listened very carefully and I remembered very well that he didn't say "Jesus is God" but"Jesus is the son of God". The "trinity" term is very hard to understand in a human point of view. One quite acceptive answer for me now is"the word became flesh". I guess I won't be able to understand that until I don't really care about it. However, I will read the whole Bible to seek for proper answers. 

There was a big debate between my Christian friends and my two non-believer friends. One of my non-believer friends is a materialist who only cares about facts instead of faith. He didn't talk too much, but every time he shared his view, he was strongly against religion(in fact, any kinds of religions).He listed a lot of facts from religious events and famous philosophers to claim that religions are sometimes disruptive to the world. The other friend believes that "There is God, and only one God". He has been reading many profound books about religions. He said religions teach us to be good persons,in fact, almost every "good" religion teaches us so. There is no persuasive reason why he must follow Christianity unless his parents are Christians or he has witnessed some miracles performed by Jesus Christ(not others). When I sent them back, I further listened to their opinions. I realised that the first friend is very hard to change his mind and the second is still possible to get improved.

Maybe religion is more about whether you believe it or not rather than whether something is genuinely true or false. To me, I'd rather believe that religions make people better humans and the world a better place. If not, it would be a tragedy.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Time to Write sth about the NOC Israel

After more than a month's waiting, I received an email today from the Financial Aid office saying that I am not permitted to go for the NOC Israel programme. 

Dear ShaohuanI refer to your appeal to participate in NUS Overseas College (NOC) Israel. As spoken on 6 November 2012, we understand that you are very eager to attend the NOC and we had submitted your appeal, together with the appeal from NOC to the sponsor.  However, we regret to inform you that your appeal to participate in NOC Israel is not successful.   The sponsor has advised that you look for an internship locally instead, if needed. We wish you all the best. 

Actually, I was informed by the NOC coordinator that she has been informed by her colleagues that the sponsor officially rejected my appeal(together with Prof.Ben's and NOC's appeals) on 21st Nov. She tried to confirm with her colleagues whether the decision is final or not, hoping to help me for the last try. However, I guess the result won't be positive anyhow. I am sorry for those who loved and helped me along the way. I am sorry that I didn't make it in the end.

There are several questions you may ask and I list some of them here in this blog.
1. You already get selected by NOC Israel, why do you need to ask permission from the sponsors?
2. Who's the sponsors? What do they want?
3. Why is it related to the Financial Aid office?Why didn't you contact the sponsors directly?
4. Did you try your best to get this opportunity?
5. Is there still hope?
6. Any alternatives? What's your next plan?
7. What do you learn from this experience?

Now I explain the above questions one by one in an objective matter(brief answers are highlighted).

1. You already get selected by NOC Israel, why do you need to ask permission from the sponsors?It is very hard to get an Israel working permit visa and it normally takes more than 3 months to proceed according to the NOC Israel coordinator. Thus the NOC Israel's approach is to apply for a student pass which will be handled very quickly.

In order to apply for the student pass, we will have to get the approval from school, which consists of a Term Leave approval from the faculty and the sponsors' approval if the candidates happen to be scholars.

I got the approval from the financial aid office saying that I am eligible to go for NOC Israel. However, my faculty coordinator said that my scholarship has some restrictions on overseas timstamp.  She checked with the financial aid office again saying that I am not eligible to go as I have been for SEP(student exchange programme) thus cannot go for NOC. The financial aid office then withdrew my offer.

I refer to the scholarship handbook which says"Scholars are also not allowed to participate in the Student Exchange Programmes(SEP) that require them to complete the programme partially with an overseas partner University for more than one semester."which means I cannot go for overseas programmes which is more than one semester.  To my understanding, it is OK that I can go for two separate programmes which is both not more than one semester. However, the financial aid office insists that I have to add up all my overseas programmes together to be no more than one semester. That's where the conflict begin.

2. Who's the sponsors? What do they want?

I was selected by the Ministry of Education(MOE) in Singapore four years ago to take the bachelor's degree here in NUS. They offered enough housing allowance, living allowance and school fee allowance which makes me financially independent. However, it has a big tradeoff which says that I have to work in Singapore registered company for no less than 6 years.Besides the 6 years' bond, there are other regulations which we will need to follow. The sponsor is one of the biggest companies in Singapore. However, I was told by one of my seniors that the sponsors are no longer paying, but MOE is paying all the money.

Their intention is to attract competitive human resources to Singapore to help maintain and further improve the competitive education and working environment.  It seems to be not only about money, but also about the benefits of the whole society. As for the "no more than one semester" regulation, their first intention might be to avoid the scholars from finding jobs overseas and escaping from the bond. The second intention would probably to protect the local students' opportunities from the competitive scholars. However, none of the above concerns is true in my case. I'm not working in Israel after graduation. I'm not stealing the local students' opportunities as we don't share the same skill set and we are equally selected. Among all the picked NOC Israel students, none of the local students are software engineers. Some withdrew their offers after knowing the unstable military situation in Israel. I cannot come up with a better reason why they disapprove the request. Maybe the sponsors are like Pharisees who care more about rules.

3. Why is it related to the Financial Aid office?Why didn't you contact the sponsors directly?

The Financial Aid office's role is a middle man which help communicate between the sponsors and the students.Students are not able to contact the sponsors directly as the contacts will be kept secretly within the Financial Aid office.

4.Did you try your best to get this opportunity?
I think so.

5. Is there still hope?
Probably not.

6. Any alternatives? What's your next plan?

Though I didn't get the chance to go for the NOC Israel programme, I still believe that entrepreneurship is the right path I shall be going. The company I planned to work in Israel is going to start a branch here in SG. I would love to help set it up. However, I may have to focus a lot on my studies as well, especially on things which may affect my future path. If possible, I'd love to learn CS3217 and experience the pain again.

This holiday, I'll be working on learning basic IOS development and software pattern design. There are a few other projects need to be done, too. For personally interests, I'll be creating 1-2 pop songs.

7. What do you learn from this experience?

One of my christian friends told me that people should obey the rules made by governors as the bible says the governors are assigned to rule the people. I asked,"what if the rules are wrong" or "the rulers are doing unreasonable things"? He said "we still need to obey". I didn't agree with him and argued back"what if the rulers are doing things against God"?  He thought twice and said"he will get punished". It seems that people have less power are always venerable to protect their own rights.
I contacted the Israeli company on my own without the NOC coordinator's permission one day before she finishes all the interviews and comes back to Singapore. I emailed her about my disobedience. She found my behaviour unlawful and mistrustful.I replied:

Dear **,Thank a lot for your reminders and suggestions. It was my fault and I shall be responsible to take any bad outcomes. There will be similar situations in one's lifetime when everything doesn't seem to be hopeful and one cannot even trust his/her own faith. I confess that I trusted you all the way through, but I cannot trust anyone any more when there is no hope. It's not because I don't want to trust, but I'm not strong/faithful enough to trust. There is a tiger lying in me.Though I'm very unlikely to get this chance, I still believe that entrepreneurship is a right path for me. You may doubt about it, but you'll witness it in 20 years time.

I guess I shall not try to get the chance any more, otherwise, more of my love ones will get hurt.Lastly, thank every one who helped me and I won't make you down/disappointed.



Appendix 1: My email to MOEDear **,My name is Shaohuan. I'm a PRC scholar from NUS Computer Engineering Year 4. I'm very interested in programming and technological entrepreneurship. Recently, I received an offer from NUS Overseas College Israel for half a year's internship in a startup company in Israel. It is a great opportunity as the Israeli startup has a very creative entrepreneurial environment and the company makes great products/services. One of their focus areas is Technological Education which empowers education with the latest technologies. It is one of my top interests as a long term career. I am writing this email to ask for permission from MOE so that I can go for this program and bring the entrepreneurial spirit back to Singapore.The startup company itself operates like a small incubator with innovative projects and brilliant minds. This kind of highly innovative environment is very rare in Singapore or even in the whole world. I really would love to bring the passionate entrepreneurial spirit from Israel to Singapore. In fact, the company is planning to start a technical branch here in Singapore. I strongly would like to be part of the innovation and make great products/services for Asia and the rest of world.If I get the permission, I will be delaying my graduation for half a year. However, I will not take any extra scholarship from MOE and the sponsors. The Israeli company will be paying me the internship allowance. My faculty coordinator and professors also support my decision. However, there is a issue with the fact that I have gone through another half-a-year overseas program and the faculty coordinator said I will need to confirm with the sponsors first to grant me the permission. I'm really looking forward to your positive feedback.Thanks a lot! 

Appendix 2: Reply from MOEDear Shaohuan,Thank you for contacting us with regards to your TG bond obligations.From what you have mentioned, you do not need to apply for deferment if you have not graduated from NUS with a degree. You will only need to apply for deferment if the programme is done after you have completed your studies at NUS.

Appendix 3: Reply from Financial Aid OfficeMy apology for not replying to your email as we are still waiting for your appeal result from your sponsor. In addition, I hope to clarify with you that you have contacted the MOE Tuition Grant Unit and they are not your sponsor for your Undergraduate Scholarship for PRC Student. Please note that their reply is regard to their MOE Tuition Grant bond deferment and you are not seeking for bond deferment at this moment. Therefore, their response does not prevail your sponsor’s final decision.Meanwhile, please concentrate on your examination and we wish you all the best.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Up and Down

Finished two exams and I did them pretty badly. Yesterday, I chose to ignore and forget the failures. However, I guess I shall draw some lessons from the failures as suggested by Prof.Ben.

Firstly, there are probably some problems with my attitude. I seem to pay more attention to get things done than to ensure a good quality of the work, especially when the work is not of my top priority. 

There was a famous saying"一屋不扫何以扫天下" which means "how can you clean(conquer) the world when you even do not clean your own room". However, when I first read the story behind this famous quote, I favor the opponent's opinion which says"Man should care more about cleaning(conquering/managing) the world than cleaning his own room",or another similar quote"大行不顾细谨,大礼不辞小让" which means "When you practise big actions, you should not care so much about the details".

I keep the opponent's opinion as a principle for years and it really makes me focused on important stuffs and less worried about the rest. However, there can be negative impacts when I didn't pay so much attentions to finish the small stuffs nicely.I didn't realize this until one of my seniors pointed out a few of my bad habits several months ago. When I wash leaf vegetables, I wash them very quickly without peeling all the leaves. When I hang up clothes, I tend to spend no time ensuring that they are properly attached to the hangers. I went to bed very late, sometimes because I really got a lot of important codings/assignments to write, most of the time, however, it's because I am used to it and do not think before moving to the wrong direction.


This attitude not only has negative impacts on the small stuffs, but also can influence the habits when I do important things. Though I work much much harder on important things than the unimportant ones, it seems that I still don't pay enough attentions to the quality. I realize one common habit top students share is that they pay a lot of attentions to ensure a good quality of their work, any kind of work. They are not necessarily cleverer than me, but that's one big difference already.


More importantly, there is a big problem that it is sometimes very hard to distinguish between the important and the unimportant especially when people get busy and blind. It will even become a disaster if we distinguish them wrongly. 


My senior suggests that I shall do my best on every single task at hand, even on things which don't seem to be big. I guess that's a correct approach. 


As for the two exams, I thought I had reviewed and understood every points that may appear in the final exams. The fact is I did review every points which may appear in the exams, however, I didn't fully understand some points and I didn't manage to solve those problems. I think that's somewhat related to the habit that I don't pay enough attentions to the details. 


I wrote a short piece of lyrics to record my emotions/attitudes towards failures.




圣城的旷野,有一片麦田
微风吹拂过,泛起层层浪

金黄色的波,传递出幽香
高低与起伏,舞动成乐章

他们仿佛这样唱:

Up and down,暗夜与光芒
积攒起能量,荡漾成梦想

Up and down,沮丧与荣耀
只要看前方,就拥有希望


(English Translation)

(In the wilderness of the holy city,there is a land of wheat
When a gentle breeze flows, it produces waves 

The golden waves, passing out fragrance
go up and down,dancing with movements

They seem to be singing:

Up and down, darkness and brightness,
Accumulate the energy waves into a dream

Up and down, sadness and honor,
When you look at the front, there is hope)


When I wrote the lyrics, my senior happened to be somewhere around. He emphasised again that I shall try to make it a very good one. I used to think in a deterministic way--it is under my control to make something, but I cannot control how far they can go. It's like paintings, painters can draw beautiful pictures, but it is not really under their control to determine whether the paintings can be masterpieces for hundreds/thousands of years. However, "most people don't work hard enough, and they are not even qualified to complete with their talents(大多数人的努力程度之低,根本轮不到去拼天赋)". Similarly"Most teams don't execute great enough on the products, and they are not even qualified to complete with their ideas". 

Honestly, I am doing much better than before. I cannot promise that I will work "Very Very Hard" to someone's standard. What I can promise is that I will work harder and harder.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Living a More Balanced Life

I had a short conversation with a doctor yesterday regarding health.

He said it would be good to do exercise at least 3-5 times/week. I normally go swimming weekly, however, no more than 3 times a week. He said a good option would be running which doesn't need any facility. I tried to go jogging yesterday and today. It went out really well. Thus I think it would be great to form a good habit of doing exercise every day. 

The doctor also mentioned that the best time to go sleeping is before 11pm, however, it doesn't seem to be feasible to me. I feel more sober coding late at night(after 12pm) and I normally sleep after 1am. Working long hour doesn't mean working hard or great efficiency.I don't need to follow 100% on the doctor's suggestion, but I'll really need to pay more attention to my lifestyle.

It's thanks giving day:-)
Good night.



Thursday, 15 November 2012

Do not love the world


"Love your neighbour as yourself." VS "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

These two scripts looks contradictory. However, they are not indeed. The word "world" here doesn't mean people, but "the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions". 

Love the people, but not the world.

"It is more blessed to give than to receive."



Thursday, 8 November 2012

A New Week

As predicted in last week's blog, quite a number of deadlines have been finished by today. A NLP assignment, an algorithm tutorial, a project demo, a FYP CA report. Some are accomplished successfully, while most of them are built from a scratch in one or two nights. The outcomes are fine, but not 100% as good as I could have accomplished, especially for the FYP report. Most things need to get polished several times before they look OK. The FYP report contains a lot of flaws, which will probably take too long to count one by one. e.g., language, grammar, logic, etc. I guess I shall ask someone else to read the report before submitting it in the final assessment. One good thing in my FYP report is that my charts are created quite nicely, which is mainly the credits of LucidChart, a web based drawing tool.

Today, I attended a talk by Saul Singer, the author of Start-up Nation. I get inspired in two of his points. One point is that the world is now getting more connected, every country has its own strength/weakness and we shall enhance the collaboration between different countries to solve global problems like the education crisis. Another point is that in Israel, people now are thinking why they cannot create big companies. There are constraints for startups. Most of the founders may be good at creating a company, but not good at scaling it. There are also problems in big companies. Israel was a bit too closed to silicon valley. Now they shall get more knowledge of other parts of the world. Many countries nowadays actually face same problems. We shall look globally to solve problems for the whole world.

I talked with the Financial Aid officers about the NOC issue again.  They said there haven't been any successful cases before, thus I shall prepare for the worst. This delivers a fairly tragic message that "even if I work very hard(or dying for sth), I still may not get it, it's not under your control." which contradicts my previous positive philosophy that" If you work very hard(you are dying for sth), you'll get it. If you didn't get it, that means you didn't work hard enough(not really dying for that)".  Hope the later one is more true as it's more encouraging and positive.

More things left for the last few weeks. 1. FYP demo. 2. A electronic music project. 3. Review NLP,database, algorithm& prepare for the exam. 

Haven't swam for a week, need to go swimming tomorrow.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

What's Left

It's the end of October. There's only one more month to go before this semester ends. I just finished one project demo and one assignment this afternoon for a high-level database course. There are a few other things left.  Tomorrow, I'll meet my Final Year Project Prof. Then this Saturday, I'll demonstrate a mobile project to a start company.Next Monday, a natural language processing course assignment due; next Tuesday, an algorithm tutorial due; next Wednesday,the FYP report due. A similar deadline circle has been going on and on for the past few weeks. It will stop for a while sometime on December and then continue again.

There are some problems with my time management. I stayed up late at nights in COM1 for quite a number of times to catch up with deadlines. It was actually a good thing that my bicycle was stolen last week so that I'll have to catch up with the last bus@ 11pm. One flatmate told me that "If you didn't finish sth nicely, you'll end up spending more time doing it". That is true, but I keep on violating this rule and do not finish things very efficiently and sometimes even end up copying homework from other friends.  Hope things will get a little better in the last month.

I will very unlikely to go back home this December as this winter holiday is already occupied with quite a number of things,mainly projects. I'll self-study some IOS development and will pick up some Hebrew if I'm really going to Israel. May buy an ipad for my parents so that they can play it around while I'm not home.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Having a Thankful Heart

I was very sad last week after negotiating with an financial aid officer about my eligibility of the NOC(NUS overseas college) Israel programme. He argues that the scholarship sponsors disapproved my request to go Israel but he refused to give me the sponsors' contact information to talk with them personally.  I told him that I'll go to Israel by all means, even in the worst conditions.  But he said that I won't be able to go without the permissions. Challenging the authorities just won't work.

I felt so bad that I cannot continue the conversation. I returned to my lecture theater for an algorithm class but tears cannot help dropping. That was the saddest moment I've ever experienced in the last 10+ years. No one noticed that I was so sad. After the class, I pretended nothing bad had happened, and then I turned to the NOC Israel coordinator for help. The coordinator was encouraging. She knew that I might not be able to go, but she encouraged me to keep on trying. My NOC peers were also very encouraging. e.g., Qiao Liang gave me some friendly suggestions on how this issue can be handled. That night, I tried to write a blog to explain my current situation. However ,it turned out to be a thank-you letter. I thanked my FYP Prof, gracious Profs who wrote the recommendation letters, the NOC Israel Coordinator, my NOC peers, people who gave me help along the way, etc. There's no anger in the blogger, but many thanks instead.

On last Sunday afternoon, the Bible study topic happened to be "Thanks to God". No matter happy or sad,joyful or painful, we shall all keep a thankful heart. When you have a thankful heart, you'll always feel happy. That is very true, for those who have faith or those who do not. If you feel thankful, you won't feel sad losing something.

However, I do value this Israel experience a lot. This creative entrepreneurial experience will never occur twice. I strongly hope that I can get it. There will probably be a lot of difficulties and challenges lying ahead, but I'm sure things are going to be fine in the end. In the meanwhile, I'll keep a thankful and loving heart. If I really get it in the end, I'll be extremely happy. Otherwise, I'll still thank everyone, those who love me and those who do not:-)








Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Thoughts on Education

I feel a bit down when getting informed that one of my mid-term test is below average. Honestly, I didn't master that course solidly. I know roughly how it works, but the lack of practice make the foundation very vulnerable.

I recall one of the courses I am currently taking online, a machine learning course taught by Stanford. Surprisely, I master that material much better than the school courses though the difficulty levels between these two courses are similar.Two very important aspects worth highlighting is the weekly online tutorial sets&programming exercises+ the active peer forum learning. I feel uncomfortable if I didn't finish the tutorials&programming exercises with 100% accuracy. This feeling never occurs in the university tutorial classes as I didn't get timely feedback on how well I am doing in the tutorials. But this feeling came very often when I was still in high school in China. Teachers will announce tutorials after each class and we'll have to finish them before the deadline and then get feedback in the next class. This feedback system works efficiently.  However, one problem with this feedback system is that it is highly dependent on the responsibility &efficiency of teachers and this system is not customized for every student.

Doing the supplemental exercises and getting timely feedback seem to be essential for mastering the course materials. I remember one of the seniors in the CS3216 pitch session told us about his experiment of gamifying the learning experience for his secondary students. It works extremely good. The news about Prof.Ben's JFDI Academy also makes me think further on how the web can positively change our ways of learning.  Feedback can come from peers, oneself, teachers, anyone else. The more efficient the feedback system is, the better the learning outcome it would get. For the traditional approach, the role of teachers will have a higher weight than self-feedback+peers feedback. However, I think a better model would be self>reliable resources>peers>teachers>others. The question here is how can we gather all the reliable resources for customization. It reminds me of Google/Quora/Wikipedia. However, these systems are still too generic. A secondary school student will hardly trust these systems if they can find direct help from peers/teachers. A more customized learning community is need to be created for customized groups of people

Education is important and it is a long-term project. I'll probably pick a education-related start-up company in Israel to work with. 路漫漫其修远兮

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Consistency Matters

I didn't post anything last week, which means consistency has been broken. There's a need to reflect the task management skills, otherwise I'm very likely to driving the wrong road

Priority changes.
A good exercise would be to list the priorities down everyday and assign reasonable time to the tasks. Then never second-doubt. 100% focusing on the task when doing it. Priority changes from time to time.  Human minds are single-threaded, thus, we'll need to keep focused when doing one particular task.

Be Grateful.
I received the confirmation from NOC Israel that I got admitted by the programme and I'm heading to Israel next Jan:-) Thanks a lot for Prof.Ben and Karl's help. Ultimately, it might be a plan from God. Thanks every one.

The additional interview from Google went well, however, I didn't get the winter intern opportunity this time. Though it's a bit too greedy to ask for too much, I still feel a bit sad after informed that I didn't get the chance. Everything happens for a reason. One good explanation for the delay of response is that I'm still not ready for it, it's not the right timing to go. 不以物喜,不以己悲。Be prepared, opportunities will come along the way.

Justify the reason for staying late.
Unexpectedly, I stayed very late these two weeks. I normally went bed before 1:00am. But these two weeks, I stayed until 2-3am, sometimes even later than 3am. Part of the reason was to prepare for the phone interviews. But it becomes a kind of habit to do things late at night, even when I am already very tired. That's not good, at least for my bio clock.

Do more exercise.
Last week, two of my friends mentioned that I'm getting fatter. Yes, I swam less frequent last week and I went for food in a less organized manner. Need to keep a healthy lifestyle.

One friend also suggests that I probably need to buy a new school bag and some nice shirts. A good look would be important, too. On one hand,it helps myself feel more confident; on another hand, it makes other people more willing to be with me.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

About Interview

I went for three interviews these two days. Tuesday morning with Microsoft, midnight with Google for the first round, and Wednesday midnight with Google for the second round. Though the intention for applying those internships is not to get the offers but simply to gain some experience for technical interviews, I still prepare hard for the interviews, hoping to learn as much as possible.

The first round Microsoft interview was conducted in NUS where one HR and one technician flew over to Singapore to give the interview. I had 30 mins with both the HR and the technician. The questions with the HR is the standard interview questions like project experiences+ some brain teasers. The questions are not really that challenging. In case you are interested, I attached the questions in appendix1.

For the technical interview, the technician monitored you to write codes on the spot. The technician this year is a tester from Austin-Taxes working 10 years in MS. I did three questions during this interview, first one with pointers, second one with arrays and third one with bit-manipulations. The first question is to reverse a string in a way that translate"abc def ghi" ->" bca fed ihg". He expected the candidates to be familiar with pointers. One of my friends who also got a string reverse question even though he said that his primary language was Python. That was wired. I forgot quite a number of C++ syntax and also didn't do well in this question. Thankfully I mentioned the test cases to him and that made things slightly better.The second question is to find the number of pairs of integers in a given array that their sum is a given number.arr[]={1,3,4,5,6,7} sum=9->num=2 I wrote the O(n^2) algorithm out and told him how to improve the algorithm and make it faster( sort first, using hashmap,etc). The third question is to count the number of 1s in a binary integer using the bit manipulation & operator. That was easy and I wrote it out in a very short time.

After the interview, I realize that I'll need to review C++ more. C++ is very important. If someone is damn good at C++, he/she should be able to cope with interviews of any big software companies. The result for this interview will be released in 3 weeks and I'll be writing a whole day's codes in Microsoft Singapore office if successfully get passed for the first round. That's gonna be challenging and also a very good way to further improve the programming skills.

After the interview, I reviewed the Cracking the Code ebook again. This book is very useful for preparing big company tech interviews. Thanks to it, my C++ skills get improved within one week.

At the mid-night, I did the interview with Google. I thought it was going to be extremely challenging. However, it doesn't turn out to be that difficult. The interview was conducted in Google docs and we communicated on phones. The first question is to compute the longest length of consecutive elements in an array.  {1,1,1, 3,3,3,3,2,2,4,1,1}=>4. That was easy. I got one issue with the overflow of the last element and then fixed immediately. The second question is to print out the indexes of chars in a string S1 which appears in S1 but not in its sub-sequence string S2. For instance, S1={abcedf}S2={bcd} print out "0 3 5". Firstly, I wrote the codes considering that S2 is a sub string of S1, but later the interviewer pointed out that it's sub-sequence not necessary sub-string. Then I changed the codes into a O(n) complexity algorithm. That was OK. I felt quite confident after taking that interview as it was not really as hard as what I expected.

However, on Wednesday mid-night, I toke another interview from Google and the interviewer changed to be a hardware engineer. I didn't expect the questions to be hardware related. But The first question turned to be "what's the difference between process and thread". I tried to recall the Operating System course but I can only list some points which may not be correct.That made me very uncomfortable.
http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-thread-and-process/.The second question is to design a function to output the best option for text input using a UP-Down-Left-Right-Enter controller. For instance, a screen keyboard contains 26 chars('a','b'...'z'), and the chars will be separated into rows given the width of each row(column size). The user can only navigate using the control bar to go Up/Down/Left/Right, if he/she finds the char, he/she press enter, then continue. e.g., the input text is"xy" and the width of the screen is 5, then the 26 chars will be arranged in this way:
a b c d e
f g h i j
k l m n o
p q r s t
u v w x y
z
The it takes the users to go DDDDRRR and then Enter to input the x and then R+enter to input the y. I implemented it using pointers, but it is different from the interviewer's expectation. There are some bugs in my codes as well.
The third question is unexpectedly to be " You video and audio play nicely in a DVD, but when you play it in a tape, the video and the sound cannot synchronize by all means. What caused the problem? how can you fix that?" I'm totally lost on that. I thought it was the problem with processing the input analog data.Cannot get through further. I found this post now, but it doesn't seem to explain it correctly,either. http://forum.videohelp.com/threads/297810-Video-and-audio-gradually-go-out-of-sync

Never mind, a good experience. Work harder.

Appendix1:
When are you graduating? Are you applying for an internship or full time job?
What's your favorite Microsoft product?
What's your favorite programming language?
What's good coding?(This is a good question)
What's your favorite course?
Which project are you most proud of?
9 balls with one of which light weighted, think about ways to find out that ball using one balance.
Design an alarm for the blind people.(I mistakenly designed for the deaf people,need to hear it more carefully)
Any more questions?
...

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Machine Learning

Machine learning seems to be a big trend for either today's research or the IT industry. There are quite a number of business ideas hanging around my head, most of which require machine learning for a good outcome.

First idea is a products-comparison application which help consumers to better compare similar products from different online retailers. This is going to solve the pains for the consumers who would like to buy certain products from all the possible overseas retailers and ship to their homes. The consumers need to spend a lot of time comparing different solutions(including the price of the product and the price of the shipment) and the solutions are mostly not optimal. The idea is not new. But with the evolving development of mobile clients, this idea has a very big market. As is shown in one survey, 70% of the smartphone users use their smart phones to compare different products. The comparison service itself can generate a fairly good revenue from ads, even we only focus on one specific market, e.g.,electronics devices or cosmetics. If it works well, the application can make its own online-retailing service later, or even enter the logistics market in a more ambitious stage.  Machine learning and information retrieval would be two powerful tools to make it work.

Another idea is to make a lyrics-melody match application. When a lyrics writer writes a piece of lyrics, he/she would love to find a piece of melody which fit the lyrics the best. The same for a melody writer. It is a fairly rare case that an amateur can write a complete song with nice lyrics and melody fitting each other. Machine learning and information retrieval come into play again.

That's not easy. Everything is not easy if we want make it work nicely. It's good that I am taking the machine learning course in coursera.org which makes me really interested. Hope some of the ideas can work someday.

Yesterday, I visited a Start-up company in NTU incubator center. This company was formed a year ago by three undergraduates from China. Unlike many recent start-ups which mainly develop mobile apps, they provide enterprise solutions for multimedia companies. One of their products is to make interactive painting gallery display using LCDs and Microsoft Kinect.  Another product is to provide car-dealers with interactive display using Kinect. The company is able to maintain its daily operations with no pays to its team members. The core team consists of one very good programmer, one charismatic business guy, one OK programmer with good strategic planning and one designer+business women. That's a fairly good distribution.There are even some team mates who are willing to work for the team for free. That's really passionate.
I talked with the CTO and he shared quite a number of interesting ideas. Regarding machine learning:
1. How apple's wifi determines the location of a user? It's not via the computation of the nearest wifi transmitters, but via the location data from other IOS devices which appear in that region.
2. Google abstracts some ambiguous characters from scanned books and make them into reCAPTCHA. The unknown words are then recognized by the probability of the human inputs. The recognized words are then reusable again in Google's ebook projects.
3. How Google knows the traffic conditions of a certain place? In some places where location data are not allowed to be collected from Android, they simply count the number of Android devices in that region and infer the traffic condition.
Regarding the start-up environment here in Singapore. Singapore is very suitable for creating start-ups. The situation here in Singapore is opposite with that of China. In China, there are a lot of very good programmers but not many kinds of funding. But in Singapore, there are various kinds of funding, however, not so many good projects and good programmers.

Once again, I get to know that great products are coming from simple ideas but very good executions. Another time, you need to know some business stuffs, pure programmers are cheap.

Something good worth mentioning for this week:
1.I swam 4 times this week. Body fitness is so important.
2.I wrote the lyrics for my first pop song out. It happened to be about "faith", like a religious song.

"黑暗笼罩着世界,恐惧无限制蔓延。一望无际的地平线,无声无息冰冷的夜
  空气夹杂着硝烟,信心早已经熄灭。战争是生命的总结,死亡是苦痛的终点
 有一个声音在哽咽--
 只要有信念,冰川便能溶解,苦难还能幸免,奇迹总会出现。
 只要有信念,烈火便能凝结,灵魂还有时间,真爱永不陨灭"

Something bad worth mentioning:
1. I slept very late on Friday(3am) to watch the Voice of China TV show, which makes me sleepy for the whole weekends. Shall have a more regular schedule.
2. Last week passed so quickly, can be more efficient.







Saturday, 1 September 2012

what kind of role would you like to play in the company

I did the second round NOC interview this afternoon. It went well, but a bit overtime. One question made me think further, that is "what kind of role would you like to play in the company".

I paused a little bit and told them that I would like to work as a software engineer and further train my programming skills and hopefully learn some business along the way. However, the NOC interviewers think that my technical skills are good enough and what I really need is to train the business skills. I thought for a while and then responded,"I believe the importance of the distribution of different competences/abilities in the team. It's no good to have someone to know a bit tech and a bit business but not good at either of these two. I envision myself to be a CTO in the future but my programming skills are not good enough. So I hope to further train my programming skills. Of course, it would be good to know some business stuff so that I can better communicate with my partner in the future decisions ".  One NOC alumni seemed to be unsatisfied with the answer. She said," I just couldn't understand why you are already very good at programming but still want to further improve the programming skills rather than something essential as an entrepreneur like business skills."

I asked back,"If I choose to work as a business guy, will the company in Israel accept me?"Another interviewer said, "Yes, it depends on you and the company. You can talk to the company saying that you would like to do 30%business and 70%programming." Another NOC alumni even suggested that I can consider doing a 100% business internship there. He shared the role of a growth hacker, who uses creative ways to help companies to grow. He also shared a lot of information regarding the benefits of knowing both tech and biz.I thanked them, but still couldn't decide. After thinking twice, I knocked the table and said,"OK, if that's the case, I'll go for it". One of the reason I want to explore Israel is to know the process of how the R&D products become real marketing products. However, the question is hard to answer. I ended up saying that maybe Prof.Ben knew me better. They may refer to Prof.Ben's testimonial. They said Prof.Ben haven't submitted the testimonial yet. I bet Prof.Ben is viewing this blog. Prof.Ben, can you help submit the testimonial ASAP, thanks.

After the interview, I went back to COM1. I happened to see Wang Sha who went to Israel last SEM. I asked her the question whether I shall work as a tech guy or a biz guy. She said of course tech guy coz "The fact is that you are working for the company. They would like you to work something out for them. If you are not good at biz, you can hardly meet their needs. " She also shared that some entrepreneurs told her that business is the hardest thing and they don't worry about programmers at all, as programmers are "cheap". She guessed that might be the reason why the NOC interviewers would like me to think more about the the business side. I also gradually realize why some of my previous contacts don't respect programmers enough when I personally still believe that programmers are among the greatest people on earth.

[ appendix: I had dinner this Wednesday with one of my friends who just came back from CITI bank Hong Kong. He is an investment banker graduating from SMU this semester and he will be working in CITI Hong Kong the next year.

His thoughts seemed to be beyond the age. He seemed to be very clear about his future, working hard in the bank in his young age and then retire early to enjoy life with his family. But I feel very uncomfortable accepting many of his thoughts. Firstly, he seemed to be very unsupportive about my plan of becoming an entrepreneur. He laughed at me and argued that my thoughts are just too naive. It is like getting a million dollars lucky draw, the chances for making a killing app and then making a lot of money are just too rare. I said it's a good timing for the software developers,even a kid can make a top-selling app. He again said that's just too rare. Either you are the next Bill Gates, or you just get too lucky, but he himself never believe in such things called luck. Then I said, it took a lot of failures to become successful. I'll keep on moving even I fail for 99 times. The CEO of the drawsomething app CEO 20+times before getting succeed. Then he argued that I will never be able to afford 99 times' failures. He even calculated for me the money I will be earning from work and the money I will be lo sing when fail for once/twice/etc. It will make the life of my family miserable when fail for  twice or even more. Those who follow you will suffer a lot. Being an entrepreneur is very risky already, why are you making it even more risky. You should get prepared and then make the right move. Why don't you make one right move and never fail. The mindset of failing a lot of times then succeed is just not right. I didn't argue back as he was just too demanding. 

He also argued that my career as a software developer would be shot. There would be plenty of smarter juniors competing for the job when the brain gets less powerful in say 5 years. You get fired, but will you do then? I replied immediately," start my own business". He then laughed, "You have no experience, no contacts, no money, etc. Why shall people work for you? " I replied with a weak word," trust".  He laughed again and continued, "There are just too many talented software developers, why should they choose you? " I replied with another weak word,"luck". He waved his head, "So disappointed, you should first think of your competence". Then I said," I didn't quite a number of software projects". He said there're a pretty of people who has done so too. Then I said," I've been to many countries and worked with different people". Not many people has done the combination of both two. He said there are lots of such people. You should think of your competitive advantages. What's the difference between you and these people? You should be developing skills, like business skills that distinguish you between those people.  
Yes, I get challenged. I guess he wouldn't be the last guy to ask these questions. Many people will doubt . ]

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Week2

Multi-tasking is not easy. Doing everything in parallel may not be efficient. It reminds of some algorithms introduced in the algorithm class like the greedy algorithm, however, the real situation is not as simple as a deadline first approach.

I'd better do some analysis here. I've got two major-requirement courses to read. One database course and one natural language processing course.
1.***The natural language processing course seems to be the most challenging among all the courses I'm taking. But I didn't spend that much time reviewing or previewing that course last week. I still don't fully understand the course yet(probably only 60-80%). I shall set it to the top priority from next week onward. (8-10h/week)
2.**The database course is fine. The topic itself is not that hard, but I shall pay more attention next week. 
(5-6h/week)
3.**I read one algorithm course to enhance my algorithm analysis ability. It's not challenging, but good for logic thinking. I'd say I understand most of it(90%+),but will need to finish the tutorial 2 days earlier. (5-6h/week)
4.*Another master level course in Friday is taught by a prof specialized in music computing. Thus I choose to sit in the class occasionally.I may quit the class if not fits my interests. (0-2h/week)
5.**I've got a music production course to take as well. It's more for personal interests. I can choose not to take the grade of that course, so by right it is the least important one. But I personally love this course the most and spent quite a lot of time making my own music. I made a pop song draft last week.
Besides the courses, I am also doing two projects. 
6.***One is an ebook annotation project as the final year project. (7-8h/week)
7.***Another is a hospitality related app which is an external project in an outside start-up company.These two projects are not really very time consuming. I can spend 8 hours/week for every project(That's like two nights).(7-8h/week)
8.**I self-read a machine learning course in Coursera.org which is really good. I think machine learning is really going to change the world quite a bit in the near future. It's a very interesting field. I find the course taught by Prof.Andrew Ng in Stanford very interesting,too.(3-5h/week)
9.*Some e-commerce ideas keep hanging around my mind these days. This won't occupy large blocks of time. That can be a good way of helping make good use of my spare time. (1-2h/week)
10. *bible study on Sunday 2-5pm. Although I'm not a Christian yet, I find peaceful to listen to the wisdom in Bible.  (3h/week)
11. *social activities.e.g., having lunch/dinner, etc. (5h/week)
12.* entertainments, watching the voice of China TV show on Friday night+some hours in Saturday.(3-4h/week)
In total of (52-66h/week) +(50h sleep+8h bicycle as transportation and exercise)<=124h=(168-44)h. That means I will have on average additional 6hours/day of spare time, which would be more than enough to enhance the weekly tasks to a higher standard. One good approach would be to spend one more hour on the particular tasks before/after the tasks begin/end. That is to extend the time interval. 
Then I realize there is no excuse of saying that someone has got too many things to do and cannot do them well.The reason I feel busy is not that I've got no time, but that I can better manage my time.

Conclusion: The more time you would be spending on a task, the higher priority this task is.

Friday, 17 August 2012

What kind of work is the best

My Google Summer of Code project is going to end soon. Yesterday, I met with my mentor Ashish again on Skype. He told me that if I planed to read PHD in the USA, he can help write a recommendation letter. Two very possible options would be Emory(his university) and Georgia Tech(in the same city Atlanta). That's very nice of him. I've never thought about that. Now, It might be a good timing to think a little bit about my future career.

My opinion on reading PHD changes from year to year. When I first started my undergraduate study, I thought it would be so rewarding to become an expert in one field of study. Honestly, I was very eager to read a PHD in the States at that time. However, after noticing that most PHDs and researchers are not really doing very remarkable things, and some are even not very passionate about their own research, I started to doubts. I also realize that theories are not making me excited and I'm not so strong in academics, I doubted again. However, the future is uncertain, so I'll probably prepare GRE and see how it goes.

Another thing is about the bond. I've got a serious bond saying that I have to work in Singapore-registered company for 6 years for taking Singapore's scholarship. It is so troublesome and my freedom is strongly constrained.  I feel like a victim for taking this big debt as a scholarship. When signing the bond, I optimistically thought that there would be ways to pursue my dream career without worrying this bond too much. I naively believed that anything that can be solved with money is no big deal. But indeed, this scholarship is a fairly big deal. It's like a threshold that brings up the opportunity cost.

The Ministry of Education in Singapore will request me to provide a large amount of security deposit( I heard it's like 200,000 USD) in a Singapore bank which is not affordable by my family. The interest rate is fairly high as well. Most scholarship holder stay in Singapore since the money is just too much. Some of them read PHD in Singapore universities and later work in Singapore. There are seniors who choose to break the bonds, but unless they get admitted by either very prestigious universities like MIT, Stanford etc or super prestigious companies like Google. Georgia Tech and Emory are good, but am I really that into research?  If I took my undergraduate study in China, I will definitely go for Georgia Tech/Emory, or even infamous universities. But I'm in Singapore now and the situation is very different.


After talking with my academic mentor in NUS and self-exploring in some group projects, I discover myself a bit more. I seem to be more entrepreneurial than academic. I'm not very clever, but I love to learn from people. I hate people making use of each other for their own success, but I enjoy working with people who genuinely love each other. I'd like to create a successful company to help solving the world's problems.

Today, I happen to see a short video of Kaifu Lee, a former Google China CEO saying that the best job is that you can keep learning while working. I guess that's referring to the working environment in Google. I would like to do something creative, like making a real product, taking adventures, writing a piece of music, etc. I would like to become a tech expert, a CTO, too. But these things are not coming from nowhere. It requires years of engagements and passions. I'm walking towards these uncertain goals.



I probably need to take into my childhood dreams into accounts as well as what Prof. Randy suggested. My childhood dream was to become a musician, to become a scientist and to invent something. It would be just great if I become a computer scientist specialized in music related computer technology and invent an app for music lovers,haha. I'm now proposing my first pop song in the music school lab. That's a small step.

The priority so far for the coming 5 years is: Google >Israel >MIT/Stanford PHD>(Product development in small teams of great tech companies=music related technology/service/app)>(other PHDs=serving bond=start my own company)>become nobody. Google and MIT/Stanford PHD are not very likely to become true, unless I work 200% harder. Who knows, Life is random and fun!





Friday, 10 August 2012

I bought sth from a Jew

This evening, I went to Marina Bay to watch the Singapore National Day helicopter and firework show with my brother(one of my best friends from my hometown) and his mum and auntie who are from China for a short visit.

After viewing the fireworks, we visited some stores in the Marina Bay Sands shopping center. One Turkish-like sales guy approached us for a hand-cream product test. Since it was free, I just tried the product,nothing special. I asked whether he was a Turkish, he said no, he was from Israel. I was astonished. I admire the Start-up nation a lot and that's the second Jewish people I've ever talked with. The first one was in MIT when I visited the school during my summer vocation three years ago. His view about reading a PHD really opened up my minds. He said "PHD is the last chance for doing something that you are really interested in at a low pay".That's very true. This time is a sales man from Israel. But why he is selling the hand-cream product here in Singapore? That is not so challenging or rewarding for Jewish people.

The sales guy(later know his name is Joseph) enthusiastically showed me a "magic" by robbing a special sandpaper on my thumbnail for three times, nothing special in the first time, nothing special in the second time but something magical happened in the third time. My thumbnail became extremely shinny, that's interesting! I asked with excitement whether that product was invented in Israel, Joseph said yes, the inventor was a Jewish professor, and this brand was a Japanese brand. It opened up my mind,yes, new products can be made in this way--we invent technology, then sell the technology to a big brand and the big brand does the marketing and everything else.

However, this product itself was not so attractive to male users, so I didn't really pay so much interests for buying it. After passing by that stand for several times, I introduced my friend's auntie and girl friend to try on the free thumbnail shinning sandpaper. The second time was a Jewish girl who helped out shining the thumbnails. She was clever but not so approaching to customers who would not be buying. She gave a very good price for us but as we were not rich and not necessarily need that product, so we didn't buy it. Later when we were about to go back home, we discussed among ourselves, my friend's girl friend and auntie seemed to be really interested in that product. My admiration of Jews got increased as well. So we decided to buy some. Joseph smartly calculated the best budget for the promotion price and we bought two of the products. My friend's girl friend bought one for the interesting function of the product, I bought one for the admiration of the Jews' creativity and intelligence. 

I later knew from Joseph that the inventor was his father's friend, so he helped promoting this product to a lot of countries. Now he is assigned to Singapore and he comes to teach people how to sell this product. Yes, he's a very good sales person. Israel is full of researchers, venture capitalists, sales talents and these people make interesting things. This hand-cream product is one good example of technology becomes real products.Israel becomes more mysterious and attractive to me now. I would like to apply for the NOC Israel program even with the trade-off of half-a-year's off from school. I had doubts before like once Xiangyun told me that these start-up companies were mostly Android or IOS development and might not be that interesting. I also self-doubted by making some assumptions like whether I will still choose to go to Israel if I get an offer from Silicon Valley. I think these are just assumptions, I will definitely learn a lot from the people that I get to work with. If these people happen to be Jews, I may probably learn more. 


[ Something Extra: There are some other interesting stores in Marina Bay like a store named "Fossil Collections". which sounds like really old and mysterious stuff. However, the products are not really that old. Most of them are statue decorations made from limestone which is around 150 years' old. The limestone comes from Italy and the statues are made in Singapore. It is really interesting to know that this is actually a Singapore brand and the band name really dramatically increases the company's value.

Another interesting store is named 琉璃工房which is a Chinese glass decoration company. The store shared the entrepreneurs' story on the store wall saying that the two entrepreneurs went to Paris to learn the best glass technology and make the glasses into products. However, it was a big failure and the entrepreneurs had a very bad time. Many years later ,they went to Japan and realized that the glass technology was already very advanced in Han Dynasty in China(which is about 2,000 years ago). They later made the company succeed again. (The story seems not complete)

Two brands of electrical massage chairs also took my interests. They are actually both Singapore local brand: OSIM and OTO. The two companies are competing against each other in the same business but OSIM seems to have a better marketing strategy than OTO. OSIM attracts the top celebrities from different countries to enter the market in particular countries and that works very well for the sells in the countries. ]

Friday, 3 August 2012

A piece of suggestoin from Prof.Ben

Keep doing the same thing doesn't mean you are doing better, you should think of ways to make things even better. Reflect yourself regularly.
Shouldn't be lazy.
Why not? No excuses for not doing your best.
All the best!



Friday, 13 July 2012

Time Reminder

As one of my friends said in his blogger, "Time goes fast when you don't record things in your blogger", blogger reminds us something we has been doing and changing. It makes time count. After half a year away from Singapore, I move back here and continue recording tiny things that happen in my mind and my life.

First part would be briefly summarizing the past half a year. Then the thoughts about future.

The past half a year, I was doing exchanging programme in KTH(royal institute of technology) in Sweden. It was really a great experience. I previously didn't want to go for SEP as I heard it's money consuming and won't gain practical experience except for traveling. However, I did find it a really very rewarding experience after trying it on my own.  I didn't spend that much money and I enjoyed a lot meeting new friends and experiencing different culture. Thanks to Prof.Ben who suggested me to go for SEP while I strongly doubted whether to go for Internship in Singapore or not. I love Sweden. It's a lovely country. Swedish people are so nice. They smiles at people. They are content about things. Moreover, they enjoy following their own interests. If I haven't been to Sweden, I won't show so much love to my future kids as a daddy(Swedish males really love their kids and family); If I haven't been to Sweden, I won't know the difference between live a life and make a living; If I haven't been to Sweden, I won't know how to truly love people. I love nature, I love culture, I love people!

Besides Sweden, I went to many other countries, too. I had no regrets of not getting to some popular countries that I am personally not interested, such as Italy and Greece. I went to the place I would like to go most, like Paris and Vienna. That's enough already. All counting up, I've been to 10 European countries during this SEP including Germany, France and Netherlands. Among which I admire Germany a lot, for their admiration of great technology and the balance between work and living. I enhanced my arts senses while visiting Paris. Though my first choice was to go to ETH, Switzerland which is the home university of Einstein and it is very well known for its academics, I was thankful that I went to Sweden instead, as I head Switzerland is a nice country but twice more expensive.

I did two projects in Sweden. One is an entrepreneurial project in Stockholm School of Economics. It's a language study platform. Another is a Music Information Retrieval project in KTH. It was great to work with different people. I got both As for this two projects:-)

One bad thing about this SEP is that I didn't touch my previous Yunreading Project for half a year. That sounds very irresponsible. I should have done more. Time is so important for everyone. What kind of thing will I enjoy working for my whole lifetime?  I listed three of the most important things in another blogger: 1. Start one or more successful companies. 2. Bring my parents abroad for traveling for at least once. 3. Love my wife and kids. Yes, I will make it someday!

Singapore is a good place for work. People strive to work for survival. However, there are not so many great Tech companies/startups in Singapore. The social environment here is a bit inhibited. The elitist society encourages practical skills rather than arts and humanity. That might not be good for a complete human character development. I would love to have the choice to really work in great tech companies in my 20th and 30th and make a tech company afterwards. But really wondering how this gonna be happen if I stuck here in SG for 6 more years. I took a look at the job applicants in Amazon AWS and Google etc, no seats for tech people. That's so bad!

I always think there is some ways to make things work. Yes, there must be!