Sunday, 26 August 2012


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. 
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 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!