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.