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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:-)


  1. It is said:

    5Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
    6in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

    Take care and Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you for the words of wisdom.

      Happy New Year to you and your family, too!


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