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Showing posts from 2013

Design Thinking

Last week, I attended a meetup about design thinking in Blk71. It was interesting. We were instructed to come up with a wallet for ourselves.
The first step was to brainstorm and draft a wallet for oneself on paper. I drew a credit card with a universal sim card chip on it. The card can be kept at the back of a phone. The rest payments will be handled in the phone apps. That was a pretty futuristic wallet.
The next step was to get interviewed by a neighbour who just drew his/her ideal wallet. I was interviewed by a Korean manager from The neighbor was supposed to make the wallet for me. He first let me share my ideas and concerns. Then he asked me to take out my current wallet and categorize the necessary items. It turned out that there are quite a lot of necessary items in my wallet and they definitely cannot fit into one single card. Some items like coins and keys also need extra spaces to squeeze into a wallet.
The next step was to interview the other neighbour who didn…

A Bit Unmotivated

Last two blog posts have been deleted because they are company related and the Prof is not comfortable to reveal them to the public. I also feel unhappy because my last month's blog count becomes zero. To me, idea worths nothing, but team is the key. Many entrepreneurs think in that way. But it may not be the same case in the academic/business world.Unfortunately, I've got no life besides the project, thus I can only write about that in my blog. Just to bear in mind not to reveal the key documentaries of the company.It's been painful weeks when we are in a state of transform. The lack of a clear project plan and consolidated vision brought many unnecessary mistakes. Now we started to talk to real customers and test ideas in real use case scenarios. However, the fact that we focus too much on the complexity of the features instead of light-weighted MVPs makes it too heavy to lose. A cooler approach would be to come up with multiple mini projects for market testing and then …

Read More

I started to read more entrepreneur related books. Two weeks ago, I finished reading a book named "Hackers and Painters" written by Paul Graham. Now I'm reading another very interesting book named "The Lean Startup". I finished half of the book and found the concepts helpful in building a small&beautiful tech startup. However, practise is somewhat more important. Shamefully, the readpeer project didn't really follow the lean startup approach, but more of a traditional way. We didn't plan for the MVP(minimum variable product) the users' need. Instead, we focused too much on completing features we thought the users might love. We really need to test on the ideas before driving too deep to the development. We've tried to use Scrum for project meeting. However, the fact that most other teammates are part-time undergraduate students made it very difficult to build a real startup. The productivity is also quite low. In the past one month, the PHD …


"Let me think that there is one among those stars that guides my life through the dark unknown."--Tagore

It is undoubtably the most fruitful summer of my student life, especially the two months' experience in Beijing.  I planned to go for the entrepreneurial path instead of the normal office life. Gratefully, I received more blesses than what I should get. I'm not a devout Christian, but there do seem to be sort of supernatural power which directs the steps.

My final year project received an initial funding of 50k SGD which draws me to explore the project further. However, I know that my future career (at least the market) would be in China, thus I went for the entrepreneurial trip in Beijing with my own savings and determinations. Thankfully, I got accepted by Google Summer of Code again and can use the funding to cover the expenses in Beijing. More importantly, I've got to meet a lot of young entrepreneurs in meetups, coffee shops, incubators, hackathons, etc.…

Done with GSOC

Last week's blog was written on Douban when Blogger editor wasn't working behind the Great Fire Zone. It's a brief summary on my four weeks' trip in Beijing. There are also some thoughts about managing a NGO.

This is the last week for the GSOC project. Thankfully, I managed to write a 20 pages documentation for the work I've done in these three months. Though it doesn't sound like a complicated project, there are quite a number of technologies being explored. Honestly, a right direction/instruction is somewhat more important than the actual coding. I'm grateful that my mentor Ashish gave me good suggestions on the importance of each sub project at the very beginning. This helped save a lot of time.

In this patient timeline project, we examined novel ways to create an environment to display a patient's medical records and medical history. There are three sub problems to address.

How to import the patient’s medical records How to process the raw data a…

Challenges are just getting started

It's my first month working with real projects(my real, I mean something that's going to be used by the public). It's so different from school projects. Every detail matters, from the backend logic to the page buttons. These two weeks, I worked closely with two talented designers, one from a well-established startup company named Umeng Analytics and another doing his own startup after quitting a mobile gaming company named HappyLatte. I know the first designer,PJ, in a hackathon. He is really talented, should be the best designer I've ever worked with so far. I persuaded Prof.Tung to send me to Beijing to work with him on the first prototype and it turns out to be a right decision. He is not only good at design, but also good at UX. He reads a lot. He already came up with a wireframe of the project. Next week, he's going to finish designing the first round of UI design(around 15 pages). The market price for a very good designer is around 5k RMB(1k SGD)/page, howeve…

Learning Ruby on Rails

1. Polymorphic Association
For instance, a book can be liked and a video can also be liked. To make a generalised association which can like both a book an a video, we can simply make a polymorphic association named likeable which contains the likable_type and likable_id. 
2.  Choose between has_many :through and has_and_belongs_to_many
For instance, a book has many tags and a tag can be associated with many books. To make a simple many-to-many relationship, we can simply use has_and_belongs_to_many. However, to create an indirect association through a joint model, we can use has_many:through.
3. execJs: 'Could not find a JavaScript runtime' error.
To add gem 'execjs' gem 'therubyracer'in the gem file.
4. gem …

What is more important

Just recovered from last weekend's hackathon in Blk71. It was a nice one, except that our team didn't get the top prize.

Honestly, we are among the most hardworking teams and we delivered a cool app. That's great. Though it is the process that matters the most, the team still feel quite down when the result doesn't fit our expectation. The less hardworking teams actually made it, not because their apps are cooler, but that they used the apis provided by the sponsors. However, our app will probably be further polished to fit the real market whereas most other teams will not move on. That's a quite big difference.

The idea first came when Jerry(the project manager) and I met in a hotpot restaurant in Beijing two months ago. It's a travel app which records the friends' location when they post images and generates travel history summery.  Two of my juniors, Zeyu and Cui wei are very interested to join, thus we form a team to make the app out. Jerry himself is g…


"When you commit for something, it becomes some sorts of responsibilities."

I came back to SG to attend the commencements few days ago. Actually, I didn't intend to come back so soon. Firstly, I still haven't finished the voluntary job in One-Man university(wanmen). Indeed, I enjoy it so much that I spend days and nights coding the system. Secondly, my favourite profs are not attending the commencements(Indeed, I think my favourite prof would rather me to work harder on the great projects than taking a photo with him). Thirdly, the commencement of CEG(computer engineering)takes place in different dates with SOC and Engin while my most projects are actually accomplished with SOC peers. However, I finally bought the air ticket, firstly because I have committed to Sharon(the NOC Israel coordinator) that I'd better come back to attend the commencement day since it is one of the most important days in one's life. Secondly, our iOS team has committed to attend the …

Super Fruitful Weeks

These two weeks are extremely fruitful. Almost all my expectations for coming to Beijing have been met in such a short time-- to form long term relationship with entrepreneurs here, to work with talented designers, to improve my coding skills, to experience the tech entrepreneur life, etc.

I'm loving the city. Though not as clean and nice as Singapore, this is a place for young dreamers to pursue their careers. As a famous song writer wrote about Beijing, "我在这里欢笑(I'm laughing here) 我在这里哭泣(crying here) 我在这里活着(living here) 也在这里死去(dying here) 我在这里祈祷 (praying here)我在这里迷惘(confusing here) 我在这里寻找(seeking here) 在这里失去(losing here)". The extreme inequality creates a lot of diversities and opportunities here in Beijing. The youth have a strong desire to be successful and they form active entrepreneurial communities in cafes, meetup groups, incubators,etc(mostly in and around Zhong Guan Cun).

Here is a photo taken in Cheku Cafe which is a tech hub for young entrepreneurs to work…

@Zhong Guan Cun

It was a fruitful week.

The major task I do here in Beijing is to help a friend building an open university for the ordinary Chinese people. It's a non-profitable organization and the founder is not going to accept any commercial fundings. I know the founder personally during a trip visiting the Versailles in Paris. He was a master student in Ecole normale studying Physics. Before that, he was an undergraduate student in Peking University. When I met him in Paris, he already got admitted by ETH for the PHD study with full scholarships. However, instead of going for the PHD study, he returned to China to build the open-university,named 万门大学(one-man university). At the beginning, I thought he was doing the open university for fun. However, after observing for half a year, I realised that he really means it. Indeed, I think he is going to devote his whole life to the education career. In the past two months, he went to 30+ top Chinese universities to give talks on the open-university…

First Week in Beijing

Some highlights

1. I attended a talk by Amazon China's VP, James Fong in Peking University Guanghua school of management. In one of his slides, Mr. Fong highlighted Amazon's products eco-system in the following diagram which was drawn by one of Amazon's founders in the early years.  The diagram starts with sellers, followed by selection and customer experience, then growing traffic, lower cost structure,lower prices and better customer experience, finally a better eco-system. Some of the stages in the circle can be beaten by other competitors, but a stronger eco-system is not that easy to be challenged. The most important fact in this diagram is " Customer Experience" as Mr. Fong mentioned, that is why most companies now focus so much on improving "Customer Experience".

Another thing he highlighted in that talk is the difference between the Chinese market and the Foreign market in terms of e-commerce.  Two examples can be "Payment(alipay instead of…

In the Great Firewall Zone

I flew to HK two weeks ago and stayed there for three days before flying back home. The brief thoughts and observations of HK have been posted on my travel blog. My mum happened to be quite free during my stay at home because the printing factory she worked for was under investigation for its sewage pollution. There are quite a number of problems in China. Some happening ones in my hometown are pollution, food safety, ageing population, rapid urbanization, educational resource shortage for the less developed areas, trust between people,etc. Good news is that problems always come with opportunities. People of my generation are working on it to fix the unhealthy nation.

Last Wednesday, I came here to Beijing which is the IT hub of the whole nation. People are striving for survivor. Competition is fierce, even a call taxi app has got several competitors.

Behind the Great Firewall, Blogger, Google Drive, Google handout, Facebook, Youtube, Tw…

Flying to China

I'll be flying to Hong Kong this afternoon to visit one of my best friends in HKUST. Then I'll go back home in Shaoxing for a short while before flying to Beijing for a meaning trip.

The initial purpose for visiting Beijing this summer holiday is to know more young entrepreneurs, especially tech entrepreneurs of similar age, who might be my future partners in a future startup in China. That might sound unreasonable in such a short time(1-2 months), however, I still consider it as a very good opportunity and a wise investment.  Another purpose would be to find the pains in today's Chinese market when I, as a overseas university student, haven't yet known enough about China.

I applied two companies of my top interests- Douban and Xiami, both of which are music related. Unfortunately, Xiami is not recruiting summer internships due to the unpredictable changes in this July's regulation of digital music in China. Douban is good. It's a combination of both tech and a…

Time Goes By, So Fast

It's been a week since the last blog entry, time goes by so fast.

This week's highlights:

1. Rethought about career development.
2. Treated my friends a traditional Shaoxing meal.
3. Started to learn Ruby on Rails.
4. Started to read the book "Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design" by Giles Colborne.
5. Recorded some vocals.
6. Watched this Ted speech:
7. Followed Ahbei(founder of Douban) on Zhihu(Chinese version of Quora).
8. "我认为世界上不存在一流的人才,世界上只有存在一流的人才一定是学习能力,谦虚,把自己当平凡的人" --马云(Jack Ma)


After finishing the last exam, I'm unofficially graduated. It was a tough and rewarding semester. Here is a summery of this semester in mandarin.

Our success is built on top of other people's helps. Without all the helps, we cannot get that far. I didn't realize this until I came back from the sunday worship when one brother reminds me that Prof.Tan actually prayed for me. Many friends must also prayed for me, otherwise, my life cannot go so well. Most importantly, someone must be hearing and watching. I feel so grateful.

In the facebook profile page, it lists the top 9 friends to thank to in this semester. I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to know you all in my life. Thank you!

I am happy and bright about the future.

Power of Confession

The second half of this semester goes really fast. It is indeed the exam week now.
In the past week, I experienced the most intensive reading week in my four-year's university life in NUS.Actually, the last three weeks are the most intensive weeks in my whole life. I guess I will never forget these sleepless days, staying overnight with the passionate and super intelligent team mates.
Some highlights: 1. Wednesday's Project Demo. Our app turns out to be very popular. Though we didn't know that we were supposed to provide a project id for voters to vote until the project showcase was almost finished, it is still encouraging to find out that we received very good feedback from the few only voters.
All positive! I have problem to sleep over time for meetings or lectures. This app really helps to address the problem by integrate some games in suitable difficulties and nice group event message!!  Interesting app Interesting idea "Very easy to use and a lot of interesting f…

Intensive and Rewarding Weeks

These past two weeks, I've been experiencing the most intensive days ever. Almost every night, I stayed with my teammates in PL1,mostly doing project development(sometimes telling jokes). It becomes a biological clock to go for supper together in the midnight(order from MCdonalds' or go to a nearby Taiwan restaurant),continue coding until early in the morning,then sleep until the afternoon and continue the circle again. It is a super intensive, but certainly awarding experience. That would be one of the most valuable memories in my life, to work with these intelligent and passionate teammates. Sometimes, I'm not so efficient, bothered with FYP deadlines and other assignments.However,they help share the pain. I also share my passion and engagement.That is a great time.

Some highlights:
 1. Cat vs Dog puzzle.
     It is a tough one. Undirected weighted bipartite graph, to calculate the maximum flow.Still have problem solvin…

Some Highlights

1. A puzzle about sorting.
Given n double numbers, print the top m in a descending order. If two of the numbers have the same value, then the one appear earlier would have a higher weight.

This doesn't sound so hard. However, there are quite a number of tricks here. 1. Efficiency. 2. In Place Sorting.

I first tried quick sort. It supposed to be quite fast. However, I kept getting the wrong answer feedback. The reason is that when two numbers have equal value, quick sort doesn't make the original order in place.

Then bubble sort. Well, the answers would be correct, however, it's not efficient enough. Run Time Error.

Try merge sort, which is supposed to be in place and quite efficient. However,  still Run Time Error. When n is very large and m is small, it's too heavy to perform a sort to the n numbers then pick the top m.

It reminds me of heap, which keeps a good order during construction(heapify). However, it's also n…

Written on Easter

Haven't been to the church for quite a few weeks using the same excuse of being too busy with projects, I find myself get far away from the Lord.

This Wednesday when Prof.Tan and other seniors were having the Bible study in MR5, I happened to finish a project meeting. I hesitated for a while before diving into their discussion. Honestly, I'm not a strong believer, neither do I meet the standard of a Christian. "Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Personally, I'm not sure whether there is heaven/hell or not. Say there is heaven, I'm very unlikely to go there. I do sin. I copy homework, watch too many entertainment videos,etc. I doubt about Trinity, whether Jesus is the same as the father. I question about teachings in Church -- If the teachings in different Churches are not consistent and the pastors can possibly teach wrong things, how can we believe in the truth? I cannot even meet the standard of a dece…


Confucius says, "learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous". I don't quite agree with the translation, but I do find this sentence true. I personally interpret 罔 as "confused"and I find myself in a state of "confusion" now as a result of not thinking while learning.

When designing the architecture of a software, I didn't find a good clue until creating some viewcontrollers in the project and see how some open sourced projects approach similar questions. The thoughts usually turn out to be incomplete and full of flaws. That's different from very good software engineers. When two of my friends(very good software engineers) design the same software, they think very hard by themselves and draw the architecture on paper without touching the computer at all. Another example is job seeking. some of my friends(very good engineers/scientists) are very targeted. They seem to be more clear about what they like/dislike. …

A Less Intensive Week

This week is less intensive after the five CS3217 problem sets are over.I polished the ORC project to make it a splitView in iPad as a potencial application for my FYP. I also reviewed the Ray Tracing lecture notes and started to think about my career after graduation.

Honestly, I'm still unclear about my future. I sent out three copies of CVs in the NUS career fair one month ago. Two of which are EE companies,Micron and ABB, whose automation products look quite appealing to me but don't really fit my skill sets. The other one is Garena,which is a gaming platform company. I was mainly attracted by their company culture and talented developers. No news from Micron or ABB, but I did get a chance to go for interview in Garena the next day after sending the CV. The interviewer was a C++ geek and I became nobody when he asked me about detailed C++ questions.

In the SOC career fair few weeks ago, I also sent out three CVs. One Japanese game company(Tecmo Koei),one Silicon Valley Sta…

Have Fun

One major difference between Geeks and Nerds is that geeks enjoy breaking/creating things while nerds enjoy understand existing things in a deeper level. Nothing good or bad about that. It's just personality. I guess I'm more nerdy than geeky in that sense.

This week, I joined the 2 day Hackathon organised by Labgoo,Singapore. The company consists of two young passionate people-- Sha and Raymond. Its main branch is an interesting Israeli startup known for its voice control game-Pah!  I knew this company half a year ago when Sharon, my friendly NOC coordinator found it quite a good match for me to go Labgoo for internship through the NOC Israel programme. It's a pity that I didn't make it in the end. However, it is great to have the chance to know the company better in the Hackathon.

Honestly, I love the company. Yosi is passionate and inspiring.  Sha jie is fascinating. Raymond works hard. They make interesting things. Recently, they are selling a tablet teaching app a…

What you value most

Haven't really got enough time for a good rest in the past three days. I slept in the school lab@6:50am on Friday, 5:30am on Saturday and 3:00am on Sunday, rushing for the Angry Bird Clone individual iOS project. It turned out to be OK. Indeed, I guess I'm going to survive in the highly-stressed course, STRONGLY.

One of my friends, Jingping, shared a thought yesterday evening when we walked back together from lab to the hostel. "Everything is about trade off. It depends on what you value most." This is very true. When he shared about this thought, he actually meant that software engineering is not really that appealing to him any more. What he values most is "Health" and software engineering is not as important. Personally, I'm not as strong as him in software development, however, I seem to be more passionate of what I am doing. I consider software engineering as a tool to open up my dreams and a way to create values with my hands. It would be great if…