Thursday, 20 June 2013

@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 idea and successfully built good-quality academic communities on existing online social network sites and offline Chinese universities. The major task for this summer is to build an independent academic website for the public. I intended to help him building an iOS app. However, it's not as crucial as building the website. Thus I shifted my role to help building the website. There are two more people helping building the website. One is a software engineer from Douban, another is an undergraduate girl from Harbey Mudd College in California. I really learnt a lot from the Douban engineer,e.g., architecture, frameworks, design,etc. The girl was a bit over-confident. Thankfully, she's getting more humble now. We customised a content management system on top of an existing python framework and built a HTML5 parallax style front end design.

To support my expenses here in Beijing, I also applied for the GSOC project. It was quite relavant to web programming-- to build a timeline viewer for patients. Some machine learning algorithms will be involved as well in the later stage. It's not that important compared to the top priority open-university project. Indeed, I am thinking of not attending the commencement because the open-university is so much more important.

Other highlights:

I attended the China Accelerator meetup(http://www.chinaccelerator.com/), during which 10 entrepreneurs shared their experiences and suggestions. One ruby developer advised that "1.pick a market you want to serve, 2.plan for 20 years if you want to be a happy entrepreneur". I asked myself these two questions and my answer are: 1. students 2.education.

I didn't go to church last Sunday in order to spend more time with the douban engineer. It worths the time. I also persuaded one of my high school mates in Tsinghua university to visit the Haidian Church.

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