Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How CS3216 Has Helped Me

It has been a really fierce 3 months or so, so it's great that I can safely say that I've come away with a lot from CS3216 :P It has benefited me in more days than one, especially psychologically (urm not so much technically).

A cool thing about the class is that we get to work with people from different faculties. I am not sure about everyone else, but being a college freshman, I have never had experience working with people from different specializations. All the experience I have working in group projects are with people whose jobs I can easily perform myself. Basically, we would all have a great idea of what the other is doing. In CS3216, I basically knew nuts about what the programmers were doing, and we usually weren't on the same plane sometimes. But we had to have an idea of what the other was doing to make it cohesive. Seriously, sometimes I will be told, just draw and we will fit it in... then after it is drawn, I'll be told I'm the one supposed to fit it in, and... what the heck :P So which way is it supposed to be? So... I know we all know this, but effective communication really is key so we can minimize inefficiency. I mean, of course we can't always get it right the first time, and we would have to constantly improve, but communicating well will help us to at least cut down on wasted time.

Sometimes, I get annoyed when people suggest what I suggested weeks ago, and worse still, telling me its something I should have though of... because I am kind of like "Were you not listening?" But I kind of realized it was also my fault because I probably had not expressed myself clearly enough, or reminded them about it. People who are coding tend to hate interruptions and just shut off from everything else, so they might have missed what I said too. Also, I have a tendency not to voice something out, especially if I feel there it is of no concern to the others, or until I have though of a suitable solution myself. But I realized that is not really how we work in a team, ya, but as individuals, so I tried to voice my opinions more. Nevertheless, then someone else will tell me, "Ya, I thought of that, just that I hadn't told you." So, I guess we are all guilty of that xD So I guess the important thing in a group is that we all have an idea (I don't think it is necessary to know every single detail or there would be no point in specialization) of what the other is doing.

Another nice thing is that I am surrounded by so many motivated people :D I mean, I think many of us have already heard, discussed or considered before much of what has been said in class, but we just sit there and go "Ya..." but do nothing, ya? Being around motivated people is different from reading about them, the inspiration actually rubs off on you. I mean, there's nothing more awesome than being surrounded by such passionate people, regardless of where that passion lies. You just feel this power, and it's an awesome feeling. It makes you want to take action (why am I still sitting by this computer? :P), it makes you feel like you could do so much as well. Well, I did think that I could achieve a lot in the past as well, and if I just did nothing I'd rot away and never achieve my potential... but back then I was kind of indifferent, like, oookay, so what if I don't achieve my potential? But it's different now, I don't know what changed but a switch must have clicked into place. I'm like nooo I want to go as far as I can! Glad it has happened.

Sadly, I still can't say after 3 months I have found out what my passion is :P Uh, I know I like interacting with people and I like puzzles, but don't most people? Sigh. It has to be something I'm good at, and I don't know what that is. I really don't feel like I'm good at anything (and no, I'm not a person with an inferior complex... wait then again, people seldom admit that right HAHA) I'm really afraid I'll never find it. Before this class, I was just a teeny bit afraid, now I'm pretty terrified. It's like I can feel every second ticking away. I don't know what I want to do, and I'm just full of admiration for people who can confidently say they know what they want to do, and I actually believe them (for most people who tell me they already have a clear direction in life, I just think they are immature after their elaboration). Ya, I think there are both types in our class, though I won't give names :P Up to you all to decide which category you fall in.

Oh, I have also learn that SoC is way cool. There are way more inspired people who actually want to really do something, who have done something, people full of drive (not just academically). It's different from business school, where people are not discussing what they want to do in life but grades, grades, grades (at least my alum group), and stuff like "I'm not going to do this as it will drag down my CAP". Many of the people in my class are just thinking of 9-5 jobs, I don't think any of them believe they can change the world, or are interested in doing so at all. (Thankfully, my friends aren't like that, or I think I may have been influence to be like that also. I think in terms or relationships, we don't just have to, like, marry the right people, but hang out with the right people. Mix with the people you want to become. Obvious right.)

My drawing ability has also improved tremendously :P Since this is not a drawing class, I've pretty much had to learn myself. The stuff looks simple and fast to do, but I actually trash a ton of versions I do. But it's cool because I don't like ripping of other people's tutorials, even if I do read them.

Lastly, before I end, something I learnt was that we come to school to "learn to learn". I know it's obvious, but I always saw school as a place I came to "to learn, period", although I have always been someone who prefers reading up and solving stuff on my own unless I've been trying forever (even if it may take more time than simply asking for the answer... since in the LR I think it helps me more). It's less about all the information (I can probably cram all the foundation mods I've done this past 2 sems into less than a month and have the same "information"... not that I want to) but how you go about learning and teaching yourself stuff; cool insights into life, curiosity, preparing you for a time where you are more independent and where you perhaps have no one to turn to. I don't think I am very mature yet, and I'm not going to say I will be really when I graduate, but I do want to get as far as I can. See how it goes la.

Whew back to my 3.2k word essay on whether virtuous leaders require virtuous followers :P Thoughts are appreciated LOL. Since I'm stuck.


And ofc, the phrase we like to quote: Other people don't think like you. Though I prefer to think of it as "I'm not thinking like other people." I don't like framing it with "me" at the center - but that's just me, since it'll better help me to see what I've missed.

Oh, I have learnt that programmers love sleeping late, waking late. I still don't get it, but I'm fully aware of it now LOL. Seriously, if you wake up early, sleep a bit earlier, same working hours... how does it affect your momentum? Regardless of when I sleep, I get up around the same time. :P

So far, I haven't really wanted to put stuff specifically as what I have "learnt" since, ya, I think much of what we have come across in this class, we have learnt before. But it really forced me to think a lot deeper :) And as before, being about motivated people is probably a tremendous force for me. It's like you are aware of everything all along, but you never cared. And suddenly, you do. It's like having all the pieces of a map to one million dollars, and never caring to piece it together. Now I feel like doing so (=

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Another entry

Okie, I think Prof Ben's last entry was to tell us we are not blogging as much as he wants us to! I don't really care about Blog King/Queen anyway, so I'm still going to continue posting :P Even if the class isn't about blogging :)

Wow, after the last session, I'm like O.O When people say how they have actually contacted others and shared with people their ideas. I was under the impression of only Voucherous... but it was like Supremacy, Pingoo, and even The Mood Diary (in an interview o.o). Everyone is so into it, and you can't help but getting even more inspired yourself. I think everyone presented really well. Though that session was just kinda like a selling yourself session... like a practice for the poster session LOL.

I must say that I absolutely lovwe Sticky Wars xD Maybe I'm biased since I like text based strategy games, but it's a niche, and it's like the dream of someone who plays that game to do that, so Chuan Yeong is living that HAHA. I adore the idea on Facebook, even if the execution wasn't awesome then, it's getting discernibly better, even if there is a long way to go and so much balancing. So excited to see how it goes and I hope it is continued after CS3216. Please!

Now, back to TopsyTuriva :P Short entry here, but I'm typing this out while my tablet reboots... work beckons

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Talk 1to2 weeks Ago

I actaully typed out an entry halfway but I can't find it :( So i'll just retype since I'm owing an entry (entries?).

As everyone in this class (should) rememebers, we had some entrepreneurs come down 2 lessons back. Here is what I think of some of them.

Singaporebrides - Okie, not to be rude, but when I first heard the name, I thought it sounded like some mail order bride service xD I mean, when you give a location, followed by an object, it gives the impression that you are selling that item, from that place, i.e. named after the products. I don't know any other instances where the company is named after their target customers. Visiting the site, I can't believe it succeeded. But obviously, it works. Maybe it's because they had a first mover advantage. Granted, it is impressive since it's hard to get people to list on an unknown site, and it was probably due to the fact they recognized the need to provide something else in addition that they succeeded. That is, the free website (although, hmm... did they charge less than what it usually costs to get a professional to make a website?). But I don't think they have any serious external threat (though ofc they should not rest on their laurels).

Hungrygowhere - Love the name. It immediately tells you what the site is for, it's easy to remember. Also sounds rather colloquial, so it feels more personal, and that definitely makes the general public feel at ease and draws them to the site. Yet the site also looks nice, polished (ofc). I think it was very funny the guy side they were media whores since it is free publicity. Probably also lends them credibility, gains more acceptance. Would be nice if it had links to utube videos or something.

School of Thought - I love reading Broader Perspectives xD I always borrow my younger sister's copy from school! I think this was the most heartwarming piece made. I was a bit skeptical at first, but hey, it's benefits are undeniable. And I do want to believe there are such awesome people out there. I liked the point about CCAs. It is definitely true that CCAs such as sports tend to be more popular even though people don't end up pursuing it in the future. Why are more usefull CCAs like Byte Club or AVA not more popular? Why is there a sterotype? Wish it was elaborated more. I mean, I don't see a problem with that from the individual's POV even if it is an interesting observation :P Someone likes running, someone likes dancing; they don't have to do that professionally. It can be just something they do outside of their job. I think even if we enjoy what we do at work, it's nice to have something else to go back to. I don't think someone who truly enjoys something would be deterred from pursuing it just because it doesn't seem "cool". For the majority, they choose what is more "prestigious" because they don't know what they want. Maybe it's not sports. Doesn't mean it'll be AVA. So what if it's likely to be "useful" if isn't what they'll necessarily enjoy?

Turbanizer - So, it wasn't all about Turbanizer, but I really thoguht the Turbanizer was awesome. It's fun and really cool. Gosh, stuff like that is what I'd like to come up with, people who come up with that are people I'm quite sure I'd love to work with in the future. I mean, this could be CBU and still pretty neat, but wow, to sell turbans? Very smart and creative. People will spread it for you, since they get an interesting output to s
hare. It makes buying a turban so cool, and builds an attachment. Though some Sikhs may find it a bit offensive that other people may treat turbans like a joke. Though I like this line: "If someone insults your turban, just TURBANIZE THEM!" It's like turning them into one of you :P Which makes it less so, i.e. instead of being insulting, it seems to instead re-frame it to be that wearing turbans are cool, so everyone wants to. I'd say more, but I gotta rush back to class.


Mm I remember something being said about over-encouraging startups in Singapore and how so many fail. Well, I honestly don't think they care. Strength in numbers! The more people try, the more will succeed (and fail). But no one cares about those who fail! It's easy to encourage, it's just hard being the one taking the risk and failing. Like how it's easy to say Harvard:number, Singapore:number, please remember me if you succeed xD (I'm jesting)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


So, I confess, I'm one of those people who get really irritated when I can't connect to the internet, or it's terrible laggy. I know no one wishes it to happen but I'll just whine anyway. But after today, I've a new found respect for the people who try to get it up :P So... I'll umm. Think about the people working to fix it, who are more bothered at it than I am (since all I need to do is wait) whenever I am feeling annoyed by it.

Actually, this was a really technical class, and I was really lost. Seems like some programmers were lost also, haha. So... but something that I remember that I thought was quite interesting was when he said when things start to get slow/ go wrong, some people like to just throw more bandwidth (?) (forgive me for phrasing it really awkwardly and using the wrong words) and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Reminds me a lot about an analogy I read in JIT although this isn't related to inventory :P There is a bit of similarity.

The analogy (by Taiichi Ohno) basically describes the water level in (I think, this is the general idea) a river. Water level represents inventory (I think, though in this case, it can be whatever you have in excess that you throw over to mask the real issue). It looks really calm on the surface, but there are many rocks below which you can't see. These rocks represent problems. Since the water level merely hides them, in order to really solve the problem, you lower the water level and expose them. You solve that, and lower the water level again to expose the next problem to solve. This results in improving the entire system. You don't need so much excess anymore, i.e. you eliminate waste. Which kind of seems like giving more bandwidth (or whatever term is was) to "solve" the problem in an inefficient costly manner. It goes back to the issue of whether you are solving a symptom, or the root cause (okie, so for JIT you are forcing yourself to find the problem, but aiyah, haha, trying to fit the analogy in... but it's a point).
(You can go learn more by googling
JIT, Toyota Production Systems, Lean Manufacturing.
If you are on Chrome, you obviously have Drag and Drop, so just drag and drop what I've kindly typed out)

Speaking of JIT, reminds me of another thing, though this isn't so ops-management related :P A phrase we are all really familiar with by now is "other people don't think like you" and vice versa. As Prof Ben has pointed out, we always try to defend ourselves, rather than trying to see it from the other individual's POV, and it makes us pretty myopic since we may fail to see the big picture. So, back to what I was reminded of. I think some of you may be familiar with the Donna Dubinsky and Apple issue many years back before we were born. I heard this in MNO1001 (which some of ya took before), so I also don't know how accurate it is, but as I was told (and as I've understood):

Donna was a distribution manager at Apple in the 1980s. Steve Jobs wanted to introduce JIT systems (think it was new then) b/c... I guess he thought it was awesome. Unfortunately, the move would take away some of the importance of Donna's role to the manufacturing side, so she was very unhappy. There was a company meeting, and she told them she thought it was a bad idea, and that she was not on board (think Prof Lehman also said she said she'll quit).

Okies, so Prof Lehman was telling us that Donna was probably grieving over the loss of something that is so important to her, and that managers we have to empathize that such reactions are normal. (True, but actually that isn't what I wanted to say. HAHA, but it's a good point, so I added it in) Moving on, Donna (who later went on to found Handspring) said in later interviews that she was biased in hindsight, and JIT was actually good for Apple. This story is related to change, but the the takeaway I wanted to say is applicable to many situations. THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND YOU/ME/etc. And, look at the big picture.
(I can't find a nice story online, but there are a few cases and such, just search
donna dubinsky apple steve jobs
drag and drop to Google)

Thanks for reading, hope I didn't sound too confusing!


Ooh, food for thought, the title of that section was something like
"Why are the most competent the most resistant?" or something
since this class is full of really competent people, I thought I'd add that since it's pretty relevant. Though I don't mean to imply that there are people who don't listen properly in this class. I'm just sleepy and posting something random ((:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Meritocracy in Education

Wow, it seems like everyone is talking about education recently :D I was just reading an article on Singapore meritocracy (with regards to scholarships) that my prof for another mod had uploaded into the workbin. I googled for it, and you can read it here:

Basically, most scholarship awardees aren't people who live in HDB flats, although most Singaporeans live in HDB flats.

And it reminded me about another article I had read a few months back, which basically discusses the problem of French elite universities having very few poor students here (it isn't that they don't; they do, but few, those who meet the criteria. I'm not going to speculate anything else):,dwp_uuid=a9543bac-edcc-11db-8584-000b5df10621.html

While I am all for individuals succeeding in school "whatever your social origins", I find it strange that in order to do so, they have to set quotas. I do think it will lower the average standard, so why is that regarded as a "scandalous" statement? It does make sense. As the Today article has stated, the way to tackle this is early intervention schemes. Setting a quota does not address the root of the problem, and merely solves the symptoms. This isn't meritocracy, is it? It would be un-meritocratic, if say, a poor student does even better than a richer student, but the richer student is given the place. In this case, the poorer students aren't as strong as the richer students. (though it is unfair since they are disadvantaged in the sense that they don't have as much opportunities to develop themselves)

Of course, while we should not base it on grades alone. Yet it is not uncommon for schools to give admission advantages to minorities, even if they may not be as strong as other candidates in a complete, all rounded aspect (I think it sucks to e.g. come from India or China especially when you are applying to college). Is that a way of "righting" what is "wrong"? I don't think so. But it is certainly much easier than solving the real problem of giving poorer candidates individual help. Perhaps it is the best that can be done in the mean time, even - I don't know. But it seems to me that it undermines the real problem in doing so (which is what I am afraid of) - notice how they seem to completely reject the reason the French elite universities give? There's not even a slight agreement. Is this the right way to go about achieving meritocracy?

Saw on Chris Henry's FB that's relevant
Still, he was selected because they possibly felt he deserved it

Sunday, March 7, 2010

FB games will never be the same for me...

Ugh. CS3216 has completely changed my unthinking, accepting, enjoyable app playing life. I have realized that I have of late unconsciously begun to evaluate every single game I play -- which shouldn't be happening when I am relaxing!! I keep thinking stuff like "ooh, smart they placed this here instead of here" or "ahh I can see why they made this interface change" and such... kinda made me realize how thought out some of all these apps really are (which I never thought before), so much thought has gone into even the very minor details. It's really impressive, and yet intimidating, because I keep comparing what we have to do against that, and... boy, it's so hard to measure up. I don't think we even pay attention to half the details due to time constraints, so it'll all be improvements along the way. It kind of reminds me of the external pitching session where a guy (Zaki?) was talking about how they actually get someone in to tweak the smallest details to make a game stick/viral. Every little thing counts. I therefore have the impression when people say "don't think so much, and just do", they aren't downplaying going through the details properly, because already have a fairly clear idea and have the details well thought out... they simply mean we should just go ahead and work properly with what we think works, rather than worrying whether the details we have thought of (and not ignored) will work well/not if we think they will, i.e. don't let doubts get in the way of what you believe in. Though also, I think we should also not let doubts get in the way for things we are unsure of, some things are a matter of "just try", although we have to be clear to distinguish what should be something where "you won't know until you try"and things we shouldn't approach with a "you won't know until you try" attitude and therefore approach it with uncertainty. For me, it always intrigues me how changing the smallest things makes the world of a difference, although I am not sure if that's what we should be focusing on in this class given time constraints, but it's something really interesting that I'd like to go into further in the future.

Man, that was one long paragraph that was rather rambly. I'll edit if I have time (which means it'll only have a 8% chance of happening - don't ask me about the number choice).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Random Post

Hmm so I'm finally defragging my tablet, so I've got some spare time... actually this is the second time I'm attempting... the last time it took 5h and shut down halfway (so long one meh... and I hope my comp doesn't get affected by that crash...)

And so I read the peer appraisals. I didn't know they were going to be anonymous hahaha. But it's okay... actually the comments are rather nice. I mean, REALLY nice - comparatively. I feel kinda bad about what I wrote now :P But if it helps, I usually give "nastier" feedback to people I like :P Well, I didn't think they sounded nasty, but helpful, but now I'm thinking they might have been (again, comparatively) Anyhow, too nice also cannot improve la... so actually I am being nice in the long run HAHA. Uh, but if I can't find bad points to write, it doesn't mean I think you suck, but the opposite.

I think when we read feedback, we tend to think "Really meh?", "No... I'm not like that what."... or "Yeah, that's true." and other trains of thought... okay, that was ambiguous :) But I think there is a tendency to disagree with maybe 1 or 2 of the feedback given. Though whether it was our intention or not, responders are basically writing about the impression we have given, and that's what we are often judged on, so it's still really important to KIV those points.

The best feedback I got (thank you to whoever wrote it):

"Shannon needs to be more active in defining her own roles: on what she can and wants to do. "
I kinda knew that myself, but I didn't know it was so obvious even to others. And this is really weighing on my mind now because it is so true :/ Is it so obvious! It's not just projects, but my life as a whole... and ya this is something that always makes me feel like a screwed up person.

And do I really seem to get emotional over comments :X HAHA, I need to change the expression and tone on my face when I disagree with something. I usually do take note of the way I express myself in public, but not usually with people I am working closely with in a team. Figured being to the point works best, hmm, but I may have come across as getting upset (I don't). But ya, I do think people will end up "lashing" back at me even if I don't realize it (I'm trying to recall who now :)) and this is where I may fail to stop because I'm enjoying it so much... :P (I don't think that the other party may not be enjoying it as much HAHA) I like umm... spirited discussions and it's really a habit of mine to... criticize... nicely... I hate admitting this. I sometimes even like to bring up things I already know the answer to or stand up for things I don't agree with just for fun. Though I've been trying to stop doing that because my mom says it'll get me killed some day... and I do sometimes feel guilty after that. But mostly in this class I thought I was okay with my tone when I'm talking to people in general, but I guess I sometimes forget to do so when it gets down to the work itself. I do give praise where it's due though!

And ya, I guess I need to stop being vague with some of my comments. I'm just not very good at expressing myself sometimes (and when I'm tired another bad habit kicks in: "I'll elaborate another time"), and sometimes I just leave it short since I thought I was just pointing out something obvious. Though I realize that other people don't think like me, I don't think like other people, and we tend not to think that we don't think like the other even if we are aware of the fact, though we could. (I like long convoluted sentences :P) So I'll work on this too now. It's really laziness I know.

Abrupt place the end, but gotta go to church.