close to perfection

August 27, 2013

i had a recent e-mail exchange with someone who was also studying in Melbourne when we were both doing our graduate studies.  She’s now in Sydney with her husband doing her Ph.D. On the other hand, I’m based in Adelaide with my family pursuing a doctorate. We belong to different fields and yet we share a passion for knowledge.  Sure there are “formal” links but it’s our common experiences that binds us.

Some would say she’s obsessive – she once had 9 drafts of an assignment. I’ve always believed the devil is in the detail.  I see nothing wrong with striving for perfection. As long as you don’t lose sight of the big picture, getting your hands “dirty” is quite noble.  Many people lose touch and forget to stay grounded in the face of success – I never felt it was a problem for her.

She said she’s a bit “shy” about leaving comments for everyone to read – that’s such a shame because I think she has something worthwhile to share with the rest of the world.

what dreams may come

August 22, 2013

a former computing student of mine has a gig in America as a back-up singer to Lea Salonga – she has one of the  best voices I’ve ever heard.  It just goes to show you: it’s shouldn’t be about what the family thinks is best but rather about what the child actually wants.  Admittedly, it’s hard for any parent seeing their child struggle but they need to learn to be supportive and respect the child’s happiness.  Sometimes the best of intentions have unintended consequences.

It’ not always just about what they’re good at or what’s expected of them but truly what they’re interested in.  As a case in point, my son is strong in maths but he seems to us more inclined to the arts.  Anyway, it’s early days and his proclivities may still change – we just need to expose him to different things so that he can make an “informed” decision when the time comes.  They say if you enjoy what you do, you never  work a day in your life – I think you subconsciously put more effort in to what you do.  Not everyone is “lucky” enough to know what they want to be when they grow up.

I think my neurologist might be on to something with his “modified” gap year where his kids need to be gainfully employed for at least half of the time. If I were to “consider” it, there would be some mods.  I think 3 months should be spent in industry while at least 3 months should be involved with the community.  They should travel overseas to broaden the mind for some “informal” learning.  While there, they must partly support themselves and try to learn the local language or dialect. Ideally they should live in 2 countries:  one with a developed and another with a developing economy so that they can see the differences for themselves in everyday life. During the course of the year, they can take different topics online for free so that they can “better” determine which direction they want to take next.

I hope I don’t eat my words when the time comes – people and minds can change =)

Being “new” to MOOCs, I was looking for some “guidance”…


Feynman Liang will make you feel like a slacker.

The 21-year-old is pursuing a dual-degree program in engineering and biophysics from Dartmouth and Amherst, but in the last year or so, he’s also completed 36 massive open online courses (MOOCs) on Coursera, Udacity and edX. Right now, he said, he’s taking 10 courses simultaneously — while he completes a summer internship at Google.

When his friends go out for Thursday night parties, he said he often stays back to complete Coursera assignments due the next day. And, once, he spent 80 hours on a single assignment. But he said the MOOCs have helped him pass out of lower-level classes in college and even prepped him for his Google interviews.

“I get to gain a nontrivial understanding of a field,” he said. “And it translates into me doing a lot better in college.”

In the past year, MOOCs have attracted all…

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sliding doors

August 12, 2013

a video presentation for my mum’s birthday was prepared by my younger brother and his close friend: an IT manager and a medical doctor respectively. I’m no “hippie” but it got me thinking about work-life balance again.  we place too much emphasis on work as a source of identity – I did not help, sometimes having two jobs.  Sundays were the greatest form of social legislation, no matter what religious tradition you hail from.  All work and no play not only makes Jack a dull boy, I believe, but an unproductive one.

Not only is respite needed but partaking in other activities may, directly or indirectly, benefit one’s “work”. According to the Harvard Business Review, prospective employers now look for Master of Fine Arts graduates to complement their legion of MBAs and to provide out of the box thinking.

I wonder what they could have achieved if the economic pressures were not so great and the machinery to produce “skilled” automatons for industry was not so dominant.

dance fever

August 9, 2013

i’m not a big dancer – never was.  I don’t know if that proclivity stems from the fact I’m no good at it or I just don’t want the attention.  I might watch SYTYCD if it’s on and nothing else strikes my fancy but I won’t actively seek it out.

The visual effects originally intended for dancers can be “retrofitted” to augment traditional therapies (I think). The use of cameras and integrated images can be used for revisitable feedback that can help map causality. Reconstitution or alternative views can assist with a “faltering” self-image.  It also presents opportunities for expression and collaboration – alternative forms of “art”.

Like all “new” technologies it’s relatively expensive and not quite ready for primetime but hopefully Moore’s law and accelerated adoption will kick in.

funny as

August 7, 2013

i find the comedy of Adam Hills and Craig Ferguson. Sure, laughter is the best medicine but like all that I consider to be excellent comedy, you sometimes need to dig a bit deeper – there’s an underlying message there. Sure both have a wide-array of interests but it’s the way that they integrate these subjects into their own humour I find appealing.  I feel that both acts exemplify what you should think and act; how you should live your life without being preachy – just modelling the behaviour instead.