A Thousand Years


How can a song be so beautiful?

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Heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I’m afraid to fall
Watching you stand alone
All of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow

One step closer

[Chorus:]
I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

Time stands still
Beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath
Every hour has come to this

One step closer

[Chorus:]
I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

And all along I believed I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

One step closer
One step closer

[Chorus:]
I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

And all along I believed I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

Half more!

So two exams were over.. GEM2901 was not too bad, but I wasn’t sure of whether I answered most questions correctly 😦 and due to the steep bell curve I doubt I’ll get a good grade. (And hence probably S/U it..) As for CS2105, it was okay. Hopefully I can pass with a decent grade. 🙂

Took the day off today after the exam, playing some dota games (ok I admit it’s not just some) and just relaxing in general. Totally the wrong attitude as I have another paper on Saturday, and it’s hard 😦 I promise I will study hard from tomorrow onwards! Really hard!!

And recently I’m quite addicted to 9gag haha. I guess I’m totally late to the trend but it’s an awesome site with awesome jokes. Check it out!

Something like this:

Things I learned from reading 43 blogs

(which, no matter how you look at it, is a torture especially during the reading week)

– If you’re looking for my reflection post, go to the one after this! –

1. I can’t keep my attention span, and I feel sorry for people whose names start after M, because I started to lose focus and not read as detailed as I did for people whose names start from A-L.

2. Half the class died in October. If you don’t believe me, go take a look at how many people in this class blogged in October. I guess it’s the final project phenomenon, plus the wave of assignments and projects that usually come swamping in the second half of the semester.

3. Some people don’t reflect a lot, some people do. Personally, I feel that blogging is not a fair judge of how much a person has learnt; as some people mentioned in their blogs, they are not so good with penning down their thoughts. However it’s heartwarming to see people trying to write about what they’ve actually learnt, which I feel the same for some of the things I read.

4. Two things that caught my eye:

  • Ziwei mentioned that CS3216 projects are more interesting because “we have more freedom to choose the topic and thus everyone was enthusiastic.” This is really true – there are really no restrictions on what each group wants to produce (except porn and gambling of course.. XD) and this makes people really work for the things that they want.
  • Weiguang penned down about some thoughts related to programmers picking up business, and the situation with his team shaped out to be what it is, which I really agrees.
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And now, time for the brutal truth. (Incoherent post follows)

Reading through all the posts by my peers in CS3216, I can’t help but wonder why I did not feel the same level of excitement as they are. I was a programmer during my 3 assignments, nothing else – I just coded, and coded, occasionally helping out in a little bit of design. I have to admit that I didn’t really put in much effort in wanting to learn about business and execution in the first place, and that’s probably where I didn’t get the real taste of this module, which looking from my peers’ blog posts is the essence of CS3216.

Part of the reason, I guess, is that I’ve already burned out from everything else. Choir, A Cappella, Dance, Chingay (which is a b*tch btw), and a multitude of other hall factors are driving me crazy. It was my choice to juggle everything together, and now I would say I have a moderate level of regret about it. What if I didn’t do so much other things, and had more focus on CS3216? Maybe I would’ve learned more, and maybe BetterMe would come out as an even better product. I admit that I didn’t place as much emphasis as others probably did in CS3216, and that’s where I fall short – I felt that I haven’t learned as much as my peers in this semester.

But I mentioned a moderate level of regret – I am a performer, and I ain’t giving up that side of me so soon. The best I could’ve done is probably to reduce the number of commitments I have, but due to various factors (which caused all the ruckus halfway through the semester, that I’ve blogged back then), I couldn’t pull myself out from them.

I guess it’s kind of a waste that I didn’t grasp all the learning points of CS3216, since there’s no second chance for me to try again (even if I want to become a superhuman like Joshua, I can’t, since this is the last offering).

It’s time to take a break and think about what I want to do with my life..

The Last.

And it’s over. Mixed feelings, I would say – it’s not that I didn’t want the module to end (heck, we’ve been kind of suffering all the way, albeit for good reasons), but maybe because.. I don’t know. There are things that doesn’t seem right, things that I hope I’ve done better.

I realised, through my previous posts, that I seem to be a person of regret. Maybe I have high expectations of myself, but I guess that’s the hard way of making yourself improve more, right? And I know that I definitely didn’t complete some of the things that I’ve hoped to achieve this semester, not only in this module, but on life and work in general.

Can anyone explain to me what this picture means? o.o
I found it when I looked for ‘regret’ in Google Images. Haha.

Looking back at my very first post, I’ve definitely worked with different types of people – really good programmers in my few projects, fantastic designers (shoutouts to Yin Yue and Yong Shen!) and some of them had really strong beliefs and ideas that made me feel good when working on the projects. One thing that I didn’t realise at the start of the semester, was how different programmers would work differently – I definitely wasn’t really content with how Meet2Eat was managed in terms of programming schedule, but we pulled through anyway. The first assignment (Shop4Me) was definitely one of the more organized projects that I’ve done – maybe it’s because of CodeIgniter, or how we organized our code and work distribution etc. Kudos to Alan on that.

As for myself, I think I am more of a solo coder, as I don’t really have time to meet up with my teammates because of my busy workload (I normally code at ungodly hours after 2am :/). I’m so sorry to my teammates who had to adapt to my working style sometimes.

In terms of my level of programming, to be honest I didn’t think that I level-ed up a whole lot. I definitely picked up bleeding edge technologies like Facebook Integration, HTML5 features etc, but I guess in terms of code design and organization I still have a long way to go. I couldn’t do much to ensure that the code in the projects were of decent level of design, but CS3216 really make me want to work on future projects in hope that I would write cleaner code next time. I guess in this light it’s good for me. 🙂 Oh and CS3216 made me start reading online tutorials on web programming practices. 🙂

Nettuts+ is damn awesome. Check it out!

As to my final project (check it out if you haven’t!), it was a long but satisfying ride. To be honest, I was skeptical of my group’s idea at the start, as I didn’t think that creating such an app would be actually useful – I was scared that no one would use it, as there are many inherent problems with how we are going to make the users return to our sites, how to actually make them learn something etc. I was pleasantly surprised with how my whole team had the determination to keep going, to actually interview teachers and students, and we’re actually trying to get in touch with MOE right now. I guess if it was me, I wouldn’t have the courage to really step forward and try my very best to make a difference (as my teammates really did).

Yong Shen, thank you for your fantastic designs, the whole idea and your belief in it to really make a difference. You’ve really done a lot!

Jun Hong, thanks for all the coding and also making sure that our app reaches out, through your effort in getting primary school students to use the apps, and getting in touch with teachers etc. Without you BetterMe wouldn’t come far.

Kenny, thanks for tanking whenever I was busy. 😦 I have a lot to learn from you in programming, I really like the way you structured the backend API code, and you’re damn good!

Go BetterMe!

All in all, CS3216 was definitely a good module to take, zero regrets, and I feel sad that it won’t be offered again to other students after this one. I’m glad that I took the last offering, and I learned a lot, not only in programming, but in actually understanding the real world and making a difference. I definitely still have a long way to go in terms of coming up with ideas and executing them, but at the very least, this module sparked me to want to do things. 🙂

Thanks Prof Ben and Kok Wee.

Final Project Presentation

I was pleasantly surprised by the final project presentations. To be honest, the people whom I expect will do an astonishing job didn’t do quite as much as I expected, and the people who I didn’t know came out with crazy cool ideas.

The concept is definitely not new; and as I’m not a frequent cabber, I haven’t had the chance to try the app and compare it with other competitions on the market. It’s great that they got Premier taxi to back them up, but existing competition (Cabbie, ComfortDelGro Taxi Booking) already has downloads in the size of 10,000s, and unless they do aggressive publicity it would be hard to catch up. The fact that they made it into the Android Market so fast shows how efficient the group is!

Awesome graphics! I like how they want to focus on making the game such that the user won’t realise that the game tries to inform about the usage of AEDs. The team has mentioned that they make use of facial expressions of NPCs to let you judge their actions and thoughts, which is interesting; I remember going through the same experience in L.A. Noire, which was interesting. Just waiting for the full game 🙂

I was surprised at how well they used jQuery Mobile (to the extent of Ajax display of Facebook users on search), as I’ve had very bad experiences with jQuery Mobile (when I used it for my previous project, and as complained here). From their presentation, I can see that they’ve put in a lot of thought into how they differentiate themselves from the competition apps, such as being able to tag your friends without needing them to be registered users too. Definitely something that I will use.

A cross-platform, browser-based ePub reader. The good thing about this group is that they’ve managed to capture a specific niche market – the Chinese market, and the idea behind this project is that people don’t want to lose their bookmarks and settings when they switch devices. In this light, I believe people who have this need will find Yun Reading useful. Personally, however, I wouldn’t use this as I feel that there are more polished e-reader apps around, especially native apps on smartphones/tablets nowadays. Besides, one feature that is important to me, which is the ability to upload our own .epub files to read, is currently not available. (Correct me if I’m wrong)

RobTheRobot

They have amazing graphics! I guess this group has achieved one of the most important things in this course, which is to actually work with existing companies, and a big one at that (Disney!). It’s sad that our group didn’t manage to secure the collaboration with MOE in time.. Anyway, the graphics are definitely cute enough to attract the younger generation into playing the game, and I can see that the coders in this team have done a really good job in implementing the requirements from Disney.

My first thought was (no offense) ‘it must be quite boring to make this..’. But again, this group has done very well in terms of working with an existing company and actually delivering the requirements. I liked the part of their presentation where they documented the problems that surfaced when they try to integrate their app with the system in Lions, such as the need to synchronize data properly and to actually read and understand code from the previous programmers in Lions. (And trust me, it’s a pain in the ass to work with existing code not by you)

Cool stuff. The amount of restaurants that jumped on board on their project is insane! I think the only thing left for their group is to actually launch the app and get user data etc. And the good thing about this is that there are actually two sides to the app; besides the framework that they build for existing restaurants, they also have the backend service that aggregates user data and analyzes them for the restaurants to do selective advertising. This way, their idea actually hits two birds with one stone. Awesome.

Remember what I said at the start? This was the project that truly surprised me. While the idea behind seems simple enough and there’s not much difficulty in coding, the user interface is really amazing. The amount of detail that they put into designing the UI and UX, such as the hotkeys and the choice of the name Amanda, impresses me. And the simplicity of the app is another thing that will draw users into using the app; there’s virtually no learning curve and all it takes is just writing a short letter, or reading others’ letters. Sometimes I wish I had such crazy cool ideas too.

Again, another niche market that is well targeted – people moving out from halls or residences. Right now there still isn’t much traffic, but I believe that at the end of examinations this semester there will definitely be people who want to use the website to clear their unwanted stuff. A very well-executed idea, in my opinion.

(Singapore River)

With enough publicity I believe the Singapore River app will be used by thousands of tourists who visit Singapore River. The only problem I foresee is that tourists might not have internet connection to download the app (something the Singapore Tourism Board should provide at perhaps the entry point of Singapore River for example). Augmented reality is definitely cool and I think the group has managed to come up with a good concept to use AR on.

Diaspora

Yes, I digress, but I really want to share my first-hand experiences with one of the most hyped up social networks last year, when Facebook received rage from its design revamps and policy changes.

I remember reading quite a lot of posts about Diaspora being the Facebook counter mid last year. (Check out their Kickstarter page here, which raised $200,000. Yes, that much.) But after that, it seems like the hype has died down; I registered for their alpha testing, only to be invited now (read: nearly one and a half years later). Oh wells, I suppose it’s late than never.

Clicking onto the alpha invite link, I got directed to the registration page, where I could link my account to Facebook. What? Turns out that Diaspora wants to simplify your registration process, and thus chose to use Facebook to do so – after all, I guess the experience on Diaspora is really different from that on Facebook (to be covered later). Strangely enough, it pulled my name as Xian You You instead of Xian You Lim. Hahaha.

Diaspora also asked me to indicate my interests with #hashtags, which became clear when I was brought to its home page.


A few first impressions:

  • It looks scarily like Google+. After Googling I found out that apparently it’s Google+ that actually copied their interface – I like Google+’s interface so naturally this appeals to me. It’s really a sad thing that they didn’t take off before Google+ did though, because now everyone will think that they are the copiers.
  • You follow #hashtags, and your news feed is populated by feeds with these tags. Sorta like a moderately populated Twitter. I guess this is how Diaspora is different from other social networks at the moment; you read things you like without the need for mutual confirmation (just follow, no need to approve friend requests etc). Definitely a great way of sharing information, in my opinion.
  • Aspects: Ways to control your friends. Google+ definitely adopted this too (as Circles), and Facebook also did it in one of their updates. Again, an original idea that is unfortunately stolen.

Currently, my feed is spammed with people who post that they are #newhere. I guess that’s how a new social network starts.

I’m actually quite lost to what I can do at the moment; there’s not much useful information there, and to invite my friends from Facebook, I got to scroll through that freaking long list of my Facebook friends (1k+), without a search function. I mean seriously.. Can’t you make the process a little bit more user-friendly?

In terms of what you can share, it’s the standard stuff: statuses (but you can #hashtag them!), photos, GIFs (which is apparently quite popular at Diaspora*) and videos. Good that they have the same features as the competition, but currently the user-generated content is not very healthy I guess. You can’t blame them on that though, as Diaspora is (I think) supposed to be installed at your own server and only shared between your chosen circle of friends. (Source link)

I don’t mean to complain a lot, but the Diaspora server is certainly slow. Loading any page takes up to 10 seconds for it to respond, and that certainly isn’t nice. But I suppose if you have your own server it will be blazing fast on your local network anyway.

To be honest, I haven’t read up on what Diaspora* really wants to achieve yet, but from a random consumer’s perspective, I guess there’s not much interest for me to use it at the moment. I’ll probably just visit it once a day to check out for interesting things. It’s really saddening that their designs and ideas were kind of stolen by Google in their social network..

Growing up

As October passes by quickly, life has been getting tougher. Somehow, my work/arts life hasn’t been reducing (like I expected it to), but keeping the steady, busy pace. Just as my performances are coming to a close, my a cappella group got into two competitions’ audition rounds, Sparks 2011 and PA’s Youth Got Talent. Heh. And 3216 doesn’t help. :/

I had mixed feelings about last week’s lecture; I felt that some of the speakers were talking about things that are way too far from me, from where I am standing right now. Of course, it’s good to dream big, right? Just that I guess I’m not really on that side yet – I got to settle the things I have right now and maintain my balance before I actually start venturing out. But again, the world waits for no one.

Not to say I didn’t take away anything from last weeks’ lecture though, I thought that the first speaker, Pareth, was a good one. He actually got me (and my fellow friends) excited about doing a startup; I remember there was even one group who asked whether they can schedule a meeting with him. He mentioned that entrepreneurship is all about risk-taking, enthusiasm and knowing your comfort zone. I remember him putting emphasis on enthusiasm; true enough, if you’re not enthusiastic and heated about the project you’re working on, it won’t come out as a product worth your every sweat and effort.

And he mentioned.. OPM, or other people’s money, hahaha…

I was quite surprised when I first saw Red Sports, as I haven’t heard of it during my JC times in Hwa Chong. I remembered that HCUnite was a really good initiative from Hwa Chong (it’s a site dedicated to reporting events, performing arts and sports from Hwa Chong), and Red Sports presumably works on the same concept with emphasis on sports. Nevertheless it’s a cool site that I wish I read during my JC times.

To be honest, I find MobDiz quite underwhelming; I tried visiting the site on my Android phone, and it didn’t display that well. User interface is really the first impression that will either destroy or package your product impression. I heard that the company is fun to work at, though, as many of my friends are in. It was interesting to learn how the founders struggled to bring the company through the early years, and now find themselves in good shape. 🙂

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I really felt that I haven’t recovered from the crash since.. ShopForMe? I’ve been quite ill-disciplined in terms of getting work done, and actually getting the motivation to do work at all. Not to say I completely ignored all my projects, just that I don’t really have the motivation anymore – I’m always so tired everyday from everything. But life’s like that no? 4 more weeks to the end of everything, I can do it man.

I’ll write about this week’s presentations in a separate blog post! It’s really exciting to see all my coursemates’ professional projects, and I can’t wait to blog about it.