This Summer

Summer 2010

Rot, set up orientation website, rag dance.

Summer 2011

Rot, Minecraft, rag choreographer.

Summer 2012

Rot, internship, IT project, dance classes, Blast!.

This summer has probably got to be the most exciting one yet – in terms of what I’m doing at least. I get to go out with friends once in a while, making my work-play balance pretty sweet, and I’m getting quite a lot of dance opportunities, which is awesome.

I saw my old choir friends’ photos, of them competing in international competitions overseas in the alumni choir. Can’t help but feel rather.. wasted and regretful? What if I continued to pursue my interest in choral singing, and did less of dancing and hall involvement? Not to say these newfound experiences weren’t good (in fact they were too awesome for words to describe), but choral singing is really something that I appreciate.. and something that’s beautiful. If only I had more time to get involved in it.

But again, I’m really not a superman anymore..

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Too many things happening this summer.

I’ve seen couples with cheating partners, people ignoring sad truths and refusing to believe in what they don’t want to believe, people getting hurt and crying, people having habits that I would never think they would have.

This summer, I learnt that the world is indeed a very dark place. I guess the only times where I can really focus and have fun is during dance practices.. Other than that, I just keep getting reminded of all the shit that’s been happening around me.

This summer, I realised that I am weak when it comes to defending against saddening matters of the heart.

NUS Module Review [AY1112 Semester 2]

Long overdue post, I admit I rotted and Dota-ed through my summer vacation till now. Of course there’s internship and awesome Wild Wild Wet shows, but yeah I haven’t been doing much aside from that I guess.

This review is based on the Semester 2 variants of the module and may not apply to the Semester 1 variants, or the same module but taught with a different lecturer, where applicable. The writer assumes that the reader will put in effort in attending the lectures and tutorials.

MA3110 – Mathematical Analysis II

If you liked MA2108 (MA I), you will like this. Vice versa – this module can get pretty boring and difficult. Lots of epsilon-delta proving, and the second half of the course consists mostly of series convergence tests (which could be easier).

Prof Ng knows his stuff very well, but he can’t lecture well – he teaches the contents in a very very dry manner, and unless you pay 150% attention to him (which is a feat for university students without enough sleep, like me), you probably won’t gain much..

(His slides are exact replicas of his notes anyway. I would recommend you still go for the lecture though as he’ll explain some concepts when he realises that we don’t understand him, which is supposed to happen all the time..)

Tutorials are difficult and most of the time you would be copying answers from him during the tutorial sessions, and trying to digest them afterwards. (Please go for tutorials!)

Homework assignments are slightly easier questions than the tutorial, do discuss with your friends to get full marks for all of them.

Mid-term was rather difficult, do study well for it and make sure you understand the tutorial answers well. I failed 😦

Final exam has similar format to past years, with a good mix of easy and hard questions. For my year there was a question that was similar to a past year question so I guess it’s important to try out the PYPs.

Difficulty: Hard

MA3111 – Complex Analysis I

Very interesting module (partly due to the lecturer). Complex numbers have a variety of interesting properties, and I would say they are not too difficult to understand, except for maybe the proofs (which are rarely tested). Everything will make sense and the application of the theorems are not difficult in general (except for the tough questions), and there are standard questions that can be solved using a systematic format.

Prof Chan is probably the best Math lecturer in the whole department. He’s knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and funny at times, and he always re-explain concepts that are difficult to understand. He’s also very approachable for consultation, so book consultations with him often.

Tutorials contain easy to hard questions, and he will ask you to present answers although I don’t think it contributes to the overall grade. Make sure you go to the tutorial to copy down the answers to the hard questions in particular, as they are really not easy and require thinking skills.

One thing about this module – what he teaches (derivations, proofs) doesn’t really connect to the tutorial questions directly (at least not for me), so tutorials are really important.

Lecture quizzes are similar to the easy questions in the tutorial, and he often gives a lot of hints anyway, so do make sure you score well for them. 🙂

Mid-term tests (there are 3!) also contain easy to hard questions, and if you can master the tutorial questions well you should be able to get more than 70% (except the hard question, of course, unless you’re a genius).

Final exam will contain slightly more hard questions, but it shouldn’t be a problem getting at least 60% of the marks. As for the harder questions, try your best to read through the hard proofs in the tutorial (I didn’t manage to do the questions but I still got a decent grade).

Difficulty: Medium

MA3252 – Linear and Network Optimization

Extremely computational-based – one of the modules I didn’t like this semester. You’re required to learn systematic methods of solving simultaneous equations and then solve them like a machine. No kidding.

Prof Tan is also very.. ‘systematic’ in the sense that he will go through all the notes and teach us what’s required, but he seems more interested in teaching us how to solve the questions than to explain how the methods actually make sense. It’s extremely important to attend his lectures though as he writes a LOT of notes on his own slides (which you have to copy down).

Tutorials are okay, sometimes the tutor will have differing opinions from the lecturer (???), just remember to download the tutorial answers from IVLE and try to digest them.

Mid-term tests / Final Exam – Don’t be fooled by the ease of problem solving in the tutorials, his tests are brutal. While the tutorial may contain 4-variable equations, the exams can go up to 9. And the exam questions are really different in the sense that they require you to absolute understand what each step in the systematic solving algorithm means, so it’s really no easy feat. My only advice would be to go through the lecture notes and the algorithm steps slowly.

Difficulty: Very Hard

PC1327 (GEK1519) – Science of Music

Lots and lots of calculations, don’t be fooled by the title or the professor (lol). Mainly secondary school-level Physics (waves, frequency & wavelength, etc) and some Computing-related concepts (modulation, data encoding). I was lucky as I’ve studed the Computing concepts in my Networking module, but I still fell prey to the Bell Curve Demon and did not get the grade I desired.

Prof Tan is.. somewhat boring, I would say. I thought that the notes were sufficient but he only releases them after his lecture, so it’s good to attend them in case you don’t understand any of the concepts. (Of course, if you can get your hands on the notes before that and understand them – as he repeats his notes every year – then you’re good)

Tutorials are important – they give you 2% per participation and they are somewhat similar to the mid-term and end-of-term tests. That being said, the questions are somewhat easy, so you’ll probably just show up and check the answers.

Mid-term test / End-of-term test – Get past year papers from your friends! They are in the same format and if you can practice a few papers well you’ll have no problem with them. The main problem here is time – 25 MCQs in 1 hour with tedious calculations – so make sure to practice, practice and practice. Prof Tan tends to set very tricky questions so make sure to highlight the important details in the questions before attempting the calculations.

Concert review is basically an English essay about your experience with a music-related concert you’ve attended, and I guess it would be good to at least incorporate some concepts that you’ve learned in the lectures to the review, such as harmonies, counterpoints and dynamics in the music. He doesn’t give back the essays so I don’t know how I did..

MIDI composition – I’ve heard that referencing a song you like and changing its tune to make it your own works very well, but don’t quote me on that; as I’ve used MIDI arrangement software before I guess I was lucky in this aspect. Again, I can’t comment much on this as I don’t know how I did.. Just make sure there are no unintentional dissonances (tune that doesn’t sound nice together) in the MIDI.

Difficulty: Medium + curse of the Bell Curve Demon

SSS1207 – Natural Heritage of Singapore

Interesting module! I was very surprised as I’m not the arts/essay type, but I still found the module cool. It’s quite the information overload on the flora and fauna of Singapore, but as it’s open book it’s okay. Buy the textbook and read it 2398572 times, it really helps a lot as you won’t be flipping through the textbook and losing precious time during the tests.

There’s a bell curve demon here too, so read read read!

3 lecturers, here we go –
Disclaimer: I speculated from the topics of the exam questions which questions were set by which lecturer, so it might not be perfectly accurate.

Prof Hugh Tan is knowledgable but his lectures can get a bit dry. That being said, pay full attention and take down notes because he likes to test things that he casually say during the lectures in the mid-term and final exam. (*&@^#*&$^@) Most of his notes on the slides can be found in the book so it might be a good idea to read through the textbook on the specific topic before you attend the lecture.

Prof Ng Ngan Kee tries to inject some personal stories into her lectures so it’s not as dry, and the topics that she covered were interesting too. Make sure to take down notes too, but her questions are often easier.

Prof Peter Ng is the most interesting of the bunch, but his slides are not as helpful 😦 So write, write and write down notes!
In my opinion, guest lectures are more for extra information but they are still interesting nevertheless.

Forum posts are for your 5%, I didn’t post but still managed to get a decent grade. Phew.

Essay is tough as I didn’t have any references, I heard there are people selling them but I question their validity.. Hmm.. Anyway, I found the textbook really helpful as it will help you to answer the essay question with concepts on Singapore’s current biodiversity situation. It would be good to Google for recent examples of specific species of plants/animals that are related to the context of the essay.

Mid-term test / Final exam – Bring all your notes! Most of the questions have their answers somewhere in your scribblings or the textbook. The lectures are really important if you haven’t realised, so do attend them.

Difficulty: Medium + curse of the Bell Curve Demon

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I exceeded my expectations for this semester so I’m a happy man. 🙂

June Checklist

1. Go for 4 O School classes.
First will be Zaihar’s this Thurs!

2. Run and gym once a week.
Just ran today with Jason hoho.

 3. Play at most 2 DotA games a day.
Haven’t played for a few days! But it’s non-cumulative okay.

4.  Stop thinking so much. Or think more. I don’t know.

I’m sick and tired of listening to my own excuses over and over again. I really want to recover the friendship, but of the limited times I tried (maybe I didn’t try hard enough), it just doesn’t feel natural anymore – small talks, the attempt to get back to how we used to talk. It’s just different.

I owe you an apology. But I don’t know how to do it.