Straight As! Perfect CAP!

GPA NUS

First time in my life that I’ve gotten a perfect CAP for the semester! Granted, it was only two modules, but hey, it is worth celebrating right? Life as a Masters student is off to a great start!

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Science Bucket at Singapore Science Center

The Science Bucket was the last assignment for the Semester. Each of us were tasked to perform a science demonstration in front of a live public audience at the Mendel Auditorium at the Singapore Science Center last Saturday. It is an open event, where anyone who visited the Science Center on that day were free to pop by and see our demonstration done live. Each of us were given 15 minutes to do the demonstration and explain certain scientific concepts for a lay person to understand.

For my science demonstration, it was all about eggs. I demonstrated the strength of the eggshells by explaining the shape that rise to its strength. I then demonstrated that the eggs are stronger than most people would imagine by stacking thick books weighing 12 kilograms in total on top of just 4 eggs. It was a fun demonstration that involves enthusiastic young volunteers to help me stack the books on the eggs without breaking them. I was quite amazed by their enthusiasm. Almost all the young children sitting in the auditorium were clamoring for a piece of the action and an opportunity to take part in the science demonstration. And it wasn’t just my demonstration that piqued the most interest. Almost all other science demonstration performed by my classmates needed volunteers and we had no shortages of that.

It was a really long Saturday. Our day began at 8am in the morning, ending all the way till 4.30pm. But it was an eye-opening experience. It was my first time performing a science demonstration in front of a live audience. I was a little nervous, but I was more excited to perform it, probably because of all the kids who were so keen in learning science through our demonstrations that we did on that day.

At the end of the day, everyone was so relieved that it was finally over. The amount of planning was just insane. It took weeks of planning, delegating who do what, when. And we also had to do our own rehearsals to make sure that our science demonstrations works and to iron out any kinks along the way so that when it comes to the actual day, the programme would run smooth as butter. And it did run smooth as butter. Everyone chipped in and no one complained about anything. Everyone was helpful and cooperative and despite knowing each other for 4 months, organising the Science Bucket and going through it smoothly was a testament to our bond and friendship we have cultivated since we first started school.

Now that the semester is over, we have one more module that all of us will be taking, and that would take place in June. It will be an intensive module, meaning it will take place the whole day, everyday for 2 weeks. And then it would be over. In addition, this would be the only module that all of us will be seeing each other again, before going on our separate ways. Some of us are full-time students, and they will be continuing their studies in ANU, taking different modules from the part-timers. It would be the last time we gathered together. Looking forward, I think I will be a little bit sad to see them go. But I know that we will all continue to keep in touch in the months to come. At the end of the day, each of us will graduate from the course. That is everyone’s end goal.

Speaking of memory lane

I have been keeping a journal and writing my thoughts, feelings and experiences throughout all these years. I’ve never kept a traditional journal where you wrote stuff with a physical journal book. I grew up in an era of the internet and while it was the early years where the noisy , 28.8kpbs modems were in vogue, I quickly understood blogging on the web, even before blogging was cool. And so there were many journal websites and blogging platforms that I kept over the years as I write. And it was only in the last few years that I acutally tracked down all those sites that I kept, and migrated all my journal entries to WordPress. The power of the internet to archive everything allowed me to keep and preserve my old entries, dating back 15 years ago. 15!

15 years ago I was just 15 years old. I was just starting Secondary 3 at that age when I decided to ‘blog’. This was my very first entry:

Yoz Journal!
Basically, I’m mainly using this journal to record my life as a Band Major. Dunno what that is? Well, its basically being a leader in a military band in Singapore(Cool!). Anyway, my life is pretty stressful balancing work and play with family and friends all at the same time! So one of the reason why I plan to keep a journal is because so that I could voice out my problems, achivements, successes, failures, hates, and love all in this journal. I dont have to contain all my emotions within me. I have good friends to talk to but I just couldn’t find the time to do so. Im soo busy its like im working as a stock broker, lol!. This entry is basically nothing, just to get a hang of it. On Thursday is my promotion ceremony, whereby I will officially be a Band Major, giving out the certificates, badges, sashes, blah blah blah. I dont feel like introducing myself cause i feel its such a cliche. So I guess thats it.2/8/2002

That was what I wrote while I was in secondary 3. My very first entry. I remember the reason why I had this compelling need to write was because at that time, I was going through some rough patches (and of course puberty with all the mood swings and all). I was given a very heavy responsibility and that was to lead a music band in school. I was given the top post, practically overnight. How I deserved it, I will never know. I was a pretty low key kid, never standing out from the crowd much. As a young musician, I was never that talented to stand out to lead the entire band. But life can be cruel at you sometimes, shoving you to uncharted territories. And so it began. My life as band major (and an upcoming ‘O’ level candidate, acne outbreak, your Drum Major with suicidal tendencies, the onset of SARS, moving house, the closure of schools, the stressful Singapore Youth Festival and all the expectations of winning medals all for the sake of your school, bearing on your shouders. Hey no sweat!) with all the trials and tribulations.

Speaking of memory lane, reading my old entries can be embarrassing. I hope one day I can revisit those old entries by starting from the very beginning and slowly working my way up to the present day. Reading old entries written by none other than yourself is like hearing your own voice. It’s so weird and can be cringe worthy. I will definitely go: “I actually I wrote that? What was I thinking?!”

 

 

I miss school. Alot.

Now that I am officially a student again (graduate student), I eagely look forward to my night classes on mondays and wednesdays every week. Everytime I walk through the campus and on to my faculty of science bulding, I am constantly hit by pangs of nostalgia. Even though I was an NTU undergrad, seeing those kids milling their way around the campus, going about their daily acitvities, heading to this class and that lecture hall, made me realise how much I miss school. I miss school. Alot.

I graduated from NTU with a bachelor’s degree 4 years ago and it seemed only yesterday I attended my graduation ceremony, undertook my exams at the end of every semester, dragging my ass down to every lecture I had to sit in, and countless hours cramming just so that I can achieve my desired grades (second-class upper). Of course, there’s more to just studying and attending lectures. There were the orientation camps that I participated in, and helped organised in subsequent years. The school activities, volunteer work, exchange programmes. Life was so vibrant as a student. Looking back, I wish I could do more, I wish exams werent important, so that I can focus on things that were important to me. Making friends, trying out new stuff, be more adventurous and just fooling around. Truly, I have said this many times. If there were one moment in life where I could have a chance to relive through it all over again, it would be my time in NTU.

Still, I am grateful to be given the opportunity to experience all those things, and now that I am a NUS student, I can catch a glimpse of what campus life is like in NUS. For this semester, I will be going back to NUS for my lessons twice a week, and that would be it. The rest of the times are online lectures, intensive modules, perhaps a chance to attend classes at ANU. Going to NUS for my classes is like walking through memory lane. It’s like opening a photobook that you have longed forgotten, tucked deep within the recesses of an ancient bookshelf. As you flip open the dusty photo album, there you are, snapshots of your life laid out in front of you, experiencing campus life, living life as if there was no tommorrow.

Lenovo Thinkpad 13 + Aer Fit Pack = Perfect

The Aer Fit Pack and the Thinkpad 13 is a perfect combination. The laptop is relatively light, coming at 13 inches and fits snugly into the laptop compartment of my Aer Fit Pack. I brought my laptop to work to see how the bag would feel on my back when I carry my laptop with me, and with the added weight, it still feels comfortable using the bag. I have yet to fully load up the bag with my running shoes and running clothes, towels, water bottle and shower foam. I would be a little bulky in the end, but I doubt all those extras would significant add to the overall weight that I would be carrying to school. Afterall, my new New Balance shoes are pretty light, and all I would be bringing next is a pair of running shorts, and dri-fit t-shirt for running with a small tower and a small bottle of shower foam to shower after a run.

All in all, I am almost ready to start school in January.

Lenovo Thinkpad 13

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As with any other big purchases I have made, I make sure that I do my research thoroughly. The research phase is especially important when it comes to buying electronics and gadgets like computers, laptops and mobile devices. There is a huge range o choices to make and one can easily get paralysed in simply deciding the best for one’s needs.

So it comes as no surprise that finding the ideal laptop for school (which I am starting my Master’s Degree in January) requires a lot of research. So many factors to choose from, so my conflicting priorities, so many laptops out there. Do I want to choose a thin and light laptop at a cost of battery life? Or do I want a powerful laptop with all the bells and whistles that costs a ton and compromise on weight? Am I willing to spend that much just so that I could get a nice looking laptop, or do I simply need a cheap and simple one that would just get me by during lectures and writing assignments?

It’s easy to just go with the best reviewed ones and pay the premium. After all, the most sought after laptops are the one that ticked all the right boxes when it comes to battery life, performances, weight, durability and design. But if you carefully analyse your needs, you soon realise that there are other laptops out there that may perform just as good, if not better at a fraction of the price and still meet all your needs.

Take my purchase decision in getting a Lenovo Thinkpad 13 for example. Initially, I would never have imagined that I would get a Lenovo laptop. I never liked the design. It’s too traditional, plasticky, and very business-like in design. I set my mind on a Dell XPS 13 which has been touted time and time again as the laptop to get under the Windows platform. Dell really set the bar high. But there was something about the laptop that was gnawing at the back of my head: Price.

Yes it’s true, that if you want the best, expect to pay a premium. While the Dell XPS 13 suited my needs perfectly – its portable, light, comes with a great screen and awesome battery life – I sought to challenge myself, if I could find one that closely resembles what I was looking for, at a fraction of the price.

So off I went, scouring through various websites, looking at catalog after catalog of various laptops, reading reviews, analysing the pros and cons, readjusting my priorities and needs.

Price was a huge factor this time round. The last laptop I owned was a MacBook Air. It was quite expensive, but not exorbitantly so. My priority at the time was longevity and durability. I needed to use that laptop for 4 years during my undergrad studies and it paid off. It was a wise decision to get that laptop. For a premium, you get a device that lasts really long and performed really well. And the MacBook Air is still running strong. Now my dad uses it and loves it.

For my grad studies, I needed something simpler. It’s just a two-year Master’s course. I just needed a laptop that could do simple productivity work using Word, Powerpoint or Excel. I needed battery life to be decent. I don’t need a super high resolution screen, or a super accurate, high contrast monitor. What I do need is a comfortable keyboard, easy to type on and a fairly accurate trackpad. I need a laptop that performs well enough, boots up fast enough, at least an SSD installed. And all these features I need, must not cost more that the cost of the Dell XPS 13. And none of my needs mentioned above placed design and aesthetics high on the list. Upon reflection, I came to realise that I don’t really need a laptop that turns peoples head and grab their attention. That is where I found my ideal laptop.

The Thinkpad 13 is perfect. 13 inch screen at Full HD resolution. Perfect. Screen brightness is average but meet my needs perfectly. Battery life is long enough for the whole day, provided I just use simple applications and light web surfing, which is what I intend to do on this laptop, not to play games or run complex tasks and programs on it. Keyboard is astounding. I have heard numerous times that Lenovo keyboards are some of the best and it rings true. I have felt or typed on a more comfortable keyboard in my entire life (at least on a laptop) As I am writing this, I am typing on my Lenovo Thinkpad 13 and it is just splendid. Fingerprint scanner for logging into Windows is a bonus and the trackpad is fine enough that didn’t leave me terribly annoyed by its inaccuracies or unresponsiveness. I would prefer the keyboard to be backlit, but its a minor inconvenience, one that I can live without. It’s running on a Core i5 Skylake processor, not some underpowered coreM, has a DDR4 RAM (that’s right DDR4), 8GB of it, which is more than enough for my needs and it comes with a 256GB SSD. For me, it doesn’t matter what kind of SSD its inside, so long as its an SSD. I don’t need the superfast kind, just fast enough to boot windows without the time it takes to make coffee. I/O wise, it has 3 USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, USB-C, which is a amazing and HDMI out. It’s ports galore! Oh, did I mention that the Thinkpad 13 is MilSpec certified, meaning it pass military specifications when it comes to surviving rugged and rough treatments, like shock, and dust exposure? Thinkpad 13 is rugged. Rugged enough to be handled, transferred and used outdoors in rugged conditions.

All these specs came at just S$930. Yes its under S$1000. Originally, it costs around S$1300. But because I am going back school, I took advantage of Lenovo’s student pricing and got it down S$1030. Timing was perfect. SITEX was just around the corner in Singapore and they announced further discounts on select laptop models. On the Thinkpad 13, it went down to $930. I immediately ordered online the moment the price went down further. That was how I got the Thinkpad 13 at just S$930. It’s a steal.

So far as of this writing, I have used the Thinkpad 13 for a couple of hours and I am loving it. Typing is absolute bliss, which would definitely help in my future writing assignments during school. It’s light enough that I can tolerate bringing it around in my backpack, and overall looks really minimalistic on the outside. Barring any technical issues that might arise as the result of using it (touch wood), I think I made the right personal choice in getting the laptop at a great price that would perfectly meet my needs. One think that I truly appreciate right now is that I have cultivated a habit of thoroughly doing my research before buying something, rather than going with my emotions and getting something expensive that I might regret further down the road. One aspect of research that is important, which I only realise is that you have to be brutally honest with yourself, when it comes to choosing one expensive item over another. You really need to think logically when it comes to making such decisions, list down your needs and separate your wants, and then make the decision. In the end, you will soon realise that you can save a lot of money getting the thing you need rather than paying extra on things that you don’t.

 

Aer Fit Pack

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A couple of weeks ago, a put on a group order through Grouphunt for the Aer Fit Pack. I came across this backpack on YouTube and was highly intrigued by its designed. The Aer Fit Pack is designed by Aer Designs LLC, San Francisco. The bag is fairly unique; it features a compartment where you can put your shoes and gym clothes, in addition to your daily work or school stuff, like your laptop, notebook and other peripherals, all in one neat little bag. It’s basically a 2-in-1 bag. A gym back and backpack put together. And its beautifully designed. Nothing loud or fancy, but extremely practical. You would have thought that putting your gym clothes, shoes and your daily essentials would make your bag look huge, or bloated, and you’d think that its better to carry a day pack or duffel to be able to pack everything in, but this Aer Fit Pack looks just like any other backpack. It’s minimalist, yet highly practical design, was what attracted me and swayed me in getting one.

I am starting school in a month’s time, and now is the best time to shop for a good backpack. I have finally found one, and with a shoe compartment to boot. With that compartment, I could bring my shoes along and go for a run after my night classes before heading home. That way, I won’t miss my running routine despite those nightclasses. Absolutely perfect. Maybe I will give a more comprehensive review on the bag, once I have tried them on for a couple of months.