Comp spree

So, recently I went on a computer upgrade spree.

Why?

Because 4GB of RAM just wasn't enough. The two measly RAM slots were already filled. And it was DDR2, so no (cheap) 8GB modules.

At first, I only wanted to change the motherboard and keep the processor (Phenom X4 955 was still reasonably fast, you know). I really wanted to stick with AMD, but the motherboards really suck. Seriously.

Processor, RAM, mobo

So, went out and got an i5 3470 from Bizgram (Fuwell was pretty expensive... / Though on hindsight, Best Bargain was even cheaper - by $20!!! OMG). Although the popular processor was the i5 3570K, I figured, I didn't really need to overclock, and I sure as hell didn't need better integrated graphics when I had a discrete graphics card. That is why I went for a H77 motherboard. I really wanted to buy ASUS, but the price... MSI was fine, but my last one was a MSI and I was really sick of the beeping everytime it started up. So I went with Gigabyte! Then I got the cheapest 4GBx2 RAM for a total of 8GB.

MOAR RAM, SSD

Well, then I got itchy and decided to buy an SSD. But they were still really expensive. That's why I looked online. Amazon frequently has "Gold Box" deals, sort of like a daily deal kind of thing. So I waited and got a Samsung 830 256GB at USD154.99. It was a good price, so no need to wait for price to drop anymore. Furthermore, a new model was coming in so they should be clearing stock. Good time to buy!

Now, I heard that Amazon likes to send you big boxes. So I figured it would be a waste if I didn't buy another thing. Now another good thing to buy was RAM -- it is hardy and light -- good for shipping (unlike, say a computer case, lol). So there.

I settled on comGateway because of their DBS discount (which also works for my POSB card). There was another discount from their Facebook page. And I ended up with almost free shipping. It took a while to get my package because Fedex Smartpost delivered on a Saturday, when comGateway was not working. But the trip from US to Singapore was pretty fast. About a week. Too bad they delivered on a Monday morning, when I was in school. I rearranged for delivery on phone, which was pretty smooth.

Keyboard

Actually I got a Logitech G15 keyboard from my co-worker last time. Actually, I only wanted to buy his mouse, but ended up getting the keyboard (peer pressure...). I don't like large keyboards, but I figured I'll give it a try. Although... in the end, it really irked me. So, I finally got a mechanical keyboard. From none other than Razer. A Blackwidow. NO MORE NUMPAD. Omg how liberating. I always wished for a keyboard without a NUMPAD. Anyway, ordered from the Razer store online and they delivered pretty quickly! (Like, the next day?) Although this time I wasn't at home too, so I asked the courier to leave it inside the "pipe storage space" thingy and he asked me to send an SMS to him as proof. :-/

Casing

Truth is, I don't know why I bought the HAF932 (maybe because my friend bought one last time I got itchy. and I was also paranoid about the heat issues...). It's a good casing, but it's really bulky and I finally got sore of it after years. So I decided on a mATX casing this time. Actually, I wanted to go for the Silverstone Temjin TJ-08E, because it's really small, but it was expensive to order it online. So I waited for the Fractal Define Mini to become available on Video Pro, and ordered it on Saturday. The expected delivery was in a few days. So colour me surprised when I got a call a few hours later. (P.S. IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY, BTW). Same-day delivery, OMG! Did they know it was my birthday?

Wonderful birthday present to myself.

VGA Cooler

I was also tired of the loud noise my graphics card made when playing intensive games. And it was so hot! I tried some stress test and it got up to 97 degrees Celsius! Then my computer shut off. LOL. Well the maximum threshold was 105C, so I wasn't worried. But the noise really irked me. So. Anyway, I wanted to order from Arctic Cooling, but it was quite expensive. I ended up ordering a cheaper cooler from QuietPC.com. Well turns out it works well! No noise can be heard even at full fan speed. But something sad happen. It takes up 3.5 SLOTS! What the hell. I didn't check properly and underestimated the height. Well, it just means my Creative X-Fi Titanium sound card had to go... (Although, I was sick of Creative's drivers. But still, the soundcard cost quite a bomb... Well, the cost is sunk though.)

Ending

Well, I ordered most of the parts online. Can't believe it. A few years ago, I wouldn't even have thought of doing that. Now, I don't even have to visit Sim Lim Square anymore!

Been a while

since I last blogged. Woah what a crazy sem. Being a TA really does take up quite a lot of time. I spend a lot of time preparing for class and grading stuff.

So, maybe I'll post about my computer upgrade spree next time.

Living in the moment?

People talk of the world shrinking and becoming a much more connected place, thanks to the advances of technology. But the "improved" connectedness annoys me sometimes.

Personally, I believe that it is imperative to live in the moment. And that means being present. How is it possible to be present when you're occupied with a tablet or a phone? When you're occupied with the TV, or with something happening half the world away? How is the person in front of you less important than the game you're playing on the phone? Being born in an era where being absent is common, I'm actually quite used to it. And I even do it sometimes. But sometimes, I wonder? When was the last time someone really paid full attention to me? To me, the person who is breathing right in front? You see, in this age, I'll be really, really impressed if someone could do that for me. Actually, it's fine not to pay full attention to me. Just pay attention to the surroundings as well! If people really notice, Singapore is actually a very beautiful place. I look at the flowers and trees everytime I walk by. There's beauty everywhere. Btw, there's this long sheltered path next to the NUS field. Everytime I walk there to go to school from the bus stop near the expressway, I move my head around and look at the blue sky, the fresh grass and I sniff the fresh air. And I notice the students walking on the same path just look straight ahead. Why?! I don't understand... The world is such a beautiful place... Why aren't they looking at it? What are they thinking about? It really pains me... that there is beauty all around and people just don't wanna see.

I have friends who say that travel can open the mind. Sure, but I believe that travel is only one of the many stepping stones. You want to open your mind, you have to start from your mind. There are more things overseas? There is nothing in Singapore? Open your eyes, and open your mind. A place is an anchor for your feelings, so you may find it more difficult to open your mind when you already have preset feelings for a place. So isn't it more challenging to open your mind while staying in the same place? And isn't it more rewarding, if you overcome that challenge?

I think it's sad that people say Singapore is such a small place and there's nothing to see here. But I say, that's because your hearts are small. Tell me that you have visited beautiful Chek Jawa (even I have not been there, but I'm sure it's beautiful). Tell me that you have visited the nature reserves in Singapore (you think tropical forests are all around the world?). Tell me that you have cycled on a mountain bike on a muddy "mountain" trail on Bukit Timah Hill. Tell me that you have trekked from MacRitchie to Bukit Timah reserve on a rainy day while carrying a bike. Tell me that you have eaten all the great food in Singapore. Sidebar: TELL ME THAT YOU CAN FIND SUCH A FAULTY MRT IN SINGAPORE?! Then you go overseas, and you actually find out that other places are worse.

So, anyway, Singapore does has its faults, but I just hope that people will think twice before they complain about the things that don't really matter, and appreciate the things that could matter.

P.S. I think I just wrote a bunch of crap.

Best Internship Ever.

After 3 weeks at work, I conclude that this job is a very good fit for me. Work doesn't feel like work, as it should be. Maybe I'm on a honeymoon period or whatever, but I would love to continue working here after I graduate, as long as there's space for me.

Key points:
Flexibility is a must for me.
Simulating and challenging is also a must for me.
Awesome bosses and colleagues are of course, the most important thing.

AI assignment continued

Hopefully, this model can be extended to other biological systems as well, and we can learn more about why and how we exist.

Seriously after writing it, I can't help but laugh. Maybe I should keep this since it might lighten the mood.

My AI assignment


In this paper, I would like to model an existing biological system – how the lactase genes in our body are regulated. As biological systems are complicated and dynamic, it is reasonable to implement a model of those systems using a rule-based system like CLIPS, instead of standard procedural constructs.

Here are the few lines that I have finally managed to write after procrastinating for so long (every day I wanted to start on it, but there were too many other things which took priority. iCode, I'm looking at you.)

I don't even know where to begin. I don't know how I'm going to explain the biological aspects to my Computing professor.

But, you know what? That's part of life.

An important thing I learned in university is to always be ready to explain things to people who don't know what you're talking.

So, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Regrets

Just had some thoughts about "regrets". I think life is too short to be regretting too much. I think life is too short to be living in the past. Sure, have some regrets now and then, but move on quickly. Write your regrets in a notebook, then forget about it.

Sometimes, I have regrets about taking a major in Computational Biology. It's tough, and it's unpopular. But... I have learned many things I'd have not learned otherwise. For example, I learned that DNA sequence does not fully determine who you are. Your genes and environment interact to make you who you are. It's not entirely true that you're born to be smart, or born with a talent. That's all bullshit.

Sometimes, I think that I should have taken a major in Computer Science instead. But, life's too short for second-guessing.

Current affairs

Wells, beens a whiles since I bloggeds.

1. Mass Effect 3 had a terrible ending. Unless the conspiracy theory is true and this ending is just a troll by Bioware, in which case I would still be angry. At least the ride was good.

2. Renovation is a PITA. Dust everywhere. No easy access to fridge and stuff. Crates in my room taking up the space. I don't mind bathing the old school way though -- it saves water and is super quick.

3. Molecular biology had pretty unforgiving MCQ and each one was worth 2.5 marks. Please let me get a B+. It's my last sem taking any life science mods. Although I would be pleased if I just passed all of the life science mods. Fortunately, molecular biophysics seems to be more application-based, although I believe all life science mods always need supreme memorizing. LOL.

4. There's another test tomorrow. I'm facing burnout. Planning to skip my AI lecture tomorrow, although I don't wish to. But 2 hours could be life or death. Or not?

5. Interview with Mastercard on Tues.

Vengeful

Because I'm so sensitive, sometimes I get hurt very easily and the other party won't even be aware of it. And since I remember grudges, sometimes these grudges pile up so high that I unwittingly vent it somewhere. I think it's so sad. And I'm so tactless as well, so sometimes I say things that I regret. But there is no regret to be had because I already did it. And I have to move on. It's okay. I have to learn to survive in this world. I have to learn to withstand insensitive comments and be sensitive about my comments. It's tough, but I'll make it through.

Activation Energy and Procrastination

Hello! This post is inspired by and dedicated to my buddy PCJC. He was asking how to get motivation to do your work. First of all, don't call it work. Call it an exercise, a puzzle or something that sounds more exciting. (I always believe language is important). Second, best of all, don't treat it as work. Treat it as a challenge, or something you enjoy. (Of course this depends on whether you can find the silver lining). Third, the first step is important. So is the last step. Why?

Let me explain in terms of chemical reactions.

BOOM! As the theory goes -- for reactions to occur, a hurdle, also known as the activation energy (Ea), has to be crossed first. Sometimes the amount of activation energy needed is so great that you need to put in a lot of energy to make the reaction happen.

This, my friend, is what causes procrastination. Procrastination is not a disease. It is simply a way for us to cope with stress and expectations. It is a sign that the hurdle seems too great to handle.

And that's why... you need enzymes! Enzymes lower the activation energy needed for a reaction. So, what kind of enzymes(techniques) can you use?

1. The 1 reaction way
Drink a lot of red bull and chiong your project in one day

2. The multiple reactions way
Think of your project as multiple, mini reactions (What was the cause of procrastination? Now, the big hurdle should be reduced to several humps). Start small, with one mini reaction at a time. Always stop halfway, unless you really cannot take it. Do not stop when you finish a reaction. DO NOT stop until you have reached the peak or almost reached the peak. Continue until you reach the peak, then stop. Why? So the next time you don't have to start another mini reaction. You can just roll down :) And it's easier to roll up to the next peak after you have enough momentum from rolling down.

This was inspired by the book Now Habit I borrowed from the library. The rationale is that you always stop with a question, with something to think about, so that you can continue off easily the next time.

That book also said something that seemed counter-intuitive. The Unschedule: "Instead of scheduling work you have to do, you fill in everything you want to do." Check out the link if you want to know more (you should).


Well, I have only tried it to a certain extent, and I must say that it is cool. Usually you try not to play, but now, you try not to "work"! Imagine trying not to do something! My rebellious nature rears its head here. Haha! In fact, I don't even treat it as "work" anymore.

Protein Folding and Real Life

Some people ask, what's the point of learning of those science stuff in school? I say, that's up to them! Are they going to apply it, or just treat it as garbage?

I say, why not assimilate it? Why not take it in and enrich myself? Instead of being passive and trying to reject knowledge, accept it! Revel in it! If you don't like it, transform it! Make your enemy your friend! That is the highest strategy, other than running away. Be like water.

Let us talk about protein folding. To simplify things, protein start out linearly as a sequence of amino acids. When they fold, that is when they achieve their 3D shape and therefore their biological function. Now the protein may not always fold into this 3D shape so perfectly. They may drop into a local minimum somewhere and never get out of the depression. Look at figure A below.


D1, D2, D3 etc are those local minimums. Once the protein gets stuck in any of these local minimums, it may not get out without enough energy. It may never achieve its supposed shape.

Just like real life, some people don't achieve their full potential. Because they're stuck in a local minimum. And they believe they're stuck there. And they remain there, convincing themselves that they're just not good enough, that they were Born This Way.

No.

Genius is a myth. Hard work is real. Do you really think Mozart and Beethoven became pro composers because they had talent? No. They were pushed/pushed themselves, and they worked harder than anyone else. They got out of all the local minimums and got to the lowest energy state, folding properly in the end. (This is just an example. I do not propose that there is any limitation to our abilities.)

So the next time you tell yourself, "I can't do it. I'm just not smart enough." Stop. Do not insult our hard work. Before you tell yourself, "I can't do it," ask yourself, "did I really do everything in my ability?"

"Did I eat properly? Sleep properly? Ask many questions? Find many answers?"

Then you're allowed to say, "I did my best, but I can do even better."

On Work

I just finished reading through the book "Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person" borrowed from the Biz library, and it concluded with a very apt, very meaningful poem.


Then a ploughman said, "Speak to us of Work."
And he answered, saying:
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life's procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.
When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?
Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth's furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life's inmost secret.
But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.
You have been told also life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.
Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, "he who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is a nobler than he who ploughs the soil.
And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet."
But I say, not in sleep but in the over-wakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.


From The PROPHET, by Kahlil Gibran

Maths tutorial

So I was thinking through this Maths problem this past few days -- sometimes when I was idle my mind would go through it, thinking of a way to solve the problem. I am pleased to announce that it has worked out. Solved by the most fundamental and powerful tool -- induction. How could I not see it?!

Ultimately, the sense of satisfaction is very much worth the hard thinking. But even the hard thinking is not punishing at all, as I enjoy thinking. Maths is a way of life!

Makeup

Women love makeup because it makes them look better.
Men hate makeup because they are scared of traps.
(There are exceptions, of course.)
Me: I hate mascara/eyeliners but I like eye shadows.

The reason why it's important to go for lectures and tutorials

There are at least three types of memory: auditory, visual, kinesthetic.

Lectures: audio and visual memory
Tutorials: kinesthetic

Self-study: usually only visual and maybe kinesthetic (if you do your own problems)

Unless your audio memory is so weak, lectures do help your auditory memory. And that is why there should be webcasts for every lecture. The main(only?) reason why webcasts are not popular among the school management is because of attendance. And that really sucks.

Gender Colors?

I still find it puzzling that the female toilet (usually) has a red symbol, and the male toilet has a blue symbol. Red is such an aggressive colour, and blue a passive one. Logically speaking, if we consider the gender stereotypes, red should be a male colour and blue a female one.

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2831/was-pink-originally-the-color-for-boys-and-blue-for-girls

The reason why I will always get an Android over iPhone

What's this? A third consecutive post in a short span of a few days! I guess I'm just feeling inspired.


I'll probably never get an iPhone, because Android ftw:

1. I like control.

  • iTunes is gonna piss the hell out of me. I prefer to drag and drop my files, thank you.
  • I can change the themes, I can change the keyboard, I can change my dialer, I can change my SMS app...
  • Every app can talk to other apps, and they can access the same file system, unlike iOS
  • REAL multitasking (a double-edged sword, undoubtedly. also, who needs multitasking on a phone?)


2. I'm cheapo.
I can get the top-end Android smartphone for $300 less than iPhone. Duh???

3. I hate proprietary things
Like the iPhone charging plug and the non-removable battery

4. I like big screens
Does that need explanation?


Some things I miss on iPhone:

1. The accessories! There's so much accessories... And nice casings...

2. Using the same apps as my friends


Misc comments: 

1. The restricted ecosystem can actually be good sometimes. After taking the Human-Computer Interaction class, this became very apparent to me. Less control and options can be a good thing for the UI, especially a mobile UI. As the famous(infamous?) quote goes, "With great power comes great responsibility". More control means more work for the user. e.g. When installing apps from the Market, it is important to check the permissions granted to the app. Prevention is cure, and no antivirus will beat prevention (i.e. good security).

2. Google is an advertising company. I hate ads.

3. Optimized software is important. Top-end Android phones have specs that blow the iPhone and WP7 out of the water, but the software is a bit flaky sometimes...

Mango Fried Rice


I was left with a mango and a big box of butterhead lettuce, as well as some frozen shrimps, unused after making shrimp salad for Piggy's birthday. I overestimated the amount of mango needed and underestimated the amount of lettuce needed. And my mum was bugging me to just finish it up before we set off to Malaysia tomorrow. What to do? Easiest dish of all -- fried rice.

Spontaneous recipe
1 mango
2 butterhead lettuce heads
1 egg (whipped)
Some shrimps
Cooked rice
Garlic

1. Fry egg with cooking oil.
2. Add garlic and fry for a while, then add lettuce.
3. Add everything and stir-fry.

It turned out a bit soggy, because of the mango. Maybe dried mangoes would be better. I also didn't add salt/soya sauce, so it tasted a bit plain. But it's edible. 5/10!