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Month: September 2012

Your request to be included in Twitter Cards has been approved

Your request to be included in Twitter Cards has been approved

Twitter Cards approval

As an experiment, I wanted to see how fast will Twitter respond to my request to be included in the Twitter Cards display. For those who do not know what Twitter Cards is all about, it is how Twitter customises display of information from external websites on its websites and in its mobile applications.

There are generally three types of Twitter Cards that Twitter has to offer, photo, summary and player. More can be read up on the Twitter developer page on Twitter Card.

Back to the request, it took exactly an week. I was redoing the backend workflow on how my posts here are pushed to Facebook then, during class. While I was at it, I decided to look at Twitter Cards as well.

Oh, by the way, both Facebook and Twitter’s meta tags were looked into not because I had the time. Rather, I was doing research for my FYP’s content scrapping portion. As a teaser, here is my FYP’s iPad application’s start-up image:

Klique startup image

8.15AM Classes From Next Semester Onwards

8.15AM Classes From Next Semester Onwards

SMU's new morning timeslot: 8.15AM

I initially started off writing strongly against the email that was sent out earlier by the Vice-Provost about the adjustment in the morning class time slot from 8.30am – 11.45am to 8.15am – 11.30am. However, when I did the calculations it won me over. And oh, I still feel sore about the email on one other point: presentation.

The initial reaction from my groups of friends were unmistakable: rage, rage and more rage. Almost everyone, if not all felt that SMU administration was yielding to some unknown forces too easily. The concerns were clear. For those who live in the far reaches of the island, it meant waking earlier, too early. For those who have an established routine before morning classes, it meant shorter or no breakfast, gym, run sessions. For the most, the concerns were on the future impact on the BOSS bidding. Undoubtedly, everyone would now want to bid more for afternoon lessons rather than the morning classes. My rage? None. I was actually more amused by my friends’ reaction.

An earlier starting time will indeed force most students to avoid the morning transportation crunch and thereby help LTA to relief the transportation load. But by how much? With the ever increase intakes year on year, we can safely assume that SMU is currently operating with at least 90% of the seminar rooms and classrooms taken up for classes. 90% of 67SRs and 20 classrooms gives about 3915 students (assuming 50 students in each class).

The rolling stock of the train network has a capacity of at least 1900 passengers per train (if Wikipedia is to be trusted), with exception of the stock on Circle Line of at least 1000. SMU, being in the centre of the city, all the lines are more or converging on the university. Assuming that the trains set off from the far reaches of the island in waves, at any one point in time, there can be at least 8000 passengers moving towards the city centre in one wave. Even with discounting of students who come in on buses, private transportation modes and even on foot and stretching the students into 4 waves, it meant that for each wave, SMU students can account for about 12.5% of the passenger load.

This is pretty much significant, at least to LTA. If you are tasked to lightened the transportation load of such magnitude daily, one will choose to target the big group first as well.

That being said, what is in for the students? Frankly, nothing much. We students are seemingly receiving the short end of the stick. And the sweetener in the email is not much of a sweet deal too.

I fail to see how shifting the morning classes earlier encourages students to take back to back lessons. Granted that students (and sometimes, professors and lecturers alike) currently have 15 minutes to rush from one class to another while trying to grab a lunch bite, people adapt. An eye or two are usually closed to students who bring in their meal, despite the fact that there is a Do No Eat sign. The start of the lesson is usually a recap of previous lesson or a quick Q&A to clear minor yet nagging doubts, while allowing the stragglers to rush in from another location. 30 minutes is certainly not enough if the student has to walk from SOE to LKCSB and gets lunch as well.

Also, what about subsequent slots? There are students who takes 2 afternoon lessons and other who seats in classes from 3.30pm to 10pm. Is the administration going to extend the break times as well for the others to encourage back-to-back lessons? If so, then when will the school day end for the students and the teachers?

However still, we should give the school administration some credits. They announce it early (a tad too early, in my opinion). It will not affect us for this semester, but the next. We are not thrown totally into chaos. Also they are opened to review of this policy as well. This, however, is still lacking.

What could have been done better?

  1. Hold the announcement and craft a better email out.From now to the next semester, there is at least 10 weeks. 10 weeks worth to communicate to the student body. Put in some facts and figures. Items like how a lighter train in the morning can actually shorten travelling time. I made that up. But at least build a more convincing line of reasoning, please.
  2. Tell SMUSA, the Student Association, executive committee first.Get them to suss out what are the concerns and at least act that the administration cares. Instead of a one-liner,

    “We seek the understanding of everyone to make the slight adjustments…”

    something along the line,

    “We understand that it may impact future BOSS bidding, etc… Please bear with us, as we are also unclear, but the policy will definitely be reviewed for necessary adjustments later in the year.”

    sounds much nicer. Hey, at least we are being heard in this scenario!

P.S. To the students who only thinks of how the 15 minutes can ‘kill’, please think of how we had to wake up at early in the morning, from primary school to junior college, just to meet the 7.15-7.30am deadline.

For Once, I Love Email Spam

For Once, I Love Email Spam

For once, I love email spam sent by the school. Admittedly, I am pretty much honoured to be mentioned by Prof Ong Siow Heng for my and the other school’s teams involvement in Accenture Gives: Skills To Succeed competition. 🙂

I should document the journey that my team took till now.

And yes, we are not stopping yet. 🙂

We are glad to have Stefano Virgilli of VOX LAB to assist us in our journey thus far, Accenture for providing the opportunity, and also my dear friend, Michael Cheng of mig33 for the initial introduction to Stefano.

Congratulations Accentures Gives in July 2012

Indancity: Beyond 2012

Indancity: Beyond 2012

I took a break from the usual coding sessions and went to watch a dance performance put up by Indancity, one of the leading dance groups from SMU, my first experience in watching a full length dance performance by fellow students. Contemporary and though provoking was how I felt when I sat through the entire 2 hours of what seemingly randomly choreographed movements. But it was not that case.

The entire piece revolved around the theme of life. It is after all, in celebration of the 5th anniversary of Indancity. Together, the five items revolves around the five elements: Spectra, A Toast to Life, Ring – Time – Dusty 《年轮-光阴-尘封》, Fragile Metal, Trapped Freedom.

Out of the five, two caught my interest and attention, A Toast to Life 《敬》, and Trapped Freedom 《困》.

A Toast to Life 《敬》 used water as a tool to bring out the experiences of life, the life of the dancers in the item. It started off with the girls gurgling to the Sound of Life. Screaming into the air before falling into the support of the fellow dancers seems to express the pressures we face in life, and how others would readily assist us in cushioning the fall. Human staircase formed, with a crawling dancer walking up, seemingly referring to the passage of time in life, while the rolling girls on the floor with another lying on the top expresses the pleasures of life and frolicking in water.

It was indeed a toast to an ordinary and magnificent life, and a toast it was ended with.

Trapped Freedom 《困》 was the last item in the programme. It started off with a group a girls entering a rectangular white box. One has to wonder if attire: white dress, overlaid with red jacket had another inference, an inference to the society we are in currently. The movements expressed the feeling of lethargy being caged up. Parallels were drawn: a group of dancers moving to the same beat while a pair of dancers were as though as they were going through their saddest time in life, dragging feet and slumped shoulders. The white box, a representation of a cage, was so jarring in the background that one is consistently reminded of why the dancers were in pain, in anguish.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
– From the poem I Know WHy The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Perhaps I was reading too much into it, but it seemed like a sad way to end the performance.

I usually would not comment on fellow friends’ and students’ performances, but this time, there is much too think about.

Classical Chinese Punctuation

Classical Chinese Punctuation

I was pipped by 孙子兵法, wondering how the ancient scholars notated their text in the past. So I turned to Quora for answers:

How did ancient Chinese scholars denote questions in text?

I am reading Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (book) on Wikisource at the moment in Chinese. And in the first chapter, I read a portion:

曰:主孰有道?將孰有能?天地孰得?法令孰行?兵眾孰強?士卒孰練?賞罰孰明?

Now, how was this (and other questions as well) annotated in ancient Chinese? I am pretty sure that the usage of “?” is a Western influence.

The answer came pretty fast from André Müller:

Right, the example you gave would simple be written as:

曰主孰有道將孰有能天地孰得法令孰行兵眾孰強士卒孰練賞罰孰明

(in upward-down mode, of course)

So context helps here, and the parallelistic structures of Classical Chinese.

Read Quote of André Müller’s answer to Chinese (language): How did ancient Chinese scholars denote questions in text? on Quora

Interesting… Language evolves and I wonder what Chinese will be in the future.

Flash Release: StarHub’s Media Statement – iPhone 5

Flash Release: StarHub’s Media Statement – iPhone 5

StarHub today announced it will offer iPhone 5, the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever, to customers in Singapore beginning Friday, September 21. For more information, please visit: www.starhub.com/iphone. For more information on iPhone 5, please visit: www.apple.com/iphone.

 

Details on pricing, tariffs and availability dates will be released in due course.