Parkinson’s Law

You look at the calendar and it says November. “Wow, how did time fly by so fast?” It’s almost the end of the semester, but not quite. You reflect on the past few weeks. It’s been crazy. Sometimes you catch a breather and think you’ll get through this. Sometimes you get thrown curveballs at the worst of times and you think, “I’m just not good enough for this”.

But you realise that this semester was full of firsts, and that means loads of lessons too. Learning to juggle commitments, learning to work with people of different working styles, personalities, work ethics. Learning to breathe, take a break and slow down once in a while. Learning how to squeeze productivity out of every waking hour. (I have kept a working approximation of time spent on CS3216 viz-a-viz other modules, and it’s pretty fascinating to look at the statistics at the end of the semester.)

This week, I am reminded that Parkinson’s Law is pretty relevant in our (college student) lives… How often is it that our productivity seems to rise when we are particularly busy? How much time do we spend idling or wasting on useless pursuits if we had the benefit of time to complete assignments? I’m not sure, but maybe being busy is one way (though not particularly the best, nor recommended, nor healthy) of maximising productivity? But perhaps the most important takeaway is that it’s good to take a break sometimes. Feeling recharged, we can better focus on what needs to be done.


While this week has not been kind, I am grateful to my friends and team mates for being awesome. Friends have helped me when I needed it, and needless to say, I am thankful for having such great team mates. Graphite has come pretty far! It’s been a huge project and there are still one or two missing pieces. Last week, I’ve been working on the front end, which has been annoying at times, but I also got to work on the icon and am pretty stoked about that gif too, heh.

It’s not always going to be a smooth journey, but let’s always appreciate what we have and look forward to even better days ahead.

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Remember when

That one time when you explicitly told yourself you wouldn’t sleep so late…😂

Posted using telekinesis at 3am…🙃

Euler’s Tour

As the semester comes to an end, more assignments are being given out so the amount of stress and work can be graphed as y = e^x. Other modules are competing for my attention and I feel rather guilty for ignoring them…

For the past few days, I’ve been working on wiring up some of the front and back end. In order to better visualise the data, I decided to play with the populate and faker gems to create rake tasks for seeding our database. As it turns out, the gems were extremely useful. Indeed, it is true that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Whenever another developer has kindly provided a library with the tools we need, all the better to use it! Then, we have more time to focus on the other features of our project that cannot be easily abstracted out with the use of a library. Despite the pain in debugging, etc, it’s been fun building and working, especially with my teammate, Joe for the past few weeks. STePS will be coming soon and I’m sure it’ll be a blast too.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway

On a less “work-related” note, I miss reading my books (I confess, I have been sneaking in articles from my Pocket now and then). And I’ve fallen sick again. So I’ve decided not to stay up so late and to completely abstain from heaty food for now…

It’s funny, reflections on life:

“Happiness only real when shared.”
― Christopher McCandless

If you don’t know where you’re going

Last week’s lecture was on communication and selling our product, with tips about how to better create a first impression, like emphasising your name, and keeping introductions short. Some argue that sales makes the product. Others argue that product is the only thing you have. There are basically two camps sitting on both ends, but ultimately both factors interact with each other in complex ways that often make it hard to untangle a product’s true main cause of success. Personally, I would think that you have to have a solid product first. Combine that with awesome sales in the initial phase. But who am I to say… Having read Zero to One, it seems equally probable to go the other way. I guess the best way to test it out is through multiple real-world experiences, conducting our very own experiments in life. Ultimately, I felt that last week’s most memorable learning point came from the video Cheryl played at the end, which reminded me that rejection is ok, and not only that, you must always try first, because 1. you may not get rejected, and 2. rejection can give surprising lessons. It’s always been a fear of mine that I’d get rejected even if I try, so it’s the video did give me a good reminder about overcoming rejection.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

On the final project, we have been progressing albeit it seems with spurts and bursts (truly sprints) of work. One day I’ll get a chance to work on other stuff, and another day I’ll spend an intensive whole day working solely on CS3216. This is contrasted with my previous assignments whereby I spent almost every single day working a couple of hours on CS3216. Before today, I felt that the roadmap and tasks were not as clearly defined. This is especially since we did not have any milestones to guide us! Well, it’s basically the real world knocking and telling us that we don’t always get a well-defined list of goals to hit. We have to communicate and talk to our clients, settle and reach an understanding on their needs and what we can provide so as to have a better definition of the product requirements and what we need to do. So although I have been able to gain a couple of days of respite from CS3216, I believe that work will be gearing up even more. Nonetheless, I’m pretty excited to see our MVP fully formed and ready for action. Here’s to more learning and pain.

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll

Better late than never

Last week was the UX Review with Colin and Su Yuen, but unfortunately I could not make it because I was down with a fever. Nonetheless, thanks to my helpful teammates, I’ve been able to catch up on the suggestions and improvements recommended by them. Instead, I could only make it for a workflow meeting with En Chou. We’ll be meeting with the clients again this week, so we should be able to get even more feedback.

On one hand, developing an API for other developers to use has been a fascinating experience. Usually, and in the past, I’ve been “consuming” others’ API and reading others’ documentation. Now we have the chance to develop a good API. Documentation must be clear and easily understood, with examples. I have lost count at the number of times that I’ve come across obscure or “useless” documentation that does not help me in understanding the functions at all. We would definitely be sure to produce documentation that is clear and easily comprehensible. On the other hand, the front end is important, and a simple UI that just works will be our goal. Having been working on the API implementation for the past week, it has been quite an interesting experience learning and making use of Grape instead of our normal Rails routes.

Respite (Not, ha.)

In economics, the free rider problem occurs when those who benefit from resources, goods, or services do not pay for them. – Wikipedia

Having completely burnt out after assignment 3, with a lack of time to study for the midterms properly, among other best left unsaid crises, I’m not sure how I survived the-time-between-the-end-of-assignment-3-and-now. I am somehow, to a certain extent, weirdly (highly qualified sentence here), glad that week 7 was midterms and I was able to grab some time “away” from CS3216. In particular, it was really exciting to learn more about the RSA encryption algorithm and Fermat’s little theorem. Plus, it was fascinating to discuss whether if a set could be a partition of itself. Number theory can be so very cool.

I’m not sure if I’m still “alright” after assignment 3, but I’ll hang on, for now.

As I had midterms on Monday, I was unable to attend the class, but reading others’ blogs, it seemed that one of the most resonant and memorable points was doing what you truly cared about, doing what you like. This reminds me of the standard college “trichotomy” though… And the sad thing is that not everyone can get to do what they like. (Of course, what you care about and what you like may be different things, but what you care about tends to be something that you like.) (Other blog posts also mentioned teammates in CS3216. Thinking about it, I guess you could say that a project is non-excludable and non-rivalrous within the group…)

There is still another midterm to go but the final project is kicking in and ramping up soon. After this short “break”, I’m sure there will be much thrilling coding adventures (as well as, let us not forget, pain) ahead.

“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems”

2 things

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things. – Phil Karlton

Working with caches…

“Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.”
Haruki Murakami