Category Archives: Learn

A Little Dose of Inspiration Nick Vujicic

When faced with daily problems and struggled with the hard reality, even motivated people tend to lose their faith and lose their vision. This is the time we would be some help and encouragement from someone else.

While I was searching for the term “Reality Distortion Field“, I found this amazing video that teared me in 30 seconds.

I would just quote his speech below as a spur for my journey. And I also hope friends who watched what Nick has been achieved is able to carry the spirit with them.

So what do you do when you fall down? Get back up, everybody knows to get back up, … But I tell you there are some times in the life where you fall down and feel like you don’t have the strength to get back up. …, when you don’t have to impress anybody and you’re yourself, and fears come in. You know the fear that you have as soon as you walk into the doors of your house. Maybe it is a broken home. Maybe you have doubt in your life. Maybe you don’t know for sure what’s going to happen in future, and it scares you. Maybe you’re worried about what people think of you, what people say about you. Just that fear that paralyzes you, and I just want to ask you today. Do you think you have hope? Because I tell you I’am down here, face down, and I have no arms and no legs. It should be impossible for me to get back up …

But it’s not. You see, I will try 100 times to get up and if I fail  100 times, if I fail and I give up, do you think that I’am ever going to get up? No. But if I fail and I try again? And again and again? For as long as I try there is always that chance of me getting up. And it’s not the end until you’ve given up. And just the fact that you’re here, should persuade you that you have another chance to get back up. There is still hope.

I am not here today to tell you that I understand your pain. … But I know how it feels to have a broken heart, and I know how it feels to be alone, and I want you to know that I have found my strength with Jesus Christ, and you are going to find that strength in whatever you find it in. But I just want you to know that it’s not the end. It matters how you are going finish. Are you going to finish strong? And you will find that strength to get back up. like this …

We tend to get inspired when you hear this kind of stories, and feels we can achieve anything we want. But everybody knows that is hard. We wake up earlier, make big decisions, acted more deterministically for the first few days. Then our schedule tend to fall back the way we comfortable in. And when we surrounded by negative feedback and energies, faced down the ground, it is really hard to raise your head.

Thats why I have to make this mark here as a constant reminder of hope we have as long as we keep getting up and trying hard.

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SQL Query Across Servers

Exec sp_addlinkedserver @server 'server' 
    @srvproduct 'product_name] 
    [ @provider 'provider_name] 
    [ @datasrc 'data_source] 
    [ @location 'location] 
    [ @provstr 'provider_string] 
    [ @catalog 'catalog]

Select * From ServerName.DbName.SchemaName.TableName

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My New Learning Experience

I have always been quite confident in my learning ability. I believe for any given topic, I would be able to understand the logic behind and apply those knowledge to solve (sadly, but true) exam problems within a short amount of time. From school to university, even until early this year.

This level of confident has decreased recently in a good way I think. It reminds me that there are topics in field even I am most familiar with and interested in require significant effort to understand not to mention master or even contribute.

The two courses I taken via Coursera from Sep are Neural Network & Probability Graphic Model. Most of my learning is to watch the lecture videos while I commuting between home and office. I didn’t put in enough effort to really read through the slides and research on further materials mentioned by the instructor. I found myself missing quite a number of knowledge point. Especially in NN, many incitation and techniques introduced are very alien to me. Not only I can’t understand why do they use those tricks to train a network, but the exact difference between techniques.

Quizes for these 2 courses are still quite manageable, even though I am not fully understand what the lecturer said. However, those programming assignments are really big headache to me. Sometimes I spend more than 10 hours on 1 assignment, and still cannot figure out the right way. Sometimes I have to rely on reverse engineering by guess the expected result via trial and error.

It is a bit disappointed when I read that the answers for those programming assignment will not be released even after the course ended. It would continue be a status of half-half for me, even I can score perfectly by bootstrapping the answers.

After a few more hours on the assignment last night, I decided to stop. I will keep the assignment in my “Someday: ToDo” list when I have the opportunities to really go through the material thoroughly again.

Back to the original purpose of this post, I am here to remind myself that in order to be an expert in an even narrowly defined field, I need to prepare myself mentally.  Knowledge and skills in this world are so diverse and profound that so many smart people have contribute their lives. I should not expect a shortcut to lead me there.

 

EDIT: Turns out the NN staff point us the right direction with an excellent post in the forum who carefully explained the algorithm.

And it turns out that I was distracted by the ret=loss() function provided in the sample. My weight decay is totally off. I should have use what I learned from the Machine Learning by Andrew Ng on the regulation term.

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Stay Happy With What You are Doing

Some take away from yesterday’s conversation with another entrepreneur.

Your team and yourself should work happily not stressfully towards your target.
If a problem has been solved by others, there will be a way. If you worked so hard and still failed, step back and think alternative solutions. Working hard is not an excuse for miss a target.
Enjoy the process of learning and growing, always exploring a more efficient way to your result, don’t just burry yourself in the tasks.
Stay productive, more importantly be creative.

Stay absolutely confident and modest
Stand your view while listen to advice. Get rid of your eggheadedness

Find a process that can free your manpower.
At certain stage of your company, try to formalize and stabilize your method of growing. First, trial, fail, summarize what you have done, and choose an effective process.Then, familiarize the process so that your team get more things done in less time. This is when the team should explore the next stage of growth

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Plan Your Retirement at Age 45, Not 65

This post will be helpful for people want to climb up their corporate ladder and become professional managers. If you are an entrepreneur, you may also get some useful ideas. But the path will be slightly different. The advice is given by the trainer while I was in his training course on Business Analyse Essentials. I didn't research on the exact figures mentioned below, as I think the idea or the advice is more important here, even though the numbers below may not be 100% correct.

Contrary to our believe that people join workforce after graduation in their late 20s and work from companies to companies until retirement at their late 60s, the trainer warned us that we should plan our career only till age 45.

According to national workforce statistics, mid-tier management will hit their career plateau in their late 40s.  They have been working on the same project or assignment for over 20years. There is nothing challenge for them in day to day work. However, due to lack of traits, such as strategic planning and thinking, necessary network, for higher management positions, they are unlikely to get promoted to the next level as well. As their pay raise and motivation drop, they become less valuable and less favorable to the company compare to the younger generation who are much cheaper and very energetic.

Then 3 likely path will happen 3 years after they hit their plateau. First, they get really fed up with the job they are holding. Depends on their skills and outside temptations, they will quit their well paid but boring job to drive taxi, selling properties, or open up a small coffee shop. This kind of explains my observations on many taxi drivers have strong technical knowledge. They are the retiree of previous senior engineering from different industries. (Of course, this post is nothing about happiness which can be perceived from different angles. I am discussing and sharing about the career decisions.) Second, they kind of make peace with themselves, or comprise with the reality that they have to pay off their loans and children’s education fees. They stayed in their current positions, doing nothing but 9-to-5. They tolerate the struggle of waking up every weekday morning and the stress from younger professionals making their way up. They didn’t expect promotion and receive salary increment that hopefully justifiable to the inflation. Third, they because too expensive but not as valuable to the company. When economic gets bad, they are retrenched. Bad news always comes at the wrong time.

Age 45 is the age they separate corporate professionals apart. A few well prepared are moving up and given more prominent roles to lead and decide the destination of the rest that are unprepared. Indeed, according to an article from Forbes. Late 40s to early 50s are the average age of CEO for top American corporates across industries.

Hence, the trainer urged us, especially young fresh graduate to start thinking and planning, not for what you want to do after retirement at age 65, but where you want to go at the age 45. According to him, that is the point where your career ends or flys. There are 2 alarms bells 5 years ahead of each before you reach 45 sounds at age 35 and age 40. As he explained, the first 5 years after graduation, most people are just exploring the workforce, pay off the study loans, and setup their own family. Young professionals try to build up their skills sets and create basic professional networks. They do not have a clear understanding about either the industry or their interest. Hence, before 30, they are simply trying to adjust their student mindset to a professional one.

A few years in the job and with some savings and a stable relationships, people start to pay more attention to their career. Higher position, better pay, more exposure. People start to value their progress based on what they get and feel satisfied whenever they make progress based on those materialized rewards.

This is the trap that most people fall in. People are brought up to follow different kind of curriculums and targets set by others until age 25. After that, people are put into their own boat and become the captain themselves. They are so used to the direction pointed ahead of them for the first 25 years, they forget to find their own campus when they start their own sail. They benchmark themselves against their pairs or their pays last year. Everything looks up and right on their chart. As the sea is so widely open, captains without a campus enjoy their daily progress but lose their directions and they start to circle around from the starting point. 20 years later, when they hit the plateau, they realize the course they have sailed but lose the energy and patient to stay focus again. So once again, they boarded on others boat and become one of the sailers.

The alarms at age 35 and 40 are a good indicators that the captain need to review their courses. Unfortunately, many captains didn’t hear the alarms until the final bell. The trainer thinks, though it is a bit late to wait until any one of the alarm triggered, captains still have chance to master their own boat if they can take immediate actions. What they need is a campus and constant adjustment of their course towards their target. The ship cannot be turned overnight. Years of effort is required to steering it to the correct course.

He suggests that we set our destination (bold and big) at age 45 and put milestones every 5 years in order to reach where we desired. We then try our best to shorten the time from one milestones to the next.

So final take aways

  • Your career destination is at age 45
  • Set milestones along the way and try the best to shorten path from one to another.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of daily up and right charting

Update:

As entrepreneur, I don't really want to be the head of department or regional officer of other people's company. But the general principle applies to me as well. 
In the sea that I will sail, not only do I need to adjust the course according to our campus, but prepare to fight with the storms. 

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My Animated Product Demo – Scripts

Last Tues, I explored the idea to create a self-made animated video to promote products.

Some few useful steps are introduced by Grumomedia who has helped many YC startups to create their promotion video. Rather than spending 3~4k and outsource it, I decided to create one myself. It will be tough but I think it is an necessary skill for startups in SG as we dont have access resources many Silicon Value guys enjoyed.

Writing has always been a challenge for me. The scripts took me more than 3hrs to complete and it is in Chinese. The main reason for the challenge, I believe is, my own understanding about the product.

Who are our users? What do they concern? What are their experience or current situation that make them want to use our product? What are the features we can offer? What are the advantages we have compare to existing products?

The good thing about writing, as I always believe but not often  executed, is you can solidate your ideas and share them easily. You have to really think through all the questions you face before you can complete your stories. Otherwise, most of time, the answer you think you know may only stands on the sand. When you are really questioned my friends or investors, you will scratch your head and try to defend yourself on the spot.

It is very hard to argue with your own mind. Writing, instead, can free up some of your memory and  give you more mental capacity to argue against yourself.

Furthermore, once you complete your writing, you can send to your partners to review at their convenient time and give them the buffer to think about it rather than argue at the same time while both of your thoughts are pre-mature.

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