Gabriel's shared items

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Coming Full Circle



Headed back to Cambridge in a few hours time, exactly one year after my maiden pilgrimage - same flight number, same departure timing, but with different people - with me playing the senior this time round.

Will be seated with Foo Yee and Aloysius, two Mathmos! Muahahahaha! I'm anticipating a very enjoyable 13 hour flight back! :P

Have been waking up to the sight of my suitcase at the corner of my room the past few eye-shuts. Such visual stimulus upon a dreamy state occassionally evokes flashbacks to the emotions I had a year back.

I recall a situation of excitement coupled with uncertainty. An excitement relived by Aloysius, brought about from the sudden realisation of the significance of the moment. And uncertainty, the uncertainty of my cause, of not knowing why I made the decision to take such a huge leap into the unknown without a safety harness. The uncertainty of what to expect, and the uncertainty of whether I was going to make it out alive.

Now one year on, the excitement and uncertainty had been replaced with a cautiously optimistic resolve. Knowing what to expect, the opportunities available, and being mentally prepared to face the challenges. I no longer question the wisdom of my decision like I did at the pivotal moment a year back, instead, I'm thinking of what I can do with the options I have, and make the most out of it.

And in that sense, I am rather optimistic because the opportunities my situation offers is quite boundless. Just praying that I'd be able to utilise it well.

And as reflected by the seasoned state of my belongings, I am now a veteran of this pilgrimage.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Numbered Days & Personality Tests

Spent the last few days of the hols catching up with the people whom I wont be meeting for another year!

Had lunch with the cf people at holland v on monday afternoon. Said goodbye to daniel. It's quite sad parting with people whom you've just gotten to know well, and whom you've done many things together, and you're just beginning to relate with. A mere year after knowing them. Guess this is part of growing up... People in your adult life come and go really frequently, and it is indeed the guys you went to secondary school with who will remain your best buddies. Managed to meet with my sec sch scouts friend that evening.

Tsang, varun and shamir... Part of the 99-mil plc. Just realised that night that it's been ten years already, since the time when we were blur scouts recruits! What happened between then and now seemed a gaping void! I can map a word onto each of those 10 years -

1997: SAS sec1; 1998: SAS sec2; 1999: SAS sec3; 2000: SAS sec4; 2001: SAJC J1; 2002: SAJC J2; 2003: NS; 2004: NS; 2005: NS; 2006: Uni year1; 2007.

But those words just do not seem to account for ten years of life!

Had quite varied conversation topics that dragged 5 hours til 3 am that morning. A good part of the time, we were talking about people - those we came across along the way, like in army, as well as people we know from our scouting days. The conversation meandered into a discussion of personality traits, with Tsang and Shamir discussing personality tests like MBTI, etc... I was reminded of a personality test I had taken back in 2003 as part of the dsta selection process, and went up to my room to dig the report up.

Three years on, I had found the personality test a really accurate assessment of my character, and have realised that the problems I had faced had sometimes been a direct consequence of my personality and the situation.

Found the report so accurate that I'm going to type out parts of the report onto this entry.
Dominance 2 10 -8
Influence 3 7 -4
Steadiness 7 2 5
Conformity 7 2 5

And the subsequent descriptions and suggestions were really insightful and helpful.

  • Sets both himself and others extremely high standards.
  • A perfectionist with an innate need to get things right.
  • Can tie up the loose ends and see an assignment through to conclusion.
  • Likes to be part of a specialist/technical/administrative team.
  • Prefers the security of a structured working environment where the work parameters are clearly defined.
  • Non-aggressive, dislikes conflict, trouble, hassle or having to make harsh or unpopular decisions.
  • Works in an organised and systematic manner in order to reach the 'perfect' solution to problems and assignments.
  • Prepared to follow systems, rules and procedures.
  • Needs time to adjust to change; prefers the status quo.
  • Can appear reserved and serious; builds relationships slowly on trust.
  • Can become defensive if become threatened or criticised.

  • Developing skills in a specialist/technical/administrative area of competence and expertise.
  • Providing a service to others.
  • Working persistently in order to complete assignments.
  • Absorming detail and gathering facts and information befor taking action.
  • Following direction and operating under controlled circumstances.
  • Assessing situation logically.
  • Analysing and researching specialist/technical information.

In italics are the lines that struck me as very accurate. Had previously thought that these kind of personality tests were simply restating the very things you told them in the tests, but realised the an insight is a statement of the obvious which one does not take much notice of. And this report has proven very insightful.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Singapore Dreaming

Went to watch it with shian today at cineleisure. Portrays the struggles and discontentment faced by a working class Singapore family. Puts many things in perspective, like the reality that contentment is quite independent of your social status or the amount of wealth one has.

Also, a clip i found on youtube today:

Anyway, time to start packing, and planing for the pilgrimage back to cambridge.

Monday, September 18, 2006

End of yet another chapter

Went back today to complete my project report, closing yet another chapter. Had to wait over the weekend for the simulation to churn out the results.

Me at my desk, and Dr Liu Ping and I at the terminals to the supercomputer

Had blogged in the previous entry about all I've gained from this internship. It's been a great exposure to the world of simulation and research. Thank God for this opportunity, think it's helped change my outlook for the better.

Went down to suntec to meet shamir, quite interesting all the activity happening because of the IMF meetings. Suntec was literally turned into a fortress! The parameter fencing and the police presence evoked feelings of how authoritarian a state Singapore is, but because of that it's able to pull off something so grand on such a large scale. Think if the world were one country, Singapore has all the administration, infrastructure, and manpower to be the world capital! Just from the density of the luxury vehicles within the area, makes a powerful statement of our prosperity. There were BMW's for the delegates, the regular Mercedes taxis, plus the normal share of such vehicles on our roads, it was quite an awesome atmosphere.

Also celebrated Serene's birthday yesterday, and my departure, this time with a new addition to the family! Hm... This period of time really feels like a repeat of last year! Including the ride back in daniel's car after the cf bbq, and the bouquet of flowers.

Ok, just randomly blabbering the stuff I'm feeling dejavu about.

But there's a little difference this time: two more weeks left, and I know what I'm in for, I know people over in Cambridge. I'm kinda anticipating next year, with a bit of apprehension. A better situation than this time last year when I did not feel any genuine anticipation about the transition at all. Hopefully this is indication that things will turn out better this time round.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Geeky Adventures

Have been messing around with geeky stuff lately.

Set up an apache and ftp server on my home desktop, and configured my router so that I can definitely access the computer when it's on. Ftp'ing stuff back and forth from the supercomputer inspired me to successfully set up the ftp server :P

Also installed Java, and compiled my first java program last night. Gonna get eclipse, a Integrated Development Environment for Java, soon. Reading up on the principles of Object Oriented Programing, as well as Networking with Java.

Also been setting up my new laptop, installing all the programs I need. It's the first time I'm owning a new computer all by myself, and I'm taking note of every single thing I've installed.

Switched to Open Office, cos it's free and legal, and it's proven as useful as Microsoft Office with regards to the basic features like opening files, and editing them.

Installation Log

05 Sep 06
Installed Thunderbird
Installed Firefox
Installed Windows Live Messanger

08 Sep 06
Uninstalled Windows Live Messanger
Installed MSN Messanger 7.5
Installed Google Desktop
Installed Itunes

11 Sep 06
Installed OpenOffice 1.1.5

15 Sep 06
Installed RealPlayer
Installed Installed jdk-1_5_0_08 (Java)

Really looking forward to working on the game next year with Yijin and gang!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wrapping Things Up

The guys I hang out with for lunch

I'm currently at work, putting the final touches on the report, and waiting for the simulation to churn out the last of the data I'd require to conclude the project, and hoping to be able to complete a decent report by thursday, so that I'd be able to take away something nice from this internship.

Guess it's a good time to review the things I've done this summer and at IHPC.

Looking back at the past few months, I realise that I've gained tremendously in the following areas:

1) Simulation

Having no background in simulation, the experience of working with simulation programs and codes has vastly added to my knowledge in this area.

I now better understand what simulation entails. Learnt of:
- the existence of the range of methods employed to solve various simulation problems (i.e. Quantum Mechanics, Molecular Dynamics, and Finite Element Method), as well as
- the principles behind computer simulation (that the main challenge of performing simulation is modeling a situation in a way that yields accurate results yet minimizes the amount of calculations required).

Dr Liu Ping attempted to educate me on the Finite Element Method at the beginning of the internship. While the actual calculations still elude me, I now understand how structural simulation is approached – that an object is modeled by elements, and that the data defining the object is stored as an array of nodes and elements.

I was also very impressed by the program Dr Liu Ping gave me to work with. I never knew that the simulation of such a complex process can be done with just a few kilobytes of code – and there were no libraries used!

2) Workings of IHPC and Research Life

This internship is also my first encounter with research life. I was initially not used to the great amount of autonomy, but I gradually learnt to pursue the things that were on my mind each day, and to make use of the opportunities available to further my understanding on a range of topics.

I also gained an insight into how research collaboration is considered and initiated, when I sat through a meeting discussing such a prospect of collaboration. During the meeting, I had learnt of the limits of simulation and the challenges involved in simulating certain genre of problems like detonation. I now better appreciate the difficulties encountered in simulation work.

This internship also saw my first attempt at writing a research paper style report, an albeit short one.

3) Quantum Dot Production

When I begun looking around for internships, I was hoping to be involved in the area of quantum computing, as it is a field that puts to use some of the recently discovered physics phenomena. Though it was not exactly quantum computing, working on quantum dots at a computing research institute seemed an exciting prospect too.

My personal goal after I accepted the internship offer was to understand the problems associated with producing the kind of quantum dots which would be needed in the implementation of a quantum computer.

I have learnt that the main challenge with fabricating quantum dots is finding an effective manufacturing method, of which Heteroepitaxy was a promising technique. Had also found that quantum dots were already being produced using other techniques, but the techniques available is still quite laborious.

It looks like a matter of time and research effort before an effective method of producing quantum dot array is found, and I reckon it will not be the factor that poses much hindrance to the development of quantum computers.

Other Accomplishments

During this time, I have also achieved a number of things outside the jurisdiction of IHPC.

I had implemented the website of a society I was webmaster of, read up on some of the topics I would be doing in next year’s course, took 5 students for tuition, and made contact with the Quantum Information Group at NUS.

Each of these has been a source of much fulfillment, and I have to confess that it helped me tide over the periods of boredom whenever I got stuck in the project.

Ok, the above might sound a little politically correct, and impersonal. I had meant to address it to my superiors, but I'm still questioning the wisdom of doing that. But that's about a wrap of what I've done this summer. Felt that i had quite an enriching time...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Yes! Successfully Set Up FTP Server!

In the process of transfering all my files from the old laptop to the new laptop through my main desktop computer, using ftp!!!

It was the firewall blocking the ports all along.

Now I can access my home computer from Cambridge if i wished. But it might not be very secure, and if the router reassigns the desktop IP address, then GG.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, Thermodynamics

Lagrange Mechanics, Hamiltonian Mechanics, Entropy

Lorentz Groups, Hilbert Space.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Big Things Begin in Garages

Reading up accounts of how some big things begun:

Boeing &

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Hm... haven't blogged in a while.

The past week has been... routine, having gone back to work.

Still fun though. Begun hanging out with colleagues. Finding out how life is like as a permanent researcher. Quite a nice bunch of people actually.

Friday 010906:
Met up with james at nus for lunch yesterday.

Thursday 310806:
There was some competition happening at IHPC involving the JC's on thursday. Met the SAJC team, of which I knew one of the participants and one of the teachers.

Also went for a quantum computing seminar organised by the quantum information group. Like their informal atmosphere - there was a gigantic linux penguin in their office! Saw people I had read of online, and Dr Ekert arrived after. Hope to be more involved with this group in future.

Wednessday 300806:
Also sat through a meeting in IHPC where they discussed the viability of engaging in a partnership on a certain project. Quite an insightful experience into the process of how colleborations are initiated.

Ok maybe my week wasnt routine. Packed should be a better word to use.

Also had tuition on those evenings.

And yes,
Saturday 260806:
Cumsa fresher's bbq at my house!

And on a random note, searching "cumsa" on google blogsearch now returns a few more results, including the blogs of some of this year's freshers. :P

Sunday 270806:
Went to play dota with sam and friends. Think i wanna train dwarvian sniper. Thinking of installing dota on my new laptop. :D

Today 020906:
Trying to get my ftp server up and running, made some progress, but still cant seem to connect to it from the other computers.

Ok, a very unorganised documentation of the days since i last posted.