Undergrad By Day

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


This blog is derelict and dying. It has been an entertaining and worthy publication.

However, the old must make way for the new. It is the nature of the world.

So, ladies and gentlemen.. If you would point your cursors to actionslavehero.livejournal.com and click, I will be very much obliged.

Thank you very nice.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


This blog may not be dead just yet. It's going to be like a zombie kinda blog.

Yeah. I have a zombie blog, do you?

This is a random post but I have a little nostalgia nugget. Random old photos of a defunct band called Moren Tea Estate

Suits the whole theme of semi-dead/undead stuff, no? The people in the band are alive but the band is dead.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

San Francisco!!

I haven't been blogging for quite a bit but I will be blogging often over the next few days to document my trip to San Francisco. Check my blogs out at undergradbyday.wordpress.com

See ya guys!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The broken bus stop barrier post

After work yesterday, I took a longer route home than usual. In the spirit of randomness and self-surprise, I took a different bus. I knew I wanted to go somewhere different. It felt like something I wanted to go back to.. but I knew it was neither SMU, home nor work.

I found myself at the bus stop at the foot of a familiar hill.

It was drizzling slightly but the familiar upslope walk beckoned. I always wondered if the old Bukit Timah campus was situated on the real Bukit Timah hill or if there was a bigger elevation nearby more befitting the name of hill. From what I can recall of my time spent at the top of the Accountancy Building back then.. I don't think there was anything else higher for quite a distance.

The walk was further than I remembered. Maybe because this time I took time to take in the sights as I walked up, instead of the late-for-class marathon. The trees were as magnificent as I remembered. The Oei Tiong Ham building still carried its great white majestic face, but now it was more a mask.. for I could see that the renovations had removed all the fixtures, leaving its frameless windows open like gaping eyes and one could see that there was nothing inside. A great, majestic lion once reared here.. now it is a hollow corpse and skull.

The NUS shield appeared on the construction perimeter every 5 metres. It almost felt that someone took great lengths to erase any doubt on who now lays claim over this prize. They've taken down the Glass Lounge and most of everything has been carved out save for the first few floors of the accountancy building. The roads and trees and the face of the buildings still felt so natural to my sense. I never imagined how homely the campus would still after a year. I walked past the accountancy to the House 1 area, which was I had a number of performances, discussions... late night confessions.

They demolished the Food Haven building and the Clubhouse. I spent countless hours there... both in the SA Council Room in the clubhouse as well as in the Studio we set up at the Lounge@Haven. The bridge from House 1 to that building now stops short before the road. I looked at the empty field of grass and felt sad. I was confused and couldn't imagine how all those memories could fit into a space so small. I stood on the orange slope steps that led down the slope beside the bridge.. and stared for a long time. It was like dealing with someone's death. My mind had to accept that it will never experience the same thing again.

I walked out through the Botanical Gardens. There was this one spot where there were always a few elders doing Tai-Chi in the wee morning just before the first class. The green grass was perfect and in the dim light of the dusk, the two black swans walking up from the lake to feed seemed surreal. A couple was lounging on the bench and parents brought their children for walks.. It really didn't feel like the hustle and bustle of fast-paced Singapore. I swear it was in a different time-space continuum. Time slowed. I remember always turning back at this particular point in the Garden, where I would see the SMU shield born proudly on the top of the accountancy building. You could really see it for miles. It was always an inspiring picture. Now, there was nothing.

I sometimes think that it is this that makes one age. That process of coming to terms, accepting and moving on. I have had quite a bit of that since the initial carefree undergrad days. A lot of things have changed since the beginning.

It was a hard fight for me to get to SMU and when I was finally in, it was everything that I expected it to be and more. The campus was home, the studens.. all friends. Everyone on campus treated each other with respect. I honestly feel that a lot of that has gone now. Now, students are strangers after hours. I can't enter the library after-hours just to return a book to Margaret Chan. A book she was expecting. The guards stopped me and said they have consulted with Margaret, who was attending the Dean's book launch at level 5, and to pass them the book as well as to write my name and contact so that she could know who I was.

I was infuriated. Not at them because they were just doing their job, but because I was being treated like a second-class citizen in my own school. The person who made the decision not to let me up obviously does not trust students and if you don't trust.. you obviously can't have a relationship and be on good terms. While I have personally experienced how ridiculously destructive and brainless students can get, I still believe we should give students the benefit of the doubt. That extra mile. That trust. I found that lacking usually from the lower administration compared to the higher positions. Usually.

I had to rant. I wonder if its just me feeling like the school has gone from treating us like intellectuals to treating us like children. Maybe some of us are. I had a vision of a place where intellectuals interacted and discussed. We would trust each other to behave in a reasonable manner. We would talk openly and make friends, share facilities, encourage activity and discourse on all manner of things, hold doors and pick up litter. Basicly, we will not be sheep without common sense. I think you know what I mean.

Am I a dangerous criminal when I proclaim that rules are guidelines that should be bent when they need to be? Apply your slippery slope then yes.

I miss the old SMU. I cling to my friends.. the ones that remind me of it. I still nurture the hope that we would one day be that vision of trust and common sense, in a campus that one would readily call home.

Friday, June 30, 2006


It is dark here. There is nothing but a single point of light in the wall and incessant sound of dripping. The water never stops dripping.




It haunts me in my sleep and consumes my days till I barely know the difference. In the silence, each drip is a raucous bang.

They keep me working. I have things to do and yet I feel like I am doing nothing.. wasting my life away. Day and night lose their meaning. There is no hope. Nothing but the darkness, the single point of light and the incesssant dripping.

But wait! Something's changing... the single point of light.. It grows bigger. Barely noticeable but it has grown. Oh and it continues to grow and suddenly it is a huge gaping door. The light is so brilliant, it hurt. The door is open! Freedom! I am free! Today, I taste freedom like the first sip of cool water upon dried, burnt lips. It has finally arrived..

Yeap, you've guessed it! Today I finally get the internet access at work that my boss has been promising for over a month. Phew! I guiltily admit to immediately turning on MSN. When that didnt work, I installed Trillian. Hah! You can't block all the software ports! The Networking knowledge comes in handy. Muahahaha.. watch out world! I am free!


On another note, I've been catching a lot of theatre recently. I've caught Singapore Art Festival's The Wall and Play On Earth and I also managed to watch StageIt's Sword has Two Edges. Sword was a success.

You know how some productions were a success not because of its acting but because of its set design, mood and atmosphere? Well, Sword was the opposite. The student actors and actresses carried the show and it was not an easy show to carry. The beginning segments had dialogue that utterly murdered. Salute to the lead actress, Tabita. She was on that stage under the hot lights for almost 90% of the show, I believe. Jason as the Prince showed more range that I thought he had. The majority of his scenes were love scenes. Seems like playing Ravana during Wayang Ramayana was good practise, eh? Nadiah surprised me. I admit she surpassed my expectations, she's good! Putra and I were discussing where she must have had all that theatre experience. We then realize that her life was theatre experience enough. =p

All in all, it was a good show. I would have preferred it on a more authentic Chinese-opera stage.. the one with all the planks and all. The white tentage and modern stage kind of didn't do it for me. Still, it is a must watch. Get your tickets if you haven't!

If only I had a cigarette box instead

Hey all, I think you can see that my tagboard got a little screwy and it has lost all your congratulatory tags. Thanks for all the congratulations, guys. =)

Been busy trying to get all the airline and accomodation details out. Never really travelled so far before. Everything's new and surreal to me. Still can't imagine going to a place where everyone talks like Josie.

Oh anyway, in case you didn't know, here's the story about the Iced Milo Halia.

We were chilling at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station stretch of roadside foodstalls when a very fateful leave fluttered right into Syed's hot cup of teh-o. He waslivid, I was wondering if it would taste better.

On instinct, everyone at the table took cigarette boxes or anything convenient and covered the top of their mugs. My convenient item was my handphone, yeap the one that has the cool orange lights on it that moves around. So.. the story goes with the usual laughter and humour for the next one hour. At one point, a particularly good joke drew a rambunctious response from syed who slapped the table in his uproar.

And with hardly a sound, my handphone promptly sank into my cup of half-finished iced milo halia.

I think the Titanic had more warning but yes just like that famous ship, the whole thing was a disaster waiting to happen, on hindsight. I fished it out and surveyed its pale, lifeless face. Where was the orange glow? Where is the lighted screen? Where was that slight electric shock if I put my tongue just there? (i'm kidding)

One of the first thing I noticed was the pretty girl sitting with her family at the next table was laughing at me. Well, I always liked a good laugh but not at the expense of something so precious. But yes, it was funny. I always said that if it was an ordinary cup of iced milo, my handphone just might have survived. But with iced milo halia, it had no chances at all. It's like swimming alone in the open sea versus swimming alone in the open sea with a bloody squirrel tied behind my back and wearing a t-shirt that says "I love sharks fin but I hate sharks". No chance.

So, thats the reason why you'll see me with a stylish PINK 8250. My sister's. Really.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Badly written rant part two.

Syed was commenting to me about how things don't seem to be going my way some two weeks ago. I wasn't getting an internship, I got retrenched due to a band reshuffle and was told about it quite unceremoniously by a "friend" over msn, and that my love-life was really quite non-existent. Strangely enough, I wasn't all too effected by it all. I think its because I know I'm going to be okay and doing well no matter what. I have friends that I can trust, friends I can pour out to and know that they will listen and they know that I will listen. The people that care for me make me who I am and we help each other out.

Well, my love life is still quite non-existent and I am still technically without a band but I have found an internship. I am now employed as an IS intern at a company called uniplas enterprises. The details of the job are as exciting as watching Days of Our Lives re--runs. I am setting up an in-house enterprise system using MSSQL and ASP on a linux machine. ASP on LINUX? ASP at this day and age? Yes. I've tried arguing with the boss. What I can do on ASP, I can do on Java or Ruby on Rails in less than half the time, with less headaches too. But the guy is adamant, even against PHP. He is set on ASP to build the invoice/order-delivery, part-maintanence, employee-history system. So I've been spending the last one week working on it. He gave me ten days to learn the language and do up a log-in page with a table display. I gave that to him by the second day (spent the whole of the first day figuring out user-permissions on MSSQL). Now, I'm trying to see if I can structure the code in an MVC kind of way. Putting all the code on the same page as the HTML is making me feel icky.

Okay, okay.. yes, geek talk, I know. Back to regular programming. Why is it that girls don't find programmers sexy? We're smart, object-oriented people, whatever that means.

So yeah. Its a 5 1/2 day work week, starting at 8am everyday. Phew. I'm taking it all in stride. I came to work with 2 kilos of textbooks I borrowed from the library because the boss doesn't want to give me internet access yet. So I download relevant pages onto my Mac and bring them to work.. and consult the pages without clicking on any links. Haha. I'm still happy though. I'm being paid to be a better programmer and I have my own desk and drawers. And office phone. haha. At least it isn't boring work.

Anyway, I put in application for this scholarship thing by Apple to go to the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco this August about two weeks ago. I figured that I'm probably not going to get it but it was worth a shot applying for anyway. The deal was to get to go to the congregation of a huge number of Apple and Open Source (geek talk alert) developers from all over the world. The ticket to the conference alone costs US 1.3 K. The scholarship also offers a US 500 dollar travel assistance and some other freebies.

Yeap, you guessed it. Last week, Leon from Apple told this bunch of us who applied that we're getting the scholarship. Heh.

Really quite something to look forward to. I've never been to any place further than Indonesia and Malaysia. And to be among the world leading IT intellectuals. It's going to be quite an experience, I bet. I needed another 900 bucks to top up on the travel expenditure.. so I was thinking hard on how I could get the money.. when I was reading this newsletter that my school sent out. It had some news on the Profs, showed the profiles of some new scholars in the school. I didn't apply for anything this year because I felt I didn't really contribute much to the school recently and I don't want to just say that I did during interviews just to get a scholarship. So, I was reading.. to the part about awards.. and right at the top was this Ankit Fadia Information Security Award.. prestigious thingy.. with a 500 dollar award.. I scrolled down...

And I saw my online SMU mugshot under the award title.

Honestly, I was flabbergasted (wow finally got to use the word). I had no clue that I won anything.. Quite a pleasant surprise. I thought it was a group award.. and I knew my Information Security and Trust group stood a good chance of winning the award.. so I totally didn't expect to win it as an individual. I promised the rest of the group a huge seafood dinner though. Least I could do, I think. At least I'll still have about 300 dollars for the August trip.

I wonder about the kind of responses I'll get if I tried to use the fact that I won the Ankit Fadia Information Security Award as a pick-up line. Will it work, you think? Or how about my ability to create web forms in under 1 minute?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Eh, my school better than your school okay...

SMU has been struggling to establish itself as a force to be reckoned with in the local arena of universities for the last 6 years. One of the many things that I take as a sign of its success is the reaction of the other two universities when SMU burst onto the scene. I find some of them really quite entertaining.

Take Miss Ng’s New Paper article on 19th May 2006 about her SMU exchange experience for example. After gushing on how she was enjoying the perks of life in a city campus, she went on to say that she found the inter-disciplinary discussions in a 3-hour interactive seminar too confusing to follow. Well, I do agree it is hard to have and understand long thought-provoking discussions with views from multiple disciplines after so many years of one-way learning. One really has to get used to it.

She went on to say how she preferred her one to two hour-long lectures to the interactive seminars in SMU. My personal motto on this is “to each his own”. I’ve tried a lecture-based system during my Junior College days and have never failed to fall asleep in every single one. Each of us has our own preferred way of learning. SMU’s unique pedagogy has allowed me to stay awake and be part of the lesson. I heartily believe I owe my current first class honors GPA to it, compared to my failing grades in JC.

Hype or not, SMU has established itself as a force to be reckoned with. It offers a different form of tertiary education and I believe the nation is better for it. Its success does not in any way make the other two universities any less and it is best if everyone understands that.

Article Link

I honestly couldn't be bothered with a retort but JZ asked me to look through his. I found his quite a friendly and politically-correct reply, which got me started on a more fiery one.

Still, there are very few things that will motivate me to start mud-slinging rebuttals in a tabloid newspaper. Less inhibitions about doing on a blog though.

My school ten times better than your school okay.. no my school an infinity plus one times better than your school okay!