Categoryopinions

Should you be an engineer?

It’s not easy to decide what career path to take.  Especially for high school students, who don’t yet know what they want to do.  During my time in university, I spent a bit of time in engineering outreach to speak to high school students and first-year university students about studying engineering.

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to go back to my old high school and present to students about studying engineering (link to presentation below), and to help guide them with their career choices.  The idea was to communicate:

  • What engineering is as a profession
  • What engineering is about
  • That they should consider it as a career

At the same time, it wasn’t meant to “persuade” them to study engineering, but more like show them what it’s about so that they can make a more informed decision when they choose their university majors.  I also wanted to tell them this as general advice:

  • Do what you’re interested in
  • Nothing worth doing is ever easy
  • Don’t do it just for the money

Overall, the students seemed to be receptive to what I had to say, and had good questions to ask me about my experiences.  Hopefully, I helped guide them to make a career choice for themselves!

Link to the presentation: here

Goal in Life

Day 68

During lunch, I spoke with a colleague about how I my work term was going so far.  I told him that I didn’t really have a huge interest in Microsystems, but I didn’t hate it either.  I feel more or less indifferent towards the subject.  Because of this, he asked me what I wanted to do.  What field do I want to work in?  What kind of work do I want to do?  Do I want to stay in research or go into design?  I didn’t really know how to answer those questions.  This colleague is older than me by probably seven or eight years so I was quite sure that he had been through the same ordeal at some point.

A lot of advice people typically give are similar in the way that they just say to follow one’s own interests.  Apart from saying that, he also asked me what my goal in life was.  He clarified his question by giving examples such as being super rich, or doing something that people will remember me for when I die.  I already knew my answer to this question.

My goal in life isn’t anything grand.  I don’t need to be able to afford a Porsche or a Ferrari.  I’m not looking to change the world.  My goal is just to lead a happy life.  Well everyone wants that.  But different thinks make different people happy.  For me, it’s the idea of leading a chill life, not how many Porsches and mansions I can buy.  As I said before, money can’t buy happiness, but the lack of money can’t either.  I believe it’s about having enough money to not have to worry about it.  Yeah, rich people don’t worry about money, but that’s not what I’m referring to.  Take my family for example.  My parents own a house, two cars, and are able to send both my brother and me to university.  When we go out to eat, we don’t have to worry about the money.  I’m not talking about only these things specifically.  It’s about not having to worry about every penny being spent.  People don’t have to be super rich to do that.  In a way, it’s like always having enough money to go out with friends for a few beers.  I suppose with a goal like this, I chose the right major.  The next question is what field in engineering I will work in.

After I told him the way I wanted to live life, he told me his view on it.  He started by saying how he didn’t like staying in one place a lot and likes a change in scenery every now and then.  He was born in Germany, but he’s worked in the Netherlands and in Switzerland.  By going to all of these places, he’d get a lot of life experiences and moving around is what he enjoyed.  He’s following his interests and that is certainly good.  He then added when he’s old and sitting on his rocking chair, he will be surrounded by his grandkids that would ask him about his life.  He wanted to be able to tell the kids stories of his youth and listen intently and enjoy his stories until the kids get tired and fall asleep, but he would know he lived a fulfilling life if the kids come back again and again to hear him talk about all the adventures in his life.

I never heard anyone put it like that before.  Everything he said seemed so profound and I probably did a really bad job replicating that here, but the stuff he said really got me thinking.  From something like my future career path, he managed to dwarf that entire issue and expand it to the idea of how to live life.  Telling interesting stories to my future grandkids sounds pretty cool to me.

TVB Drama Must Haves

There’s a stereotype that says in Asian TV, the characters always like to cry and argue and whatnot. It’s totally true. I’ve seen many TVB dramas over the years and I’ve come up with a list of things that almost every single TVB drama must have.

Eavesdropping

Conversations between characters are seen by other characters and are taken completely out of context. When the conversation is taken out of context, people get angry and then arguments happen.

Arguments

After a misunderstanding, usually the angry character begins raging at somebody, not realizing that there was a misunderstanding in the first place. What’s worse, they don’t believe what other people tell them and thus, the argument continues.

Crying

Because the arguments got so intense, people start crying. Usually the characters who have felt wrongfully accused by the one is angry.

Love Triangles

This is yet another cause of crying in these dramas. In every show, there are always at least 2 girls who like the same guy. The most random one was when a guy dated his cousin (who has later revealed to have no blood relation), but his adopted sister secretly liked him too.

 

Although, in a way, I’m kind of saying, "Every action movie has explosions", and yes it’s true that every story has a conflict involved, but the plot devices TVB uses are the same over and over. I’d like to see a show where eavesdropping or love triangles don’t happen or something. Despite this however, there are some shows that are still very amazing to watch. The amazingness comes from the dialogue people have during the arguments. For example, in Heart of Greed and Moonlight Resonance, the arguments people made were logical and well thought out. It didn’t feel like they were arguing for the sake of arguing.

Life Lessons from Moonlight Resonance (溏心風暴之家好月圓)

Moonlight Resonance (溏心風暴之家好月圓)

After watching Moonlight Resonance, I learned a few things about living life. That’s one of the good things about some TVB shows. Despite all the crying and arguing, there is always a lesson to be learned or a point of view of how people should live life. Although, I’m still pretty young and I haven’t experienced as many crises as the older folks, I still think I learned a lot of interesting things from this show.

The idea that an absolute right and wrong existing is false. The only “right” and “wrong” are what one values and believes. Everyone’s opinions toward something differs and everyone has reasons for why they are “right”. In the show, one of the conflicts that the characters had was who really owned the brand name in the moon cake business. For easy naming in this discussion, I will name the two parties Family A and family B. Family A had been using the name Jia Hao Yue Yuan (家好月圓) for decades, while Family B alleges that Family A allowed Family B to use this brand some time ago in the past. But Family A denies this and accuses Family B of swindling the brand name from them. This conflict eventually went to court. Each lawyer made their case with valid reasons. The conflict lay in who was better at convincing the judge using logic and reasoning. A good example that doesn’t relate to the show that many people know is the ending of Inception. Everyone had an idea for whether Cobb stayed in the dream or not in the end. There were reasons for both. Here are some more examples on a more serious note. The Iraq War, gay marriage, abortion, and stem cell research. These are all real controversies, and after looking at the arguments on both sides, they all have valid points. Both parties believe they are right, and that the other party is wrong.

A “right” and “wrong” way to live life exists too. Using the same names for the two families as before, Family A and B are both after happiness. But Family A believes this happiness can only be achieved through a loving family and not by how much money they have. Chinese people have a phrase that says, “人在天堂; 錢在銀行”, which means “The person is in Heaven, but their money is in the bank.” Family B believes that money makes them happy. They believe that by having lots of money, they can buy their way to happiness through material goods. During the show, they see Family A’s true happiness and togetherness as a family and feel jealousy towards them and made it their goal to ruin the happiness they enjoy. This part of the show shows the age old theme that “money can’t buy happiness”, but at the same time they add on to this. They show how to achieve happiness. The way to do it is by loving your family and spending time with them. In Chinese, we call this “家庭溫暖”, which literally means “family warmth”. Throughout the entire show, Family A can be seen to always be happy at the dinner table, when the whole family is together for dinner. Money never mattered to them, so long as the family was together.

Although the family lifestyles in the show are written like that, I still envied their happy lifestyle and togetherness as a family. It gives people something to work towards. It’s true that some people aim to make lots of money, but the amount of money is irrelevant. The important thing is to live happily. Despite everything I said, this is after all, only my perception of what is “right”. I’m sure some people will disagree and also have their own reasons to back up their point of view.

愛不疚 – 林峰: “疚” 的雙重意思

這篇文章是我第一次全部用中文寫的.  我很小已經移民了去加拿大所以我的中文只有小學的程度 (可能小學都沒有). 請見諒.

最近我看了 TVB 的溏心風暴之家好月圓.  林峰唱的 "愛不疚" 是這部電視劇的插曲 (歌詞在下面).  雖然首歌很舊 (2008), 我覺得首歌仍然很好聽, 很有意義.  之前我以為這首歌的名字很普通.  只有說歌裡有人愛不 "夠".  但是看深一層, 我發現這個字是個雙關語.  一個意思是"愛得不夠", 但是第二個意思是 "愛都沒有內疚".  首歌的第二句說他可以在愉快的時候都能夠犧牲自己的幸福來給她人. 在家好月圓裡, 于素秋 (鍾嘉欣) 失戀的時候, 管家仔 (林峰) 一次有一次將他的時間借給她.  雖然于素秋仍然沒有放棄凌至信 (黃宗澤), 管家仔依然很對她很好.  除了家人之外, 他都沒有對其他人怎樣好.  管家仔全心全意對她好; 沒有內疚.  只要于素秋 "開心就夠".  比著其他人, 如果他們知道他們喜歡的女人已經有男朋友, 他們會覺得很傷心.  他們可能會放棄她.  有些人可能甚至嘗試撬走別人的女朋友.  很少人好像管家仔一樣.  他很有義氣.  管家仔當時十幾歲的時候有很多同于素秋一起的美好回憶, 但是因為于素秋去了英國讀書所以他們分手. 他們長大後,于素秋認識了凌至信, 差不多跟他結婚.  于素秋曾經確實喜歡過管家仔, 但是管家仔走慢了一步. 素秋的心被至信帶走了.  就是因為這樣, 管家仔失去了一世的幸福. 這件事可以形容管家仔不可以擁有的愛.  管家仔和于素秋的感情很多年前曾經很親厚, 但是管家仔只可以 "衷心祝福然後, 就放手".  這個情況可以說是他愛得不 "夠".  于素秋沒可能永遠等管家仔跟他說 "我愛你" 的三個字.  近首歌的最尾, 歌詞說, "期望你幸福甚麼都有".  他仍然想對她好.  犧牲自己的幸福不重要.  最重要是她的幸福.  疚心和愛心都不重要.

林峰 – 愛不疚 [ 家好月圓 片尾曲/插曲 ]

收藏在眼眸 常徘徊左右 愛猜到沒有
愉快玩笑後 能全然退後 你開心就夠

這種感覺太親厚 講一千句也不夠
假使講了你聽到後 或會走
這種戀愛太罕有 不須真正擁有
成全 衷心祝福然後 就放手

放手 放開所有 彼此更自由
放手 其實我絕非愛得不夠
放手 豁出所有 還有這個好友
已經 已經足夠

遙遠是宇宙 靜靜在背後 去看守就夠

這種感覺太親厚 講一千句也不夠
即使一剎有過衝動 挽你手
這種戀愛太罕有 不須真正擁有
成全 多捨不得仍然 是放手

放手 放開所有 彼此更自由
放手 其實我絕非愛得不夠
放手 豁出所有 還有這個好友
已經 已經足夠

放手 我的牽掛 找不到盡頭
放手 期望你幸福甚麼都有
也許 愛很深厚 然而我早看得透
放手 至可擁有

The Cramped Airplane

If you’re anything like me in terms of financial status, you probably fly Economy Class.  Immediately, you probably think, “Oh the seats are so cramped”, and “The food is terrible”.  Those two statements indeed are true, well at least half true.

The seats on an airplane definitely aren’t the best.  If your height is anything like 5’8”, your legs will probably be digging into the seat in front of you.  I am taller than 5’8”, so it definitely did not feel very comfortable to me.

During the flight to London, I had the unfortunate seating arrangement which put me right in between the window seat and the aisle seat.  If I sat in the aisle seat, then I could stretch out my legs every now and then.  I could potentially get up and walk around.  The problem was, the person sitting was always sleeping.  I felt incredibly rude to wake up the person just so I could get up.  The only thing I could do was to wait until that person got up to go to the washroom.  I waited for that golden opportunity, and the moment it happened, I immediately got up and walked around.

However, this freedom was not meant to last.  Eventually, I would have to sit back down.  I tried to forget about how cramped I felt by watching a few movies or trying to go to sleep.  It was a long 10 hours.  Although, I did manage to stretch my legs underneath the seat in front of me as much as I could.  That was better than nothing.

Luckily on the flight from London to Stuttgart, the plane I sat in had an enormous amount of leg room.  Too bad it was only a one hour flight.  I didn’t get enough time to enjoy that freedom.

The food on the other hand, was better than I expected.  I thought I would be eating a rock hard piece of bread.  To my surprise, the bread tasted quite alright.  I mean, it was on a plane, so I didn’t expect something fantastic, but it wasn’t terrible.

With airplane food, there is always something about it that doesn’t make it quite right.  It’s probably the fact that the food has been stored on the plane, and reheated for people to eat.  I’m no chef, but maybe that’s what makes the food seem to be a little strange.

The worst part about the flight was definitely the cramped seats.  Unfortunately, its quite the norm, except for that rare occasion.  The food was alright, nothing to really complain about except maybe that the portions were too small!

Computer Repair & Maintenance Costs

After dealing with my own (and others’) computer problems for so long, I forgot how much computer repairs actually cost (as of today).  I only thought about it when someone who didn’t live locally needed computer help.  Unfortunately, they bought their computer from Best Buy (I died a little on the inside when I heard that).  Either way, I looked at the cost of computer repairs at Best Buy Canada.  I hoped for something reasonable.

Virus & Spyware Removal

Best Buy: Apparently they charge a whopping $249 for in home or in office service and $189 for online service or in store support.  This package includes:

Looking at each of these items are the list, these are all things that people could do themselves for free if people took the time to learn.  Some of these tasks take only a few minutes to do.  For example, malware removal just takes a few clicks on the antivirus and the rest is just waiting for results.  Updating the system just requires getting Windows Update to look for them.  Actually, Windows will even tell you that you need to update.  It is just that a lot of people ignore it or disable automatic updates.  Backing up the files on the computer only requires moving files from the computer to an external storage device with a simple drag and drop.  The time consuming part isn’t moving the files, but is actually thinking of what files need to be backed up.  Geek Squad can’t help with that.  Anybody that knows how to use a computer should be able to do that.  And if people don’t have access to external storage, their friends most likely do.

The rest of these services provide little detail about the extent of their service.  Formatting the computer solves most software issues, but a fix like that is quite brute force and not extensive at all.  On the other hand, an extensive fix means determining which piece of hardware or software is responsible for the problem.  Say that the client gets a blue screen or that Explorer is crashing repeatedly.  Solving this problem requires knowing what people do on the computer.  But the problem is that some people are not even aware of what they did (whether directly or indirectly) to cause the computer to behave a certain way.  These computer problems make formatting an attractive repair option.  Again, this fix takes only a few clicks, and the rest is just letting the computer do what those clicks told it to do.

A few minutes worth of work to save over a hundred dollars.  Even if someone is new to computers, a quick Google search will show solutions to these problems catered to beginners.  Sounds like a bargain to me.

Security and Performance

Here are more crazy computer repairs/maintenance services that Best Buy offers.  A little more reasonable this time.

Yet again, Best Buy charges people for easy fixes (see the first nine included services on the list).  They are all quick things that people can do on the computer if they put the time in (see pseudo-rant in the previous section).  One thing here that people that I can see people would pay for is physically setting up the computer, but people should not have to.  It is really not that hard.  In grade 3, my mother set up the computer all by herself, and she had never touched a computer in her life before.  It was mostly typewriters back then.  Organizing the wires and cables is an even less daunting task than setting up the computer.  It merely involves taking wires and cables together, wrapping them together and putting them neatly against the wall so it doesn’t look ugly.  Some would say that organizing the wires isn’t even necessary because people don’t even see the mess of wires behind the computer even if it was there.  The next thing on the list seems like a good idea at first, teaching people how to use a computer.  But realistically speaking, people will always forget.  Like many stereotypical middle aged and older people, no matter how many times they are taught to do something on the computer, they will inevitably forget.  The last three things on the list are a joke.  Simply knowing how to read will allow one to complete those tasks.  People do not need to pay so much to get a computer fixed.

Wireless Networking

Here are more things that people pay for at Best Buy.

Three words for people who pay for this.  Read the manual.  Reading the manual for the router not only teaches people how to hook it up, it also tells people how to set up your entire network complete with enabling the router’s security features.  They don’t even have to purchase an upgrade to install an additional device!  The manual explains how.  All that is required, is pretty much plug in the cable in the spot that the manual says and it will work.  Taking thirty minutes to read the manual to connect to the Internet can help save you $169.  Even better deal than switching to Geico for car insurance!

Conclusion

Getting a computer fixed from Best Buy looks like a huge money grab.  Best Buy’s site featured even more computer services that people could purchase, but I didn’t go through it all.  They are all very similar.  They all offer solutions that literally cost people nothing if they took the time to learn.  Aside from the people that are just not very knowledgeable with computers, maybe some people are just lazy and would rather throw money at a problem to make it go away.

Source: http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/category/computers-networking/28857.aspx?path=3aa9e4f25b9e89f41bd934261dff9881en01

North Korea’s Unshakable Nuclear Ambition

In 1985, North Korea (DPRK) signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which meant three things: non-proliferation, disarmament, and the right to peacefully use nuclear technology (source).  Despite this, the western powers suspected the country to be producing weapons-grade Plutonium.  Only two solutions exist: war and diplomacy.  The Korean War didn’t solve the problem, and nobody wants to fight a war now (see this post).  Diplomacy will not solve the problem either.  North Korea will not stop their nuclear weapons development.

After years of diplomacy, the DPRK still continues to develop nuclear weapons (source).  The country even develops long range missiles that many fear will one day be nuclear missiles.  Yes, the UN wishes North Korea to halt their nuclear ambition, but even after so much foreign aid given to them in exchange for them to stop, nothing has changed.  North Korea agrees to halt their nuclear program, and then some time later they start again.

In 1994, as a part of the Agreed Framework, an agreement between North Korea and the United States, North Korea agreed to halt their production of plutonium in exchange for the construction of nuclear power reactors, oil, and economic support.  However, in 2002, because of construction delays in the construction of the power reactors, North Korea argues that the United States violated the agreement.  In December of 2002, North Korea pledges to reactivate its nuclear facilities.  In February, they announced that they reactivated their nuclear facilities, and in April they withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The accusation from North Korea shows that they had no intention to stop.  They looked for a reason to start their nuclear program back up again, and they found one. 

North Korea continues to perform nuclear tests (one in 2006 and one in 2009).  Although the international community condemns this nuclear test and tightened sanctions on the country, the DPRK continues its nuclear program.

Sanctions on the country do little to stop their nuclear program.  The sanctions simply prevent the country’s economic growth.  Sanctions hurt their citizens by preventing economic aid being sent into the country, and it’s no secret that poverty is rampant in North Korea.

As long as North Korea continues in its current course, the sanctions will stay.  Diplomacy can help alleviate this, but only if an agreement can be reached.  Six-party talks continue, with no favourable result.  This has gone on since the late 80’s/early 90’s.  It’s clear that North Korea has absolutely no intention to halt their nuclear ambition.  All people can do now wonder at what their next step will be.

South Korea: Yet Again Swallowing the Bitter Pill

I read earlier today that North and South Korea had a brief border skirmish earlier today.  Both sides exchanged artillery fire, and resulted in the deaths of two South Korean soldiers (more information here).

Although this has been one of the most serious military clashes in the past year, this isn’t much different than what happened March, which was when a North Korean submarine allegedly sank a South Korean navy ship (news story here).  South Korea is attacked, but the country did nothing other than use strongly worded letters and speeches to declare how dangerous North Korea is and how they should be punished for their actions.  After the event today, it seems a similar response from South Korea is likely.

South Korea isn’t willing to fight a war with North Korea.  As much as South Korea wants them dealt with, it simply isn’t worth it.  The events of today are evident to show that if South Korea decides to make any move against the North, artillery strikes can easily strike targets in the South causing huge casualties and costly infrastructure damage.  South Korea doesn’t want that to happen.

The prevalent point of view of wars today is that casualties are unacceptable.  The War on Terror and the Iraq War support this.  Every now and then, the newspaper posts a story about how a brave soldier gave his or her life for their country.  People don’t like fighting wars that involve soldiers on their own side getting killed.  According to a poll done by Gallup, most people in the United States believed that sending troops to Iraq was not a mistake at the start of the Iraq War in 2003.  As time went on, casualties mounted.  War didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.  Support for the war dropped from 75% in 2003, to 41% in 2010 (source).  South Korea does not want to fight this war.  It isn’t about whether the South will win or lose.  It’s about casualties.  They know that if they fight this war, many South Koreans will die, and that is unacceptable.

Ever since the world wars, people learned not to no longer fight a war on such a large scale anymore.  Even in the Cold War, conflict on the scale of World War II was not seen.  People learned.  It still is the case now.  As stated before, many South Koreans will be killed.  On top of that, any country who is obligated to support either country would be putting their soldiers’ lives on the line as well.  North Korea controls an active army of 1.1 million, while South Korea controls an active army of 687 000 (source).  On the other hand, North Korea won’t declare war on the South either.   They too know that a war with the South would be very destructive for them.  An all out war would not be pretty.

Just by knowing the South isn’t going to declare war on the North, the only other response is diplomacy.  It’s what they’ve been doing since the signing of the armistice of the Korean War.  The end result: more strongly worded speeches and letters.  North Korea’s response to it: “We don’t care.”

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