Join us for our annual Battle of Pasir Panjang Commemorative Walk, Sat 13 Feb 2016: 7.00am – 12.00pm

The Battle of Pasir Panjang Commemorative Walk, Sat 13 Feb 2016: 7.00am – 12.00pm with my Pasir Panjang Heritage kakis from NUS Toddycats, volunteers of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, National University of Singapore: Kok Oi Yee, Airani S, Alvin Wong, Quek Kiah Shen, Wendy Sim, Lai Chee Kian, Stella Wee, Kenneth Pinto.

Register at Eventbrite and details at Habitatnews

Backing up my Mac – visualisation improves my protocol

I find it helpful to plan a backup protocol and review it every now and then, since I need to access data from years ago quite often. During the semester I can lose track if my setup is not simple and I report to stop gap measures when a backup hardisk is full. So during the semester-break, I review my setup and fix the inadvertent lapses, feeling quite lucky when data is intact!

Last December, I visualised the arrangement as I had lost track once again. It did become clear that I had been quite safe – current data on my laptop is always backed-up onto cloud storage and I had local backups as well. So I just ensured I was paid up for adequate subscription to cloud services. I did retire a very full 2007 external hardisk and replaced it with an external 3TB hardisk to handle daily backups.

Backup Protocol 001

My archives were residing on external hardisks which had been replaced about every half decade to increase their capacity and pre-empt hardware failure. I would rather work with archives on my laptop especially when preparing lectures and talks. However, the very fast SSD hardisks on my laptops which make work so much faster, are not large. So older data must be pushed to external drives.

The visualisation highlighted the fact my very old archives were only on a pair of redundant hard drives. I will now add those to CrashPlan, a cloud based backup plan – it might take weeks to upload but is a background process. I will just have to ensure the drives are powered on until that is complete.

When not active, all hardware is powered off, and this visualisation helped me figure out the most efficient arrangement for cabling and a safe power supply arrangement. With a more convenient setup, I find myself doing local daily backups and shifting data to archives much more frequently.

Yesterday morning, I learnt that will be kaput by May 2016. Some of my students had used for their thesis work as it offered them a higher capacity of free space compared to Dropbox. With those projects completed, I’ll just need to shift the lot to Dropbox or the archives, along with all my keynotes for public talks.

Actually, I already did!

Blood stocks for type O, B, AB are low (<55%) – donate a bloody pint this CNY!

Regular blood donor Joelle Lai received a call from the blood bank to donate blood. A check with blood stock levels show that levels are for blood groups O, B, AB are low. Joelle’s blood haemoglobin levels are a little low and she has been rejected as a donor several times!

But she will pay close attention to her diet and try on Sunday. How cool is that?

Only 1.78% of Singapore’s residential population are donors (see 2014 stats below), so do step forward if you are hale and hearty. A bloody red pint donation is a great Chinese New Year gift to a needy patient!

20160202 Blood stocks

Blood Donation Statistics 2014  redcrosssingapore

Job: Part-time Student Assistant for WordPress project, Feb 2016 – Mar 2016

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Job Description: Part-time Student Assistant for WordPress project
Duration: Feb 2016 – Mar 2016
Position: Part time – hours based, remuneration is standard NUS part-time student rate

Summary of job duties: The successful applicant will help to refine the coding for a WordPress site hosting more than 4,000 blog posts with images. Legacy customisation code is beginning to interfere with normal use and the site requires decluttering. The goal is to remove all customisation code to enable users have a fuss-free environment in which they can focus on writing and maintenance by non-specialists, without loss of data.

Requirements: We are looking for a programmer in WordPress with proven skills in coding and management. They must have a knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP and SQL. They must be communicative, highly sensitive to user needs, explain themselves well and able to provide document for management transfer.

To apply please fill in this form:

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Full-time internship position @ LKCNHM for Toddycats (apply by 29 Jan 2015)

The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum seeks a full-time intern to help organise volunteer outreach activities for 2016

Duties and responsibilities
You will assist with the administration, communication, and implementation of outreach events organised by the museum, including event planning, publicity efforts, and logistics support, and volunteer coordination.
They include, but are not restricted to, Love MacRitchie activities, LKCNHM gallery guiding, Ubin Day 2016, Festival of Biodiversity.

Skill sets requirements
The ideal candidate should be interested in nature and the environment in Singapore, and is comfortable interacting with members of the public.
Enthusiasm and the ability to work independently is a requirement, as is basic design skills, experience in web publishing, and familiarity with google docs.

Interview date: From 1 Feb 2016 (to be confirmed)
Internship Duration: 6 months from commencement of position.

How to apply: Send your CV (inclusive of personal statement to) to Dr. Joelle Lai at by 29 January 2016.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for the interview.

NParks Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa webpage – the improved new map (2015) and tide tables

Pulau Ubin is a small island of about 10km by 2km of the northeast of Singapore. You can’t get lost as all roads lead back to the village and jetty, but a copy of the latest map will enhance your discovery of the many places and sites nestled there.

You can download the 2015 map of Pulau Ubin from NParks’ Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa webpage. Tide tables for Tanjung Changi are also available to plan your inter-tidal activity.

Pulauubinmap jpg 6 496×4 007 pixels

This 2015 map is a great improvement on the 2010 version. Placenames are comprehensively indicated, all facilities and trails are named, as are points of interest including shrines, and intertidal and mangrove habitats are differentiated.

Pulau Ubin is very well signposted and large versions of this map are available around the island at the huts, so you can reference the map during your explorations, and take a photo of specific portions of interest to help you find your way there or to learn names of places you visited.

The ongoing Ubin Project will provide additional points to update the map, so we can look forward to seeing it enhanced meaningfully. For example, we should eventually include the Ubin Way:

  • Relive and experience the kampong lifestyle
  • Appreciate and conserve our cultural heritage
  • Discover and cherish the diversity of nature
  • Respect one another and bond with the community
  • Care for Ubin, and be considerate towards its environment

What would I wish for in future? Without crowding the map, the identification of secondary forest types, as a lot of forest is regrown over various ex-plantations (with their old names) and reforestation sites (with dates), which NParks has impressively planted over the years. Also, an indication of habitat types on Chek Jawa.

How will I do this? Well, anyone can submit ideas about Pulau Ubin through the eCitizen portal.

Happy trails!

150 mins exercise per week? In only seven of twelve months in 2015!

I have used Runkeeper on my iPhone since 2010 and I try to activate the app each time I engage in any activity I’d record as exercise. This includes cycling (on road), mountain biking (this year was mostly Rail Corridor and Pulau Ubin), brisk walking (mostly PCNs) and hiking (field trips and coastal cleanups). If I am trapped at home by the haze, or need to build my fitness before going on a hike or long ride, I turn to the elliptical and stair-climbing.

Singapore’s Health Promotion Board recommends that individuals “aim for 150 minutes of physical activity every week” [HPB]. That works out to 600 mins/month (ignoring evenness). Having tried a little harder this year, I wondered if I spent enough time on exercise in 2015, i.e. did I at least achieve the minimum every month?

According to my Runkeeper data, I reached 600mins/month on only seven months in 2015. That’s unnerving.

Sivasothi N._s Runkeeper Fitness Report – Duration 2015

The months of my terrible first semester (Aug – Nov) see reduced activity every year, and this was badly dampened by the haze this year – and not made up with time on the elliptical. Other sub-par months were February and June – perhaps dampened by bouts of the flu. On the other hand, I managed a decent 1,000 mins of activity in January, May and July.

Now that I know how 2015 worked out, let’s see what I can do about it next year. Wish me luck!