Seven talks in four weeks, and then undergrads storm the campus

While I juggle various roles, July is mentally marked to primarily be module preparation time – time to review admin, strategies, reflect on previous year’s notes, examine practicals (throw in some recces) and try to prepare some of the earlier lectures for my modules – LSM1103 Biodoiversity, LSM2251 Ecology and the Environment and LSM3261 Life Form and Function.

I will also invariably talk myself into a few guest lectures and for those, chats with module co-ordinators are enjoyable strategising and information sharing sessions.

With these several modules, the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore in September, research students to get started by August, and the myriad of conservation issues with awkward timings, the Aug-Dec Semester I is mostly a nightmare.

But in July, students are away from campus, so we all breathe more easily and imagine we have a lot of time. The madness they bring is not amidst us as yet.

So July is also when I reach out with talks to younger students. This always seems like a good idea until I am on my way to each talk.

With all else there is to do, I am invariably filled with regret on the way to these sessions, as I desperately edit the latest version of a lecture, or prepare the new one I decided the occasion demanded.

Still, it makes for exciting taxi rides.

After, my host and fellow-educator who has enjoyed a breather while I talked, will high five me. We will chat amiably and agree this sort of thing is critical. Educators are optimistic and motivated by a mere breath of hope. So we will agree I can do more.

So I see seven talks lined up in the next four weeks. Yes, seven taxi rides in which I will desperately be editing slides and giving the invariably curious taxi driver his private lecture at each traffic light stop. Sometimes they provide me with valuable insight too and I am buoyed by the discussion with my test audience.

  1. Tue 09 Jul 2013: 9.00am – ACS(I) 10th IP Symposium
  2. Tue 09 Jul 2013: 1.00pm – (SEALNet) Youth Leadership Summit 2013
  3. Fri 12 Jul 2013: 7.55am – RJC Bioweek
  4. Sat 13 Jul 201 – Singapore Animal Welfare Symposium
  5. Tue 16 Jul 2013: 1.00pm – RGS Secondary 1 cohort (ICCS)
  6. Fri 26 Jul 2013: 9.30am & 10.30am – SAJC Learning Festival
  7. Sat 03 Aug 2013: 9.00am – The ICCS Lecture

I’m happy I can do this amidst the madness. But it’s so few.

Years ago, I actively sought and prepared speakers for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore talks (marine life, marine trash, what the data tells us and immediate/upstream solutions) – Airani S, John Larkin, Erica Neves, Xu Weiting and Jocelyne Sze, all spoke with passion, entertained students and opened their eyes and hearts.

I should get that started again.

Meanwhile, July will be over before I know it and undergrads will storm the campus quite soon and I’ll be a prisoner once again. I hope they will come with eager faces and revive us hopeful educators.

Cloud storage – resistance is futile (I signed up for Dropbox 100GB)

With the advent of cloud storage, daily backups to external hardisks have became a secondary precaution. With two macs connected via the cloud, fast fibre connections and a 30-day revision history and auto-saves, backups are being created about as soon as I type.

I began using Dropbox by 2010 at least. It wasn’t the first cloud storage available but won us over early with a decent 2GB of free storage, and more importantly, an intuitive interface which worked seamlessly in the background.

Then Dropbox doubled .edu referral space. By then I had made Dropbox a compulsory tool for my research students. I would have to ensure students actually stored their thesis files inside the Dropbox folder but I could stop asking about their backup schedule.

Meanwhile, I reached 15gb though referrals. Enough space for a semester’s worth of files, I organised my module files in semestral folders and switched them around every July and December – when I prepared for the new semester.

Great Space Race! - Dropbox

Then in October 2012, DropBox announced a Space Race! This promised some 30gb to the winners and NUS students and staff put our large numbers to good use. and won!

The seduction was complete – Dropbox was taking over my home directory. I began storing various versions of my lectures, public talks and images there, added “Camera Uploads” when it was suggested.

Meanwhile last July, Dropbox had doubled its storage offerings to shake off competitors.

Resistance was futile.

I purchased 100GB for US$100/year and am floating in the clouds now.