Selective sync of Dropbox files on my MacBookAir

I am preparing for an annual form and function zoology session with International Biology Olympiad (IBO) students later but my LSM3261 Life Form and Function slides no longer reside on my MacBook Air’s hardisk. With the SSD hardisk at just a 500GB capacity, I have had to selectively sync files with my 1TB Dropbox Drive to keep some space free.

My missing Module Archive is one such folder.

There are two ways I can access the files from that absent folder. The first is to look it up on Dropbox and download the files I need:

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It likely I will update the files, so it is easier to turn on selective sync with the relevant folder to have a copy on my MacBook Air’s hardisk which will update the cloud version effortlessly. So I took the following steps:

  1. Go to the Dropbox icon in the menu bar and select the gear icon at the bottom right, and then select “Preferences…” from the dropdown menu
  2. Select the “Account” icon at the top of the Preferences window which appears
  3. Select “Selective Sync”
  4. After a few seconds, my folder list appears and I selected the relevant folder, in this case, my 2015 IBO slides in “My Modules Archive > LSM3261 > 2014”
Selecting Dropbox’s preferences
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Accessing “Selective Sync” in the Dropbox preferences menu
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Turning on Selective Sync with just one folder in My Modules Archive
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In a short while, the >2GB folder was waiting for me, nested within the “My Modules Archive” folder. Edits I introduce to the files, i.e. a 2016 IBO version of the slides, will sync with Dropbox, placing a copy on the cloud drive. When I turn off the Selective Sync later today, it will free up what would now be ~4 GB of space of the folder on my hardrive, until I access it again next year.

This has been a useful way to keep large archives on Dropbox without cluttering up my laptop’s SSD drive.

See Dropbox Help Centre’s “Use Selective Sync on your desktop“.


Have you been reading?

It seemed I had read just eight books in 2015, of which seven were non-fiction titles. A far cry from the voracious reading of my youth. Are we doomed to this decline?

The first National Literary Reading and Writing Survey by the National Arts Council found that 56% of the 1,000+ Singaporeans they sampled hadn’t read at least one “literary book” between March 2014 to March 2015 – these they defined to include fiction, poetry, graphic novels, creative non-fiction and the like (see the infographic below and read the links, for reasons).

I made the 44% cut due to the two graphic novels, Koh Hong Teng’s “Last Train from Tanjong Pagar” (fiction) and Jim Ottaviani’s “Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas” (creative non-fiction).

The bulk of my reading is scientific papers and book chapters, which are no substitute to for regular works with their attendant benefits. So I have been trying to maintain the habit. But I find I am hemmed in by work:

  • Late Jan – May: Sem 2 madness
  • Jun – early Jul (between Sem 2 & 1): some reading gets done here.
  • Aug – early Dec: Sem 1 madness
  • mid-Dec-early Jan (between Sem 1 & 2): usually one or two war history books in preparation for our annual walk in Feb to commemorate the Battle of Pasir Panjang

So how will I prevent neglect? Like other sleep-deprived Singaporeans, I must plan some breaks to allow my mind to breathe or else it will not happen.

So I began using Goodreads, and discovered friends struggling to do the same! I drop in once in awhile, vaguely aware of my 2016 reading challenge of 24 books.

Well, it’s May and I have managed six books. Dean Foster’s Star Wars book shouldn’t count, for it really was just the movie transcript, offering nothing new. Still, in the madness of May, I managed to read one of my neglected books. It seems keeping tabs is helping.

This June and July, the National Library Board will hold a two-month campaign to get more people to read. I look forward to being encouraged, will egg on my friends and look forward to exchanging stories!

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Relevant articles:

  • What would it take to get Singaporean adults to read more? [link (CNA)]
  • Parliament: First National Reading Day to be held on July 30 to help nurture love of books [link (ST)]
  • Singaporeans have an interest in literary books – inaugural National Literary Reading and Writing Survey 2015 shows [link (NAC)]
  • Less than half of Singaporeans read literary books, National Arts Council survey finds [link (ST)]
  • Less than 50% read one literary book a year: Poll [link (ST)]
  • “Low reading rate: Lack of interest, time cited as factors” [link (ST)]

NRWS 2016 Infographic  Web

Discover Pulau Ubin during Pesta Ubin, 14 May – 12 June 2016!

“Pesta Ubin” is the 5th iteration of Ubin Day and offers a wonderful array of activities by more than 30 groups who enjoy nature, heritage, adventure and recreation activities on Pulau Ubin. Many events are offered free of charge to share the joy of this unique island with Singaporeans.

For more details, see the Pesta Ubin blog and facebook pages.

Pesta Ubin 2016

The festival starts on the 14th of May 2016 with a Chek Jawa boardwalk tour, a basic mountain-biking course, and an evening at the Wayang Stage, explorations of the western tip, a specialist heritage tour, and learning kampung cooking in a 100-year old kampung house! The truly marvellous array of activities continue until mid-June!

This festival is a ground-up exercise coordinated by WildSingapore which facilitates the offerings of various groups. A unique feature is a code of conduct the groups subscribe to, called the Ubin Way:

  1. Greet each other with a smile, a “Hello” or “How was your day on Pulau Ubin?” Respect the culture and get to know the people of Ubin, and each other.
  2. Do not litter – and pick up litter that we see. Bring it back to the mainland.
  3. Be gentle with wildlife – no balloons release, avoid noisy activities, be considerate during photography, don’t pluck plants or harm animals. At night, do not blind animals with the glare of strong lights.
  4. Minimise our footprint – avoid bottled water, styrofoam, plastic bags, useless freebies, pamphlets and single use items
  5. Encourage participants to patronise local businesses and share news about activities on the island.

To contribute an activity or volunteer, see the About page.

Fri 13 May 2016: 5.30pm – Briskwalk with the NUS Walking Club to Alexandra Arch

In collaboration with Office of Environment Sustainability (OES) and the Department of Biological Sciences (DBS), the University Health Service (UHS) initiated a Walking Club to encourage highly immobile desk-bound NUS staff to start walking for exercise, amidst the company of fellow staff members.

As Kent Ridge is part of the southern ridges, we are walking monthly and progressively towards Harbour Front. The third walk of about 5.1km will be held on Friday 13 May 2016: 5.30pm. It will begin at the UHS Carpark and reach Alexandra Arch (near Labrador Park MRT Station).

NUS Staff are invited to jin their colleagues for the walk.
To register,

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Future walks will reach Henderson Waves and finally HarbourFront. For more details, please see the NUS Walking Club page:

Abandon your desks on Friday evening and join us!

Rice is a greater diabetes risk than sugary drinks

The Straits Times reports Health Promotion Board (HPB) chief executive Zee Yoong Kang highlighting Asians as being more predisposed to diabetes than Caucasians. People at risk may not be obese and starchy white rice spikes blood sugar levels and heighten the risk of diabetes.

Zee presented a meta-analysis of four major studies which showed that a plate of white rice eaten per day regularly raises diabetes risk by 11 per cent in the overall population. He suggests switching to long grain white rice and adding brown rice to white rice – “Just increase the quantity of whole grain and brown rice.”

This will be familiar advice to diabetics but the wider audience should be aware as non-obese individuals can be at risk too, and Singapore has a very high proportion of diabetics in its population. Most jobs immobilises us on a daily basis and lifestyle and diet changes are necessary to preempt diabetes. To learn more, see the HPB page on diabetes.

In a related article, Dr Annie Ling of HPB advised that “exercise is important in reducing the risk of getting diabetes. Just a 15- minute walk every day can cut the risk of dying of the condition by 4 per cent.”

In relation to this, we restarted the NUS Walking Club to help encourage daily activity amongst staffers by introducing walk routes and the camaraderie of walking together. We hope to increase the frequency from once a month to fortnightly sessions once exam grading is over.

More at The Straits Times.

Tan Chuan-Jin also highlighted this MOH webpage and flyer on Facebook.