The 3rd Sustainability Student Symposium @ RVRC

Year 1 students at Ridge View Residential College at NUS read GEQ1917 Understanding and Critiquing Sustainability which I am part of undertake group projects in sustainability in their second semester. We emphasise realism, consultation, experimentation and quantification as they attempt simple problem-solving solutions to daily challenges in sustainability.

Project meetings are conducted between just the 4-5 students in a group, and their academic advisor (aka lecturer). With the college emphasis on an integrated approach, we cross-reference their lessons from their communication and personal and team effectiveness modules to prompt immediate application of methods learnt. So they run the meeting – or at least, get used to doing so.

Projects are subject to scrutiny at every meeting, which I think they are lucky to experience in their first year – at that specific moment though, they might not share the sentiment! Again this is something they gradually get more comfortable with, and hopefully learn to welcome. It’s tough to find a good critic to help you improve your ideas.

Well, finally we are just about done this semester – some fifty-nine projects were attempted and will be showcased as posters at the annual college symposium and networking session, “Action for Sustainability“. Six project groups have the pleasure of oral presentations and you can see all the project abstracts at

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Exercise by briskwalking the Southern Ridges

Torpidity will ruin us so here we go again!

In an effort to get some baseline walking done, and in particular, to help other lethargic NUS staff members, Kenneth, Weiting and I met to discuss possibilities. We had led some walks last year, and had always meant to restart the series.

2017 03 08 13 58 24

Two lunch time chats later, and after roping in Joleen and Airani, we decided we can begin with five Friday evening walks, just one a month, on the following dates:

  1. Fri 24 Mar 2017: 5.30pm
  2. Fri 28 Apr 2017: 5.30pm
  3. Fri 19 May 2017: 5.30pm
  4. Fri 30 Jun 2017: 5.30pm
  5. Fri 28 Jul 2017: 5.30pm

To register, visit the Eventbrite page.

Citizen Science Symposium at Yale-NUS College, 3-4 March 2017 (free; register)

An upcoming symposium on citizen science at Yale-NUS College, 3-4 March 2017 which will feature a mixture of talks and workshops, with the goal of increasing understanding of citizen science both locally and internationally. Anticipated topics are the role of technology in citizen science, and bridging citizen science with pedagogy.

All are invited to register to attend (free) at the registration page.


NUS VPN on macOS Sierra? Update Pulse Secure to version 5.2r5.0-b869

With each version of OS X, it is necessary to update NUS VPN to access certain university sites remotely. This prevented me from using the macOS Sierra beta version as the VPN software would not be updated until stable release.

The Pulse Secure version that works in macOS sierra is 5.2r5.0-b869, which is available from NUS Computer Centre at

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If you have updated your OS, you should go ahead and download this latest version.

So now “we” are spamming ourselves!

2016 06 09 13 53 42I’ve been at the receiving end of “undelivered” email notifications with attachments. Asking around, it seems it’ a widespread problem amongst NUS staff.

The campus helpdesk said a spammer sent an email to my email address, and disguised it to appear to originate from my email address (spoof), i.e. from: and to Well, the NUS exchange server will redirect spoof emails to junk.

However, these emails contained invalid characters so could not be delivered. Unable to detect the spoof, the server alerts the purported user (i.e. me) so I get spam in the form of undeliverable mail notifications! You can just delete the emails, but the frequency and volume is quite high.

When something speaks past the NUS spam filters like this, I fire up SpamSieve once again. I have been using this application since 2004, and it’s magnificent!

These past couple of weeks, I have been using MS Outlook 2016 to handle NUS emails. It is unable to automatically apply SpamSieve’s AppleScripts to incoming messages. Well, as it turns out, a workaround is now available which I applied.

And so SpamSieve has helpfully relieved me of this plague of “undeliverable” spam.

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!

18 years of server hosting with the Faculty of Science IT Unit ends in 2016!

In 1999, I attended a two hour html class at Faculty of Science’s CITA, conducted by Frederick H. Willeboordse and assisted by Keith Phua. Each of us in the class was setup with a personal server hosted by the Faculty of Science and I was taught a few common HTML commands and very importantly, FTP.

With hosting solved, I experimented with my site to gain confidence. Soon NUS was granting all my domain requests to setup several websites. Anything was possible, it was just a matter of having enough time. It was the Dropbox, Google Drive and WordPress of that time. Some highlights are reflected here.

Today, the cloud has eased the process incredibly and I am fascinated – last week, from the bus, and with just my handphone, I was able to send my student’s theses to a colleague minutes after he emailed!

Well, today, I received the email I had been warned about – the Faculty of Science IT Unit (ITU) will cease its web hosting service from 31 Oct 2016!

So the probable plan off the top of my head is:

  1. – likely merge with the existing Critical pages are already have subdomains, so I will update those.
  2. – shift some material to LKCNHM webpage or a subdirectory in
  3. (aka – shift to external host
  4. – subdirectory in
  5. – subdirectory in
    • blog content to or wordpress
    • html pages to subdirectory in
  7. – (is setup, just populate)

It is going to be tough, so I imagine I’ll go slow and steady:

  1. Update my local backups to be ready for transfer (mostly done).
  2. Find out about domain mapping to new host.
  3. Minor housekeeping to see what can be archived as pdfs into an indexed Dropbox folder.
  4. Shift the html pages, especially the guidebooks, magazines and bibliographies to the new server.
  5. Shifting the Habitatnews (2003-2016) blog posts will be tough and will have to queue with Raffles Museum News II (2004–2007) project. Defunct image hosting servers like Skitch caused the most trouble,sigh!

I will try to get some help, and have some fun with this. There is still lots of precious information in there.

It was inevitable this day would come and it has happened later rather than sooner – thanks to the Faculty of Science, and especially Keith Phua, for 18 years of internet freedom!

Not by honours thesis alone, also by internship and coursework – three ways to fulfil the Life Science Level 4000 requirements

This honours research module is a familiar rite of passage for all honours students and numerous students have learnt and contributed this way for decades.

In terms of modules and credits, to fulfil the Level 4000 requirements for Life Sciences Major, an undergraduate is presently required to pass

  1. LSM4199 Honours Project in Life Sciences [16 MCs], and
  2. Four LSM42xx elective modules [4 x 4MCs].

The Department of Biological Sciences which hosts the Life Sciences Undergraduate Programme issued the notice, “Changes to Life Sciences Major Level 4000 Requirements (1st April 2016)” [link]

We have been discussing this for some time now, as the honours cohort is expected to increase in light of the changed CAP cut-offs for honours, which were announced in 2014. Research lab space is strained and we need different strokes for different folks. So it is nice to see this finally announced.

There are a now three ways to fulfil the Level 4000 Life Science requirements:

  1. Honours Research Project (no change) – i.e. Pass LSM4199 + 4 LSM42xx elective modules
  2. Applied Internship Project – Pass LSM4299 Applied Project in Life Sciences + 4 LSM42xx elective modules
  3. Coursework; pass 8 LSM42xx elective modules.

This is applicable to students reading Life Sciences as primary major of the following matriculation cohorts

  1. AY2013/2014 – Current Year 3
  2. Cohort AY2014/2015 – Current Year 2
  3. Cohort AY2015/2016 – Current Year 1

Read the complete document at LSUP, which includes a description of the new LSM4299 Applied Project in Life Sciences, a full-time, “six‐month‐long project in an applied context that culminates in a project presentation and report.”

Update – read the five-page description for LSM4299 Applied Project in Life Sciences