Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some things need not be that clear...

Photo by: id photography
Sometimes things need not be crystal clear for clarity of purpose to be achieved. It is good for things to be made clearer later on...but at times, having an idea of what is the intended picture should suffice. especially so when things are still a little murky.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Getting lost in the preciseness of GPS

Photo from:
The title of my blog post sounds oxymoronic, but there is a reason for it.

For a couple of years I've been against the idea of getting a GPS system for my car, especially so since I do believe that the roads in this tiny island that I am residing in isn't that really too difficult to navigate. There seems to be a great degree of logic and rationale built into the road network system over here, and so far, barring one or two instances where my judgements were a little off, the journeys that I have undertook have so far been reaching its intended destinations.

But alas, I think I have to forgo that idea of going GPS-less very soon, given the higher propensity for me to drive up north in the immediate future, for both my weekly/monthly groceries shopping, and perhaps to run an errand or two for the family. Yes things are definitely a little cheaper up on the Malaysian side of the border, and it would be stupid of me not to leverage on favourable currency exchange rates to get a good deal...or two.

But it is precisely this dependency on a device that makes me comfortable. Yes, I read somewhere that the current GPS technology is pretty reliable within an accepted level of accuracy, but it is precisely this 'preciseness' that runs counter to my spirit of adventure. I have lost count the number of times that I have made a turn too early (or too late), and have discovered new routes and roads that would prove useful in my latter sojourns. I have also lost count the number of times this has lead me to appreciate the very people who have put in a high degree of logicness in the arrangement of the road networks here, compared to perhaps some other places. My appreciation grew whenever I have opportunities to travel opportunities, when I see what a haphazard road system can contribute to a country and her economy. I've also reflected on the numerous times that an illogical road system (or road naming system) can contribute to. A case in point would be the estates in Punggol and Sengkang. But that would be another point altogether.

But I guess, at the end of my long resistance to having one, I would eventually get one. I do hope that that would not reduce the spirit of adventure within me. In fact who knows, maybe the very preciseness of using a digital tool such as a GPS would open up new possibilities, that perhaps were absent and invisible to me, or that were not made aware to me when I was still a compass-bearing and map-memorizing driver for the last 1.5 decades.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The usability of design...and of (math) education

It's really funny thinking how there is a constant demand for products to be designed not only aesthetically well, but also functionally effective. I thought the argument for good design should also extend to all aspects of things that are man-designed (and man-made). And this includes education. I was particularly disturbed a couple of weeks ago, when local news reports highlighted the various math questions that a regular 10-year old child (Primary 4 in local context) were supposed to be able to solve. 
What got my attention was the realism of the question, and not so much how the questions were posed. In my opinion, such measures that would want to develop the child's innate ability to solve real-world problems, should start with real-world (paper-based) problems too! I would think that the sum total of the test-setters' cognitive abilities should be able to come out with more 'real' and 'usable' problems, that would still test the students' understanding and application of things like heuristics and multiple-level methodologies of mathematical problem solving. I just hope that questions would begin to look more real, and usable, and perhaps, would be able to really, really educate our children in seeing real-problems as what they are....real problems, with perhaps, multiple answers...or no answers!