Thursday, December 06, 2012

QR Codes - Have fun (visually)!

QR codes are quite commonly used nowadays - an application of technology to improve efficiency. Obvious advantage is, it saves one from keying in URLs which comes with a string of characters (although nowadays people start to use shorten URLs).

Shortened URLs are useful when we attempt the access with a computer, a device that comes with a keyboard (if we were to talk about efficiency). However, when it comes to mobile devices where the buttons of the 'virtual keyboard' fight for space to 'receive' the touch of our finger tips, here's where the QR code technology comes in very handy. No typing or remembering of URLs needed. Just scan the image using the QR Code reader! That it goes! To some extend, it is making the 'minds' to become lazier? (haha...)

There are lots of potential in the use of QR codes in education. Though up to now, we see its use as a productivity 'tool' being most common. Of course, QR codes have become increasing popular for trail activities... hm... to add that 'mysterious' flavour? Hm...

Today, come across this the website:
which brings 'enhances' the visual presentation - or to give more character or identity to the code that's generated... Here's one that I created in less than a minute :)

Tested out with my iPhone... and yes, it works (and it's free)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

"Learned Optimism" or... "Hard Optimism"

In the recent year-end staff closure session, we went through a session about Resilience... well, the one that really struck me was about "optimism", which has been defined as one of the elements. In fact, I think it's critical because it's one that generates from self, and to some extent, it demands we, ourselves to "manipulate" how we think (ok, though we put it across as we can learn to be optimistic).

Of course, after going through the survey designed by Martin Seligman, many of us, to our misbelief that we were labelled being "pessimists"! Hahaha... we were taken aback! Of course, it's really based on the perspective on how the inputs were analysed. On the other hand, think about it, it's about being cautious (or sometimes overly cautious?)

According to the write-up in Wikipedia:

"Other differences exist between pessimists and optimists in terms of explanatory style:
  • Permanence: Optimistic people believe bad events to be more temporary than permanent and bounce back quickly from failure, whereas others may take longer periods to recover or may never recover. They also believe good things happen for reasons that are permanent, rather than seeing the transient nature of positive events. Optimists point to specific temporary causes for negative events; pessimists point to permanent causes.
  • Pervasiveness: Optimistic people compartmentalize helplessness, whereas pessimistic people assume that failure in one area of life means failure in life as a whole. Optimistic people also allow good events to brighten every area of their lives rather than just the particular area in which the event occurred.
  • Personalization: Optimists blame bad events on causes outside of themselves, whereas pessimists blame themselves for events that occur. Optimists are therefore generally more confident. Optimists also quickly internalize positive events while pessimists externalize them."
So, based on my test score:

As Doreen shared (based on her reading), it's also dependent on culture! Yes, I agree. Asians tend to be more humble (like what Mrs Chew said) and we tend to work on to improve ourselves despite the fact that we are pretty ok... haha... Perfectionist in act! Of course, anything that's too extreme will have its downside. The same applies to the those who have been diagnosed very optimistic, too! So, we should not be overly concern over the score, but the score would be an indication on how we see things and put things in perspective, and sometimes they could turn out to be our strengths :)
Look from another perspective, it also to some extent an indication of how reflective we are, in terms of our actions and how we do things... the ability to look inwards, which is definitely important for us to continually strive to improve :)

Google New Search Feature - Search by Image!

This was something I thought of a couple of months ago, since I received the pot of plant because to-date, I still do not know "what" this plant is... haha... The first thing crossed my mind was, can we search by image! (without going to those portals/ forums where people talk about plants!)

Chanced upon this update by Google on search by images; and it's god-send! I would not have dreamt of search engine has become so powerful! Here's the steps described (see image below).
It's easy! I've tried!

Of course, the first thing I try is the plant! 
and this is what I got. I guess, it attempted to get the closest possible match? 
Hm... unfortunately, no luck this time... 

I suspect it's probably because the library is not huge enough or the image search engine is still in its infant stage? or it's the mechanism - the features the engine uses to match and map?

So, here's my 2nd attempt - to upload a photo I took inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Guess what! Bingo! It maps correctly! 

Here's the search result:

Hard Optimism by Price Pritchett (I) Counting my Blessings - a Reflection

"Hard optimism represents a disciplined, deliberate way of thinking about whatever life throws at us. It's about focusing on blessings rather than bad things... emphasizing opportunities instead of obstacles... explaining events to ourselves in a way that enhances performance and improves our quality of life." (p11)

True, indeed, by looking out and counting blessings, sometimes we are surprised to find there are so many good things (especially people around us) bestowed upon us! Without them, we might not even be able to get to the present stage (I won't say "state", as it's subjective).

In the recent years, when I do my work review with my reporting officers, I never forget to give credit to people around me...  the fact that what I have achieved to-date is made possible because of all the blessings that I can count on. My bosses are important, though I might not have conveyed my thanks and appreciation to them verbally. Some may see from another perspective that we are working 'for' the organisation and therefore it's an expectation that the bosses have to support what we do to fulfill what's defined in our job scope. For those who have been at work long enough (not necessary in education, but in any other business), we know that it's not always the case. Ironically, if we have stretch our 'antenna' far enough, we would have heard that there were instances where people having a hard time to get their work done because the lack of support. Ironical? Well, it happened, and it happens elsewhere too! So, we should not take for granted about the support; although sometimes we do experience frustration when we could not understand the rationale of some actions that go against what we do. On the other hand, do we trust our bosses? It's an important question to ourselves. I think it makes a difference when we attempt to rationalise some decisions or actions when we are not told the "why"s. Of course, "trust" cannot be taken for granted. It's not a given. It's earned. I believe bosses know this well.

In an organisation, there's no such thing as "a one-man show", no matter how capable one is. In fact, how capable one is does not depend solely on the expertise/ skills one has, but how he/ she works with others, or get others to work(?) (hm...). Again, one may argue that since people are assigned to the team, it means they are expected to 'work'. Now it's the effort that counts, of course, that goes back to one's attitude! That 'little difference' makes a huge difference! It's just like my encounter with two persons who were given the role of coordinators. One was full of initiative, anticipated and sought to find out what she did not know; and to ask what she did not even know. Another simply served as a messenger and thought that she had done a perfect job. Attitude counts! Be it the first or the second coordinator, I still thank them for the work they did (though it's "for" the organisation) and different degree of effectiveness; as I might end up having someone whom I need to 'coordinate' on-behalf. Well, such human being exists! So, count my blessings! Of course, I'm more thankful to the one who was exercise great initiative! So, no matter big or small kind of support, count our blessing that someone has done the work instead of having them falling back onto our laps!
So, to my fellow colleagues... thanks for all the work carried out! You may think you are just doing your job, but to me, it matters!

Success is not merely a "within organisation" matter. Undeniably, what's available within the organisation matters a lot; in my case, the external entities are very important and critical in order for the "in-house" projects to take place smoothly. Without the support from my fellow colleagues in ETD, ITB and IDA, life would have been many many more times challenging. Much appreciation to the timely advices and efforts they put into the project; and also their understanding and willingness to stand in sometimes. Well, similar to the scenario of the "Coordinator" described in the earlier paragraph. These 'external' parties were not obliged to put in extra effort beyond what's written (at the surface) of their job scope - to "support" the school! There are varying degree and level of support! And quality matters! Fortunately or unfortunately, I am able to tell and feel this difference strongly because I "worked with" officers from these agencies in my past context and had experiences that were totally different. Again, one may argue that these people have their own KPIs; however, they could just 'report' instead of coming forward at their own course and go an extra mile! These are definitely blessings, especially when they are beyond our circle of influence or control. These are  blessings that I would not have dreamt of when started the journey :) In the same note, appreciate the friendship that grows along the way, too!

Well, well... blessings are not only those we can find at work... friends around - be it their presence are always felt or only 'appear' once in a blue moon. I guess this is something that we all agree. And of course, count the blessings each day when we step into our house! How often, we forget about these people and take them for granted.

To look around... yes, abundance of blessings to count on :)