Archive for April 2010

After a hasty dash from 666 Spadina (unfortunately leaving my roommates to clear up a bit of my mess – sorry about that!) to take a 2 hour detour to Talia’s place to retrieve my handphone before reaching the airport, I sat on the plane and thought about recent memories of Toronto.

And then I fell asleep, and when I opened my eyes, I was already midway to Quebec City.

I slept through take-off! My first take-off that I missed – I always do a 10 second countdown to take-off and landing. I didn’t miss the landing, if that’s what you’re wondering. Hurhur.

That aside, Quebec City seems beautiful! My cab driver Hugo was really nice, and he really struggled to find the right words in English to explain things to me. Going out for just over an hour just now revealed a quaint, laid-back city where there’s just enough people that saying “Bonjour” out loud to practise my french is not awkward.

Speaking of which, almost everything is in french here. I have to learn some words! The few that I know: sortie, jardin, boisson, poisson, bonjour, merci won’t be doing much for me!

And it seems people here sleep in, and close early. Haha!

Anyone who has used Microsoft OneNote will understand what I’m talking about here. BasKet Note Pads works in the same way OneNote does, and so fills a niche within the Linux market that OneNote doesn’t (unless you have WINE, which comes with its own pros and cons).

An easy way to visualise using BNP works like this. Imagine you’re in a class, and you’re taking notes. You have access to the internet, which you periodically use to check terms that the prof is using that you’re too embarrassed to ask about (we’ve all been there, some point or another, at least once!). Finding a good website, you haste to jot it down and – oops! – you’ve missed half of what the prof has just said. You scramble to write things down with the pen, with the keyboard, you’re confused!

In comes BNP to the rescue!

The interface of BNP works like a basket, where you can create and collect individual notes, join them together or keep them separate, place visual images and link websites, with complete basic formatting included. Intuitive and easy to use, and a single click of the mouse opens up a ‘note’ to write in. Screenshots of the lectures notes can be taken for clearer reference to notes you’re writing. See below.

Sibling and sub-baskets can be created and a ‘content page’ allows a sitemap preview of whatever you have.

Inevitably, people will compare. So I compared. OneNote enables automatic linking when I take screenshots of something from the web-browser, BNP doesn’t, though it does linking (but that’s an extra step, so no brownie points there).

What I like:

  • Saving, is automatic, just like OneNote. No worries about losing data because it saves as you go.
  • Easily used for a first time user.
  • Notes can be joined to each other by clicking and dragging, and collapsed or opened for viewing purposes. Makes the interface look cleaner.
  • Text documents, sound files can all be dragged into the interface and it will hold functional links. Fantastic!

What I think it should have:

  • A drawing tool that we can
    enable to ‘draw’ on the interface. For example, just a simple
    mouse-drawn arrow between some notes can do wonders for comprehension.
  • Viewing scale control (you know, Ctrl and +/-)
  • Individual word highlighting capability (what is it with these program maestros that they omit this?)
  • Automatic linking from web-browsers.

It’s interesting, I think I’ll use it if I take notes in class with a laptop. :D

While I am not a lazy photographer when shooting, I am lazy as hell when it comes to processing. Photographs live in my head, and uploading poses a feat that my self refuses to embrace as yet.

On another note, I am getting really intrigued by film and want to further my study of it. “More!”,  my heart cries out, and every time I develop a film, print a photo and watch the process of grains arranging themselves according to the exposure I’ve given them, my heart beats a little faster, and shouts in joy a little more.

Somehow I managed to avoid scalding myself with a pot full of boiling instant noodles when I tipped it over while pouring it into my bowl.

I’m either too preoccupied, or eating too much instant noodles.

I was just told that level 4000 geography modules are only meant for geography major students – hence if I wanted (needed) to do a level 4000 module (ie. Environmental Modelling), I would only be able to do it if I am doing a minor in Physical Geography.

sigh. :(

And this year isn’t a very good year to do it, because the modules I want aren’t offered, and I technically have no choice of modules to choose from – I have to do what is available to fulfill four modules worth, because there are only four modules in that basket being offered.


The module timetable makes it such that I would have three modules to read in both semester. And out of the total five geography modules I would need to do, I absolutely am not interested in two of them.

So it sounds like an easy choice, right?

I just wish I could do environmental modelling. You have no idea how profoundly sad I am right now. Administration and logistics prevent me from taking a class I have a passion and keen interest in.

So as of now, I have two modules that I will read for sure this academic year. Geographical Imaging Systems, and Tumour Biology. Perhaps I should take this chance to do a philosophy module?

Talking with ah tan made me realise that I theoretically qualified for the dean’s list the semester before I came to Toronto. Hurhur. Getting to do honours year (the vice dean said I could) is the milestone in this rollercoaster conflict between me and the books. Slightly amused and wondering how my grades look on a graph, here’s a literal translation:

N/B: A semester here is equivalent to either a 13 week term (two of which comprise an academic year) or a 6 week summer term (which fill up half of the holiday period between academic years).

And if you look at my transcript, its OBVIOUS what I’m inclined towards (biology and arts), interested and do well in (biology, evolution, ecology, conservation) and what I’m not meant for (molecular biology nudge nudge). HAHA. ANYWAY.

That aside, CONGRATULATIONS TO SANDRA TAN MIN-LI FOR PUBLISHING A PAPER!! Her own walls to climb and mountains to pass, she’s done it and I’M SO PROUD OF HER!!

Beams. Read the article here. Preview:


Feeling like I had some time finally as a break from work, I played around with some software I had downloaded but not yet used (because of a learning curve to go through in a period where I couldn’t afford to take the time out for it).

This is FreeMind, a mind-mapping tool. You start by creating a parent node. Here, the parent node is PLANTS. Child and sibling nodes can then be created to extend the concepts and expand on points. This is done easily with keyboard shortcuts. I decided to use it to help me with assimilating my physiological ecology lectures on plants. Plants were never my forte, though they are so incredibly important. Here’s some screenshots.

The backbone of the mindmap, for all major topics covered in class. Nodes can be shifted from one side to the other easily by using the mouse. Very handy. Clouds can encircle major points, and every child node from that point will be enveloped in the cloud. See below.

Adding more details in. Icons can be used to highlight important points or questions. Note: removing nodes isn’t as convenient (right click>node>remove node) and I realised why. Inventors made the programme such that you can move nodes anywhere, so if you created a node that you no longer want to be there, just simply move it to another side and edit it (without having to remove one, and create a new one on another side).

Colour can be changed, to highlight individual items of importance, or segregate items. Something I wanted extra out of this programme was to place pictures in. Not sure if it’s capable of this yet – doesn’t seem so.

And finally, when it’s done? The complete mind-map! Viewing of course, can be changed to any scale, user or program defined. Clicking on any node will collapse it – so clicking on all the major nodes will bring me back to the first picture. Handy! I can view the map at a complete scale, or just concentrate on one area at a time.

What I like:

  • Instinctive, easy to use, lots of shortcuts make making the mind map a breeze
  • Coloured clouds
  • Icons (cute to place in mindmap)

What I think it should have:

  • Picture support
  • Highlighting of words
  • Allow end-joining of concepts, and arrows to link across concepts
  • More than one parent node in one file
  • Separate formatting within a node (all the words of a node are formatted together currently)

Definitely going to keep using it.

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