Wednesday, August 30, 2006

TagBoard Message Board

Finally, I have my own TagBoard. I'm happy that I'm able to set it up on my own. (Well...others had consultation :p). It took me almost the whole day trying to fix the error - there was a huge blank space before my TagBoard. What was the problem? It was caused by 4 characters: <ul>. Only 4 characters!!!! This is so irritating, right? That 4 characters have caused such a big problem. I should have deleted that line ages ago to ease my pain. *sigh*

Actually, this is not the first time I had to debug a code. As a lecturer who teaches programming, I have been doing debugging for the last 11 years. Even a single semicolon (;) can generate tonnes of errors. So, the nuisance that the 4 characters created is no surprise. Four is nothing compared to one semicolon. was a good learning experience - No pain, no gain.

Feel free to tag a message. Please don't waste my effort, ya? :p

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Connecting with the BBC SS Children

It's been quite a while since I shared about my ministry at the Bukit Beruntung Chapel Sunday School (BBC SS). Whenever I'm there the feeling is just overwhelming because of the number of children that keep on coming. They are so hyper active. I just can't keep up with them.

Last Sunday, 22 children came. For the past few months, I didn't really connect with the children. But last Sunday was different. I played passing the ball with 2 lovely sisters for about half an hour. (The Sunday School teachers called one of them 'chicken little'. Hahaha!) Even though it was just a simple game, we still had a good time of laughter. During the steamboat dinner, they actually came to sit next to me. 'chicken little' even played with my hair and tried to tie them together. I showed them photos of Jordan too. The older girl asked me to bring him there next time. It feels good to be accepted by the children. In my Growth Group meeting in the morning, I was reminded to carry the presence of God with me whenever I spend time with the children. It's a joy to be in God's presence, and to serve Him.

I would like to thank Moh Nee and her husband for preparing such a sumptuous dinner for us last weekend. She even bought gifts for the Sunday School teachers. God bless her as she returns to Singapore to work.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Increment and Bonus

In conjunction with my added qualification, the College Management is pleased to make a revision to my salary as part of its incentive for staff. I thank God for this salary adjustment incentive. It is not a lot but I'm really thankful that the increment starts this August instead of next year. I have earlier on declined a higher position. ( I said, I don't want a promotion, but I don't mind higher pay).

The Bonus - this is a wonderful surprise. I didn't expect this. Again in recognition of my PhD award, the College Management gave me an additional bonus. Praise the Lord!

That's the good news.

Recently, Seng Chor and I prepared a family monthly budget. We were influenced by the game Cashflow 101. Now, the bad news is that we are in the red. Seriously. With the salary adjustment, we hope to maintain a positive cashflow in a few months time. So, all my needs will be on hold for the time being. *sigh*

We continue to trust God as our Jehovah Jireh, our Provider.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I need, I want...

I need ...
a new bookshelf (desperately need to archive all my books and files)
Osim uzap (desperately need to lose weight)
more clothes (seriously)
new clothes for my hubby too (not so serious)
another house (very serious)

I want...
more toys for Jordan (can get some for his 1st birthday)
more Board games (can probably still redeem from Citibank)
a painting by my good friend Queenie (maybe impossible - hubby probably don't agree)
a digital video camera (maybe next year?)
Sony Waio UX series Micro PC (dream on...)

Besides material stuff...I need
manicure and pedicure
new hairstyle - rebonding/perming and highlight

I don't need and I don't want...
higher position (I don't mind more pay)
better handphone or PDA (if it is free, I'll take it)
new shoes (got enough for this year)
new bags (so far so good)
new jewellery (happy for now)
new car (Kancil is still going strong)
better husband (the current one is the best... :p)
better baby (Jordan is the best)

Hmmm....I think that's all for now.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Title of Dissertation

Hmm...I realised that I have not mentioned anything about the title of my dissertation.
Below is the title...

"A C++ Standard Template Library Intelligent Tutoring System with Bayesian and Fuzzy Logic Student Model"

Basically, the system helps student in learning the C++ Standard Template Library. (C++ is a programming language). The system is capable of customising the problems to solve based on individual knowledge and understanding of the student. I have derived an algorithm using Artificial Intelligence techniques to keep track of the students' progress as they solve various problems. So, this is a simple summary of my research work. :) It is easier to understand than the abstract, right? :P

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Joy of Blogging

I'm bored. What's the cure?

Don't feel like working. What do I do?

Finished the work for the day. What's next?

Can't sleep at night. What do I think of?
My blog

Need to pen down some of my thoughts, experiences, moods, grievances, etc etc. Where is the place?

What to read? What to read? Where to read?

Nothing else better to do?

My part-time 'job'?

My favorite pastime?

Yup, I finally agreed with the Inspired Educator that blogging is addictive. And I'm pretty much addicted to it. Hahaha!!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tioman with a Difference

Two years ago, which is, 2004 was our first trip to Tioman. In that trip, there were 11 of us and we booked 5 rooms. I brought along my notebook to write up something for my dissertation. I needed to show something to my supervisor after the trip. On the second day, while others were swimming and kayakking, I stayed in the room writing one of the chapters. The highlight of that trip was snorkelling. It was my first time snorkelling. What a wonderful experience! The first thing I saw was sea cucumber. The other thing that made the trip memorable was this - first holiday with my 2 sister-in-laws.

This year, it was different - only 5 of us and we booked 2 rooms. And the happiest thing is that - no more studies - no more writing dissertation. It was a relaxing trip - eat, sleep, play, watch TV. I ate a lot. Upon arrival, I ate and ate and ate but still didn't feel very full. I got to learn (hahaha...what a word to use!) quite a number of cartoon shows. I enjoyed all the shows - all about fighting to save the world. In our last trip, we played this game called Photo Hunt, where we need to spot 5 differences between 2 photos. We found the game but after at least 10 tries and 5 pairs of eyes, we still couldn't get our names written in the Hall of Fame. *sigh* Try again next time loh.

For my next island trip, I know what I want to do already - go for a massage!!! We will definitely bring Jordan along. There was never a day/night that I didn't think of him when I was in Tioman. Once in a while, I would take out my digital camera and watch a video of him laughing loudly in the cot. He's so fun to play with now.

Thank God for his protection, and another fun trip.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

PhD Abstract

Most of you may be wondering what my research is all about. Here's the abstract ...


Earlier work on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) for programming focused more on teaching programming syntax than its application. The main tutoring approach is to present a problem specification for the student to solve, followed by intelligent analysis of the solution with various feedback. It is also observed that existing ITSs suffer from static domain knowledge and are restricted to the tutoring session. Therefore, this research proposes the development of a web-based ITS for both curriculum planners and implementer-tutors to teach students the application of the C++ Standard Template Library (STL) to problem solving.

From experience, it is discovered that students find the C++ STL difficult due to their weaknesses in understanding various object-oriented concepts. This ITS overcomes the learning and teaching challenges by modelling the program specification based on prerequisite concepts. Bayesian Theorem is applied to model the student’s knowledge and direct the tutoring intelligently. Bayesian probability reasoning is a well-known Artificial Intelligence technique for uncertainties management. The development of the C++ STL ITS applies practices from the eXtreme Programming methodology and J2EE technologies. The 3-tier architecture ITS constitutes three main components – Student Modelling Module, Tutoring Module and Users Administration Module providing the authoring of the domain knowledge dynamically. Hence, tutors can then fully participate in the design of the curriculum and tutoring sessions as well as in the implementation of the tutorials for their students for effective teaching and learning.

Both summative and formative evaluations were conducted on the C++ STL ITS. The evaluation results revealed that the Bayesian Theorem has the capability of modelling the student’s prerequisite and directing the student during the tutorial session. The Fuzzy Stereotyping of Students Expert System works well in categorizing the students according to four stereotypes – novice, beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Short term future enhancements include extending the tutorial questions, domain knowledge, accommodating more feedback on the programming syntax, and incorporating the fuzzy expert system into the C++ STL ITS. Three areas of research proposed for long term are application of alternative knowledge acquisition techniques, integration of learning styles into the student model, and representation of domain knowledge using ontologies.

PhD Acknowledgement


I express my most sincere gratitude to

GOD … constant grace, strength, wisdom and blessing

My supervisor
Assoc. Prof. M Sapiyan Baba … invaluable help and guidance

My husband
Seng Chor … loving care, help and patience

My baby boy
Jordan … a source of strength and motivation

Dad Peter and Mum Agnes … a source of inspiration

My sister Eva … love, concern and moral support

My brothers Felix and Alex … love and moral support

My brothers and sisters
in Christ … prayer support and encouragement

Guru Max Lam … advice and kind assistance

Colleagues at
KBU International College … advice and kind assistance

BSc (Hons) Software Engineering
BEng (Hons) Electronics &
Computing Students … patience and co-operation

Friends … comments and proofreading

And all other friends, relatives and well-wishes who have contributed in one way or another in making this Research a reality.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Journey to Excellence

This Memoir is not complete without me sharing how God has started the PhD with me and carried it on to completion.

It all began in 2002 - 4 years ago. The idea to do the PhD was actually shared to me by two of my ex-colleagues. One of them is a PhD holder, whereas the other one was pursuing it. Both seem to have more confident in me, than myself. They gave me some ideas on the areas of research as well. I shared these thoughts with my prayer partners - Luan and Yoke Kheng. My Growth Group members prayed with me as well. Since then, they have been praying faithfully for me. We prayed for God's confirmation through open doors and various opportunities. I needed the right research area, the right University, and supervisor.

Moreover, the commitment is considered long - about 3 years. My desire is to do it to honour and glorify God. As I am in the education line, it is a natural progression for me as well. But I desired to be in God's will, and I sought His Words for confirmation. As I seek, these verses came to me -

2 Peter 1:5-9
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Ironically, these verses were first shared to me by my Mentor - Aunty Luan, during our bible study together. The part about making every effort to add to knowledge convicted me about pursuing the PhD. Yup, pursuing PhD is about increasing my knowledge. Through this, I envisaged that it would increase my opportunities to serve God. With these verses, I felt more confident.

I began to read up articles and journals on the Internet, and did a bit of research on my own. Eventually, I discovered my interest in Intelligent Tutoring Systems. My first choice was to pursue the PhD with one of my College's partner University. That didn't materialize because of the high tuition fee. By faith, in 2003, I applied for the College Staff Study Grant, and the grant was approved on 17 March 2003. As part of the Study Grant, I was paid RM1500 a year for book allowance. During the period when I was pursuing my programme of study under the Study Grant, I was given a day a month as special leave to conduct my research or meet up with my supervisor. I was also given a special 3 weeks at the end-stage of my study programme to enable me to prepare my dissertation.

After signing up for the Study Grant, I was still praying for an open door - University and supervisor. Then, something happened. I became pregnant. I was feeling really excited - to be a mother and doing the PhD at the same time. Prayers continued - for strength. However, it was not God's time yet for a baby. I had a miscarriage. It was a painful experience. But God was there. My family and church members were there to support me. I could still keep on singing - "Lord You are good, You are good. And Your mercy forever endures."

Months past by. Praise the Lord! The door was finally opened. My friend Yoke Lai introduced me to her supervisor at the University of Malaya (UM). Surprisingly, her supervisor has the same research interest as me - Intelligent Tutoring Systems. I sent him my proposal. He accepted it and within a month or two I registered myself with UM. That was in July 2003.

So, I officially started my research after my registration. I conducted literature review for about one year. With the encouragement from my supervisor, I commenced the writing of the dissertation as I reviewed existing research. Eventually, I came up with a proper problem statement. Of course, I persevered on in prayers - prayed for more wisdom.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

I completed the literature review in 2003. With the help of one of my ex-students, the development of the system began in 2004. We met almost every week to discuss the development. He is indeed a wonderful brother in Christ. We shared our struggles with one another, and often encouraged each other through prayers.

God gave us a surprise gift. I was pregnant again! I was actually more fearful than excited when I first discovered the pregnancy. I had doubts as well. More prayers continued. I got through the first trimester of the pregnancy. Miraculously, I didn't suffer much morning sickness. I was able to continue with my research. God's strength was even more evident. As the development of the system continued, more and more bugs appeared. Things looked discouraging and I was looking for a breakthrough in my research. During these dark times, sister Selvi encouraged me with this verse...

Philippians 1:6
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Amen to that! What God has started, he will bring it to completion. To me, it was a promise from God. There were times I wanted to postpone my research or even give up the whole thing. Two other things kept me baby and my Study Grant. If I failed to complete my PhD within the stipulated time stated in the Grant, which is 3 years, I might need to pay compensation to the College! I couldn't afford that. So, I must complete it. The baby growing within has also motivated me to finish it once and for all.

Little by little, I experienced breakthroughs in my research. Eventually, the errors were fixed and I started the evaluation of the system in October 2005. Praise the Lord that the results were positive. Otherwise, I really don't know what to do. With that, I commenced the writing of the remaining chapters of my dissertation. Thank God that my mum came and she helped me to proofread. She is a super mum! She gave me ideas for my Introduction as well.

During the whole time, I prayed for the perfect delivery time for my baby Jordan. I was afraid that he would want to come out earlier but he didn't. He was late but a wonderful timing from God. He was with me as I spent long hours at night writing my dissertation. He had probably complained because I often experienced minor 'earthquakes' in my tummy area.

Finally, I submitted my first draft to my supervisor almost one week before I gave birth to Jordan. Seng Chor helped me with the submission. One week after Jordan's birth, my supervisor gave me the feedback. With God's strength once again, I made all the changes and additions during my confinement. Seng Chor actually had to meet up with my supervisor. My supervisor explained to him all the required changes. Seng Chor didn't really understand the whole thing, but he just nodded, and related them to me. :)

Amazingly, I submitted the final draft before Christmas. Because of that, I don't have to pay for another semester's fee. That was just the first hurdle - the most difficult one.

Yes, God was faithful. He gave us a surprise gift last year - Jordan, and this year my PhD award. I believed that he has more in store for me.

Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Psalms 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

My PhD Supervisor

My Supervisor - Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohd. Sapiyan Baba
Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My Beloved and I at the Convocation

Convocation Photos

My students...from the Left: Jonathan, Gary, Danny and Yee Chia.

Waiting for the ceremony to start

My sister, Eva.

After the ceremony

Receiving the scroll from Tuanku Chancellor

Convocation Day

I have been trying to upload some convocation photos the whole morning but couldn't. *sigh*

Let me just pen down some of the highlights ...

Woke up at 6:15 am.
Left the house at around 7 am (Seng Chor, my sis and I - Jordan was at the babysitter)
Arrived at the Examination Building at about 7:15 am.
My sister helped me to put on my hood. Not easy. Thank God she was around to help. She was like my bridesmaid once again. :)
Just before 8 am, we marched into the main Hall - Dewan Tunku Canselor.
Sat on the right side of the Hall - second row.
The main Academic Procession entered the Hall before 9:30 am.
Speech from Tuanku Chancellor - Sultan Azlan Shah (short and sweet)
Speech from Vice Chancellor - quite lenghty
Salutation and presentation of the Honorary Award - long
Speech by recipient of the Honorary Award - very long - half an hour
Finally, at about 10:30 - the award for PhD commenced, according to the Faculty.
Waited for my turn...
Walked to edge of the stage.
The Dean of my Faculty read out my name.
So, I walked to the center of the stage, stopped, bowed, took a step forward, shook hand with the Sultan. He congratulated me in English. Actually, I have planned to respond in Malay - "Menjunjung Kasih, Tuanku", but because he congratulated me in English, it was an automatic response for me to thank him in English - "Thank you, Tuanku". I said it twice. Then, took a step backward, bowed again and walked away. Phew! It was smooth. I remembered to smile too.

After the ceremony, Tuanku stayed back to take photos with us. What a privilege!

Four of my students came - Danny, Gary, Yee Chia and Jonathan. I got a bouquet of red roses from them. How lovely! More wanted to come but I sort of discouraged them because of the limited parking space.

After some phototaking sessions, we went home for lunch. I took the day off. So, slept in the afternoon to prepare myself for the Convocation Dinner at night.

8 pm.
Seng Chor dropped me at PJ Hilton for the Dinner with the Sultan and his prince (handsome lah). I managed to squeeze myself into a red Kebaya (Malay dress) that I bought few years ago from the BUC family carnival. Phew! I was really careful that the dress didn't go 'piak' suddenly.
The UM symphony orchestra performed - cool! Got live singing as well.

The Dinner was ok - Malay style. I enjoyed the soup and dessert.

Dinner ended at 10:30 pm. Seng Chor came to pick me up, and he gave me a special treat - DURIAN !!! What a treat to end the day with my favourite fruit! Yummy...

It was an auspicious and memorable day. All praise to God!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Pre-Convocation Butterflies

The Big Day is tomorrow - 8 August 2006. I'm feeling excited. I'm nervous. I'm 'kan-chiong'. I just can't stop thinking about it. Hmm...did I feel like this on my wedding day?

I was at the rehearsal last Saturday. Found out that PhD graduates will be receiving the scroll from the UM Chancellor - Sultan of Perak - Sultan Azlan Shah, our ex-King (Agung). Wow!
So many protocols...

Bow when getting up from the seat
Walk to the stairs on the stage, and wait
When your name is called, walk to the marker
Bow, then, take a step forward to receive the scroll with both hands
Shake hand with the Sultan (only for PhD graduates)
Say "Menjunjung Kasih Tuanku" or "Thank you, Tuanku"
Take a step backward
Bow again and walk away.

I hope I can remember to do all the above. Hope I don't fall or trip or make a fool of myself in anyway. Please pray that everything will proceed smoothly.

My sister has helped me to choose a suitable outfit - black pants and a light blue blouse. I just bought a new pair of shoes last Saturday. Now, I need to think of the evening wear....PhD graduates were invited to have dinner with the Sultan at PJ Hilton tomorrow night!!! What a privilege!

Will keep you guys and gals posted on the big event. Will definitely include some photos.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Graduation Gift

Wow factor: 9.9 mm Slim Multimedia Bar, the external touch-sensitive keypad offers dedicated music buttons.

Other notable frills:Triband with GPRS 1.3-megapixel camera with flash, 4x digital zoom176 x 220-pixel, 262K-color TFT screen 96 x 96-pixel, 65K-color TFT sub-display Speakerphone FM radio Supports MP3, ACC, AAC+ and WMA formats Voice memo recording Bluetooth 1.2128MB memory 92 x 47 x 14.6 mm, 82g.

This new LG mobile is a Graduation gift cum 6th Wedding Anniversary gift from my beloved husband. Now, I get to see Jordan's photos on my phone everyday.

Thank you, Seng Chor - The Diver in search of God's marvellous creation.

About Cabokia

Have you ever wondered what "cabokia" means? Well...wonder no more...the answer is below:

It is actually a Hokkien word:

cabo = girl
kia = child

So, the combined word means "daughter". "Cabokia"... this is what my family members call me. Sometimes my hubby call me by this name as well - just for fun. I think the nickname was given to me by my late paternal grandparents. Why? Maybe because I am the first grandchild.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

PhD Viva revisited

Ok...I was too excited about the award that I forgot to mention the detail results of the viva.

There were altogether 3 examiners for my thesis - 2 external examiners (local and overseas) and 1 internal examiner from UM. All three agreed to the conferment of the PhD award. One of them did a thorough examination on my work. She spotted all my minor mistakes with my references and (oops!) spelling mistakes as well. She's cool. She has also made other recommendations to improve some sections of my thesis. Another examiner recommended that I add in some more discussion on future work.

I was given one month to complete and submit the changes to my supervisor. To cut the story short, I managed to submit the FINAL thesis on 6 July 2006, just in time for the Senate meeting on Friday, 14 July 2006. Phew! Otherwise, my convocation would be delayed to next year 2007. Praise the Lord once again for His perfect timing.