Start of 2013 Blurbs.


Instead of taking a nap (I’m currently running on 3 hours of sleep) and instead of starting my readings (I have to read 9 chapters for my test this week), I’m going to finally write a new blog post. I actually meant to post one earlier than this, but things have been pretty busy (my birthday celebrations and then catching up on work that I set aside).

I actually had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to write about. Every time I sit down to write something, I would stop after the 2nd or 3rd paragraph because I don’t have a ton to say on the specific topic (please send me suggestions *cough*). So I’m going to write up a bunch of blurbs today (anything and everything that is currently on my mind).

New Phone. New Beginnings.

So I lost my phone earlier last week (my old Windows Phone). Although it was upsetting, I ended up getting a new one the day after. Galaxy S2. The seller said it was BNIB (brand new in box), but it was clearly used (had some scuffs), and he gave me a Blackberry charger (didn’t notice until after). Oh well, I bargained the price down pretty low anyway ;)

It’s been awhile since I’ve used an Android phone.. almost a year. The thing is, I didn’t really take advantage of my data plan last time. Oh, and that phone was still on Gingerbread. The point I want to make is that Android has made so many improvements to allow customization. I had no idea you could use custom launchers w/o a flashing custom rom until recently. I was initially frustrated with the settings and the crappy default apps that Samsung provides (Contact sync is also terrible compared to WP). Things got better once I started installing basically every app created by the GO Launcher Dev Team.

The issue I’ve been facing is really bad battery life.. I barely do anything (have 3/4G turned off all day) and the battery life is <30% by the end of my day. The phone is also extremely laggy (I’m unsure if it’s just the model clashing with the OS, or if my device is a defect..) Either way, it’s annoying. Despite the WP experience on my Focus being waaaay slower than what it is on WP8, it was always pretty smooth (I’ve never faced lag). But then again, WP has automatic app management (you can only have a maximum 5 apps running the background).

Overall though, the phone is an upgrade for me. In a way, it’s good that I lost my phone so I don’t have to deal with WP7/8 fragmentation, lack of allowing default programs for certain file types, lack of good quality apps, etc.

So why not iOS? Easy. No widgets, annoying default things you cannot change (i.e. you need to type in your password whenever you want to download/update apps).. It’s the ICON interface that bothers me. Difficult to find your apps. Overall, it’s much more smooth than Android, though, simply because of the way processes are handled when they crash (hahaha).

Anyways, I feel like I’ve talked about this in a past blog post. : / Sorry for the repetition.

School.

So how’s school? Winter term just started. I just recently handed in a few of my assignments, and wrote my first major test (the reason why I stayed up and had only 3 hours of sleep). Work is piling up, so I’m going to start hermitting in my room (or the library) more. Luckily I only have 5 courses to worry about this term (I haven’t had a 5 course workload since first year).

So my elective is also a ton of fun. It’s called Soundtracks in Film. We analyze the background music in movies. Our weekly assignment is to watch a movie. We get to watch Inception. Awesome right? Great prof, too. Although he assigns a little too much reading for my taste. It’s MUSIC 246 if anyone’s interested.

School/Studying Tips

I was going to make a dedicated post for this, but it might not be very long. We’ll see.

1. Actually read over the notes you took after class everyday. This way, you can ask about anything you missed or are not sure about in the following class. It helps you stay caught up in the course.

2. Taking Notes (as a visual learner). So this really varies based on the kind of lectures your profs do.

  • Slide based: Annotate directly on the PDF files. Not sure about Windows, but on Mac Preview, you can add the Edit shortcut. This helps you add annotations and such to PDFs. Choose the Text icon to add text annotations (It’s the dotted box with ‘Aa’ inside). Unless the prof draws a lot of extra diagrams, it’s a LOT less effort to type in your extra little notes than writing them in. Plus, you save $$ on ink + paper. 
  • Board Notes: If it’s a math/physics course, I highly recommend pen & paper. If not, use a note taking application like Evernote or OneNote. Evernote is an amazing product that allows you to organize your notes into notebooks, sync them across all your devices, and more. I’ve personally never used OneNote, but I’ve seen some people use this as well. I am highly against Microsoft Word or Google docs as you cannot really get the 2-3 window pane view and extensive organization that Evernote provides.

3. Study by yourself. Working in groups is good for assignments and projects and perhaps understanding concepts taught in class, but it can end up being very distracting. Especially if you have friends who browse Reddit or Youtube every 30 minutes.

4. Bring snacks to school. Stop eating at the crappy school cafeteria or the overpriced nearby restaurants. Make your own lunch, or bring snacks if you have a 3 hour lecture.

5. Take advantage of office hours and ask questions. Don’t leave it til the end, and be assertive. Profs are busy, you are busy, but don’t just let go on the fact that you’re confused about stuff taught in class. Email the prof if anything. There’s also Piazza for online help (discussion forum system) but not all profs use it.

Man.. I should really take my own advice sometimes. I was a lot more keen in first year, but it’s rather impossible to keep on top of your work if you also want a decent social life.

My Blog and Some Cool Stats

So lately I’ve been getting a lot of traffic from prospective students and first years. For those unfamiliar with WordPress, if you click on a WordPress search result from Google, I will get information on what search term you used. I had 2 hits for “waterloo coop elisa lou” yesterday. So. It’s getting kinda creepy/awkward :P I feel very weirded out when my friends bring up that they’ve read my blog. It’s a very awkward thing. It’s not that I am completely different in real life compared to how I talk on this blog (or maybe I am!?) .. but I still very much consider my blog to be a place for me to rant and complain and share my feelings ‘anonymously’ (even though I have my blog URL on most of my online profiles now).

Anyways, I’m happy that this blog has been helpful/inspiring to many people. I hope to continue posting useful content (not sure if this post was very useful :P).

PS. For those interested, I’ve updated my resume! It actually looks a little empty.. I was actually contemplating on writing up a complete new one that’s just a single page, but I haven’t had the time.

Boxing Day Madness.


Or lack thereof?

I went to the mall today, and it was really empty. Maybe it’s because I live in a university town and it’s actually a huge impact on how crowded it is. Maybe it’s because local peeps went off to Toronto for the better variety of stores. I’m sure it’s supposed to be a lot more crowded during Boxing Week (many deals were still going on).

The other major factor into all of this is the fact that you can buy stuff online reliably now. So why bother getting dressed, driving to the nearest mall, finding a parking spot, walking around for hours? I guess some people still enjoy physically shopping. Plus, usually you’re with a group of people when you shop at the mall. Online shopping mostly means browsing by yourself.

Oh well, I enjoyed my peaceful and stress-free shopping today. I spent a total of $34:

  • $30 $20 lavender cardigan (Old Navy)
  • $10 $6 tuque (Smart Set)
  • $8 $5 gloves (Smart Set)
  • $2 tweezers + $1 shipping (Garage)

I was extremely tempted to buy 4-5 tops from Jacob (which would all be ~$25 each after savings), but I resisted the temptation.

The whole notion of big savings gets to people. You can save anywhere between 30-70% on clothing, appliances, electronics, etc. during Boxing Week but in the end, you are still spending loads of money. I guess for people who are actually in need of a new TV, waiting for Boxing Week is worth it, but otherwise, think reasonably before you go on a shopping spree.

I feel that online shopping has also affected the amount of good sales and deals in-store for Boxing Week in the past few years. I haven’t seen a lot of great deals this year, either. I walked into a Costa Blanca today, and they had ‘50%-80% off’ signs on every rack, but nothing was actually on sale except the typical racks that are always ~50% off. It’s really too bad.

Online Marketplaces


This is not about eBay or Amazon, rather about websites that have online marketplaces to sell used goods. I think I’ve been buying things online since 8th or 9th grade, starting with some forums I actively posted on.

Soompi. Although they aren’t what they used to be, the userbase is still huge. I (still) spend hours looking through individual ‘shops’ in the Selling & Trading subforum, as it was eye candy for me to see what other people offer. Users actually put a lot of effort just to get the BBCode down and make their ‘shop’ look sophisticated. I always have a positive experience buying from soompi, as it is easy to judge through a seller’s communication and organization skills. I’ve also participated in a few surveys. No, not those online radio button / checkbox surveys.

A survey is a ‘shop’ where the OP is interested in buying from an online vendor, but in order to get free shipping, there is a minimum order price. Usually the vendor is a wholesale place, so the items are extremely cheap but the min order price is probably usually around $100. Thus, the OP does a call to action – people who are also interested in the items from the online vendor mention what items they want to get. When the limit hits the min order price, the OP ask for everyone’s money order (through methods like PayPal or concealed cash) will order all of the items requested by each participant of the survey. Once the OP receives the items from the vendor, the OP will ship out the individual items to all of the people who’ve paid.

This may seem like a total hassle – actually, it is. You end up getting your item maybe 1 month or 2 months later, due to all of the shipping back and forth. So in that sense, it kind of sucks. It’s even more of a hassle for the OP, who has to do all of the shipping. They also might end up losing money for people who agreed to participate in the survey, but back out and do not pay. I’ve done a survey where the vendor had a few items out of stock, and I did not get my items until 3 or 4 months after I ordered. That’s when I decided I would rather just buy it new from the store, or buy it used, or don’t buy from a wholesale vendor.

Anyways, Soompi is a great community overall (just avoid the L&R section.. so much repetition), I definitely recommend checking it out for size S-M clothing, jewelry, stationary, dresses, and the like.

Listia. They are a San Francisco startup that began in 2009. I believe I stumbled upon their site through a Facebook ad. It’s a website that promotes “getting free stuff” and getting rid of your own stuff. The cool thing is that points are used to bid on all of the items, and the only thing that the buyer has to pay for is shipping (either a flat or exact rate determined by the seller). But there are many people out there that are willing to do free shipping. Inserting shameless plug here..

Auctions for free stuff at Listia.com

You get a couple hundred points initially when you list your first auction, connecting your Facebook & Twitter accounts, etc. There a lot of popular items all the time such as gift cards and brand name purses that always end up selling for 20000 credits or more. Right now that’s a little beyond my calibre, though. Continue reading