Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Playful Way to Look At Data

 Yes, it has been a while since my last entry. Well, I guess I'll try to breathe some life into this blog with this new post:

I've been interested for almost a good handful of years in the presentation of data, especially how we can "visually manage data." I would like to further explain the words, "visually" and "manage data."

To be 'visual' for me, is basically something you can see. But visual can mean so much more than that. As the saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words." Something that's visual can offer a meaning or understanding or even a feeling of something. It could have the potential to fire new ideas or thought far beyond what the surface level meaning of the visual. Visuals can help to discern both the micro and macro meaning of something. An image can lend its meaning by way of being static or can be animated and that can work in tandem with various colors, shapes and forms. 

In my case, to "manage data" is to make sense of data; to understand the relationship/s between or among different data sets; to see how data interact with each other on both a metaphorical and physical sense; to see the summation and/or subtraction of data and how that effects the micro and macro meaning of the whole data set; to derive a critical thought about data and to decide whether if the data is valid. Most importantly, at least for me, to "manage data" is to break down the barrier of numbers and words, and monotony of what data can be and to embrace a playful attitude towards data if we can see it as play...I'll explain more in the next post...

I guess I'll leave it as that. The concept of using visuals as a mean to present and understand data is not new. Experts in the fields of data visualization, knowledge visualization, mind/concept maps, information/communication design and many other fields have all expertly talked about it and its great potential in helping us understand our world.

In this age of information and technology, we are both given not only great tools to make meaning from data, but also a lot data to make meaning from. Valid interpretation and management of information continue to take human towards greater advancement in all aspects of our lives.

The beauty in all of this as well as my hope is that with continual progress in technology and the increase popularity in visualizing data will allow people to have more access to data as well as have a more critical eye for analyzing data thus in turn will help them make more informed decisions. 

In the endeavor to help people visually manage data, my career goal is to build  various tools, applications and visual interfaces in helping them do so.

Below are my own sketches of a playful way in representing data...more explanation in future post...stay tune!

Thanks for reading,


Monday, March 21, 2016

Some songs I'm jamming to

Feelin a bit dreamy... enjoy!

A letter to a friend and to myself

Hi WL,

I’m Vinh. I’m a male from SoCal. First off, I would like to commend you for your courage in the rawness and authenticity of your many post/blogs including that of Medium. It’s my first time in reaching out to a fellow blogger, but what really initiate it was your strikingly similar life thoughts/ philosophy/ experiences to my own. Maybe, it’s too premature to say. But on the surface it is a bit awkward and cool at the same time to meet someone that I feel I could relate a lot to.

A lot of the things I have to say below I believe in one way or another you already know. You could take it for a grain of salt. But I would like to share my personal thoughts with you and how it has enriched my life.

I know you’re going through a self-reflection/ renewal stage as I am going through one myself. I have started a blog to document this process. I guess you could read my blog to find out. ;) Anyways, the process hasn’t been all without bumps in the road. A multitude of emotions are running high including ones with high optimism coupled with ones of doubt and uncertainty. I am really happy that you’ve find the insight, and courage to go forward with this new journey of yours. Despite all the struggles, I have found this time period invaluable into building up who you truly are and what you want become. For me, the experience so far has been truly healing, rejuvenating, and inspiring. As you probably know, keeping a blog can be a source of healing in its own right. You heal by reflecting and by making amends with your past. You rejuvenate by understanding your shortcomings, and by looking forward to the future with hope and optimism. You inspire yourself and others by sharing your insights and thoughts. It’s sort of like self-affirmation. One of the powers of writing is that it is self-tool for questioning and analyzing your own thoughts as well as for the creation of new insights and knowledge. Oddly enough, it was something I only found recently.

We and countless others have gone through many emotional pains.  In some way, I am grateful for my own severity in the sense that we all know there are others who are in more dire situations than us. That in a sense could be a small source of comfort for us.  The negative thoughts do creep up at times, but I try to use those thoughts as a frame of reference. What I mean by this is that it provides you with two different mind frames to choose from. The one that is negative, isolated, careless, debilitating, sickening, stagnant…etc, the not so good part of You. The other one is positive, loving, creative, self-love and respect, lover of life and goodness, see the goodness and potential in yourself and others, full of vitality, health and optimism, progressive, dreamer of better days, empathy and sympathy, a fighter not a quitter…essentially the “better part of You.” It’s a no-brainer that everybody would choose the later or at least I hope. I believe everybody is entitled to the “better part of You” mindset even if you don’t you want it or don’t think you deserve it. I want YOU to believe that you’re entitled to it. I want YOU to fight for it.

The internal world can be a harsh place. The internal are your own internal thoughts. Self-degradation, self-pity, self-doubt, and self-defeating thoughts among others are all hurdles we all have to go through in this road of life. The second we say I can’t or I won’t or I’m worth it or I’m not good enough we inflict an emotional wound to ourselves.  A lot of times this emotional wound never really heal and we bare this wound throughout our whole lives. This wound becomes infected which can sap us the various joys and experiences of life. It can prevent us from realizing what we’re capable off or what our true potentials are. Give yourself the chance to heal your mental wounds. A lot of times we are the ones that hold ourselves back. I advocate that if you let yourself become open, vulnerable and be a maverick of new experiences it can lead to something worthwhile or something you would never imagine had you not attempted it. Like the old saying goes, “What the worst that could happen?”

Additionally, a major part in the up keeping of a healthy mind is a healthy body. So it is essential to be aware and mindful of the actions that is both beneficial and detrimental to physical health.  It will definitely take some work on your part and no miracle will happen overnight. But give yourself the mental space for the “better part of You” to be seeded in your mind because you are entitled to it!  
So give yourself the chance to succeed or the opportunity to at least “[Fall] with style” Like Buzz in Toy Story.

The external world can be an equally challenging place. Social norms or preconceived notions are the various obstacles that may come into battle with our values and beliefs. That is why it is so important to clearly define our own belief system. I would say it’s the life’s blood of our existence. It gives us meaning to our life, to our work, and can commands our daily thoughts and actions. It’s what makes us whole as a person as well as unique. I would assume that many of the world’s innovations and breakthroughs came from people who were unique in their right.  Like many have probably said before me, I continue to believe that the people who remain unfazed by external pressures, that live and act on their own values and beliefs remain the happiest and have the most fulfilling lives. That is why it’s so important to not deny yourself of your values and beliefs. In fact, it is equally important to forge these values and beliefs onto the world. It could literally change the world or at least an individual. It could save a life otherwise stuck or blinded by our societal expectations. 
I believe everybody is entitled to a happy and fulfilling life. You should believe that for yourself. No one said life was easy. This entitlement will not come without the price of hard work, perseverance and courage. Heck, sometimes the hardest part of the day is getting yourself in the right mindset when you start your day. The second hardest is literally getting yourself out of bed. Haha.  I can’t always say I am “the better part of” myself, and sometimes I fail at that. But at least now an inner voice tells me I could always do better.

Learning from mistakes is worth noting. To acknowledge the mistake is one thing and trying not to repeat it is another. This is where we hold ourselves accountable. To put it in a lighter term, if we truly value and respect ourselves, our time and effort then we shouldn’t be in action of self-repeating deflating actions. A buffer towards this is where “the better part of” you can come into play. Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself of the “the better part of” you so that we can be redirected in the right direction. I try to strive for it EACH AND EVERY DAY. Yes, rain or shine through thick and thin through sickness and in health. Well, it may sound like a wedding vow and essentially it is… it is to yourself. You make a vow to yourself to love yourself whole heartedly and to take care of yourself in all aspects. I believe if you stay truly faithful and act upon your values, you won’t fail yourself at the end of it all.

I am driven each and every day that “I” can and will make a positive difference in this world. If not the world at this moment, then be a positive influence to yourself or the people around you. I acknowledge and take pride in my uniqueness. I value my presence and existence in this world. I view myself and others as gifts to this world, all with special gifts, talents and skills. I could learn as much from them as they could from me. The world has various people with various potentials. Some have tapped into them while there are others who have not realized or acknowledged it within themselves. Furthermore, there are those whose potentials are hindered by various unfortunate circumstances or means. The untapped potentials within and outside of schools, the pushed-under-the rug potentials, the trampled potentials, the self-defeating potentials, the potentials affected by war, and poverty and among others are the things I fight for. I believe in the collective effort. And it’s my belief that when we value ourselves and help reveal and support the potentials of others the world will truly be a better place.

I hope to be reminded of all the beauty of this world. At least for me, I haven’t come across a person besides yourself that romanticizes so much about life itself. Then again, I only know a handful of people. We think too deeply and sometimes are trapped in own minds. But it is through this introspective approach that we gain our strength in seeing with clarity and wisdom through all the noise and chaos. We need time, space, and silence to ponder and explore. I guess it’s a silent code we all share. I think we’re all trying to forge our own values into reality itself. It may take some time, others who pursue this path might fail, others might succeed, but it’s the pursuit that keeps us all sane. We want to live in the moment, or at least try to. Our life’s works trumps everything else. We hope for better days and leave every rock unturned. We feel we are called for a higher mission. We like to think Big ideas and/or would like to grasp the broad picture of things. We try to use our skills and creativity to sympathize and empathize with others. We believe in the potential of human potential. Ambiguity excites us and normality bore us. We appreciate beauty and try to see beauty in all things as well as try to bathe in its glory.        

In ending, I hope you could nurture and exercise the strength to always be reminded that “the better part of You” is always inside of you. If there is one thing that you’re entitled to then it should encompass all that make you wake up each day energized, to start the day and end the day with a smile, to romanticize about yourself and about life, to be able to express yourself and connect with others, to love and to be loved, to be creative, to be open to new ideas and experiences, and to have actions and thoughts align with your values and beliefs

There’s no time to waste! So get out there and be “the better part of You!!”


Saturday, February 13, 2016

What makes me feel alive?

I want to ask you that question. Awhile back I made a sort of a flow chart (looks like a scale to me haha) of the things that really mean a lot to me. You could say they're things that makes me feel alive. It could take some time to really dig deep down inside to find out what is the essence of who you are or what you want to become. There's always room to change stuff around or erase if you feel it doesn't fit you that much or you feel it's not that important later on.

So basically the first row from the bottom you'll list what makes you feel alive.
1. The first row will denote your ability to:

Heading up is the second row which asks you why you choose those qualities listed below.
2. Why?

Lastly the furthest row up will ask how will you enable the qualities to be manifested.
3. How will it be manifested?

Below is my chart that could be used as a reference... it's a bit messy, but hope you get the point

Friday, February 12, 2016

“Being at the right place at the right time”

“Being at the right place at the right time”

What an interesting week it has been. I guess this post would be related to my previous post called the “The Calling.” I’m not a superstitious person by nature, in fact, I kinda shy away from those kind of stuff. But as life experiences unfold itself before me, especially recent events, it got me thinking about the laws of attraction. I remember watching a movie about it, but can’t seem to remember the title of it. Anyways, from what I could remember it states that your mental state and consciousness will attract people, places, or things in general that are similar to that mental state or consciousness. So basically if you’re in positive mood you’ll attract positive things and vice versa. I guess this could be applied practically everything or at least what’s ever inside your head. I say this with still some hesitation, but for example, if you’re “actively” searching or wanting something in your life it will eventually manifest itself. I guess the keyword here is “actively” and so it just can’t be wishful thinking only, but the active pursuit of wishful thinking. I’m guessing this could be related to positive psychology, but I’m not too sure on this.

Like I’ve have said before, this is my journey in understanding various parts of my life both personally and professionally. A big part of it will be reflecting on the various people and experiences that have come up on this journey.

So going to back to this week specifically. Was there the law of attraction in play? Maybe. But I would also hope and think that a higher being has plan for all of us. He will give us the wisdom, courage and put us in situations for us to learn and grow whether we are actively pursuing it or not.

Okay about this week.  So I’ve decided to take an intro to programming class at a CC. In order to do so, I had to go into the counseling center to have a prerequisite waive since I had already taken that class at a university. My intention there was to go in and go out, but in the process my counselor and I ended discussing about how we wanted to help students, and some of my career interests have been in human and career development. One of the interesting points of the meeting was actually the collection of books she had which I had prior interest in. Some of the topics included career and self-exploration, learning and among others. It just struck me as to how strange and really cool at the time to initially not really expect much out of this event and yet from this you are shown all these topics and subjects that you’ve been curious about throughout all these years. I can’t really explain it, but only to say I was there at the right place and at the right time. Maybe somehow or someway the laws of attractions played a part. Out of all things, I was just there to get a math class waived. That’s it. Call it a calling, it’s very plausible at this point in time. Maybe to a certain point I’m just over hyping it ’shrug.’ At the very least, I know for a fact I still have some more exploration to do.

Ok the last two events. I don’t want it to be too long so I’ll try to summarize it. So at the end of the first day of my programming class, I had a casual conversation with a random classmate and as she was about to explain her excitement in this program at UCI of which she plans to transfer to I interrupted her and said, “Is it informatics?” To her own surprise she couldn’t believe that I had said that. Again, here is another topic I was interested in and that presented itself in a random classmate. I just thought it was really cool for another person to know about informatics being that it’s a new field. 

On to my last interesting encounter for the week. As an art enthusiast particularly in the field of bio-art and new media, every so often I would try to make a visit to the Beall Center for Art and Technology. It was the first place that got me really inspired and fascinated in the arts. It has still been an inspiration of mine which I hope I could incorporate that inspiration into my future work. A big thanks to David Familian and the staff that have made the Beall such a place of wonder for both the university community and the public at large. Soooo…upon my conversation with a gallery presenter about the various exhibits, I had found out about that she was a cs major. Computer technology is something I’m looking into and so that was a great opportunity to pick her brain. Though she wasn’t familiar with some of my ideas, she was very enthusiastic and helpful in what she did know.

All in all, I guess there are several points I got from this week:

       1)  Everyday can hold many new possibilities, sometimes unexpected, for learning and interacting.

        2)  Build upon those learning experiences and interactions.

       3)  Actively seek out what you have questions in…so go out and ask questions.

And I guess it never hurts to stay in tune with that “Calling” because it can somehow or someway lead to you to “Being at the right place at the right time.”


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The 5th element...cont from "Mastering the Craft"

5th element: "The Calling"

So I want to elaborate on this 5th element from "Mastering the Craft." I call it "The Calling." I guess there could be a better term for it, but this will suffice for now. So this 5th element encompasses both your intentional and unintentional life experiences. It's more or less a reflection on these experiences that led you to believe who you are as a person, how your goals and actions have shaped your surroundings and how your surroundings shaped you. I think it's an essential part in "Mastering the Craft" as it helps you to understand where your at and hopefully guides and motivate you to where you "should" be. I guess this is where you'll produce your best work.

Everybody has a life story of how they got to where they're now. I'll share a part of mine:

At first impression, it's a weird phenomenon, but I as reflect on it it's not so weird, well maybe a little still. So have you ever had a situation where you have met someone indirectly, like through a presentation, or more directly like through a one-on-one conversation, and your intention was to meet him/her again at a later time? Well somehow the meeting never came soon enough and then after a good period of time, and maybe out of  your subconscious mind and sheer faith you guys cross path years later.

After college, I went on a self reflection/exploration stage and was deeply interested in how art could improve education as well as among other topics. During that time, I was given a chance to do educational research and was able to meet several education professors there. One professor who I had previously talked to agreed to have a second meeting with me to more or less bounce ideas off of. However, due to life reasons the meeting never took shape as soon as I would of wanted. After the research was over, I went on to do some internship, but still couldn't define what I really wanted to do in education. After my stint with some educational jobs, I decided to switch gears and went into the sciences where I have a background in. My independent exploration into education soon slowed to crawl for a period of time as I focused more on my task at work. However, about after 7 months there I started to really miss my previous side project of exploring about education and art. So then I took the initiative to be more serious about this interest and I soon went back into exploring on the side. So now it has been about a two years since I first met this professor, and I was fortunate enough that my job allowed me to have some free time and I was able to visit the university library more often to do my own research. And it soon got me thinking about the meeting I had once planned, but never had. Then on a very special occasion when I was visiting the university library I had saw him walking by. Though I didn't approach him, it led me to believe that something was in the works. It was as if something was pulling the strings for me to meet him, but more importantly it was a nudge for me to possibly take the next big leap into my interests. (It has now been about 6 months since I last saw him, but this time around I have setup a meeting with him which is this coming Friday!)

More recently in this new journey of mine, a similar event happened to me a few days ago. Again it was out of coincidence that I was able to meet an art professor that I had recognize from like 1 or  2 years ago. And out of all places the "science" library. It just so happened that I had attended an educational technology presentation and one of the speakers was her. Had I not gone I wouldn't have known her. (Her meeting with me is this coming Tueday!)

I can't explain these two events other than the fact that I was at  the right place at the right time. Just maybe, maybe there is something to it. I like to believe the guy upstairs is working his magical plan on me.

So would I say this is a "calling?" I don't think so just yet, but these and among other events in my life have definitely provoke that thought. I guess the only way to know for sure is to experience it first hand. Heck, I don't even know how it will turn out, but I'm optimistic it will turn out well.

Though it's a matter of perspective  my definition a of "calling" is "the gift you give to yourself and to the world."

Maybe start small with just feelings of what makes you feel alive...at least it helped me find some clarity.

On a personal note, it has been a long journey with many highs and lows. I guess these events and many before somehow shaped the circumstances of today. I can't change the past, can't explain certain events that had happened, but what I can do is learn and grow from it. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"Mastering the Craft"

This journey encompasses a lot of information gathering and networking. So it got me thinking about how a novice becomes an expert or a master of his/her craft.  Though it's only a rough sketch and no way groundbreaking, I thought about what I should utilize or at least keep in my cognitive sphere.

It encompasses around 4 main things: People, Places, Resources and Tools. 

People: Everybody both within your comfort zone and outside, both within your area of interests and outside. It might not lead right away to where you want to be, but it can have a high a possibility in steering you in the right direction.

Places: Its where to ask or look for help or advice. If people you know are limited, find a place where your interest/s might congregate. Be adventurous!

Resources: Beside the top two things, where could you find other sources of insight. The internet is a good start. People write books and blogs ;) There is something called the library (I don't think people fully utilize this) where similar topics congregate in the form of books and collections. I found some really interesting stuff that I would've never known if I hadn't browsed around.

Tools: Now that you have collected and digested all the knowledge presented, how can you truly test what you have gained or know. I guess it could come in many forms. You can literally ask an expert if what your understanding make sense to them. Take the test in the back of each chapter. Apply your knowledge to a project whether it's your own or someone else. Copy other's or even improve on an existing project.

For those who are looking for a breakthrough, I guess lastly, though I don't solely rely on this, but luck is always good on your side. But I consider luck is only a product of the 4 things.....Well there's this fifth element I'm trying to grasp, but it will be another post...stay tune:)