Thinking is hard and it is slow

I couldn’t recall how I got to know about this book but I’m so amazed with it that I bought one from the bookstore many years ago. It’s one of my precious possessions. I actually started reading a few chapters quite some times ago and I forgot about it until today when I visited a page to listen to the author, Daniel Kahneman talking about bias in our reasoning. As a researcher and academic, reasoning is so important and we all know we are sometimes bias.

Listening to that interview reignites my interest in behavioural sciences where I always find it amazing how different people think and I sometimes wonder how we come up with certain conclusions that shape our lives. Anyway, I just wish to share with you this wonderful interview by Social Science Bites. I found this particular excerpt interesting when the author was asked why we don’t use System 2 (the slow and effortful thinking) more often.

Daniel Kahneman: Because it’s hard work. A law of least effort applies. People are reluctant, some more than others, by the way, there are large individual differences. But thinking is hard, and it’s also slow. And because automatic thinking is usually so efficient, and usually so successful, we have very little reason to work very hard mentally, and frequently we don’t work hard when if we did we would reach different conclusions.

And we thought we sometimes think too much. I guess we don’t think slow enough to mentally exercise our brain. Let’s start to think hard and slow today!

 

CISSP: The first impression

It’s finally Friday, which I’m always looking forward to, not because it’s the start of weekend but it’s the least teaching hour for me this semester on Fridays. So it means I have more time sitting in my office to do other work. As promised in my last post, I would like to write more about this Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) as I’m revising on the syllabus. Just like any other course, I thought it’s good to give an overview of this certification and my thoughts about it.

Here’s my summary about the 8 domains of information security topics that are the major focus in this CISSP syllabus:

On my first day of the training that I attended, the instructor was so kind to give us this overview plus the number of questions that are going to come up in the certification examination. He emphasized that the more questions there are in the domain, it means that domain is more important. The total number of questions in this exam is 250 multiple choices questions where 25 questions of the total are not rated questions. It means that these 25 questions do not carry any point for the overall total marks and these questions are the new untested questions. The instructor said we would never know which one would be these untested questions, no matter how much we do the exam practice. Scary at first but as with any other test, as long as we study and understand, no test is too difficult.

I’m not sure if I’m considered lucky or not. By the time I enrolled to the training, the CISSP syllabus has just been changed. Originally, it had 10 domains instead of 8. Good thing is I get to study lesser domains but not necessary lesser contents (if you get what I mean). Bad thing is most of the reference books or the best audio lectures out there are all referring to the old syllabus. Although the content does not vary that much, it’s hard to match with the new domains at first. So I went to search for any source that help in matching these domains and I finally made a summary of this:

Now this makes more sense to me and I can read the old syllabus in relevance to the new domains. Some domains do not change much and some just consolidate better in the new domains. I will start revising on Domain 1 which should be my stronger domain of all. I have also started trying out Microsoft OneNote to build my notes. Let’s see how it goes.

Hopefully, for anyone who is interesting to take CISSP, this post will be a good first impression and an overview. For those not interested in information security, sorry I bore you. Haha!

It’s July? 

Where has June gone to? I have no idea a month has passed and I hadn’t visited my blog for that long. Now let me think what have I done in June. Err…Emm…

Okay, the semester started at the end of May so I was pretty busy with lessons preparation the first few weeks of the semester. Then by week 5, I had to submit 4 set of questions papers for 2 different courses that I’m teaching this semester. Other than invigilating duties, my second dreaded task in academia is being the examiner of final exam papers. The amount of work to just prepare exam paper is seriously taking all my times. The worst thing of all is if the course is new and the syllabus is not being familiarized yet. Anyway, I have done my job on time as required, something I’m very proud of myself. 

This is week 6 and we are having public holidays during midweek so I’m taking my rest days to update here while trying to catch up with some revision of Information security certification CISSP. It’s really helpful that I’m teaching 2 information security courses that cover parts of the certification syllabus. I also feel that my understanding and knowledge have grown since I started teaching this semester. Totally agree with Dr Ana that the best way to learn a topic is to teach it.

Attending the certification training before the semester started really helps opening my eyes and giving me great insight into this field. I actually can relate so much more to the important topics when I’m teaching them to my students after the training. I seriously hope I can instill some interest in my students in these courses as I’m increasing my own interest in these courses. 

Talking about my own preparation for the certification, I’m rather ashamed of myself for lack of serious study. Although I did study parts of the topics whenever I need them to teach the students, I haven’t really done any serious revision of my own in order to sit for the exam. I have been spending some times listening to audio lecture from one prominent trainer but I don’t feel I’m good enough if I don’t make proper notes, though I have done some rough unorganized notes. So I have decided to make better notes while doing revision and I’m going to write them on this blog. Hopefully, I’ll do it in a more dedicated manner and maybe some people who are in the same field would benefit from my notes too. 

Okay, I promise I will do this soon and pray that I can get ready real soon for the certification. I truly have great interest in this information security field and I hope I can become a better security professional. 

Bye bye May, Hello new semester!

Good times pass real fast, especially if you are on vacation. My first ever long semester holiday has officially come to an end. I just started my first lecture yesterday but it was a disaster (another story another day, I guess!). Anyway, I came back from my 2-week holiday in the middle of May (it’s really a great holiday and I wish I have more time to share about it), then I spent a lot of times sitting on my desk working on my teaching materials for the new semester. There are simply so much to do every day at work, even though it was still semester break that time. I really felt no end to my work in academia but I’m not complaining. I love my job!

These are the books that I used for reference to prepare my teaching materials for two different security courses this semester. At times, I really opened up all these books on my desk just to double check on certain topics. I truly felt so studious that time. Truly more hardworking than my own students. Haha! It does have its fun but the process is rather tiring. Studying to teach is much harder than studying for my own but it’s still enjoyable because I love to learn new things.

Another reason why my work is never-ending is due to my new role as programme leader for a bachelor programme. I was a programme leader for a diploma programme for 6 months before my boss asked me to take over the bachelor programme. Most of the works are still the same except a bachelor programme has more components to take care of, which I’m still learning the ropes.

With this new role, I had to switch to another new room too. Here’s my desk facing a big white board, all for me. I’m still thinking what to write on it. It’s my first time getting such a big white board to myself and I can write whatever I want. I feel like a small kid with new toy. Haha!

I have also started reading this book to learn interesting way to do presentation to capture the attention of my audience a.k.a. my students. I have finished chapter 1 and it’s really very interesting. I wish I have more time spent on reading more. I have many books pending in my reading list. I also have to revise on CISSP to prepare to take the certification examination. Simply so much to do and I’m running short of time.

Oh, I’m also trying something new this semester to experiment with blogging as part of students’ assignment submissions. I wonder how well this will go. Last two semesters I had already experimented with Google Classroom and I really like it. However, there is no blogging tool in Google Classroom so I have to switch back to Blackboard this semester to try out the blogging tool. I hope I have time to write some review about these teaching and learning platforms to share with more people.

That’s all for now. Saying goodbye to May. This month of May has been great to me! I look forward to this new semester and hopefully things will be much better after my yesterday’s disastrous first lecture. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Wrapping up the academic year

The last semester for the academic year is finally over. All my invigilating and marking duties have been completed too. I was supposed to have more time to update here but I couldn’t because I have been busy preparing my new course for next semester, another new academic year. Anyway, since it’s the end of the semester, I have a lot of things to look forward to before another semester begins.

First up, I’m looking forward to my birthday this weekend. No special celebration as birthday is just another day that especially reminding me of my increasing age. Haha! I’m just going to spend quality time with the husband and probably a nice catch up session with my best friend who is going to join me for brunch on my birthday.

Next up is real exciting for me. I’m going for a 1-week training starting next Monday. Why is it so exciting? This training will be one great milestone in my academic career (if I pass the certification!). For information security professionals, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is the most esteemed achievement. I have specially requested for such training because I have been teaching a few security courses and I found myself not up to the level I wish I had. Hence, I’m hoping after the training I will have more confidence in doing all kind of security courses and eventually getting myself ready to pass the certification. My next new course will benefit a lot from this training too and I have been reading up and listening to audio lecture before the training. It’s not going to be an easy one but I’m confident I can do this.

After working hard for one academic year, I believe I deserve a good vacation. That’s what I’m going to do next. All my vacation plans have been finalized. First, we are going to Taipei, Taiwan for around a week, then we are going for island vacation within Malaysia. Just thinking about this makes me so excited and happy.

I have done some research and studying the transport map for Taipei. The husband printed this map for me to make notes on. Quite cool, right? I highlighted the stations that we are going for destinations that we want to visit. We have no definite itinerary yet but we have rough idea where we want to go. This will be my longest vacation ever and my first time being so ambitious to have two vacation destinations back to back in 2 weeks. I don’t usually get long semester break and this is the one and only time we get longer than usual holiday. Unfortunately, this will not happen again when the semester dates are synchronized after this. Hence, I’m taking full advantage of this opportunity and I’m sure I’m going to enjoy every moment of it.

Until my next update, wishing you a nice weekend ahead!

The “Secrets” for surviving PhD…or life in general

I recently attended our 3rd PhD Support Group meeting where this colleague of ours shared her experience and survival tips for completing her PhD. She is in her final year (6th year) and in the midst of writing up her thesis. She started her PhD journey by choosing the “split-site” part-time option because we are full-time academics who are not allowed to study full-time for too long a period. Basically the university just couldn’t pay our salary and at the same time we are not fulfilling our teaching load. So she took almost 6 years to complete her PhD and she did it with strong determination and dedication. She travels to meet her supervisor in UK every year for a 6-week period during our short semester and at the same time she is required to fulfil a full-time staff teaching workload for the one academic year.

When she shared her years of experience about the commitment to do well in her teaching job and the determination to complete her PhD, I was truly inspired. I know if I’m going to start my PhD journey, I will choose a path similar to hers. We might not have the same experience or struggle but I’m very sure I can learn so much from her experience and hopefully I can overcome any obstacle that comes my way.

What really surprised many of us was when she talked about her depression halfway through her journey. No one ever thought that she had depression all these past years while working with her. This made me realized that depression during Phd journey is very real and we must not take this lightly. Good news is she has recovered from depression after learning the following ‘Secrets’ which I copied from her sharing session and share them here.

1. Believing is seeing
2. There is no real problem
3. Change the thought that you dislike
4. We attract what we fear, so…
5. make a positive thought
6. Divert your thought to solution, instead of problem
7. Focus on the task, not the fear of the task
8. Let go and let god
9. Sleep well
10. Don’t forget to smell the rose – Enjoy what you do

I strongly believe support is very important from family and friends regardless in whatever journey we are embarking on. Since we are in academia, supports from colleagues and bosses are essential too. I’m truly blessed to have everyone’s support, including everyone who I interact here on my blog and on Twitter.

Thank you all for your support!

(I actually drafted this post early this month and works caught up so I forgot about this. Now that semester is coming to an end and I’m at my last class of public course, so here it is.)

Jenn’s PhD Journey – A new beginning

I don’t think many can relate to my back story as I came from the industry before joining the academia. My life and working experience has started differently from many scholars who started and finished their PhDs with pure academic working experience. For the past 2 years plus in academia, I have met many very young doctorates who have joined us as academic staff. Truth to be told, I envy them. So young, so much potential and they have already gained their Dr. title. Of course, I’m not saying that their journeys will be easier after that. What I truly envy is they have already passed the biggest obstacle in their academic lives, unlike myself who is still struggling to even start with a PhD programme. I sincerely hope I’m not too late or too old to start a PhD.

Nevertheless, I’m not complaining here. For 2016, I’m actually more resolved than ever to kick start my PhD journey. To start off my new resolution, I have created a new category called “Jenn’s PhD Journey”. Under this category, I plan to write more about the process how I want to start my journey to get my doctorate. Hopefully, this journey has a good ending or at least it will end somehow the way I want. Haha! But before this journey can reach its destination, I’m actually struggling to make a start. Thankfully, I get a lot of support from my faculty and a small group of academics, who have interest in starting this journey, have started a trend of having a PhD Support Group meeting at least once a month to discuss various issues (i.e. how to start, how to survive, etc.). I have attended 3 such meetings now and I truly found new inspiration which I hope to share more soon.

I also hope my blog readers will give me virtual support and if you are just starting your PhD, I hope we can share and exchange more useful tips and survival skills.

phd

Hopefully I’m not turning purple by the end…