Towards a Smart Nation – Inspiring the young to learn coding

Just for fun, sharing a quick build of Flappy Bird on HTML5 that I have created over a weekend. It is pretty basic and the code is rather simple. You can play it on your Desktop/Laptop or Mobile Phone

HTML5 Flappy Bird

There are actually many HTML5 flappy bird version out there. But this version uses only basic HTML5 so it should be easy to understand. I’ve made this game for fun and hope that I can inspire younger Singaporeans who do not know coding to start learn coding. Coding is not difficult. If anyone of you are interested, just leave a comment, I will passed you the code. Or you can simply view the source from the links given above.

Why learning coding is and will continue to be important

Learning how to code trains the mind to solve problems and will be an essential skills in the future. Even our Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, has coded his very own Sudoku Solver. Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan has also translated that code into javascript. To put things to perspective, the recent program that President Obama has written, drew squares on screen. Of course, we are not doing a comparison of whose leaders code better but rather how Singaporeans can take inspiration from our own leaders to start realising the importance of coding.

Improving productivity has always been the cornerstone of Singapore’s labour workforce. And the enabler will have to be technology. Eventually, the winners will be those who can harness and leverage on the almost infinite capability of computers and robots. People who can give better instruction to computers or build better solution with technology will win the game. Think Google which built one of the arguably best search algorithm. Or Netflix, with its strong recommendation engine that keeps you glued to their service.

How to inspire our young to learn coding

Coding is not as difficult as you think

To inspire the young, I believe that we would have to start with a change in the mindset.

Learning coding is not as difficult or geeky as one might imagine

Most codes are not as esoteric as what our PM Lee has written but are based on simple logic. In fact, one of the basic foundation of programming is the simple “IF…ELSE…” statement. “If the bird hits pipe, end the game, else continue with the game.” Simple logic like that can be built into a program and not necessarily complex algorithm that may seem daunting to most beginner. Of course, more complex algorithm can be slowly picked up once the basic foundation is laid.

Learning coding can be fun

Yes! It can be fun! Coding is not like learning how to type which can get boring. Coding is about translating your ideas from your mind to something tangible that you can see and perhaps feel. It requires a creative process to first think about the problem and then the solution. The sense of achievement and euphoria that a programmer can experience can equal that to scoring a straight A’s in your final exam. What’s more, you can share your work with other people and for them to benefit from what you have created!

For starter, I would recommend building something that you would love to build. Don’t follow some online tutorial to work on their sample projects. Think about an idea. It can be a game like my flappy bird, or a fun program like ‘Love Calculator’. Building on such project will make it more enjoyable.

Learning coding helps you understand your school work

A typical Singaporean kids have to handle so many subjects in school. It is easy for them to see ‘programming’ as yet another subject. But for me, it is not. Programming helps to bring in what you have learned in Math, Science and even Art together. Take the example of Flappy Bird. In it, physics and math comes into play. Physics is needed to calculate how the bird will experience ‘gravity’ within the canvas (v=u+at, F=MA etc.). Math is needed to calculate the various co-ordinate to draw the birds and pipes (remember your geometry class?). If you don’t like the bird, you can create your own flappy chicken using your own artistic talent as well! There are many examples of how you can put what you’ve learnt in classes to use in building an app.

Towards a Smart Nation

I am very encouraged by the Government’s push towards a smart nation with emphasis on the need to learn coding. Being an engineer by training, I would love to see more successful engineers in Singapore building top notch app or solution for the world. For that to take roots, let us focus on our young and build a strong foundation for our Smart Nation.

Read More

Price to pay when you put too much trust in e-commerce – My lesson with Olaprice.com

Have you just purchased something from a website call Olaprice? If so, please check your bank statement regularly to make sure that they don’t charge you a $88 Ola Premium membership fee.

“What $88? I have only purchase a $13.40 bluetooth headset and know nothing about this $88 membership.” Or so I thought. You may have unknowingly be mislead into this ‘purchase’. This is what happened to me.

It all started with a Facebook sponsored post regarding a flash deal similar to the one below:

Ola Price Deal...

According to the Facebook page, some of my friends have liked Olaprice. Maybe they have purchased something from the site before. Alright, I think I will buy this item from them. (I have actually purchased a bluetooth headset from the site but couldn’t find the post anymore, so I am using a random power bank example).

Friends maybe victims too.

Clicking on the post will bring you to Olaprice.com. I added the item to my cart and checkout.

Next, I did a quick scan of possible telltale signs of a legitimate e-commerce site:

  • Design and appearance seems legitimate for an e-commerce site (big mistake…). 
  • SSL cert checked (the little lock that appears beside the URL marks a secure transaction).
  • Final amount checked.

Alright, seemed ok to enter my credit card number. Given no other payment options such as Paypal, I entered my credit card number into the form without much doubt.

SSL Cert Check

To my horror, when I was checking my credit card bill a few weeks later, I found a charge of $88 from a merchant called OLA P.

Secret $88 charge

I called up OCBC immediately and found out that it was a charge from a miscellaneous merchant. Remembering my purchase from weeks ago, I thought something is amiss with my previous purchase from Olaprice.com.

A quick google returned a hardwarezone discussion on an alleged scam and also this Facebook page on Streetdeal (somehow related to Olaprice I guess). I went back to the site and try to go through the purchase flow to see what I have missed out. This is what I saw:

Hidden $88

There is indeed a little checkbox which is checked by default regarding a quarterly charge for Premium membership! And the best part is the charge is not included in the total price! This is a very misleading for the consumer!

I quickly file a dispute with Olaprice through OCBC and was advised to terminate this card. The bank will issue another card with different number to prevent this rogue merchant from charging me again. Despite the inconvenience, I relented as I would not want Olaprice to be charging me again without my knowledge.

Some of you may wonder, isn’t there an OTP (one-time-password) send to your phone for credit card transaction? The answer is yes, only if the merchant turn it on as well. So apparently, Olaprice did not turn on the OTP feature of credit card for obvious reason.

Lessons learnt from this incident:

  • Never give your credit card details readily to any site. Use facility such as Paypal if possible
  • Not all E-commerce site is reputable. Check and double check. Never look just at the appearance. Even if your friend like their page, it may not be legit. They themselves could be victims.
  • Always check your credit card statement every month.

Till today, I have yet to receive the bluetooth headset. Olaprice have yet to give me a reply on the refund.

Where is my bluetooth headset
Where is my bluetooth headset?
Are you also a victim? Share this article with your friends so that others will not fall for this scam again.

In the next post, I will share with you other scams on the internet.

 **UPDATE JULY 2015**

Finally after close to 2 months, I have gotten my refund from Olaprice. If you are a victim too, please raise a fraud case to your bank quickly. You may be able to get your money back. By the way, my earphone came but is now broken after a month of use. 

  

Read More