Wednesday, 16 September 2020

2020 OC preparation

This blog will take the load off the Mathemafix message board by hosting important information about 2020 OC preparation.

16 Sep
After two delays, we are still no sure if the OC test will actually happen to plan or it will go online in Nov. If it goes online in Nov, it will surely be done at each school rather than in a hall at a high school as there won't be enough equipment.

This 2020 OC test will still be from ACER. It is expected taht the format will be the same as before and the English will be like the last 2 years. They will put a lot of questions about feelings to blunt the advantage of the students attending tutoring. It will favour older/mature students and the students who have strong empathy for others. It has been observed that a student who only read at year 4 level can beat those who read at year 6 level. The ones who read a lot of fiction with deep themes will be able to score well.

The other issue is that those who work hard right through Sep-Oct is likely to risk getting burnt out. For parents, having a courage to let kids rest and recharge is the quality that can help the kids to be at their best on the OC test day.

This OC test is like no others. It gives the slower kids a chance to catch up. It frustrates the strong perfomers who are ahead and ready for it since July. Many kids will face the risk of being burnt out. It gives kids a chance to avoid school marks which can be very unfair. If teh 2020 selective test is any guide, teh OC test will have the same hard English and the maths will not be as easy as it was before.

- Students are advised to use the "resting time" now to read a lot of sad novels.
- Students should work matsh problem solving to get to the top level as maths will have more weight than before (even though the weight is less than English).

12 Mar

Some schools will offer students at year 3-4 a chance to do Maths Olympiad competition. This is a hard maths competition where students get 30 minutes to do just 5 questions.

The maths series Mini Math Challenge Grade 4-5 is designed for this purpose. For year 3 students, it is just too difficult to participate in this competition. Year 4 students are advised to do this maths series and try to score around 80%. This means they actually have to spend about 25 minutes. They may be able to solve 4 problems in 10 minutes but one hard problem can take 15 minutes! This is why students must learn to be patient and parents must set them time between 20-30 minutes to do each test. There is no point to work on these tests the normal way spending only 10 minutes and guess what the answers.

The series Mini Math Challenge Grade Short Response 4-5 is teh harder version of Mini Math Challenge Grade 4-5. This is for really keen maths students.

10 Mar
It looks like school disruption by coronavirus will happen frequently in the near future. It's a good idea for parents to plan for kids to do stay home and do work online rather than playing games at home. It's important to have a plan of work for days that they stay home doing a mix of reading, doing tests, review failed questions, learning vocab, writing, learning basic school maths, ... All of this is provided on Mathemafix website. Please read the OC G&T program guide for more information.

09 Mar
The emphasis on English now is making OC placement a lot harder for kids who don't do well in English comprehension (and get good English marks at school).

There is a feature called Personal Wordlist. An English dictionary has been added to the system as well. Students can now collect the words they don't know well into a personal Wordlist to study. 

There is a guide called Enriching English Vocabulary on the page QUICK LINKS about this. This new feature will really help students get more out of the texts they do in English comprehension. They can go back to study the questions that have new words they need to learn.

03 Mar
It's useful for parents to read the 2019 OC preparation blog where a lot of information and OC results are avialable.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

How to make sure your computer is running at its fastest speed?

We depend on computers too much these days and it's a common observation is that they are a lot slower than when we first bought them. And they are a lot hotter than they used to be.

How could that be? Here are some tips that will definitely make Windows computers run as fast and as cool as they used to be. I use computers between 5 - 15 years old and they are always fast and reliable!

1- Make sure you remove bloatware that find their ways into your computer over the months as you install stuff and don't even notice how these uninvited stuff enter your computer! 

Go to the control panel, run "uninstall programs" and remove for all the software you do not need and did not even know about. Do this once every 1-2 years.

Then go to the Task Manager (Windows 10) and look for Startup and disable all the stuff (you do not want to have) that want to start up when you boot the computer up.

2- Every 2 years, your computer needs dusting. Most people don't do this and don't know how to do it. It's really bad for laptops and All-in-one computers as dust will collect and block the airflow that takes the heat away from the computer parts. The computers run very hot and the fans go very noisy and wear down quickly.

This is a hard job especially for laptops and most people don't know how to open them up. Even those who are confident enough to open laptops up tend to blow the dust away and put them back together. This does not help much! The dust tends to hideaway between the fan and the heat sink. Even some amateur technicians don't always look at this! The only way is to remove the fan, clean it and reveal the dust sitting at the heat sink blocking airflow. Then clean away the dust with a toothbrush and finally blow them away with a hair drier. Some computers have 2-3 fans inside! All of them must be looked at to find the dust and clean them.

Generally, this is too hard for most people so it's best to send to a computer shop for a professional cleaning job.

3- Some computers get to 5-6 years of age starts to become unstable. Some times the OS crashes for no reason. There is often nothing wrong. They just need deep cleaning. The trick is to open them up, unplug the cables and spray the contact points by an electronic cleaning spray bottle, blow-dry by a hair drier and replug the cables back. Again, this is daunting for some people so get the computer service people to do it. Make sure you ask them that is what you want otherwise they just do dusting only.

4- If your computers have a mechanical hard disk, upgrade to an SSD disk! SSD disks are not quite cheap and they are 5 - 10 times as fast as the old mechanical disks. Suddenly the computers seem to run a lot faster than when you bought them.

5- Why is that some old computers are 10-12 years old and still run really well and fast and cool? Generally, it's because of the cleaning and upgrades to SSD as described above. However, another thing is that owners spent decent money to get decent quality to start with. They have 4 cores and at least 8GB of memory to start with. This is why when one buys a new computer now, avoid the 2 cores + 4GB memory cheap laptops that are even slower than a decent computer at 10 years of age!

BTW, old Japanese plasma TV and Led TVs generally do not break after 5-15 years. The repair shops would cheat people by saying they have to replace parts ... Just open them up, blow the dust away, deep clean using an electronic spray bottle (buy at Bunnings), blow dry and put them back. They work like new again!

Always do the cleaning yourself or take your devices to somewhere you can trust to do the cleaning. Electronic devices like computers and TV need dusting every 2-3 years and a deep clean every 5-7 years. House with carpets and those near noisy/dusty streets need more frequent cleaning.