Dick de Rijk, “Deal or No Deal” creator, interview at Banff World TV Festival 2010

Thursday, 8 July, 2010

Dick de Rijk, "Deal or No Deal" creator, at Banff 2010

Dick de Rijk, creator of the international sensation Deal or No Deal, attended 2010 Banff World TV Festival and I interviewed him to talk about the inspiration and process of how he created the successful TV format Deal or No Deal. Dick and I also chatted about the different international versions of the show including the Italian version and the highly rated Hong Kong version of Deal or No Deal known as “一擲千金” where the models were prominently featured on TVB’s website.

Here is my video interview with Dick de Rijk, creator of “Deal or No Deal“.


The following is Dick’s bio at Banff.

Dick de Rijk
Deal or No Deal

After working as a creative executive in the advertising and gaming industries, Dick partnered in 1999 with Joop van den Ende, creating some instant TV-successes in Holland. A year later he formed a creative team with John de Mol specializing in “global TV-formats”. In 2004, de Rijk signed an exclusive partnership with Endemol International that resulted in numerous worldwide format successes. In 2007, three of Endemol’s top-5 format properties were created by de Rijk, including their number one blockbuster – on air in some 150 countries – Deal Or No Deal. Under his new alliance with ProSiebenSat.1, Dick will be based out his offices in Hilversum, Netherlands.

PAC-MAN forever! – Sucked up 4.82 million work hours (so far!)

Sunday, 23 May, 2010

Lovely idea but don’t waste/spend too much time playing the 30th anniversary Google PAC-MAN doodle. A win-win cooperation between Google and NAMCO.

May 25, 2010 Update: Google’s Pac-Man logo sucked up 4.82 million work hours

[via Google's PAC-MAN rules & Celebrating PAC-MAN's 30th birthday]

The Impossible Test – Whiz kid’s iPhone app downloaded 2 million times

Saturday, 10 April, 2010

Interesting article. “Milton whiz kid’s iPhone app downloaded 2 million times – Naveen Sidhu is only 18, but his game The Impossible Test is an international hit

$289 and $100 Prizes

Monday, 30 November, 2009

Dec 9th Update: I’ve made a correction to “Prize offered by” in the $289 Prize. My apologies to GASARCH and thanks for pointing out my mistake.


Two Computational Complexity Prizes/Challenges

Note: I don’t know if these prizes have been claimed already. And if you think the challenges are dead easy, then your solutions are most likely wrong. :)


A $289 Prize

Prize offered by: GASARCH Stephen Fenner, Charles Glover and Semmy Purewal

Posted on: Nov 30, 2009

Challenge Description:The 17×17 challenge. Worth $289. This is not a joke.

Dec 2, 2009 update: More comments on people’s comments posted here.


A $100 Prize

Prize offered by: Mark Braverman, Stephen Cook, Pierre McKenzie, Rahul Santhanam, Dustin Wehr

Posted on: Aug 27, 2009

Challenge Description: Slides for talk “Branching Programs: Avoiding Barriers (PostScript .ps file)”, presented Aug 27, 2009 at the Barriers Workshop in Princeton. See the last slide for a $100 Prize offer.” [via my former professor Prof. Stephen A. Cook's website]

Guitar Hero Charles Huang, Co-Founder, RedOctane

Wednesday, 25 November, 2009

Excerpt from UC Berkeley talk info,

RedOctane was founded in 1999 by Kai Huang and Charles Huang and is best known for its Guitar Hero games. During August 1999, they began operation as the world’s first online video game rental service. In 2000 the company expanded into premium video game accessories, starting first with the RedOctane dance mat which the existing products at the time. They would later become better known for the Ignition dance pads and other video game accessories including arcade joysticks, drums, and guitars for existing music games.”

One of my favourite slide in the talk is the slide of the reasons investors gave when they refused to invest in the company. The last reason is especially funny.

UCBerkeley talk by Guitar Hero Charles Huang, Co-Founder, RedOctane

TVO: Uncle Spam Wants You!

Tuesday, 17 November, 2009

Audio show in mp3 repost from TVO Search Engine,

American military recruiters have moved online, using web quizzes, Xbox shooters and sophisticated data mining to woo young recruits. Post your comments on the Search Engine blog: http://www.tvo.org/searchengine

Make it fun …

Saturday, 10 October, 2009

Video 1: How to get people to use the stairs

Video 2: How to get people to throw their trash into the bin

Looking forward to watching their next one.

Note: I actually enjoy this new form of viral advertising. From VW TheFunTheory.com

“This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.”

[via Andreas]

Lotto Double Double Happiness

Friday, 30 January, 2009

In the sea of current financial troubles, it is so nice to read that Jorma “a small double-double without the trouble” Hogbacka has kept his promise to share his big Lotto 6/49 winning ($14.8 million) with former Tim Hortons employees that served him well years ago. $30,000 for serving Jorma’s coffee right and with a smile. :)

Jorma, enjoy your winnings and thanks for putting smiles on our faces.

Game Changing Wii Music

Tuesday, 15 July, 2008

Nintendo’s Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto is a true revolutionary as he said in the recent E3 games conferenceWe design Wii Music allow everyone … to experience the joy of performing music“. While I am sure some music purists may argue that games like Wii Music is bad to “train” future classical musicians but I respectfully disagree. I will leave my reasoning and justifications in another post if I find time to write it.

For now, here are two video clips of Shigeru in his own words and music.

Part 1 of Wii 2008E3 Wii Music Trailer (pay special attention to what Shigeru said around 3:45)

Part 2

Gathering Around Wii

Tuesday, 15 July, 2008

From AdAge, “Gathering Around TV to Gathering Around Wii

But what’s perhaps most surprising is that one-third of Wii owners say they regularly play with their mothers or fathers. And 9% play with grandparents.

On average, three people play the Wii in each Wii household. And they love the device: 54% of Wii gamers rate it a 10 (excellent) on a 10- point scale, with an average score of 8.8 out of 10.

Links: 2008-04-21

Monday, 21 April, 2008
  1. Tension Over Sports Blogging – NYT – a note on bloggers from credentialed news organizations
  2. Edward Lorenz, father of Chaos Theory, dies
  3. Brokeback Mountain director warns Bill C-10 means censorship
  4. Filmmaker Ang Lee has no love for ‘Canadian values’ bill, but plenty for Vancouver
  5. New Wii Games Find a Big (but Stingy) Audience – an insightful look at the Wii gaming business
  6. Our Top Ten list of Privacy Act fixes – by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner

Links: 2008-03-11

Tuesday, 11 March, 2008
  1. Japan IDs All Its Citizens – It depends on how much risks are needed to be considered as “substantial” ? – “There are no substantial risks of information leakages or their misuse for purposes other than originally intended”
  2. Facebook CEO Admits Missteps
  3. The GigaOM Interview: Mark Zuckerberg, Founder & CEO Facebook
  4. Brantano Shoe City Ad
  5. NYT Obit of Gary Gygax, co-creator of the game Dungeons & Dragons
  6. How Google keeps your information secure – from Google

Links: 2008-02-21 Free Speech, US Mail Surveillance, Privacy, Games for Windows?, Google Video Ads, Emerging Tech 2008, UBS

Thursday, 21 February, 2008
  1. In Free Speech Flap, Calif. Judge Orders Web Site to Shutter
  2. U.S. Post Office to Enable Wholesale Surveillance of Mail – Hmm, not good
  3. Canadian Privacy Commissioner’s Power and Privilege
  4. Games for Windows?
  5. AdSense for video now in beta – Interesting Google Video Advertising Solutions
  6. MIT Technology Review Emerging Technologies 2008
  7. UBS Shortens Directors’ Terms to One Year

Craig’s Boxing Day Classic (25th anniversary, 1983 – 2007) – Why do we have the best hockey players in the world?

Wednesday, 26 December, 2007

Malcolm Gladwell blogged about why Kenyan has the best runners in the world. Today, I say why Canada has the best hockey players in the world. We Canadians simply love hockey so much and just love to play it all the time.

I just came back from Bill Craig’s (gentleman on the left photo, and yes, Bill is the Craig in Crag’s Classic) post game party which Bill has kindly invited me to join. This is the 25th edition of the game and party. Next year, Bob Jonathan (the gentleman in the right photo) will carry on the tradition.

Now, the party was a lot of fun and I have something I want to blog about the party. The following are some of the videos shot.

Chat with Bill Craig, founder and initiator of the Craig’s Boxing Day Classic (click to view in larger window)

Craig’s Boxing Day Classic 2007 (game clip 2) – so close to scoring (click to view in larger window)

Craig’s Boxing Day Classic 2007 (game clip 5) – goal ! (Score 1 – 0) (click to view in larger window)

Craig’s Boxing Day Classic 2007 (game clip 6) – goal ! (Score 1 – 1) (click to view in larger window)

Thank you Bob and Dan – Local Super Heroes working on Christmas Eve

Tuesday, 25 December, 2007

I saw Bob and Dan Jonathan, two local super heroes in Calgary, on Christmas eve, doing some great volunteer work for the community. For the last 20 years, Bob has been creating an ice surface/rink for people of all ages to skate on. And on this Christmas eve, Dan was helping Bob out creating a rink next to the Southwood branch of the Calgary public library.

Thank you Bob and Dan. You guys are just great and your wonderful hard work are much appreciated by people in the community!

Now, have you seen and thank your own local Super Heroes lately?

Here is my video chat with Bob and Dan while they started to fill the field with a layer of water,

Here is another video of the field as it was starting to be filled with water,

Followup on the AAA BBB CCC DDD game

Wednesday, 5 December, 2007

Kelly Graves, a new friend, and I had a coffee meeting yesterday to chat. And we ended up starting our chat with a wonderful discussion of the game “whats wrong here AAA BBB CCC DDD EEE FFF [...]“ that I blogged about a few days ago (after reading about the game from Kelly’s Facebook page).

We were thinking very much alike in many different aspects of this game. So, depending on whether we can gather some solid and interesting information to share, we may end up writing a joint paper/blog entry about this game. Stay tune.

P.S. Please take a few minutes to watch this insightful Google Talk video by the funny and very insightful Erin McKean. The talk is not directly related to this game/virus/chain-mail but I guarantee you will have some fun and learn something from Erin.

P.P.S. By the way, I want to talk about Kelly for a moment here.

Kelly and I have become fast friends as we both have a wide range of interests and can have fun talking just about anything under the sun (and see the connections in these seemingly distinct areas). And have I mention that Kelly is also an insightful entrepreneur (the current Entrepreneur In Residence at Calgary Technologies Inc.)? I will not be surprised that Kelly has been an insightful and helpful friend to many other entrepreneurs in Calgary as he has been to me even we only met twice and chatted once.


Dec 6 Update: Kelly is working with some back channels to see if we can get some hard and insightful data.

As a start, we want to spread the “awareness” of this chain letter/virus and thus provide some form of “vaccination“. Ultimately, like flu vaccination, we may have to do it once a year or some time period. My current thought is new viruses may potentially appear on a yearly cycle coincide with a new school year. It is too early to say or tell.

Dec 23 Update: Kelly and me are still interested in writing something about this game/virus/chain-mail. But we will likely look at this in 2008. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New year.

AAA game with philosophical twist

Sunday, 2 December, 2007

I saw the following apparently chain-letter game posted on a friend’s Facebook page and I had some fun playing it.


Whats wrong here


Did you know that 80% of UCSD students could not find the error above?


Now, I am glad I found the “problem” without needing to cheat. (smile)

But let me throw in a philosophical twist here. I believe that in the long run, and without giving away the solution, the “problem” shown above will disappear because of the evolving nature in that area. Sorry for being very vague as I don’t want to give the solution away and spoil the fun for others. (smile)

Irregardless of what I argued, some people may maintain the “problem” should always stay as a “problem” but that debate will take some time. (smile)

P.S. Incidentally, I dropped a strong hint of the philosophical underpinning of my argument in this posting. You may not have noticed it right away. But you may see what I meant after watching this lovely and insightful Google Talk video.

P.P.S.Ignoring bad things and hoping they go away is a strategy of failure.” “It is worst to ignore than it is to warn.” Finally here is my “philosophical underpinning” and what I learned from the master, “Most people who are very careful, make this distinction. But most people aren’t very careful. [... So things go from] being wrong all the time. To being wrong some of the time. To not being wrong. And this is a process that can take a long long time.” – Erin McKean (for sure to check out her Google Talk video)


Dec 3rd Update: I am aware of the different variations of this game and I even try to create a new one (which I later found had already been created by someone else). My friend and I are going to chat some more about this game tomorrow over our planned coffee meeting.

I may write a follow up post if I can find the time. (smile)

Dec 5th Update: I had a great meeting with my friend yesterday where we chatted about a wide range of things and including this game. We may write a joint paper/blog entry on this. Please read more here.

The Rise of Poker Robots

Monday, 12 November, 2007

Here is an excerpt from an interest article about online poker robots at Freaknomics blog at NYT,

It is not an opportune time to start an online gambling site for checkers.

In July, researchers at University of Alberta “solved the game” using brute computer force. As such, their computer knew the best strategy to play in any of the possible 50 billion checker positions. Humans should now be very scared to bet money against any virtual opponent, for fear that they are really facing the Alberta computer or its clone. (You also wouldn’t want to play a money game against a computer in Connect Four or Othello, or even backgammon.)

What’s true for checkers is also becoming true for poker. The same group at Alberta has just shown that their Polaris program is on the verge of taking down poker professionals.

Children’s Privacy Online

Saturday, 27 October, 2007

[via Office of the Privacy Commissioner]

Do you know that children sites really see your kids (2 yrs old and over) as marketing goldmines? Surveys as Games? Do you know how much these sites are manipulating your kids?

In a privacy conference, Prof. Valerie Steeves share her insight on how children interact with popular sites like Webkinz, Neopets and Barbie Girls. Highly recommended. And eye-opening on the various seedy tactics used by these companies.

A Tale of Two War Photos

Saturday, 27 October, 2007

The Oscar winning (and wonderfully obsessive) director Errol Morris has just finished an interesting three part New York Times blog series on a puzzle involving two 1855 war photos.

As Errol humorously put it in the title of the first article, “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?” As in any good investigative reporting, or documentary story telling, the journey of finding which photo was taken first is where most of the fun and learning occurs. Enjoy.

(To see Part One of Errol’s article, click here. To see Part Two, click here. To see Part Three, click here.)


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