Minister Tony Clement hosted Government of Canada’s first Google Hangout to talk Open Data

Friday, 1 March, 2013

Minister Tony Clement hosted Government of Canada's first Google Hangout

Very interesting to see Minister Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board, today hosted the Government of Canada’s first Google Hangout to talk about Government of Canada’s Open Data initiative. Great to see the good old Government of Canada starting to use G+. Well, this event seemed to have come out of the blue and quietly finished before most Canadians got a chance to watch it live. Hopefully there will be more advance notice (a few days at least) to allow broader participation next time.

Government of Canada – Innovating with Open Data

Here is an excerpt from the press release,

“Participants in the Hangout, which is a virtual, live-stream discussion, included Ray Sharma, Toronto mobile app developer; Edward Ocampo-Gooding, co-founder of Open Data Ottawa; Albert Lai, Toronto game developer; Kevin Merrit, a Seattle-based Open Data platform developer; and Ashley Casovan, Strategic Coordinator for Information Technology for the City of Edmonton.

“The opportunity for Canadian entrepreneurs to utilize Open Data to develop innovative applications has amazing potential,” said Ray Sharma, President, mobile games developer XMG Studio Inc. “I see not only the opportunity for developers but there is a greater potential impact. And that is to the Canadian citizens who should be able to literally experience a benefit in economic productivity. We are just at the cusp of this emerging phenomenon, and participating in the Google Hangout was a great beginning.”

The Hangout discussion explored some of the 273,000 datasets currently available on the Government’s Open Data portal, as well as plans to launch an updated, next-generation portal later this year. Participants provided feedback on what data they would find useful, as well as what some of the key features of the new portal should be in order to encourage greater data uptake.”

Thanks +Google Canada for posting the video link so I can find it easily here.

note: article is crossed posted by me to

Howie Mandel Videobomb Fox LA LIVE Newscast – Why I’m Guilty as an Accessory

Sunday, 6 January, 2013

Howie Mandel #videobomb Fox LA LIVE Newscast

Did you see the talented comedian Howie Mandel (@HowieMandel) #videobomb Fox LA LIVE Newscast on Jan 2nd, 2013?! That was an awesome moment! And we (a few friends and I) were guilty as charged in coaxing Howie to make his impromptu LIVE TV appearance! Here is the funny clip of Howie Mandel #videobomb Fox LA LIVE Newscast!

So why are we guilty as charged?! What roles did we play in coaxing Howie? Well, you are in for a special treat! “Crimes/pranks” have never quite been captured like this, from the inception, to the coaxing, to the actual execution, and then the final we laughing our heads off all over a few short minutes! Have a watch of how we created this magical #videobomb moment right in our Fox LA Google+ Hangout!

I just LOVE Howie in his quick witted spontaneity, you just can’t fake stuff like this. I first met and listened to Howie live when he came to the yearly Banff World Media Festival in 2011 to receive an award of distinction.

Howie Mandel at Banff World Media Festival 2011

You can watch this very entertaining non-stop funny “In Conversation with: Award of Distinction Winner, Howie Mandel” (with transcript). Here is an excerpt,

Everything I’ve ever been punished for, expelled for, hit for, is what I seem to get paid for and now I’m being distinguished for it, but the thing is the people who supported me are the people who love like, and those were few and far between, my family and my friends, but when I got into this business, what’s amazing is it’s such a group effort so any cameraman that I’ve ever worked with, any script writer that I’ve ever worked with, any producer, network executive or anything, they’ve all supported me and made this possible.

All I do really, and this is what Woody Allen says, is “I just show up.” 90% of success is just showing up and I’ve always done that from day one, from when my career started. I didn’t even have a career, I wasn’t pursuing a careers. I’m still not really pursuing a career. I’m not, I showed up at Yuk Yuks in April 1977 I showed up at Yuk Yuks because I don’t dance, and didn’t like going to discos and they’d opened a comedy club in Toronto and I showed up to see a show and I was fascinated […]

I can’t speak more highly of Howie as great comedian and as a frank, blunt and honest person willing to talk about his own life challenges. And if you have time, also watch this insightful interview of Howie by Howard Stern which I watched to prepare my Google+ Hangout questions for Howie.

Concluding Thoughts about our Google+ magic

I’m a Google+ Hangout News Consultant and I’ve been using using Google+ Hangout since the beginning in July 2011 and Google+ Hangout On Air (G+ HOA) since its launch in September 2011. To me, G+ HOA is one of the most powerful new broadcasting tools available. But like in the world of cooking, even if you have a great knife, an awesome mixer, etc you still have to have great chefs and first rate ingredients to create magic!

And in our first 2013 Fox LA Google+ Hangout with Howie Mandel, that magic was created because our guest Howie rocked and we rocked! Who are we? We are our host Maria Quiban, and co-hosts Anthony Ramos, DeAno Jackson, Jimmy Louis, Kempton Lam (me), Kim Beasley, Matt Moore, Paul Roustan, Sheila B. DuBois, Stormy Henderson (screen thumbnail order from left to right).

note: This article is cross-posted by me at examiner.

Google Driverless Car – A Brave New Tech & Legal Experiment

Wednesday, 26 September, 2012

CA Governor Brown Signs SB1298 (Autonomous Vehicles)

At the Google headquarters in Mountain View yesterday, California governor Jerry Brown signed the bill, “SB-1298 Vehicles: autonomous vehicles: safety and performance requirements“, making California the third state in US taking steps to make driverless cars eventually legal on roads and highways (not just for testing purpose).

CA Governor Brown Signs SB1298 (Autonomous Vehicles)

Technologically, Google will need to do a lot of testing to make sure its system works in many different basic conditions and to prove that it is “safe” in basic conditions which is a challenge in itself. The bigger problem, at least as this reporter sees it, is a legal one.

As Google and its co-founder Sergey Brin indicated, the hope is to allow the driverless cars to be used by blind people and people who are too intoxicated to drive. Imagine a Google driverless car involving in a car accident (especially one with fatality), who will then be held accountable? The blind driver? The software developer? The software project manager? Or the autonomous vehicle technology providers (like Google)?

Comparison has been made of Google driverless car with self-driving train and that we have those trains for some years now, isn’t it ok? Well, self-driving train (or centrally controlled driver-less train) like the SkyTrain in Vancouver runs on “grade-separated tracks, running mostly on elevated guideways” thus are not subject to the randomness of roads filled by other cars, random animals, and most important of all, often unpredictable people/pedestrians.

In a litigious place like California, United States, it is worth mentioning one of the two unresolved issues in the signed bill (as stated in the 08/24/12 Assembly Floor Analysis, emphasis added),

First, automobile makers fear that when this technology is added on to the vehicles they have designed for use by human operators, they may be drawn into liability litigation after an accident caused by the failure of that after-market equipment or of its installation rather than due to any inherent safety problem with the vehicle itself. Although existing tort law and case law can be interpreted to absolve them of any liability in such instances, the automakers sought to have explicit language incorporated into the bill to make this clear. Ultimately, the contending parties were unable to agree on a formula that met one another’s needs.

California legal experts may have better insight of why the above issue remains unresolved. To the average Joe and Jane citizens, a valid question is whether Google or other autonomous vehicle technology providers should be trusted to be 100% correct all the time with no driver to provide override in the future (when blind/intoxicated people may be the only passengers in the car)? Given the automobile makers are worried enough to try (but unsuccessfully) to shield themselves with explicit language in the bill, may be citizens should ask Google or the legislators what happen if a driverless car is involved in an accident with/without fatality?

Note: Currently, the California bill has a five million dollars insurance provision in this testing phase when there will ALWAYS be a driver on the driver seat to take over when things go wrong. What amount of “evidence of insurance, surety bond, or self-insurance” should be required when the system is truly driverless?!

P.S. this article is cross-posted by me at

Google Nexus 7 launched at $209 with $25 credit – (What RIM should have done last year)

Wednesday, 27 June, 2012

Google Nexus 7 - pix 01

Google announced its new Nexus 7 tablet this morning at its Google I/O 2012 conference. The Nexus 7 tech spec (for the price of US$199 (C$209)) is very tempting for new and existing tablet users. In the bottom of this article, I’ve included an edited and annotated specification highlighting my views of the machine.

Looking back, when the Waterloo Ontario based Canadian Research In Motion (RIM) first released its PlayBook in April 2011, if it had come out with a price like C$209 (US$199), it would have a chance to shake up the competitive landscape for the tablet market. Unfortunately, RIM‘s “same as iPad” price of $499 and under powered machine was a weak and underwhelming launch from day one.

I think the $25 Google Play in store credit is large enough an amount that many potential buyers will consider it meaningful, relative to the price of the machine, and they may see the machine as $25 cheaper. The $25 credit is a pretty good way to get people to start using the Google Play store! Getting people to enter their credit card information and start using the store is the hardest first step of all.

Introducing Nexus 7

Nexus 7 tech spec

7” 1280×800 HD display (216 ppi) [K: looks good in the demo]
Back-lit IPS display
Scratch-resistant Corning glass [K: Corning glass is good. The new Corning Gorilla Glass 2 would be better but I am sure that cost more money.]
1.2MP front-facing camera [K: I wish there is a back camera as well but if I must have a front camera for any video conferencing like G+ Hangout or Skype]
SIZE: 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm [K: looks comfortable to hold but have to have one in my hand to see for sure]
WEIGHT: 340g [K: OK, it is about half the weight of an iPad. To be far, its screen size and viewing area are both smaller than an iPad]
WIRELESS: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth [K: Good spec]
MEMORY: 8 GB internal storage, 1 GB RAM [K: Enough for me but since 16GB model is only reasonably $50 more, may just go with the 16GB model]
Micro USB
BATTERY: 4325 mAh (Up to 8 hours of active use)
OS: Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
CPU: Quad-core Tegra 3 processor
FEATURES: Microphone, NFC (Android Beam), Accelerometer, GPS, Magnetometer, Gyroscope [K: all pretty cool]

Google Nexus 7 - pix 02

Two Google lawyers reflect on Oracle v. Google

Monday, 11 June, 2012

Great interviews re “Oracle v. Google” patent and copyright trail with two Google attorneys: general counsel Kent Walker, and litigation counsel Renny Hwang. Highly recommended. [HT +Lauren Weinstein]

Chatting with Diana Eastwood (yes, Mrs. Eastwood, wife of Clint) star of reality TV show Mrs. Eastwood & Company

Friday, 18 May, 2012

Dina Eastwood (Mrs. Eastwood), daughter Francesca & Eduard - pix 02

In an amazing Google+ LIVE Hangout this morning, this reporter got a chance to talk to Diana Eastwood (yes, Mrs. Eastwood), daughter Francesca Eastwood & Eduard, about their new reality TV show Mrs. Eastwood & Company airing this Sunday night on E!.

Diana was very frank about her new E! reality show Mrs. Eastwood & Company knowing that some scenes  kind of make her look crazy at times. Diana was asked how did Clint Eastwood feel about the show? Diana said Clint appears willingly only in two episode and he doesn’t want to be on a reality TV show. Sometimes he would leave when he knew the cameras were coming! Diana was very aware of her added responsibility of not scaring Clint‘s image built from a 60 years of long and lustrous career. “I do have extra pressure trying to gate keep his image a little bit. Make sure we are not too cuckoo.” said Diana.

A very warm moment happened when the charming Fox LA host Maria Quiban mentioned that she was in Clint‘s movie Blood Work and then Diana said with a big laughter to Francesca & Eduard, “And Clint didn’t leave me for her!” How sweet! As it turns out Francesca Eastwood was also in Blood Work!

Mrs. Eastwood & Company was filmed using three cameras with two crews and every characters in the show were miked with tiny microphones. Surprisingly, Clint does not have the right to approve or reject stuff in the show and was totally hands off in the show (in terms of the production of it). This reporter asked if Diana was in the editing room all the time and whether she has final edit on the show? Diana said she was never in the editing room, while E! was respectful and send her the cuts, and really takes her comments & consideration really seriously. So when Diana saw anything inflammatory to her husband, she pulled it. “As far as inflammatory to us, we are out there 110%. We let it go. I look like an idiot in almost every episode!” said Diana. OK, the last bit got me! I have a lot of respect for someone who has editorial influence, and willingly let herself/himself “look like an idiot in almost every episode“. I have not got a chance to watch Mrs. Eastwood & Company yet, but if the E! reality show is remotely as frank and fun as talking to Diana in person in the Google+ Hangout, then I think the show can be a lot of fun.

Click to watch the “MyFox11 Los Angeles Hangout w/Maria Quiban” starting at the 22:30 mark.

Dina Eastwood (Mrs. Eastwood), daughter Francesca & Eduard - pix 01

LIVE broadcast of Ceremony of Remembrance @ Queen’s Park Ontario Police Memorial (May 6th, 2012)

Sunday, 6 May, 2012

Pre-ceremony @ Queen's Park Ontario Police Memorial, Sun May 6th - pix 01

Pre-ceremony @ Queen's Park Ontario Police Memorial, Sun May 6th - pix 02

The LIVE broadcast of the Ceremony of Remembrance @ Queen’s Park Ontario Police Memorial this morning (May 6th, 2012) went really smoothly, the following are the recorded videos. (Facebook page for Ontario Police Memorial Foundation) Here is an informal detailed writeup from Toronto Police Constable Scott Mills.

Video pre-Ceremony of Remembrance at Queen’s Park Ontario Police Memorial (reading of the names of 251 police officers killed in the line of duty in Ontario)

Video of Ceremony of Remembrance at Queen’s Park Ontario Police Memorial

Video of March Past: Ceremony of Remembrance at Queen’s Park Ontario Police Memorial

Debrief of the LIVE broadcast at Ceremony of Remembrance (includes interviews with all of the major contributors on the ground in Toronto… including Glen Russell, the father of Scott’s friend Ryan Russell who died in the line of duty in Toronto in 2011)

Ceremony of Remembrance at Queen's Park Ontario Police Memorial, Sun May 6th - pix 03 (Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty)

Pre-Ceremony intro:site test for Queen's Park Ontario Police Memorial this Sunday (May 6th) - pix 01

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