Failed Park Assist technology at Calgary Chinook centre

Monday, 27 December, 2010

Parkassist at Calgary Chinook centre - Pix 1Parkassist at Calgary Chinook centre - Pix 3

Park Assist failed and shut down at Calgary Chinook centre, Boxing Day 2010 (Photo Credit: Brian Wong)

I was fascinated by the Park Assist technology when I first saw the system at Calgary Chinook centre‘s new wing and wrote about it in detail in an earlier post (with video). Unfortunately, the Park Assist system has disappointed me over the Christmas holidays and especially on Boxing Day, one of the busiest shopping day in Canada!!!

One early morning when the parkade was empty in the back area, there were over 20 parking lights showing red, a “false negative” indicating those parking spots weren’t available when they were empty. And on Boxing Day, when the parkade was super busy, countless indicator lights were showing green, a “fales positive” indicating parking spots were available when they were occupied making shoppers extremely frustrated and disappointed (I gave up after a few minutes of looking for a parking spot)!

(Update: As you can see from the above picture, Chinook centre actually shut down the system later on Boxing Day.)

I am disappointed with the Park Assist technology. And I wonder why it failed so badly yesterday?! May be someone with special insights at Park Assist or Chinook centre can explain?

P.S. I’ve sent Park Assist an email and hopefully someone there can provide some additional information to add to this article.

“Last Train Home” directed by Lixin Fan is one of TIFF Top 10 feature films

Tuesday, 14 December, 2010

I really enjoyed “Last Train Home” directed by Lixin Fan so I am excited to report the film is one of 2010 TIFF Top 10 feature films. Also check out,

* my interview with director Lixin Fan earlier this year,

“Last Train Home” Review – 130 million Chinese migrant workers making inexpensive “Made in China” goods possible

Following Workers’ Trails of Tears in China

Here is a film trailer.

The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony video

Saturday, 11 December, 2010

An empty chair for Mr. Liu Xiaobo, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), Winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2010

For the record. Here is a link to the video of the official Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony 2010. I love the video commentary, very informative and well said.

I think in future Chinese history books, it will be noted that countries that are true friends of China were present at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony.

2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate – Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波): “I Have No Enemies: My Final Statement”

Friday, 10 December, 2010

Liu Xiaobo: 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony - pix 1Liu Xiaobo: 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony - pix 2

Liu Xiaobo: 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony - pix 3Liu Xiaobo: 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony - pix 4

– Guardian (with video), “Nobel peace prize placed on empty chair in honour of Liu Xiaobo

An empty chair for Mr. Liu Xiaobo, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), Winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2010

– The empty chair is saved for Mr. Liu Xiaobo, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

– CBC News (with video), “Nobel ceremony honours absent activist LiuChina tightens security, blocks TV reports ahead of ceremony in Norway

– CTV News (with video), “Nobel peace ceremony goes ahead, with empty chair

– Guardian Live blog coverage, “Nobel peace prize awarded to China’s Liu Xiaobo – live coverage

– ABC News, “Nobel Prize awarded to absent dissident

– Liv Ullmann read for Liu Xiaobo his, “我没有敌人 - 我的最后陈述” (in Chinese), “I Have No Enemies: My Final Statement” (in English).

– Liu Xia, wife of Liu Xiaobo, is under house arrest. Many Chinese friends and supporters of Liu Xiaobo are under surveillance in China and are not allowed to leave China because the Chinese government feared they “might” attend the Nobel ceremony. In fact, ABC news reports, “An Australian-based Chinese dissident said police detained him for 24 hours at Shanghai’s airport and forced him to return home in a bid to stop him attending Friday’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.

– Here is a BBC radio program “Liu Xiaobo: “I Have No Enemies”

– The following is an excerpt from the Award Ceremony Speech,

“We regret that the Laureate is not present here today. He is in isolation in a prison in north-east China. Nor can the Laureate’s wife Liu Xia or his closest relatives be here with us. No medal or diploma will therefore be presented here today.

This fact alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate. We congratulate Liu Xiaobo on this year’s Peace Prize.

There have been a number of previous occasions when the Laureate has been prevented from attending. This has in fact been the case with several awards which have proved in the light of history to have been most significant and honourable. Read the rest of this entry »

Video interview with Michael Lau (劉米高) Happy Crazy X’mas – Time Square 2010

Thursday, 18 November, 2010

Attended the wonderful 10th anniversary of Hong Kong local artist Michael Lau (劉米高) at Time Square. Here is my video interview with Michael. I hope you enjoy it as much as I in talking with Michael. (More photos here.)

Here is a video clip of the exhibit in motion.

P.S. Check out a video clip of HK singer/actress Gigi Leung (梁詠琪) at the opening.

Gigi Leung (梁詠琪) @ Michael Lau (劉米高) Happy Crazy Xmas – Time Square 2010

Tuesday, 16 November, 2010


Attended the wonderful 10th anniversary of Hong Kong local artist Michael Lau (劉米高) at Time Square. Click here to see my video interview of Michael to talk about his art.



In the mean time here is a video clip of HK singer/actress Gigi Leung (梁詠琪) at the opening.

P.S. “Forward, Left, Right” – 前D,左,右 …

Vote for Barb Higgins, Ric McIver and Naheed Nenshi today and stay involved in city politics

Monday, 18 October, 2010

Oct 18th 10:14pm update: Live Blog: 2010 Calgary mayoral election (Naheed Nenshi, Ric McIver, Barb Higgins)


Calgary election 2010

Vote today 10am-8pm (Monday Oct 18th)

I wish I could vote for the winning combination of Barb Higgins, Ric McIver and Naheed Nenshi today because there are some qualities in them that I admire (even though there are things in them that I wish I could change).

Based on discussions amongst friends and the online (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc) interests (mostly by supporters urging others to vote for their choices), civic engagement  is a clear winner in this election. If the polling predictions of a tight three-way race comes true, then almost 50+% (0r probably 60+%) of Calgarians will wake up Tuesday morning to a new mayor that they have NOT voted for.


Record turnout.

What to do after the election?

It is important to vote today. But equally important is for us to stay involved and care about Calgary after the election. Hold our elected representatives accountable. I have outlined some of what I expect from my alderman and mayor in their 3-year term no matter who gets elected tonight.

P.S. Who am I voting for today?

Some people may wonder who am I voting for today. I have debated the pros and cons of publicizing who I support but I decided to stay focus on what is important. The key to this election can’t be just about picking the winner in a popularity contest. My hope is Calgarians will actively engage our aldermen and mayor to build a better Calgary regardless of who we individually support in this race. The mayor will represent us all, and the aldermen will represent each of the 14 wards.

Please hold our aldermen and mayor accountable after the election, regardless of who you vote for.

Holding your alderman/mayor accountable after Monday Oct 18th election

Friday, 15 October, 2010

No matter who you plan to elect as your alderman/mayor to represent you, I think it is very important to talk to the candidates to tell them what you see wrong or need to improve with the existing system and then hold them accountable after the Monday Oct 18th election. Even if you haven’t voted for the person, he/she is still suppose to represent everyone in the ward/city, so hold him/her accountable!

Practicing what I recommend, I’ve talked to my alderman a few weeks ago at length, and then talked to him again today for about 20 minutes. Telling him that,

– I expect him to better communicate his ideas, decisions, and voting record if he is re-elected on Monday. I suggest expanded use of tools like blog (need more frequent updates), twitter, and YouTube videos, nothing fancy but the important thing is to explain himself to the residents in the ward clearly and well. So that we know what is going on, and he can be held accountable for his decisions. Getting the messages directly from him, it reduces the chance of being misunderstood, being limited to sound bites, or words misquoted by the press.

– And I expect him to push for a better system where Calgarians can better track the workings of the council. Capturing and showing video clips of mayor’s and individual alderman’s council debates, meetings, discussions, etc. And a much simpler way to track voting records and decision processes taken by council members. We need these tools to effectively hold council members accountable.

At the moment, the aldermen’s and mayor’s voting records are “public” but it might as well be hidden/encrypted because the existing tracking/filing system is way too complex to use that it is unusable except by city bureaucrats or people with expert knowledge. For example, you need to know the exact dates when something were discussed or voted to find the right meeting minutes to find the voting records. And worst, as far as I know, the reasonings and decision rationales aren’t tracked (at least not alongside the meeting records of the vote!).

The goal should be updating the system so that concerned Calgarians can track and find aldermen’s and mayor’s voting records on any issues from beginning to end without much trouble.

In the 2010 election, one mayoral candidate claimed he voted “NO” in some issue, and then reporter discovered there were actually SIX votes, and the candidate’s final vote on the issue was a “YES”! If it took SIX votes to decide something, the SIX voting records and each of these debate discussions should be linked up and easily found and not be hidden in a beeping maze with beeping trap doors!

Breakfast TV at 6:45am (View from the front row with Ric McIver)

Friday, 15 October, 2010

Ric McIver with members of Calgary's Chinese community at BT - pix 1Ric McIver with members of Calgary's Chinese community at BT - pix 3

Getting up before 6am this morning was tough but I was told to arrive at the CityTV Breakfast TV (BT) studio by 6:45am. Yes, I was nervous but also a bit excited to be on BT this morning, just one day after the now unfortunate Barb Higgins vs. Mike McCourt on BT.

Before I showed up this morning to ask my question, as any responsible Calgarians would have done in my position, I did my best to read up on the views and news of the candidates. I even attended my first mayoral forum at Southcentre (speech & debate videos) to see and meet the candidates in person.


It was nice to mingle and chat with Mr. Ric McIver a little before the show started. During a free moment, Ric and I picked up today’s newspapers to read. Not surprisingly, Ric was reading Calgary Sun‘s unflattering frontpage photo of and headline story about Barb Higgins. And I ended up reading the more balanced, in my opinion, Calgary Herald.

The CityTV Breakfast TV show

BT started at 7am with the hosts chatting with Ric. And a few minutes later, we were ushered into the live recording studio. The show co-host Zain and crew were really nice in explaining to us where we should stand, when we ask our questions, and where should we stand after we ask our questions, etc.

I was a bit nervous as my question to Ric was the first one this morning. I thought carefully of what concerns me most and asked the following question. I don’t know if I captured my concerns fully but I did my best.

Mr. McIver, with your reputation as “Dr. No and your declaration that you can work with HALF of the council”, how do you convince me and other undecided voters, you are not a “bull in a china shop” and can work with every aldermen for ALL Calgarians?

To me, whether Mr. McIver has the abilities to lead (not dictate) and work cooperatively with the full council is very important. Tactically getting the required seven votes plus his vote to pass motions and consistently ignoring other aldermen’s (and people in their wards) concerns are totally unacceptable to me.

Here is a video of  Ric‘s respond to my question and other Q&As.

Mike McCourt

Mike McCourt, as expected, asked Ric some tough questions this morning (video). But most important to me, Mike did not cross the line this morning. The line that Mike has crossed in Barb Higgins vs. Mike McCourt.

Asking tough and insightful questions about policies, voting records, etc are fine and are marks of good journalists. Attacking someone in his/her face can be tough to decide its ill/good but at least the person is in the room to defend himself/herself. But attacking and insulting a volunteer NOT in the room as “screwup” and repeating the insult again today are unacceptable and actions unbecoming of someone calling himself/herself “journalist”.

Sitting at the anchor/interviewer desk, Mike needs to know the difference between attacking policies/issues and personal attack and insult.

I hope I’ve demonstrated what I demand from a good journalist in the above critique of Mike’s action yesterday. My critique is with respect to what Mike did, and not meant to insult Mike as a person. To Mike’s close friends and relatives, he may be a very nice person as I don’t have the pleasure to get to know Mike yet.

Call me old school, I like the “old days” when advocates from opposing sides can debate and argue to their best abilities but are able to go out for a beer/coffee/tea after the heated exchange. These kind of “gentlemanly” conduct seems to be sadly missing these days.

My thoughts and the democratic process

Sure, getting up before 6am to go downtown isn’t that fun but I feel it is very important to do my part to participate in the democratic process by asking Mr. Ric McIver a question that concerns me as an undecided voter in this tight mayoral election of 2010.

I hope my fellow Calgarians will take time to to read up on the candidates’ views, policies, and even watch their election ads (warning: these are ads after all (smile)) to get to know them better. In this tight three-way election, it may not be easy to find the “best” candidate, but

after using our heads to think and weight the policies, views, facts, etc.

and consulting our hearts and trusting our own intuitions of who is best suited to lead our city,

lets cast our sacred votes and select a mayor on Monday Oct 18th.

P.S. This morning was cool but not cold. As I finish this article, the city is now covered in snow. I hope with the arrival of this dump of snow, Calgary voters will have cooler heads when we go to vote on Monday Oct 18th. If the recent polls are any good, we will have a tight mayoral race. (Watch BT mayoral candidates segments online)

After the election, I hope the supporters of all the candidates can work together to make Calgary a better city that we can all be proud of. Remember to hold our politicians accountable. Call them up. Write letters. Tweet. Facebook. Just hold them accountable.

P.P.S. I want to thank all mayoral and alderman candidates who run in this election. It is not easy to be under constant scrutiny, questions, and challenges. To me, having multiple candidates running and competing with their ideas, policies, and solutions in an election is the only way to ensure the functioning of our democratic process, otherwise the process will fail miserably.

May whoever become mayor on Monday Oct 18th has the wisdom and abilities to work hard for all Calgarians, not just the people who supported them in this tight election.

Calgary election 2010 TV news polls (what the heck is self-selection bias?)

Thursday, 14 October, 2010

Oct 18th 10:14pm update: Live Blog: 2010 Calgary mayoral election (Naheed Nenshi, Ric McIver, Barb Higgins)


I usually just ignore TV news programs’ online polls. But when I saw a TV show this morning publishing their own online poll results of the 2010 Calgary voters’ preferences for mayor, I decided enough is enough. I have to write something about TV news polls in general.

Why TV news polls are unreliable?

TV news polls ask their viewers to go online or call a number to register their views, and then they report these results as “news”. A lot of TV stations have done this so the disease is wide spread! :)

Sure, don’t get me wrong, these polls are nice tools to engage viewers and make them feel their voices are heard but they are also useless as a scientific and rigorous polling tool.

“Reliable polls” share one common criteria that is easy to appreciate. The individuals selected for the polls have to be fair, that is everyone has to have the same “chance” of being selected, in other words “random” (a geeky explanation at wikipedia). And TV news polls, by its nature, suffer from self-selection bias. What the heck is self-selection bias? Here is a simple explanation, any poll you can volunteer yourself and get your friends to vote is not “fair” because we can “stack the deck”. Here is better and more rigorous explanation,

“In statisticsself-selection bias arises in any situation in which individuals select themselves into a group, causing a biased sample with nonprobability sampling.”

So I hope I managed to shine some light on the unreliability of TV news polls.

Note: Polls done by large polling firms are usually done in a more rigorous manner. But it never hurts to, once in a while, question the methodology of the polls and try to find out the questions being asked and the conclusions being drawn from the questions. Think for yourself and don’t blindly trust.

Searching for next Calgary mayor – 2 movie clips – Vote on Oct 18th, 2010

Sunday, 10 October, 2010

After a wonderful dinner with a friend tonight, we started talking about some of the Calgary mayoral candidates, Calgary politics and bureaucratic inefficiencies. Some further reflection got me thinking about two movies and a movie quote I love. Let me share the quote with you here.

“[addressing the Congress] Napoleon once said when asked to explain the lack of great statesmen in the world, that “to get power you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power, you need to show true greatness.” Such pettiness and greatness are rarely found in one person.” – The character President Jackson Evans said in The Contender (2000) [HT imdb memorable quotes]

In the imaginary world of movies and fictions, we know the “truth”, can make the “right” decision, and can aspire to achieve the moral absolutes.

In real life, as responsible citizens and Calgarians, we can only do our best by researching, reading, and getting to know the candidates in order to do our best to pick a candidate that we see can best represent and lead Calgary as our next mayor.

The following are from two American movies but I think they contain some universal truth and lessons that may be good for us to keep in our mind. If nothing else, I think they are good movies and the scenes are great.

Remember to cast your votes on the Oct 18th, 201o Calgary municipal election for Calgary mayor, alderman for your ward, and school trustee.

A clip from The Contender.

A clip from The American President.

Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), Winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2010

Friday, 8 October, 2010

Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), Winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2010

I had dared not to dream of this morning’s announcement but it is finally true.

Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) has been announced as the winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2010 “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”.

The quest for Chinese democracy is truly a long struggle (山長水遠的鬥爭). Because of Mr. Liu‘s ill health for being locked in Chinese prison for so many years, it is important for citizens and governments of the world to demand Mr. Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) to be released from prison now.

Chinese Dissident Wins Nobel Peace Prize, Associated Press

Nobel-Winner Xiaobo ‘Stuck to His Guns’ on China’s Political Reform“, PBS News Hour

Fighting for freedom in China, Al Jazeera English

News from around the world:

– Chinese dissident wins Nobel Peace Prize – Recipient denounced as ‘a criminal’ by China, CBC News with video

– “Liu Xiaobo Nobel win prompts Chinese fury – Chinese authorities say awarding peace prize to ‘criminal’ will hurt relations with Norway“, Guardian UK (with video report and phone interview from China)

– “Liu Xiaobo receives the 2010 Nobel peace prize“, Guardian UK posted a series of beautiful photos

– Wife of Chinese dissident ‘swept over’ by Nobel prize win, Toronto Star

– Here is an earlier article/interview “Chinese dissident tipped for Nobel Peace Prize“, published three days ago on Oct 5th, showing a bit of Canadian involvement and inspiration that is worth quoting here (emphasis added),

“But recently, Liu Xia revealed, she has taken some strength from words by Canadian author Margaret Atwood.

Writing to friends in Hong Kong last month to thank them for supporting her husband, Liu Xia cited words from a speech that Atwood delivered in April on receiving an award from PEN America, an organization that works to defend free expression.

Atwood spoke of how silence and secrecy allow the worst horrors to breed,” she said, “and how sooner or later the hidden stories in a society have to come out.

Atwood then went on to say, ‘The messengers in such cases are seldom welcome — yet they are necessary and must be protected.’

“Of course,” said Liu Xia, “my husband is one of those messengers.”

And yet his winning a Nobel Peace Prize is one message the Chinese government doesn’t want to hear.

In fact, last summer the Chinese government sent an envoy to Norway to directly threaten the Nobel Committee if it dared to give the award to a Chinese dissident.

– Nobel Peace Prize awarded to China dissident Liu Xiaobo, BBC with video

– “China blanks Nobel Peace prize searches“, CNN

– China’s Silent Peace Prize, Wall Street Journal. Here is an excerpt with emphasis added,

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Friday it awarded the peace prize to imprisoned Chinese pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo for his fight for human rights in China, but there is no mention of it in Chinese media. Access to news segments broadcast on CNN and BBC International, normally available, have been blocked by government censors, aiming to thwart widespread knowledge of the prize.

China’s Web censors have deleted chatter from Liu’s colleagues, as well as China’s intellectuals and elite, that began to spread on China’s blogs and message boards only minutes after the news broke. On Sina, personal comments that referred to Liu as LXB or Liu Liu, avoiding his full name, disappeared an hour after having been posted. Remarks that said, “He won,” are no longer visible.”

– China calls Nobel decision ‘blasphemy’; West praises it, CNN

– “Nobel Peace Prize for Dissident Liu Has China Warning Norway on Relations“, Bloomberg

Ads of leading Calgary mayoral candidates (Barb Higgins, Ric McIver, Naheed Nenshi)

Thursday, 7 October, 2010

Because I think the 2010 mayoral/municipal election is very important and as a public service to my fellow Calgarians, I took the initiative to find one YouTube campaign promotional clip from each of the leading mayoral candidates’s YouTube channel (Twitter: Barb Higgins, Ric McIver, Naheed Nenshi) and post them here.

By the way, the mayoral/municipal voting rates in the last few elections have been dismal (2007: 33% of eligible voters, 2004: 20% of eligible voters). So please exercise your democratic right and duty to vote on Oct 18th election. Check out the 2010 official Calgary election site for more advanced polling and election day information.

In search of next Calgary mayor (Southcentre mayoral forum)

Thursday, 7 October, 2010

Why is this election so important?

The last three elected mayors of Calgary (KleinDuerrBronconnier) held 9, 12, and 9 years terms respectively. And mayor Klein later became the 12th premier of Alberta for 14 years! So it is very likely that whoever get elected as mayor will be our mayor for some years to come and change the lives of Calgarians positively or negatively. He/she may even lead the province one day.

Casting an informed vote

I believe it is important to be a responsible citizen and cast my vote in an informed manner and not based on sound bites or headlines. To help me decide which candidate deserve my vote as Calgary’s next mayor in the Oct 8th municipal election, I have been reading & watching some of the election news. And I took time to attend my first Calgary mayoral forum at Southcentre mall last night to see and listen to the candidates talked about their policies and their plans for the city.

While I am not committed to any one candidate enough to go to the advanced polling station and make my decision now, I now have more insights of what the candidates stand for and believe. And I feel I can make a more informed decision when casting my vote.

Our democratic system only works if lots and lots of Calgarians come out to vote. The voting rates in the last few elections have been dismal. So please exercise your democratic right and duty to vote on Oct 18th. Check out the 2010 official Calgary election site for more advanced polling and election day information.

Photos and video clips of the 2010 mayoral candidates

(L to R) Naheed Nenshi, Barb Higgins, Bob Hawkesworth at Southcentre mayoral forum

2010 Calgary Mayoral forum candidates (Barb Higgins, Ric McIver, Naheed Nenshi) Clip 1 @ Southcentre

2010 Calgary Mayoral forum candidates (Craig Burrows, Bob Hawkesworth, Wayne Stewart) Clip 2 @ Southcentre

2010 Calgary Mayoral forum candidates (Joe Connelly, Bonnie Devine, Jon Lord) Clip 3 @ Southcentre

Barb Higgins – 2010 Calgary Mayoral forum candidates Clip 4 @ Southcentre

Naheed Nenshi – 2010 Calgary Mayoral forum candidates Clip 5 @ Southcentre

Ric McIver – 2010 Calgary Mayoral forum candidates Clip 6 @ Southcentre

More photos:

Barb Higgins (L) at Southcentre mayoral forum

Ric McIver (L) at Southcentre mayoral forum

(L to R) Naheed Nenshi, Ric McIver, Jon Lord, Barb Higgins at Southcentre mayoral forum

2010 Calgary mayoral/municipal election – A brief note

Thursday, 7 October, 2010

Calgarians at Southcentre mayoral forumCBC at Southcentre mayoral forum

Whether I agree with the 2010 Calgary mayoral or aldermen candidates’ views and policies or not, I commend them in spending their time, money, and energy to run in the Oct 8th, 2010 Calgary municipal election.

To keep our municipal democracy alive and healthy, it is important to have different candidates with different views participating. Sure, it is easy to be cynical to think some of the candidates want the jobs because of their ego or love of power but unless and until the cynics standup and run in an election, the candidates who are willing to run are what we have.

Now, I attended the mayoral forum at Southcentre mall, here is an introductory clip of the event. By the way, it is cool to see Southcentre donated the space and CBC aired the event.

P.S. I will be posting more of my thoughts and video clips of the Southcentre mayoral forum.

2010 Nobel Prizes in Medicine and Physics

Tuesday, 5 October, 2010

The following are the 2010 Nobel Prize winners announcements for Medicine (Robert G. Edwards – “for the development of in vitro fertilization”) (news from CBC) and Physics (Andre Geim, Konstantin Novoselov – “for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene”) (news from CBC).

More news related to the Physics prize.

University of Manchester scientists win the Nobel Prize for Physics“, University of Manchester (include interview with Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov)

Why Graphene Won Scientists the Nobel Prize“, Wired Magazine

Andre Geim: Why graphene is the stuff of the future“, New Scientist

Physics: Nobel Prize discovery was fished from the trash“, USA Today

How sticky tape trick led to Nobel Prize“, BBC

U. Manchester’s Andre Geim: Sticking with Graphene“, Science Watch 2008 interview

SW: Graphene seems to be just one particularly extraordinary example of a long line of unique discoveries in your research. How would you characterize your research style?

It is rather unusual, I have to say. I do not dig deep—I graze shallow. So ever since I was a postdoc, I would go into a different subject every five years or so. Every time I took a different university position, I would change subjects. I don’t want to carry on studying the same thing from cradle to grave. Sometimes I joke that I am not interested in doing re-search, only search. There have been a few hits, like graphene and levitating frogs and gecko tape. When I moved from Holland to the University of Manchester, it was a good time to try new subjects, and one of the things that came out of it was gecko tape and another was graphene, and a third involved domain walls in magnetic structures. Graphene certainly turned out to be the biggest hit, scientifically the most important. Even though gecko tape is very popular these days, we had to completely abandon it. Graphene turned out to be much, much more important than anything else.

SW: Is there a common theme to your research strategies?

The common theme is to use experimental facilities that are available and to see what we can do—what other people haven’t done previously. I’m looking for an unexplored area of research, based on a combination of knowledge and facilities. I’m not trying to reach some theoretical goal set forth by someone else. It’s like this kids’ toy, Lego. You have all these different pieces, cubes and stuff, and you have to build something based strictly on what pieces you’ve got. So in research, some of the Lego pieces are facilities, some are random knowledge, and we try to build up something new from that. I guess we could call it the “Lego Doctrine.”

Silicon Chips May Have Quite A Bright Future, Says Nobel Prize Winner“, Forbes blog

The 2010 Nobel prizes: Physics“, The Economist Blog

More on Medicine Prize.

The 2010 Nobel prizes: Medicine“, The Economist Blog

TIFF Fairy – 2010 Toronto International Film Festival

Wednesday, 1 September, 2010

TIFF Fairy (2010)

Thanks to my TIFF Fairy, I’ve just received my 2010 TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) t-shirt and program book, and other goodies.

Thank you my dear TIFF Fairy!

P.S. See my 2009 TIFF Fairy entry for links to two TIFF filmmakers’ interviews.

2010 CIFF Picks: Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie

Saturday, 28 August, 2010

2010 Calgary International Film Festival (Full Film Listing & Schedule)

Here is my first 2010 CIFF Picks.

Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie (CIFF screen time) is one cool movie at the 2010 CIFF and kicking off the 2010/2011 season of Doc Soup. Check out the 6 “Force of Nature” clips at NFB. As a sushi lover, watching clip 6 “Bluefin Tuna Auction” really made me think. (On a personal note, it was great seeing Suzuki in person for the second time at the 2010 Banff World TV Festival talking about another great documentary “The Cove”.)


Sept 24 update:

Here is an article and interview from Calgary Herald “Warning from an elder”.

GM Test Drive @ 2010 Calgary Stampede & iPad survey

Thursday, 15 July, 2010

Camaro - GM Test Drive @ 2010 Calgary Stampede

GM Test Drive @ 2010 Calgary Stampede

At the 2010 Calgary Stampede, I surprised myself by test driving the latest GM Cadillac SRX. My better half wanted to see how it feels like to ride in a Cadillac (more on our drive later) plus it didn’t hurt that we got a pair of Stampede Grandstand Show tickets for free for test driving.

Free Grandstand show  - GM Test Drive @ 2010 Calgary Stampede

The test drive slightly improved our opinion of GM/Cadillac but, in our case, not enough for us to want to consider it when it is time to buy our next car.

After the test drive, I walked up to talk to Gord from the Toronto-based Automative Driving Solutions (Gord was one of the guys who helped started the GM test drive programs 5 years ago (Mall Tours and CNE Test drives). As Gord put it, the purpose of the test drive program is to put “bums on the seats”. And a 5% conversion rate from test drives to buying the vehicles later is pretty good.

After the test drive, we had to fill in a survey on an iPad to get our free show tickets. While there are things that I don’t like about the iPad (missing front and back cameras, Apps Store limitations, etc), I think a bunch of wirelessly connected iPads is a simple and powerful solution to collect customer survey data. They are so slick, thin and light so you don’t even need a table if you want to do survey on the street.

iPad survey - GM Test Drive @ 2010 Calgary Stampede - pix 1iPad survey - GM Test Drive @ 2010 Calgary Stampede - pix 2
iPad survey - GM Test Drive @ 2010 Calgary Stampede - pix 4iPad survey - GM Test Drive @ 2010 Calgary Stampede - pix 5

Acrobatic Ice Show @ 2010 Calgary Stampede is a Must See!

Tuesday, 13 July, 2010

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (2010 Olympic Champions & World Champions) performing "The Goose" @ 2010 Calgary Stampede

Elvis Stojko & Gladys Orozco @ 2010 Calgary Stampede

The Acrobatic Ice Show @ 2010 Calgary Stampede is a MUST see (and it is free with your admission)! The show features stars like Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (2010 Olympic Champions & World Champions), Elvis Stojko (Canadian figure skating world champion), Gladys Orozco (Mexican Figure Skating Champion) (note: Elvis & Gladys got married on June 20th, 2010, and Calgary Stampede shows are their first as a married couple) and many other amazing acrobatic acts and rock ‘n roll!

The following is a  brief video highlighting some of the cool things you will see. But go check out the Acrobatic Ice Show @ 2010 Calgary Stampede in person as you can’t beat the price of admission: Free with your Calgary Stampede admission!

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