Olympics: Post a Day

9 02 2010

Theme: Olympics in my home town.
Concept: Post a day until Olympics go away. (I’m actually very excited, just it rhymed and I couldn’t resist).

I have 2 tickets to 9 events (10 events if you count tomorrows Opening Ceremony dress rehearsal).

I doubt I have enough tickets to accommodate everyone I know that wants to see an event.

I saw the Olympic torch in my town (New Westminster) and while on the road for work (Vernon).

I grew up here.

I think regardless of what you think about the Olympics, it is coming. You can seize the moment, and find joy in one of the very few times we can be united as a country — indeed, as humanity. It’s the largest gathering of mankind. Or you can complain about it. Either way, it’s here.

I booked two weeks holiday off for the Olympics over a year ago. This confused the accounting department for vacation requests outside of a fiscal year.

I am volunteering at the Paralympics at the Sledge Hockey. 13 days, 10 hours a day, over a 16 day period. This does not include the training day in this period.

I’ve spent a lot of time on a variety of websites trying to get the low down on music and cultural events. Many of these websites suck.

I am lucky to find blogs and websites through twitter that provide great Olympic information.

I am super excited – it brings back a lot of childhood memories of Expo ’86.

I bid on every single Men’s Olympic Hockey Game in the hope of seeing the Canadian Team. Zero tickets. But I get to see Latvia play Germany.

I did win tickets for two Team Sweden games. I think this may the closest I ever get to see Canucks win something of importance.

I mentioned I am volunteering 13 days for Sledge hockey. Also, zero Canadian team opportunities.

I have tickets to two events at Cypress. One is Men’s medal for Aerials.

I have found everyone has an opinion on the Olympics.

I prefer to seek joy. I think you should too.

I am Canadian.

I’ll see you soon.

Okanagan travels with a closed road

4 11 2008

I have two distance classroom in BC – the Footprints Centre in Penticton and Independent Living Vernon in, um, Vernon.  Trick this time is, the main highway is connecting the two is closed along the way. 

A part of the highway was being widened, which was completely unnecessary, I have never hit slow traffic at that area until the construction started.   The moutain above the widening suddenly has a 100 metre fault that goes 9 metres deep, in the rock just above the highway.   The crack is so big a goat fell in.  Now the road is closed.  You can do a three hour detour on surrounding highways, or a more direct, mainly unmarked, series of logging roads.  Option C, the water taxi, doesn’t go all the way to Vernon.

It’s a funny reaction locals give you when you say you’re going to try it… what do they know that I don’t?  Halfway along, when I hit the snow line on a one lane road with no rail safety, I start thinking “This might have been very stupid.”  But then, going the other way comes a guy on a motorbike.  And not a “moutain dirt bike”, it’s one of those rocket street speed bikes.  So if he survived, how bad can it be?

Neat drive, especially as a part of the drive is where there were forest fires in 2002, so you’re driving through a bit of a graveyard forest.


Thursday should be interesting, I’ll have to do it in the morning to get to the Vernon grad, and then again in the afternoon back to Penticton to make a project wrap-up advisory committee. 

Innovative Professor & Closing the Gap Conferences

26 10 2008

I took the summer off from blogging, and have been a bit slow to get started. 

I recently gave the Keynote speech and a breakout session at the “Innovative Professor” conference in Teneessee.  Very cool conference with a lot of Web 2.0 technologies and energy.  From there, I went to the “Closing the Gap” conferenence in Minneapolis and presented with Steve Kann, VP of Engineering at Wimba.  Never been to either before, but like a lot of conferences, it was great for the people you meet and the sharing of resources.  Here are my top take aways:

1.   Utter Command – Voice Commands for Dragon for better Windows interface use. UC commands work across all programs. No matter what programs you use, you’ll be able to do everything by speech that you can using the keyboard and mouse, usually faster.” http://www.redstartsystems.com/uctasktours.html#contents


2.  Scale Liberated Learning –  Chattanooga State is interested in using the ViaScribe Wimba bridge web in their classes – http://www.liberatedlearning.com


3.  TobiiATI – has ran technology programs for people with ALS http://www.tobii.com  


4.     Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (Learning 2.0) – http://www.c4lpt.co.uk


5.      Web 2.0 Directory – http://www.go2web20.net


6.      Assistive Technology Social Network – http://assistivetech.ning.com


7.      Sign Smith – Takes text and makes sign language with computer avatar (And my mind leaps to taking my speech output-into-text, then into Sign Smith!) http://www.vcom3d.com/index.php?id=signsmith_vault


8.      Open Source Assistive Technology – http://www.oatsoft.org

On the flip side, after seeing a half day of Second Life for Education, I am not sold.  Seems like a very engaging environment, but there is so much going on and such a steep learning curve, I can’t see it scaling across a lot of users.  Plus, the computer and network minimum requirements seem to be very high, as not more than three of us could get in at a time.




Great Northern Adventure

12 07 2008

I am leaving today for Whitehorse and Yellowknife.  In both communities, I’ll be taking my full bag of programs – Seniors technology mentoring, career and computer skills for people with disabilities, peer programming for Aboriginals with disabilitis, etc etc.  I’m really looking forward to seeing the beautiful North with nearly 18 hours of sunlight, and learning about the community and services.

Eastern Canadian City – Halifax

1 06 2008

Just home from Halifax, which was great.  Was there on the Liberated Learning project, which uses speech recognition technology to imporve the access to information.  It was my first time to Halifax, and it’s an energic little town with a ton of live music and energy (most likely fueled by the numerous universities in the area).

Also had a chance to see a lot of the local sites, including the Citadel, the Alexander Keith’s Brewery (those who like it, like it a lot), walk the waterfront, and have a few pints in a few bars.  Best day was probably the Friday, as I went with Phil from Dalhousie out to the Bay of Fundy, and then that night saw The Sadies play forever.  They rocked the place hard with nearly 3 hours of surf guitar bluegrass foot stomping madness!  Absolutely loved it – exciting technology evolution and a cool city to do it in. 

Cue the numerous tourist photos (group shot is the Liberated Learning project partners from Saint Mary’s University, IBM, Canadian Hard of Hearing Assosication, Learning Disability Association of Canada, and of course, Neil Squire Society).


Western Canadian City – Victoria

26 05 2008

Today was Victoria, the Western major city in Canada on my trip, and the Capital of BC.  Took the seaplane (a first!) over this morning, taught class online from the hotel lobby from 10 – noon, and presented at the BCANDS conference 1 – 2.  This presentation was centered about our work with the Penticton Indian Band.  From there, I could kick back and enjoy the other speakers and Aboriginal community leaders, including Grand Chief Ed John.  Had a pint in a pub up the corner to watch Detriot go 2 up on Pittsburg, and then returned for the big dinner.  It was capped off with Native songs, and then a local 16 piece band (the Midnight somethings, with 7 female singers).

Snuck out after a bit and took a walk along the Victoria waterfront, snapping tourist photos as I went.  At 10 PM PDT, I scrubbed my neck with the water from the Victoria harbour – the clock is running til I can do the same in Halifax! 

Coast to Coast – Victoria to Halifax and back in one week.

24 05 2008

Next week will be a cool one, but a lot of flying.  I’ll be in Victoria Monday and Tuesday for the BCANDS conference – BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society.  I’ll be speaking about Neil Squire’s parntership with the Penticton Indian Band, and the services we’ve offered: primarily Employ-Abiltiy and our new Community Navigator program.

I then fly to Halifax, to attend the Liberated Learning meeting, a multimedia accessibilty and speech recognition technology project.  The new software provided through IBM takes pre-recorded media and transcribes the text at ~90% with no voice profile training.  It’s truely remarkable, and I get pretty excited about it’s applications for people with hearing loss, meeting learning styles, and literacy applications.

I take a sea-plane Monday morning, and get back home at Vancouver airport on Friday night.  Time to load up the iPod with tunes and video for a lot of flying.

Personal goal – get my feet wet in both the Pacific and the Atlantic ocean in the smallest time window possilbe.