Daily Prompt: Study Abroad

Daily Prompt: Study Abroad.

Me Eating a Tiny Scorpion in Beijing

Me Eating a Tiny Scorpion in Beijing

I did actually study abroad in Hong Kong for five months. I would have stayed longer if I’d been able to. I stayed in residence and though I met some great people and had a lot of fun, I’d probably like to have my own place to live. I think I drove my roommate a little batty the last time, though we are still good friends, right Kristel?

If I could do it again, I’d do Japan. I’ve always loved the Asian countries and it’s definitely on my bucket list. I’d ride the trains, eat sushi as much as possible, train in the same martial arts that I do here and finally pick up the Japanese language.

I’d visit Mount Fuji and the shrine of the 47 Ronin. I’d travel to Naha, Osaka, Nagasaki and Okinawa. It would take me probably years to do it, but I’d do it all. Might still do it, just as a travel. But who knows what the future holds?



#FF Thomas George

Thomas is a student at Ryerson University in the Business Technology Management program. He’s not your typical student since he’s done more in the time I’ve known him than most professionals.

Through the co-op program, he’s worked for CIBC as well as StickerYou. He’s volunteered for the TO Tech Meetup and two of the three years of TEDxRyersonU. For the latest one, held this past Sunday, he was the curator. All this and he still has time to support the ITMSA.

I had the pleasure of meeting his parents at TEDxRyersonU and congratulated them both. I told them they should be very proud, because he is truly a gem. Any company that picks him up after graduation will be lucky to have him on board. I wish him luck in his studies and future endeavours. Whatever he does, it will be truly great. I can bet on it. Follow him @TommyGee.

Tommy George, BTM student at Ryerson University

Tommy George, BTM student at Ryerson University

#FF Jany Jang

Jany is another great student at Ryerson University in the Business Technology Management program. I push her pretty hard and try to be a good mentor to her, and she always rises to the occasion. I know I owe her a recommendation, so hopefully this will do the trick.

When I met Jany, she was on Women In ITM at Ryerson. The following year, she was President. We had lunch before the year started and she laid out for me all the things she wanted to achieve that year. I was in awe. I said, “You do realize that you have school work on top of this, right? This is a lot for someone doing this full time!” But she was ready for it. And did it she did. She has also been on TEDxRyersonUITMSA and is looking at yet another venture, all while still maintaining her studies. You’ll have to follow her to find out what comes next! Like Thomas, any company would do well to recruit her before she’s out of school. She’s not done yet! Find out what she’s up to @Jany_Jang

Jany Jang, BTM Student at Ryerson University

Jany Jang, BTM Student at Ryerson University

What was your favorite class in college?

What was your favorite class in college?

When I went back to university, one of the courses I had to take to get entrance to the degree program was an English course. I never enjoyed it when I was in high school, mainly because of the essays and I wasn’t a big fan of reading. Needless to day, I enjoy writing blog posts not only because I get to choose the topic, but it doesn’t have to be that long.

Watchmen by Alan Moore

Watchmen by Alan Moore

The first one that I took was called the Hero’s Journey. This is the first time I really learned how to properly write an essay. I actually read the books, including Dracula and many of the mythologies, such as Hercules. I enjoyed it so much that I took two more English classes during my degree and made it a point to take one whenever I could. I was actually ENJOYING English and reading!

The next one was Zap, Pow, Bang!: Popular Literature. How could I not take this course? We got to read comic books! Specifically, one of the best known graphic novels of all time: Watchmen. I knew that it was influential, but I never realized how deep it actually went. We also read The Maltese Falcon and From Russia With Love. Our group project: Comparing The Maltese Falcon to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” as a film noir. We of course got top marks for that one. It was definitely one of my favourites.

During my last year, I took one more. However, it wasn’t my first choice, nor my second choice. They eliminated both of those, one of which included Eastern Literature and I ended up with Science Fiction. Now this may surprise many people who know me, since I am a big geek when it comes to Science Fiction. But I’ve never been a big fan of the writing or reading of it. Give me a screen any day and I’ll watch “Firefly“, “Battlestar Galactica” and of course “Doctor Who” any day, all day. I have to admit, I wasn’t very fond of most of the novels required for the class, including Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Octavia Butler’s Kindred or H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. I appreciated them for what they were, but they weren’t a pleasant read for me. It felt more like high school all over again: reading stuff I didn’t want to read just to pass a class. But I am happy to say that this was the only piece in the course I didn’t like. There was plenty more! We got to watch “Ghost in the Shell” and “Bladerunner” as part of our studies, so there was some video thrown in which made my day.

William Gibson's Neuromancer

William Gibson’s Neuromancer

I did enjoy reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer, especially when I was told that it was what sparked the famous Role-Playing Game (RPG) “ShadowRun“. I actually found the audio book narrated by Gibson himself. Very interesting to say the least. One of the assignments was to do our own bit of creative writing (which I was terrible at in high school). But I actually enjoyed it too. Based on Neuromancer and a ShadowRun game that I used to play, I came up with the ending to a campaign that my GM never finished. And no, I never forgave him for that. At the time, he said that he figured everyone could do their own ending. So I did. It’s still not finished, but I completed the assignment and have actually created a blog on it. There I also describe the back ground to the story as well as a totally different storyline which I think I need to pick up again very soon. Check out ShadowShui here.

So thank you Ryerson University for renewing or rather starting my love of literature.

Unmarketing at Ryerson University

I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend a talk with Scott Stratten (aka Unmarketing) at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University (aka my alma mater). I made a point of getting my own copy of the book, Unmarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging that he could sign should I have the fortune of meeting him in person. I wrote about the book in a previous post here.

Me and Scott Stratten aka Unmarketing

Me and Scott Stratten aka Unmarketing

Some of the talk I recognized because they were topics that were brought up in the book, but it was better hearing him tell it instead of just reading it. He also had new material that I’m hoping will also be covered in his new book. He kept the crowd interested and engaged. Funny thing that he was talking about not feeding the trolls when in the Twitter stream that was going on (#unmarketingRU) a troll who happened to be in the audience kept throwing things in that were quite rude, including saying that Scott didn’t know what he was talking about and that attending this talk was a waste of time. Well, guess what, Dumbass? You just proved his point that people are more likely to bitch on Twitter than in person. He hid behind his PDA and yelled it virtually rather than standing up and telling us off himself. Moron.

A couple of the main points that I got from this talk:

  • Don’t put anything up on the web that you don’t want to see on a billboard
  • We are passive in person, aggressive online and CANADIAN!
  • Marketing doesn’t matter if the front line doesn’t buy into it
  • You can’t teach awesome
  • And the phrase: “For the life of Chuck Norris!”

One of the funniest stories he told was about a fellow co-worker who spent real money to buy a virtual chicken in Farmville on Facebook. Really??? “Give me back your man card.”

I had the pleasure of asking him a question first at the event regarding QR codes for business cards. I know how using these is a big pet peeve of his if not done correctly, so I figured I would get his opinion. I’ve used the code to go to my LinkedIn profile, then they made some changes to their site that prompted the person to install the app rather than just going to the mobile site. I then had it go to my About.me page, but not sure if it really does any good. I then found a website that will allow for a download of a vCard. You enter your information on the site, it encodes it and then allows the person to download the vCard right into their address book. This is something I could get used to. He did answer my question during the event and I was able to clarify why I was asking the question during the reception held after the talk. He suggested that the vCard idea is the best one of the three. I still have to figure out how to code my Twitter handle into a link on that card…

My Signed Copy of Unmarketing

My Signed Copy of Unmarketing

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come and speak to us Scott. It certainly wasn’t a lecture and you could have sold tickets and people would have come, not only for free. Oh, and by the way, there were some people trying to scalp tickets to get into the event. I feel sorry for the people that actually paid the money since it was a free event. I would have paid to see him speak. It was worth it and I look forward to more engagement and less marketing in future.

Change the end of any famous story, true or fiction


Change the end of any famous story, true or fiction. I just did a post last week about writing a book, so this is a bit of a follow up to that.


First edition paperback cover (Ace Science Fiction 1984)

Feng Shui Roleplaying Game

Feng Shui Roleplaying Game

I took an English course at Ryerson University in Science Fiction. I didn’t think I would enjoy it because it was my third choice. The other two didn’t have enough enrollment, so I settled for this class. Boy was I pleasantly surprised! We were charged with writing something creative in the style or based on one of the books that we read during the semester. I was inspired! A few years earlier, I’d been party to a role-playing game that we called “Shadow Shui”. It started out as a Shadow Run campaign, which is a cyber-punk style based on the William Gibson book, Neuromancer. Part way through, we changed the mechanics of the game to a system called “Feng Shui”, but continued the main story line, hence Shadow Shui.

Shadow Run Roleplaying Game

Shadow Run Roleplaying Game

This was one of, if not my favourite campaign. I loved my character and did my best to never miss a session. I even recorded everything in Excel spreadsheets to make sure I had everything at hand. We had to take a break from the campaign because some people’s schedules changed. We were almost finished and could have probably finished it during a long weekend. I bugged the game master to finish it for years. One day, I asked him again when we were going to finish it and another player who was standing beside us said, “Are you going to tell her?”. The game master decided not to finish it and let everyone write their own ending to the story. I was dumbfounded! He couldn’t do that! Well, he did or rather…didn’t.

This was my chance! The prof loved my proposal and off I went. Hence, Shadow Shui: The Story was born. I got a great mark on it and was truly interested in writing it. I joined a writer’s group at a local bookstore run by a friend of mine. After the store closed, I put up shadowshui.wordpress.com. I hope you will enjoy the story’s “end” since I hope to continue it further someday.

UPDATE: I’ve just realized the difficulty with my blog link. I’ve just corrected it. Sorry!

Have you ever considered writing a book? If so what kind?

Have you ever considered writing a book? If so what kind?

I actually have a separate blog dedicated to this very thing: shadowshui.wordpress.com

There are two different ideas that I present, both are science fiction:

1. Shadow Shui: This was a role-playing game that a bunch of friends and I played that never got finished. I used it as the basis for an assignment in a Science Fiction English course at Ryerson University. I even took this to a writer’s group that I joined at a friend’s local bookstore.

2. A sort of fan fiction related to a character in “Doctor Who”: Jenny. She was born his daughter and at the end of the episode flew off in a shuttle after the Doctor thinks she’s dead. She goes off in search of him, but we don’t know how much of his abilities she has taken on, so it opens a world of possibilities.

My Favourite Job Interview

I went for my first co-op position at a real estate firm as an IT Support Person. I went into Chris’s office where we talked about my resume, since I had a background in real estate.

To test my IT knowledge he asked a-matter-of-factly: “what does DHCP mean?”

“Dynamic Host Control Protocol” I replied. (and yes, I always got the “c” wrong. It should be “configuration”)

I was trying not to run on as I am prone to do, but he then asked: “And what does it do?”

“It’s what hands out IP addresses on a network from a centralised location.”

“Okay. I think you’re right. I’m a business guy myself, so I’m not sure, but I think you’re right.”

He hired me on the spot and I started that week and was there for a year and a half while in school until I went to Hong Kong on an exchange. Thanks Chris for making it so memorable.

My TTC Ride Today

Seems like a pretty enough title and usually my rides on “The Better Way” in Toronto are pretty uneventful and sometimes enjoyable. But I guess that’s because I always take the same route more or less. Today was not one of those days. I enjoyed the trips well enough, but maybe not the supporting processes (Spoken like a true ITM’er at TRSM)

I went through Finch Station on my way to an interview. I have to give credit to Trip Planner because so far, it has never failed me. The timings are pretty damn accurate, both with when the next vehicle will arrive and estimated time to arrival at the destination. It even gives me a couple of options. I will first say, that I thoroughly enjoyed the rides both there and back home today, especially with the wonderful weather.

There are definitely some improvements I would love to see happen with their planner. What if I don’t know exactly what street I’m on or which transit line I’m on. For example, I took one bus to get to my destination today, but figured I would walk to the other end of the building and get on the bus there since it was a nice day. Someone told me that I could catch one to a closer LRT station than the one planned out. Thought I would give it a try. What I would loved to have seen is how I can somehow plug in my GPS location on my phone to find out where I am AND how I can use this as my starting point and time to plan my trip most efficiently. This is helpful especially if I’m part way through my trip and need to change, because of a re-routing, for example. Just a thought with today’s access to Open Data and mash-ups. There has to be a way to take where I am now and figure out how to get where I’m going, much like Google Maps.

I had to get some tokens when I went back in to Finch Station. I was taking a bus into the station and leaving on another. The shelter there is pretty big and I’m sure that it would be very easy to install one or both of a token machine and metropass machine. I had to go down into the station and out by the turnstiles to purchase tokens. It doesn’t end there.

I had to purchase tokens from one of the two staff people on duty. There were no machines even on the outside of the paid area. I had to take a transfer (waste of paper), come around to one of the staffed booths and purchase them there. Imagine my surprise when I saw an interac machine there! Great, so I can hang onto my cash and use my interac card to purchase my tokens. “Oh, no” says the TTC employee, “cash only”. So I can use my interac card to buy my metropass, but not tokens, when it takes the same amount of time? Does that make sense to anyone else? Please enlighten me.

I hope that the Customer Service Advisory Panel takes a few of these things into account while they are renovating the Finch Station and their overall customer service. Here’s what putting one or both of these machines will do:

1. Saves customers time and energy because they can serve themselves while waiting for their bus rather than wasting time going to the main entrance and missing it.

2. Takes the onus of so many customers in a single area away and reduces the number of people waiting in line to get their purchase. There were always at least 3 in line at any given time.

3. By accepting Interac payments for all of their methods of payment for fares, it reduces the need to keep cash on hand at the booths and potentially reduces the security risks and loss with handling cash.

Some of these seem very simple, especially with the strides that the TTC has made in recent years and hopes to make in the coming years. All it takes is putting a couple of extra machines that you probably will buy anyway in a very strategic place that could potentially boost your sales and improve customer satisfaction. Just sayin’.

Blackboard version 9 – Grade Center

For those that have used Blackboard in earlier iterations, this would have been called the Grade Book. Now, in version 9, it is called Grade Center.

There are some serious improvements to this version. Up until this past summer, Ryerson was running on version 7.3. One of the big improvements is that you can edit grades right in the grade center by clicking into the cell that you want to change. It operates much more like Excel now, but depending on your connection, it can be slow to enter grades directly into this interface. It’s good for a mark or two, but I wouldn’t recommend entering an entire classful of grades through this interface. You’re better off downloading the grade center and then doing it in Excel.

Downloading the Grade Center is just as easy as before, and then some. One of the new features is something called Smart Views. This allows you to customize what you see in the Grade Center and can be based upon a query. Now here’s the great part: you can download the Smart View! So if I don’t want to download all of the test scores, and assignments, and…and…and, I can simply select the Smart View and download by Smart View. This gives me the records and columns that I want, nothing more. Obviously, I don’t recommend downloading this without things like Student name or number.

Let me give you a great case for this: You have a number of TA’s that are assisting with marking. At Ryerson, we divide our classes by section number. You could be taking ITM102 at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson along with 1500 other students. So how do you know which day you attend lectures and which day you attend your even smaller tutorials? By section number. Let’s say that one lecture has 500 students in it, but they all have different tutorials. The lecture section number could be 011 and the tutorial would be 012.  In the lecture you could have 12 different sections and 4 TA’s. You can set up a Smart View to have just the sections that a particular TA is responsible for (sections 011, 021, 031 and 041) which will list just those records and then have an assignment for which they are entering grades (10 mark assignment). Set up the Smart View by the TA’s name, and then they don’t enter anything they aren’t supposed to. Even better, you simply download that spreadsheet and send it to them. Have them fill in the blanks (with no formulas!) and then upload it back into the Grade Center.  If you download the column from the Grade Center and the TA fills in the blanks, the header of the column has a unique identifier that Blackboard will recognize when you upload it. During the upload, Blackboard will ask you which column to upload. Keep in mind, to upload back into the Grade Center, you need to save the .xls or .xlsx file as a .csv!

There’s your first lesson. How did you do? How did I do? Let me know and what you would like to know about Blackboard.