You are here

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Larry Smith offers no excuses today

This is an excerpt of an article that originally ran on the Waterloo Stories site.

Waterloo lecturer Larry Smith.For young people facing a competitive economy, it’s tempting to learn a skill and build a career around a “safe” job, rather than following their passion. But the “safe” route may actually be the risky one, according to a new book by Larry Smith called No Fears, No Excuses: What You Need to Do to Have a Great Career.

Smith is an adjunct associate professor with the Department of Economics and with the Conrad Centre at the University of Waterloo, whose Tedx Talk - Why you will fail to have a great career - has more than 4.8 million views. In his new book, Smith argues that young people who choose what they perceive as a safe career path, risk losing their job because they can’t compete with people who are passionately engaged in the field.

“I have not encountered a single student who had great skill who did not also have passion for the field of battle. Not one. And I say that after teaching 23,000 students. Passion’s link to innovative skill is clear. Passion brings an intensity of focus that effort, discipline, and persistence cannot match,” writes Smith in the book launched in April.

Today, the University of Waterloo will host a special event celebrating Smith's successful TEDx Talk, and book release and the accomplishments of Waterloo’s graduates. The event will include a candid conversation between Smith and Feridun Hamdullahpur.

Smith’s book is already receiving 5-star reviews on Amazon.com where it is being called “A provocative new approach to discovering your true calling in life and achieving not just a good career, but a great one.”

The sold-out event, which will be held at Federation Hall, can be watched on Facebook LIVE beginning at 4:00 p.m. today.

Read the original article on Waterloo Stories.

Giving complex keyboard shortcuts the finger

Researchers evaluate and demonstrate finger, hand, and posture identification as keyboard shortcuts. By detecting the hand and finger used to press a key, and open or closed hand postures, a key press can have multiple command mappings.

If you’re looking for a way to use a computer more efficiently, researchers at the University of Waterloo’s David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science may have a solution for you.

Master’s candidate Jingjie Zheng and Professor Daniel Vogel have recently filed a patent that would allow computer users to trigger different shortcut commands by pressing the same keyboard key with different fingers, hands, or hand postures.

“At its core, this provides a more nuanced way to press keys on a keyboard,” explained Vogel. “There has been a lot of excitement recently about controlling a computer with voice, touch and gestures. Our work revisits the lowly keyboard and demonstrates how it can be taught some new tricks.”

In a paper presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 34th annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2016), Zheng and Vogel, found that users can access more keyboard shortcut commands by using a built in computer vision algorithm that identifies fingers and hands on a keyboard captured by a built-in laptop camera and reflector.

These finger-aware shortcuts can help programmers, video editors, stock traders, architects, graphic designers, and those who use complicated programs for their work. They would immediately benefit from this kind of method to access program commands using a keyboard. This could also help PC gamers who are looking to increase the number of available commands.

An illustration of several types of finger command configurations.

“Our goal is to provide people with as many keyboard shortcuts as possible using just the keyboard that we use everyday. It’s a simple idea, but we found that people like it a lot,” said Zheng. “There’s been research looking at how physical modifications to the keyboard can offer more availability and expressivity, but there’s been one extra input dimension from your hands all the time!”

During their study, participants were shown the command and they were required to activate the corresponding keyboard shortcut after doing a text entry task or a trackpad pointing task. There was a cheat sheet that could be activated by the space key to help the participant memorize the mappings. The user error rate was 1.9 percent.

Space exploration: Where students learn-and how-is changing at Waterloo

Waterloo professor James Skidmore.

This is the latest in a series of #UWStratPlan stories that profile some of the initiatives that are part of the robust efforts to implement the Strategic Plan. 

Shoebox classroom, your time is up.

"We need to create a model that allows for a collaborative experience," James Skidmore says. "A place where students can discover they know more than they realize, have more to offer; a place where they determine to a large extent — with the guidance of professors — their educational path."

Skidmore is an associate professor in the University of Waterloo’s Department of German and Slavic Studies. He is also one of two teaching fellows in the Faculty of Arts. 

And he has a keen interest in how knowledge is shared and enjoyed. Traditional classrooms of cinder-block construction, bland painting schemes and desks bolted to the floor set his teeth on edge. They are not, he says, uplifting environments for the second-to-none education the University wants to deliver.

Creating outstanding learning spaces comes under the academic programming theme of the University’s strategic plan. Skidmore is a member of the Committee on Teaching and Learning Spaces, a group of 15 people — including students — which has set out to optimize conditions for study and scholarship at Waterloo.

"One of the things I’m hoping for,” Skidmore says, “is that in planning renovations of old classrooms and creating new classrooms, we create really flexible environments that can accommodate a variety of teaching and learning methods.”

Read the rest of the article on the Strategic Plan website.

Tuesday's notes

“What does the student union do for undergraduates at the University of Waterloo? Quite a bit, and there is a fantastic opportunity to learn more on May 17," writes Jacqueline Martinz. "The Federation of Students is hosting its Feds Open House from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre. Everyone is welcome! Undergraduates will be able to meet with full-time and part-time staff to learn about the student-run services, commercial services such as The Bombshelter Pub and Campus Bubble, advocacy efforts, UPASS, and much more. Participants will receive a free reusable cup to take home, and have the chance to enter to win one of two $50 AMEX gift cards. Free burgers from The Bombshelter Pub will be served to participants as well. More information is available online.”

The ION crossing behind East Side Mario's.ION-related travel disruptions continue this week, with Columbia Street closed between Phillip Street and Hagey Boulevard for construction work until Wednesday, May 18. Additionally, there will be a temporary disruption to the pedestrian crossing near East Side Mario’s in the plaza this afternoon for approximately one hour. Pedestrians will be detoured to University Avenue during this closure.

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will visit the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre at the University of Waterloo today. He will be in Waterloo to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Accelerator Centre (AC) of which he was a founding patron.

The Governor General will meet with students in the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program and speak to them about the importance of innovation, and their role as future leaders in Canada.

His Excellency was an early supporter of the Conrad Centre and helped nurture its growth during his tenure at Waterloo. His visit marks the first time he has returned to the Conrad Centre as Governor General. 

Link of the day

Rewind! Tape recording's 70th anniversary 

When and where

Waterloo Unlimited Grade 10 - Change, Sunday, May 15 to Thursday, May 19.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop, CTE601: Instructional Skills Workshop (24 hours), Monday, May 16 to Wednesday, May 18, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., EV1-241.

Student Leadership Program (SLP) workshops, Round 1 registration now open, Tuesday, May 17 to Friday, May 20.

Writing Centre workshop, "Say it in your own words: Paraphrase & summary," Tuesday, May 17, 10:30 a.m.

Federation of Students Open House, Tuesday, May 17, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Student Life Centre.

Accelerator Centre 10th Anniversary event, Tuesday, March 17, 12:00 p.m., Accelerator Centre.

Sabbaticals 101 with Nancy Matthews, Tuesday, May 17, noon to 1:00 p.m., MC5501 (formerly MC5158).  

Author Event with Professor Larry Smith - "No Fears No Excuses" book launch, Tuesday, May 17, 4:00 p.m., Federation Hall.

UWaterloo Blooms, Wednesday, May 18, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Multipurpose Room.

Résumé tips, Wednesday, May 18, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., TC 1208.

UWRC Book Club featuring Lori Lansens, “The Mountain Story,” Wednesday, May 18, 12:00 p.m., LIB 407.

Library workshop: Introduction to ArcGIS, Wednesday, May 18, 2:00 p.m., LIB 329.

Velocity Start and South Side Marketplace Grand Opening, Wednesday, May 18, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor.

Study Strategies, Wednesday, May 18, 3:00 p.m.

UW Retirees' Association AGM, Wednesday, May 18, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., University Club.

Velocity Start presents Find Your Kick A** Idea, Wednesday, May 18, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, South Campus Hall.

Caregiving for aging parents and other family members - Opportunities and unmet challenges, Thursday, May 19, 11:00 a.m., LHI 1621.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day celebration, Thursday, May 19, 11:45 a.m., Renison Atrium.

The Writing Centre presents Design and deliver: Practising presentation skills, Thursday, May 19, 1:30 p.m.

Mike Kirkup Farewell Celebration, Thursday, May 19, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Communitech Kitchen, 2nd floor, 151 Charles Street West, Kitchener.

Victoria Day holiday, Monday, May 23.

Waterloo Region MED TECH Bridging the Gap 2016 - Inaugural Meeting, Wednesday, May 25, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Grand River Hospital, Freeport Campus. Co-hosted by the Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology (CBB).

Belonging: Diversity, Community Capacity & Contribution - An Evening with The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Wednesday, May 25, 6:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Velocity Start presents What’s Your Problem?, Wednesday, May 25, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor.

You @ Waterloo Day, Saturday, May 28, various locations on campus.

Undergraduate School on Experimental Quantum Information Processing (USEQIP), Monday, May 30 to Friday, June 10, Quantum-Nano Centre.

Velocity Start presents Ain’t No Model Like A Business Model, Wednesday, June 1, 7:30 p.m.,, Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor.

English + Innovation celebration, Thursday, June 2, 5:30 p.m., Tannery Event Centre.

WISE Public Lecture Series: Towards Sustainable Development & a 'Green GDP', Tuesday, June 7, 10:30 a.m., CPH 4333.

Effective cover letters, Tuesday, June 7, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., TC 1208. 

Velocity Start presents Setup Your Business Like A Boss, Wednesday, June 8, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor. 

Research Seminar: Gerald McKinley, Western University, “Sydemics of Substance Use, Violence and Suicide: Public Health partnerships with First Nations Communities in Northern Ontario”, Tuesday, June 14, 10:30 a.m., Pharmacy 1008.

Velocity Start presents Do People Want Your Sh*t?, Wednesday, June 15, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor. 

Velocity Start presents How To Find Your Customers Online, Wednesday, June 22, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor. 

Research Seminar: Kathryn Mercer, Waterloo School of Pharmacy, “Connecting and engaging cancer patients in decision-making with physicians and pharmacists through electronic health records”, June 28, 10:30 a.m., Pharmacy 1008.

Velocity Start presents Pitch Like A Pro, Wednesday, June 29, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor. 

One click away