Category Archives: Academia

My Roomba and I have our 15 minutes of fame!

Today, one of my colleagues in the lab, Daniel, came up to me with a bewildered look on his face, not sure what to say. Finally, he tells me I am on one of his favourite blogs. I tell him, surely you have me confused with someone else.


Sure enough, there was my face on The Raw Feed. This was my project. It gets better, because there was more!

A link from this article lead me to MIT’s Information Review blog, which published a review of my project last Friday.


How did this happen? Last week, I attended the HRI 2009 Conference in San Diego, California where I presented my previously blogged first academic publication as a poster. Things went well at the conference! Don’t worry, pictures are coming soon from San Francisco, where I went for a few days before San Diego.

Now I was curious if there was any other coverage of my little Roomba project, so I searched around. I found myself on the front page of BotJunkie as well, a robot blog, with an amusing headline.


Later in the day, my project made its way onto Gizmodo, a rather popular blog that I read from time to time, with another rather amusing headline. The comments are also quite good.


As you can imagine, I’m quite excited at the response that my project received. Now I realize it might actually be my mood which causes my Roomba to develop an attitude and refuse to return to its home base, instead hiding out in the most remote place it can find.

UPDATE: My project has now also appeared on Ubergizmo, this time with a bit more mellow headline.


Based on Alexa and Technorati ratings, both Gizmodo and Ubergizmo are two of the most popular gadget blogs around.

UPDATE 2: My project has just appeared on Engadget. Woohoo! This article sheds light on my little comic.


My first academic publication

In the world of academia, especially higher academia beyond the under-graduate level, one measure of success is number of publications. Following my work from the first 4 months, I have my first publication, though getting this one wasn’t too difficult given the criteria. It is a late breaking abstract submission to the HRI 2009 conference in San Diego, California in March. This type of submission isn’t as prominent as others to the conference due to a generous acceptance rate, but still, it’s my first one!

For the first 4 months, I did some interesting work. I used the OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator to read brain waves muscle tension. Although some reviewers and my initial perceptions of this device led me to think I could use it for thought-based control, the reality was very different. At any rate, I was able to use input from this device to control an iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner.


Above appears the first page of 2 of my academic paper.

Speaking of academic publications, I am expecting to appear in a publication of a different kind. The UNB Saint John Computer Science is apparently going to use a picture of me in Europe in an upcoming brochure along with my testimonial about the Student Abroad program! I’ll update when I know more about this.

UNBSJ Series – Summer

This is my second post in my series about UNBSJ following my graduation on May 30th.

Irving Hall. This is where our grad class photo was taken! Within just hours, everyone had a printed copy of the photo. That’s a very quick turnaround if you ask me.

Ward Chipman Library in the distance. It’s hard to believe I will no longer be walking these paths as a student anymore!

Hazen Hall, where I spent the majority of my classes.

The St. John River. You may recognize this view from my last post in the winter.

Cool looking stairs.

One of my favourite photos from the campus!

That’s all for now. Check back soon.

UNBSJ Series – Winter

As of May 30th, I am now an alumnus of UNBSJ. In my next several posts, I will talk about my experiences at this university and share some of my previously unblogged photos. First, some general shots…

Now that the narrow yearly window of warm Canadian weather is upon us, no one wants to think about what winter is like. This past winter was the first time I really took many photos of the snow.

I loved how this shot of Oland Hall turned out with the beautiful snow left almost undisturbed.

The Ward Chipman Library building is perhaps one of the more iconic buildings of the campus, in my opinion, simply because it’s a focal point for students and it is one of the original buildings.

This is a pathway covered in snow leading to the campus from the hospital. This path no longer exists. It has been converted into a paved road connecting with the hospital parking lot to assist in the emergency room expansion. Good riddence too. This path looks fairly innocent, but it’s very difficult to climb in deep, icey snow.

The St. John River is beautiful at all times of the year. This shot closely mirrors one I took in the summer as well.

The back of the Ward Chipman Library building. I learned at the Alumni Toast event that this part of the building was once used as a cafeteria. This makes sense because there is a separate entrance to what is now the study lounge, and concrete slabs on the lawn that perhaps at one time held outdoor tables.

In my next post, I’ll switch seasons and talk about my favourite photos from the summer months!

We un-did a “done” deal

Although there’s still a lot of work to do, the Premier’s comments during Friday’s State of the Province Address were reassuring enough to mark a victory for UNBSJ. It was during this address that the Premier clarified that the University of New Brunswick in Saint John will remain the University of New Brunswick in Saint John with Liberal Arts programs, but also new programs in technical fields. In addition to this, the universities themselves will become responsible for organizing the necessary changes.

For me, it is great to know that all the rallie, letters, media coverage, and public uproar over this issue was enough to change the government’s direction, and prevent a major blow to this city and the province. Is everything good forever now? No, of course not. But at least the Premier is finally acknowledging the importance of the Saint John university and has now created an opportunity for UNBSJ to write a new chapter for itself. We must not become complacent and ignore what the government was originally considering. For now though, we can rest and celebrate.

Early on, I said that a “done” deal CAN be undone. We un-did a “done” deal. Too often, Saint Johners are perhaps too used to situations where government deals go through regardless of what the people want, but this is one notable exception for the history books.


History did repeat itself.

Photos published in UNB Alumni News

Two of my photos from the rallies to Save UNBSJ now have the distinction of being published in the UNB Alumni News, Winter 2008 Edition.


The rallies of support were the issue’s feature story. A picture of me at the first Saint John rally is used inside the main cover. I am holding a sign that says “Supporting Post Secondary CHOICE in Saint John”.


One of my favourite pictures from the provincial rally in Fredericton appears with the main article. No other photos were used for the article unfortunately due to space limitations.


Here is a larger version of the picture with its caption. If you want to read the full article, download the PDF from UNB’s web site.

UNBSJ keeping its spirits up

As originally reported by Miriam Jones, UNBSJ has unveiled a special Wall of Friends featuring printouts of signatures from the online petition. Why didn’t I think of this?


The large letters read “KEEP YOUR SPIRITS UP UNBSJ. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.” It was hard to take a good picture since the wall is so long, and this is only 1/3rd of all 3250+ signatures.

Contrary to what some believe, UNBSJ isn’t saved yet. Although the term “polytechnic” is off the table, the possibility of diminishing UNBSJ is still on the table. The fight is not over!