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Friday, October 14, 2005

  • Three halls packed to hear Gates
  • 'Waterloo stands out,' visitor says
  • Grad students defend their theses
  • More in the middle of Oktoberfest
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

National Science and Technology Week


[No apples]

Apple temptation carries a danger

David Morris, a PhD student in the geography department, reports that "My office has one of the best views on campus -- I am on the second floor of ES2 overlooking the park along Laurel Creek. As almost everyone knows on campus, this park is almost always full of ducks and Canada geese. They particularly like to forage around under a large apple tree across from ES2.

"Today, however, a disturbance among the ducks alerted me to two women and a toddler collecting large bags of windfallen apples. They were also eating these apples without washing them. While I am neither an epidemiologist nor an avian biologist, as an ecologist, I am aware that ducks and geese in urban parklands are common carriers of salmonella (see, for example, Fallacara, et al. 2001)."

He warns of the potential health hazard of eating windfall apples "without thoroughly washing them".

Three halls packed to hear Gates

Two thousand students listened attentively yesterday morning as Bill Gates talked about how the world got to the present state of technology -- and how the most exciting things lie just ahead.

The Humanities Theatre, which seats 700, was filled with listeners who had managed to get the coveted tickets to hear the Microsoft founder, computing guru and reputed "richest man in the world". Just as rapt was an audience of several hundred more who covered the floor in the Student Life Centre great hall to hear the talk (and see Gates's videos) on a specially installed big screen.

And in the Davis Centre, hundreds more packed the lobby, while spectators lined the balconies on the second and third levels like birds crowding on a wire. Most were, in Gates's phrase, "avant-garde practitioners of the digital lifestyle." Among them: the blogger of Studentlifecentre.com, who posted a minute-by-minute report on Gates's talk and the audience reaction.

A webcast of yesterday's event is expected to be on the Microsoft web site today or Monday.

A relaxed-looking Gates, dressed in casual blue sweater, stood alone on the stage for most of the presentation, talking without notes about the original idea of Microsoft (programs that could run across many hardware configurations and platforms), the state of what's available now (Moore's Law continues to apply), and the likely future (computing becoming an almost invisible part of the environment).

Publicity for Gates visit

National Post

Globe and Mail

CTV

"He looked just like he did in 'The Simpsons'," one student joked later, "minus the jet-pack of course." Said another listener, political science student Nic Weber: "I was impressed with his cognizance of all facets of technology and his vision for integrating technology to solve everyday problems." An example? "Using tablets instead of carrying around 700-page books that cost students a thousand dollars a term."

Ryan Chen-Wing, a post-degree arts student, said the talk "was the right thing for the audience," and focused on an example Gates gave of what lies just ahead: "the Smart Table, how it scanned and projected information and interfaced with his mobile phone."

The audience loved a video clip that Gates showed about halfway through his talk, in which actor Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite gets some help from Microsoft (and Gates himself) in a business crisis.

Gates had made much the same speech to a student audience in Michigan on Wednesday. He also made the same skidding attempt to control a virtual racecar as he demonstrated graphics from the new Xbox 360, "which is coming out next month". He told his appreciative audience that the new device is "more than simply a game machine", with sophisticated abilities to manage music and video. Other stops on his current university tour are Wisconsin, Columbia, Princeton and Howard.

'Waterloo stands out,' visitor says

During a wide-ranging interview with members of the print media in the Humanities building yesterday, Gates praised UW several times as a university that is at the top in terms of talented people, recognition and acclaim.

He singled out the number of interesting "R&D collaborations" MS has with Waterloo, saying that "really stands out for us" as a positive arrangement. As well, he noted that year in and year out Waterloo is probably the top pool for people and talent that Microsoft dips into.

"In terms of scale, Waterloo stands out on a global basis," he said. "There are many years Waterloo is the number one place we hire from in the world," he went on, and it's always in the "top five" of places that Microsoft comes to for talent. He again lauded the co-op program as worthy of special praise, and wondered aloud why other institutions don't follow the same model because his company can hire top students year-round under the Waterloo system.

Responding to a question about whether there might be a shortage of jobs in the software engineering industry, he observed that "the people who come out of Waterloo with their software training will have lots of job offers."

Someone asked what he thought of Mike Lazaridis, co-founder of Research In Motion and UW's chancellor, whom he had met for the first time earlier in the day. Gates said he was very impressed with the Waterloo man, describing Lazaridis as having tremendous vision for the research development he supports, and adding that he is "very impressed with his generosity to Waterloo." Asked about a business issue for Microsoft -- whether RIM, maker of the popular BlackBerry, has an "insurmountable lead in the wireless handheld devices" field -- Gates simply stated that in his thinking, "the field is open . . . we're in the field and will do the best we can."

On new trends in technology, he underscored how the Internet will replace "physical media" like CD players, as the source for people's entertainment. "Video is about five years behind" music in adapting to the web, he said.

On alliances with other companies, he gently poked fun at some companies making announcements and holding press conferences once every three months a if they were on some sort of quota to announce deals with each other. But "some alliances are mostly rhetoric" and maybe 10 per cent of them are a "really big deal." He talked about Microsoft's alliance with Yahoo, which he said was not so much an alliance an "inter-adaptability enablement."

Are people in general are growing "technology weary"? He noted that whenever there is a new Microsoft launch, the products tend to fly off the shelves.

Was he happy that some of the attention is no longer on lawsuits that have hit the company in recent years? He said he's pleased the company has been able to focus more on what they do, create new technology, and that that is the "primary lens" through which people are now looking at Microsoft.

Gates also talked a bit about the world development work that interests him and his foundation. He is interested in several kinds of programs, including technology based ones such as the project that gives children in developing countries access to the world wide web. But also there's an intense interest in the health field, making medicines available to people who them them -- "the foundation is helping to fund that."

Grad students defend their theses

Here's the latest list of graduate students who have completed their theses and face the final hurdle in the doctoral program, the oral defence.

Psychology. Samantha Montes, "Psychological Contracts: Assessing Underlying Assumptions and Expanding Understanding." Supervisors. Greg Irving and Ramona Bobocel. On display in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Friday, October 21, 1:30 p.m., PAS building room 3026.

Psychology. Kathaleen Yurchesyn, "Sex and Violence Revisited." Supervisor, Al Cheyne. On display in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Tuesday, October 25, 9 a.m., Environmental Studies I room 221.

Mechanical engineering. Shohel Mahmud, "Inherently Irreversible Thermoacoustic Engines and Refrigerators." Supervisor, R. Fraser. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Monday, October 31, 1:30 p.m., Engineering III room 4117.

Psychology. Shannon Gifford, "Social Anxiety and Conversational Politeness." Supervisor, Erik Woody. On display in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Thursday, November 3, 1 p.m., PAS building room 3026.

Statistics and actuarial science. Rinku Sutradhar, "Statistical Inference for Multivariate Event History Data under Incomplete Observation." Supervisors, R. J. Cook and J. D. Kalbfleisch. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Monday, November 7, 9:30 a.m., Math and Computer room 5158.

Systems design engineering. Andrew Michael Hamilton-Wright, "Transparent Decision Support Using Statistical Evidence." Supervisor, D. Stashuk. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Friday, November 11, 9:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 2584.

Geography. Michael William Hitch, "Impact and Benefit Agreements and the Political Ecology of Mineral Development in Canada's Arctic." Supervisors, M. L. McAllister and B. Mitchell. On display in the faculty of environmental studies, ES1 335. Oral defence Tuesday, November 22, 1 p.m., Environmental Studies I room 221.

WHEN AND WHERE
Pizza lunch in support of the United Way campaign, 12:00 to 1:30, PAS room 2030, sponsored by sociology department.

Ultimate glow-in-the-dark tournament sponsored by campus recreation, 6:30, Columbia Fields.

EinsteinFest continues at Perimeter Institute: displays and exhibits daily, talks and concerts tonight, Saturday and Sunday, details online.

Warrior Weekend activities Friday and Saturday nights, including movies "Dukes of Hazzard" and "Fantastic Four" tonight, jazz and karaoke café Saturday, unlimited gaming at Campus Cove tonight, salsa lessons, drumming, UW Survivor, details online.

Hand drum making workshop Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m., St. Paul's College, information j2becker@uwaterloo.ca.

Tourism lecture series: Geoff Wall, department of geography, "China, the Rising Dragon of Global Tourism," Monday 9:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 105.

Internship Fair for the non-profit sector, Wednesday 11:00 to 2:00, Student Life Centre.

'Picking the Purrfect Pet' brown-bag talk by Elizabeth Bonkink, K-W Humane Society, Wednesday 12 noon, Physics room 150, sponsored by Employee Assistance Program.

More in the middle of Oktoberfest

After not quite two weeks of this year's United Way campaign on campus, pledges are at the 40 per cent mark, says Jonah Levine, manager for the campaign. The campaign is seeking to raise $165,000 on campus to help such agencies as Reaching Our Outdoor Friends, the Learning Disabilities Association and the Literacy Group. Today's a dress-down day for the campaign, and it's also the day that new faculty and staff donors to the campaign are entered in a draw for a $35 gift certificate from UW retail services. The big draw -- for "a day off with pay" or a $100 University Club certificate -- is scheduled for October 28 as the campaign winds up.

A province-wide television audience will have a chance to hear the mellifluous Michael Higgins, president of St. Jerome's University and professor of English and religious studies, this Saturday (with a repeat on Sunday). Higgins is among the finalists in TVOntario's "Best Lecturer Competition", and will get his turn as the second lecturer on this weekend's episode (1 p.m. both days on TVO). Title of Higgins's lecture is "Holiness: An Antidote to Evil". Two lecturers are appearing each week until November 5, and members of the audience are invited to vote by phone (866-281-3536) or online for the one they think is best. The winning lecturer's institution will receive a $10,000 scholarship sponsored by TD Meloche Monnex.

Saturday brings the Go Eng Girl event for girls in grades 7 to 10 (and their parents) in the faculty of engineering at UW and other Ontario universities. . . . Everybody's welcome to try out an impaired driving simulator from Waterloo Regional Police Services that will be in the Student Life Centre at noontime on Tuesday. . . . Undergraduate students' class enrolment appointments online, to choose winter term courses, begin Monday. . . .

Alumni from the faculty of arts are being invited to a special event Thursday night at Waterloo's Starlight Club: a reading by a number of alumni authors, including Carrie Snyder, George Elliott Clarke, Melanie Cameron, 2003 graduates Emily Anglin and Colin Vincent, and retired St. Jerome's University professor Eric McCormack. Tickets for the whole thing are $5, with advance reservations recommended.

[Rush] The badminton Warriors will make their first home appearance of the season when they host Toronto tomorrow morning in the Physical Activities Complex. Waterloo took the OUA gold medal last year, and silver in 2003, and "hopes are running high" for this year, says a season preview written by Leslie Haven for the athletics department. "Coach Andrew Ma is hopeful that they will defend their title," Haven writes, "even though several players will be graduating or will be away on co-op. . . . Consistency and defence will be stressed." The coach adds that the presence of fans makes a big difference to team members and "buoys their confidence".

Other sports this weekend: The women's hockey Warriors (above) host Laurier at 7:30 tonight at the Icefield, then visit Western tomorrow. Men's basketball vs. Simon Fraser tonight (7:00, PAC), vs. British Columbia on Sunday (2:00, PAC). Women's rugby vs. Guelph, Saturday 1:00, Columbia Field. Baseball at Brock tonight, Brock at UW tomorrow (1:00, Jack Couch Park), at Brock on Sunday if a third game is necessary in the OUA semi-finals.

Out-of-town sports: Women's basketball at a McGill tournament all weekend; cross-country at Queen's tomorrow; field hockey at London tomorrow to play Carleton and Western; football at McMaster tomorrow afternoon; golf at the OUA championships in London; men's hockey at Notre Dame (Indiana) tonight for an exhibition game; men's rugby at Carleton on Sunday; men's soccer at Laurier today (3:00) and at Western on Sunday; women's soccer at Western on Sunday; swimming at Niagara University (New York) tonight, at Guelph tomorrow; men's volleyball at a tournament in Guelph; women's volleyball at a tournament at York.

CAR


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