Now in Fuzhou

Many of the streets in this district of Fuzhou are lined with mature trees.

Many of the streets in this district of Fuzhou are lined with mature trees.

I arrived in Fuzhou, Fujian via Hong Kong a few days ago for a work opportunity, a change which has been in the works since November of last year. This has involved the longest, most convoluted hiring process I have ever heard of. I plan on writing something down about the whole on-boarding experience after it has reached some sort of conclusion. I haven’t actually started working yet, and won’t for another couple weeks as HR goes through the process of making everything legal. Why in my case this takes so long hasn’t been communicated to me.

Its bit of an adventure, one in which I thought I needed. It’s difficult to move to a strange country alone, start a new job, and make your way. I thought this might be one of my last chances for this kind of personal growth before we head back to the quiet of Prince Edward Island. Being away from family makes it much more difficult.

Arriving in any strange place the first order of business is shelter and food. The company took care of the shelter part, and I have set out to find something edible. An HR rep. did graciously treat me to lunch/dinner, after hearing I hadn’t eaten all day. It was a delicious meal of dumplings and winter melon soup.

I’m not fanatical about it but I do have a strict dietary regime, if in Prince Edward Island in summer one should eat Cows Ice Cream and go to Strawberry Socials. But I as a rule don’t eat processed foods, nor do I often eat bread, noodles, rice or deep fried things. I tend to eat simple whole foods make up of vegetables and meat, followed by my indulgence of too much fresh fruit. I love curries but generally like to recognise what I am eating.

Thanks to the news, before landing I had already formed an opinion of the food in China, it’s an overly simplistic view that much of the food here contains some kind of poison. I have towards Taiwan’s food a similar perception but to a lesser degree.

Of course, there is also what I can see with my own eyes. The quality of some of the food I have seen is not that great. The steak, well my initial impression is that I don’t think I’ll be eating any cheap beef anytime soon. So I have been very cautious when trying new things and it’s been difficult finding restaurants that serve food that fit my criteria.

I have had some luck. One of the La Veritas chain restaurants nearby has a salad bar, with lettuce and tomatoes comprising what I consider salad. Chicken and salad bar is a bit expensive by local standards but I found it acceptable. I found a Japanese restaurant in the same building, one of the department stores with poor interior design called WangFuJin, that had food similar to what I find in Taiwan. Subway salads due in a pinch, and there is a Taiwanese style buffet nearby that has some egg dishes I like. My lunches have always been a coffee, lots of nuts and fruit. Imported nuts are expensive here, like everywhere, but at least they can be found.

The biggest problem is breakfasts. I tend to eat eggs, meat, fish or occasionally a home made cereal made from ground nuts. But people here seem to carb load. Lots of bread, noodles, or rice. In Taiwan there are breakfast shops galore, and it’s easy to ask the boss to simply fry you some eggs, if you don’t mind the oil. 7-11 has some ok options – tea eggs, fruit, and even salad. Unfortunately in this area none of this is possible. I haven’t even come across breakfast sandwiches, food that is ubiquitous in Taiwan.

Hopefully this is temporary, and when I move to my new place next week I’ll be able to find food closely resembling what I grew accustomed to in Taiwan and Canada.


Family Photo

family portrait 2016

I generally avoid the camera to about the same degree that I avoid the microphone. Both leave me uneasy as I don’t enjoy the camera and can’t stand the sound of my voice. The effect of which is that most of the photos around our home or in the home of our extended family are ones I have taken of the kids. Few home movies either. It’s unfortunate because we have little record of the passage of time, nothing to share with family who live far away.

Luckily Sheryl finally convinced me this past spring to have a photo session with a photographer and despite my initial inability to take off my art directors cap, many were pleased with the results. The above is one of my favourites due to it’s relative spontaneity.


Writing

My habit of sharing content hasn’t changed much over the years but certainly the ways and or the means of which have. Like most people I have gravitated towards Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or other platforms to spread whatever point or message I am trying to get across. It’s easier and we get that satisfaction from ‘numbers‘(likes, hearts, impressions) which have supplanted other forms of feedback.

As I am about to start something new, and though it’s not entirely certain it will happen, or for how long (I’m leaving Taiwan), I am going to start sharing more of my activities here. Partially due to being inspired by a couple other bloggers who have done the same, and partially out of necessity — connecting to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be spotty at best.

Outside of work and my own personal diary, I’ve never had much patience for writing, so this might just be very twitter or instagram like in form.

Thats the plan anyway.


Haneda Skylounge

IMG_0198

I am sitting in the Skylounge at the Tokyo Hanaeda International departures terminal waiting for a transfer to Toronto. $10US gets you access to a quiet environment with plenty of power outlets, and all you can drink bad coffee and other non-alcoholic drinks. Considering the cost of a coffee on the concourse is about $5 it’s not a bad deal. There is no food inside, so by coming inside you miss the Japanese fast food, which though over priced has a decent selection.

There are few people inside, the whole terminal itself is not at all crowded, and you basically have the run of the place.

The only downside was that while I could connect to wifi via my phone, my laptop can not. So I am forced to do real work vs. procrastinating by reading the news (later it turned out to be a DNS issue and procrastination ensued).

Hanaeda is a weird transfer point enroute to Canada. The first time I flew through here I had the kids with me and was a bit concerned about arriving without a boarding pass. There are no ticket counters or customer service people from Air Canada to answer your questions. They issue your boarding pass at the gate so it’s useful to book your seats ahead of time unless you like getting squeezed in the middle of a narrow 4 seat row.


This bit of futurism from 2008 can be seen in much of the software I use.

We are going to soon carry out sports activities with our friends even when they are not in the same physical place as we are. More generally, computers will be increasingly used to persuade us to physically exercise and to make exercise more fun. At CHI 2008, Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller and Stefan Agamanolis have organized the workshop on Exertion Interfaces which is taking place today, and I asked them four quick questions before the workshop start. Luca Chittaro: EXERTION INTERFACES. An interview with Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller and Stefan Agamanolis


Something found from my notes. How much closer are we today (this was from 2008)?

By 2020 the terms “interface” and “user” will be obsolete as computers merge ever closer with humans. It is one prediction in a Microsoft-backed report drawn from the discussions of 45 academics from the fields of computing, science, sociology and psychology.
It predicts fundamental changes in the field of so-called Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

By 2020 humans will increasingly interrogate machines, the report said.

In turn computers will be able to anticipate what we want from them, which will require new rules about our relationship with machines.
Computers to merge with humans


iTunes remove/delete dialog

iTunes dialog

Oops iTunes UI team. There is a questionable label in your dialog. Which action are we taking here? Are we removing the song or are we deleting the song? Deleting implies deleting the song all together, which may cause some confusion amongst users, especially since many no longer read the instructions above the button area at all.

It’s more efficient and effective to give users a button that’s labeled with the specific action (vs. the exclamation OK), but that label itself must agree with the action.

Perhaps with the major redesign coming to iTunes in the fall, Apple will fix this inconsistency.

Further, why is songs plural when I only selected a single song?


Just a sec …

Quick snapshot with my iPhone

Quick snapshot with my iPhone

Other than studying material design I’m new to the Android experience. When I was setting up my sons new phone the above dialog appeared.

“Just a sec… “ seems to be an incredibly odd choice for a waiting dialog copy. Seems out of place and too informal. Doesn’t strike me as friendly, nor is it particularly clear, especially for English as a second language users. And the waits were always much more than a second.