Friday, 28 June 2013

Fun Topic: Google 20% Part 1

I am a firm believer in Serendipity. (I must say I got that from Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan book. He's got me hooked at looking for 'free lottery ticket')

My Design Thinking coach/mentor Niels Billou never misses an opportunity to remind that 80% of projects fail. Gartner puts this # at between 70-80%. Practically, on one very specific day, 6 numbers may win you millions $ at Lotto649 or Powerball, but on any other day it's a $2 receipt for a donation (that BTW doesn't have any tax-benefit!) 

A great feature, product or idea at the wrong time or with the wrong people or the wrong audience or the wrong team fails. *Everything* has to work just right for success. 

So practically what does that mean? Recently I've been serving in a role as a surrogate Product Owner for a mobile app. I have no shortage of examples why certain great features do not get prioritized into the Sprint Backlog (SCRUM terminology for "things done next"), including but not limited to:

  • Technically not feasible at this point in time (missing necessary components, etc)
  • Time need is larger than time available (partial features are of no-use to anyone)
  • Important feature, but there is an *even more* important feature
  • Policies/Process governs another feature must be release first

This is why I believe good ideas and good features sometimes 'die on the vine'. We rarely don't want to do these things, but unfortunately in a zero-sum world, they are just 'slightly' less important than something else (at this time, for whatever reason).

Other times we may not attempt a project that may even exasperate the 80% failure rate. We may think an idea is too risky and that it may look bad if we fail. (There is a whole other discussion about what to do if you a recipe for disruptive innovation vs. simply incremental innovation... I'll postpone that for later!)

Enter the famous Google's 20% or Twitter's Hack Week school of thinking. The 'name' changes from company to company, but the principle is the same, it's out-of-band, usually self-policed, grass-roots driven initiatives where features or ideas are allowed to be executed that normally would not see the light of day (for whatever reason, possible some of the ones noted above). 

At the heart it drives innovation and creativity precisely because it works differently from the other 80% of the time or non-Hack Weeks. It gives a chance for ideas and feature that would not normally be completed using the typical process to just 'get done'.

Remember in Design Thinking we have this saying(s):
"Fail Early, Fail Often, Fail Cheaply" - AndrĂ©a Mallard (IDEO)
"Fail often to succeed sooner"- Dave Kelley (IDEO)
The 20% may seem like a lot, but it's capped (in reality, it's actually likely even smaller than 20%). It is relatively 'cheap'. This creates an environment for something that looks like the following formula:

Great Idea + High Reward      ==      Disruptive Innovation * 20% of time
             Low Risk 

Even with my group @ SAP Labs we are given approx. 10% of our time innovate much like the Google & Twitter. For my own Emerging Technologies group, I am currently 'donating' 20% (approx. 1 day a week) of my time where I work with a totally separate group of individuals from my daily tasks to the design a Local Innovation Programme where we hope will one day change how SAP interacts with local Government, Start-ups, Academia and NGO/Community Groups. Without this type of mandate, I very highly doubt something like this could happen...

Is your company investing in innovation 'serendipitously'?

For more on this topic, see part 2 here.

Hope that helps... 

Wayne Pau.

p.s. Yes I know, I know lots of people are saying Google 20% is dead. Google also clearly stated that even after the demise of Google Labs, the 20% initiative will not change. I am not saying Google and Twitter are the proto-types that everyone needs to follow. I am merely using them as well know examples to help illustrate the point. Thanks!

Fun Topic: Google 20%: Part 2

OK. So you like the 20% rule we talked about in Part 1 and it *makes sense*. So why doesn't everyone do it? I'd like to propose that in reality, allotting or allowing employees is not the problem, actually getting them to take advantage of it is harder than it looks.

The vacation site Hotwire in 2012 did a survey and found that Americans do *not* take advantage of 9.2 vacation days per year. (Marketplace goes onto say how this have a pretty scary negative effect on our health.) Employees as a whole are not always good at taking advantage of the perks offered us, which is sad, because the 20% rule I believe is a 'huge' perk. As we can see in this RSA video on Motivation the 3x big motivators of people are:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose @ 5:16

The 20% rule/Hack Days seem to provide this. It provides Autonomy in that you can do something without having to push it through the typical backlog process. It's Mastery as you work on it and potentially it's even Mastering something you don't day-to-day. Lastly it's Purpose, because people chose to work on things that have Purpose.

So let's take a look at the company is Atlassian (who Dan Pink loves for their "ShipIt" days, see below), the guys who make JIRA, which even us @ SAP use. There motto is:

"Build the Next Great Thing. Our software helps your team ship products – smarter and faster.

The great thing about Atlassian is that they are project management software people and they gave us some metrics as they tried to track the progress of their 20% of time initiative. Then they blogged about (somewhat sparely though) to give us further insights.

For the purposes of this blog I'll be looking at the following posts:

 Mike Cannon-Brookes, Co-Founder of Atlassian was very clear in his blog that he was "Unhappy" with innovation and he was going use 20% rule to re-jump-start innovation.
"In any startup company, innovation slows as the company grows." -  Mike Cannon-Brookes
Atlassian was willing to make a $1 million investment (20% * 70 ppl * 6 mnth) to see if this would work. However the *actual* usage of the 20% rule looked more like this:

1 Year (2x long as initially expected
48 Projects
248 Days of Effort* = “1.1% Time”
34 People*
So what did Atlassian think were the biggest problems?

#1 - Convincing people to take the 20%.

“Getting 20% time is incredibly difficult amongst all the pressure to deliver new features and bug fixes.”
Surprise, surprise. Just like 9.2 days of vacation left on the table, it doesn't a part of en-mass human nature to take advantage of the these types of perks. 

#2 - Tracking the 20%

"Another problem was accurate tracking of 20% effort."
Atlassian *are* the JIRA guys. They probably know project tracking better than anyone else. If they can't do it, I'm not sure how much hope other companies have.

The end of the story is that Atlassian put 20% out of BETA, meaning that it was successful enough for them to keep doing it. Their trial wasn't perfect, but it was more than enough to show its worth.

If you've read Part 1 of the post, I said that fear of failing is what prevented some features from being built. Ironically, this is what John Rotenstein said about the GA version of the 20% project:

Spelled out clearly is that "Failing is OK".He follows that up in bold with: "innovation is not guaranteed".

They added some check & balances and still recognize scheduling is main roadblock. However I think Atlassian is on the right track. Good for you guys!

Well, I hope you found this post interesting. Seen enough? Tempted enough to try to implement this @ your company?

Hope that helps...

Wayne Pau.

p.s. Dan Pink video I believe isn't actually talking about the 20% rule, but the programme called "ShipIt", which you can read about here:

"It’s also worth mentioning that our quarterly ShipIt Days also contribute to 20% Time but are tracked separately. They involve specific days set aside for innovation in a time-limited, competitive-like atmosphere." -

We didn’t mandate strict record-keeping and we don’t have reliable timesheet data since 20% Time got mixed-in with our ShipIt projects.  -

So similar idea, but it's not the same thing. This blog focuses on the 20%, not the 24-hr hackathon.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Pop Question: What is an Innovator’s Patent Agreement? (The 'Defensive' Only Patent)

About a month ago, on May 21st 2013, something *really* cool happened. Not only did Pull-to-Refresh get granted a patent, it was done so by Twitter using their new Innovator's Patent Agreement (IPA). (If you've read my previous post (June 18th) on Creative Commons, you could almost think that this is CC for Patents.) 

Hopefully you already know about the PTR control created by Loren Britcher, of Tweetie fame. Britcher, who I believe now is working with Facebook, was very clear he wasn't a fan of the patent system. One of his quote is:

 "I have plenty of feelings about the patent system and how broken it is," (from here)
I can understand his frustration. I remember quite well how shocked I was when NTP sued Canadian mobility icon RIM (now Blackberry) and they had to settle for $612 million in 2006. If you didn't know, NTP is *purely* a patent holding company. They don't actually create anything. Wikipedia has them noted as a 'Patent Troll'. Clearly, they were not doing this 'defensively'. Even more recently, many believe that a main factor of Google purchasing Motorola was to acquire more patents to 'defend' itself.

A refreshing sight is seeing that legal director Benjamin Lee and the rest of counsel @ Twitter did their best impression of Ghandi to " the change that you wish to see in the world". You can actually read the entire IPA agreement @ Git Hub here. It seems some may have been critical of Lee & Twitter's first attempt. I am not a lawyer and my experience with patents is limited to being involved in a few patents applications many years ago, but as a 'layman', I think the 'spirit' of the agreement is very inspiring:

The Company, on behalf of itself and its successors, transferees, and assignees (collectively the “Assignee”), agrees not to assert any claims of any Patents which may be granted on any of the above applications unless asserted for a Defensive Purpose. (Section 2 of IPA @ GitHub)
There is some 'wiggle' room in agreement, but it takes agreement from all the engineers to really step out-of-bounds for non-defensive action:
If Assignee needs to assert any of the Patent claims against any Entity for other than a Defensive Purpose, Assignees must obtain prior written permission from all of the Inventors without additional consideration or threat.(Section 2 of IPA @ GitHub)
Overall, if quoted correctly, I think Britcher said very it well here:
"I really hope this becomes the de facto standard for hiring — engineers could demand this in their contracts."
"If other people can't use pull-to-refresh, they can never build on top of it either." He says other developers shouldn't worry about using pull-to-refresh in their apps. "Twitter and I see eye-to-eye on the patent system." (from here)
Being somewhat realistic, I think the IPA has hope to be at least as transformative as the Creative Commons license. Being even more optimistic, the IPA (or a future derivative) may have an even more influential role, maybe even comparable to Open Source movement, because while the CC has bred many derivative (or incremental) innovations, having open patents could help drive disruptive innovation and remove some of the hurdles created today by the over-patenting of ideas. 

The following is a quote from VOX research:
This evidence shows that, at least on average, patents block cumulative innovation. (from here
Even more famously, Mark Cuban got a rant here as well. However you can pretty much summarize his view with this response:
Because dumbass patents are crushing small businesses. I have had multiple small companies i am an investor in have to fight or pay trolls for patents that were patently ridiculous. There is no place for software patents and most tech patents are not original in the first place. They are merely “remixes” of early technology.
(To be clear, Mark Cuban is talking about patents which shouldn't have been granted in the first place. I don't think PTR is in 'that' bucket.)

Any inventors or lawyers want to 'weigh' in? Hope that helps...

Wayne Pau.

p.s. What's almost just as *cool* is that IPA agreement from Twitter was posted on GitHub with CC license. So you can literally say that the IPA 'leverages' CC. ;)


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Pop Question: What is Creative Commons License? (Jonathan Coulton's Code Monkey song...)

Have you ever seen this icon on a few pages, but have been curious what it means? Well, it's Create Commons licensing options.

I first learnt about the CC license with the 'World of Warcraft' version of Jonathan Coulton's Code Monkey song. It's got some great lines (for *geeky* coders like myself):

Rob say Code Monkey very diligent
But his output stink
His code not "functional" or "elegant"
What do Code Monkey think?
Code Monkey think maybe manager want to write god damned login page himself
If you don't know Coulton, he left a job @ NYC small tech company Cluen to work on music full-time. However, even more than his music, I believe he will be remembered for his backing of the Creative Commons ideal.

Gah! Creative Commons, DRM, blah blah blah. I will give Jonathan Coulton $100 if he will keep his mouth shut for five minutes.
I know, I know. All I can say is that Creative Commons is the most powerful idea I’ve heard since they told me there was going to be a sequel to Star Wars. Everyone in the world should read Lawrence Lessig’s book Free Culture. I saw him speak about CC at PopTech 2003 and I was so excited by it that I nearly wet my pants. The things he says make so much sense, and yet they’re so counter to the current thinking about intellectual property – it makes you want to, well, wet your pants.

So how does it work? Basically you go to this page: and select one of options. You can choose to allow others to modify your work and if you allow commercial use of the work, etc.

*IF* you are at all a fan of SCRUM, you likely know the 'god-father' of SCRUM methodology Mike Cohn and his company Mountain Goat Software. He puts his basic SCRUM methodology PPT on his website FREE for use via the CC licensing model here:

(I myself @ SAP have used a 'modified' version of his presentation to help educate team members on SCRUM. I *highly* condensed the deck into roughly a 10-min, 15 slide presentation, but it was invaluable not having to start from scratch.)

I do believe in the power of CC license. In today's world, I believe older copyright laws are becoming quickly outdated. A good example is the backlash that Metallica got when they sued Napster and basically fans. (Ironic because my favourite version of any of their songs is actually a re-make by cello group Apocalyptica, see here. This doesn't get made without creative licensing...)

Maybe it's the culture I grew up in, but I strongly believe that 're-mixing' something is an art in of itself. I see 'this' every time my daughter watches the Sesame Street remake of (Canadian) Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Call Me Maybe', called 'Share it Maybe' with Cookie Monster. (This remake has over 14 million views and counting and I'm sure my daughter single handily contributed hundreds of downloads to this #). Linkin Park's album Re-Animation is nothing but 3rd party re-mixes of their songs.

The internet has been great for knowledge sharing, but even greater has been the power of collaboration. The flexibility of the CC licensing is very powerful. If you like the work they have done, feel free to donate to the CC cause. This pie-chart shows you how they use your donations to help further the power of sharing and remixing:

You can find more about donating on their website here.

Thinking of producing some original material soon? Thinking about what type of licensing to use? Maybe you can consider the CC license.

Hope that helps...

Wayne Pau.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Pop Question: Do I need a different Phone *and* Tablet app? (Zebras vs. Horses)

I have to say, I get this (and a related) question quite often. It makes a lot of sense from a technical point of view, since 2x different apps means twice as much work, 2x different entries in Google Play Store/Apple iTunes/BB World, etc.

(Pair of Zebras @ Toronto Zoo)

Have you ever asked yourself what differentiates a  Zebra vs. Horse? They are both part of the Family "Equus" and some sources say the name the word "Zebra" comes from Portuguese meaning "Wild Horse" or "Wild Donkey". However, as much as a Zebra looks likes 'White' Horse with 'Black' stripes, turns out they are physiologically quite different. Zebras are said to be very hard to tame, have solid (aka "meaty") tails and ultimately Zebras are only native to Africa continent. For more info see here and here.

So for your apps, you need to take a look at how different it *would* or *could* run on Tablet vs. Phone. Can a single code-base run with enough detection/adaptation code to adjust properly on both formats? Would future enhancements or changes to one platform but not the other cause issues?

For example, look at my friends at NitroDesk, who offer a 'popular' (to the tune of 2 million users) very "security-focused" 3rd-party Email-App Vendor. Their Android offerings have both a Phone (aka "smartphone") and  Tablet (aka "HD") version.

TouchDown email for Android SuperPhones
 The Phone version is mostly optimized to the typical "Portrait" view with ListView control. In contrast the Tablet version is optmized to the typical "Landscape" view with multiple panel approach. It's not *just* the the size of the screen that is optimized, it's the user & interaction.

TouchDown email for Android Tablet

For us @ SAP, for the current mobile app I am working the answer was 'NO'. So the group I am working with has chosen to create separate a Tablet and Phone optimized with different IxD. (Note: The plan is actually for eventually 4x releases, iPad, iPhone, Android Superphone & Android Tablet.) 

Yes you can 'code' some of the logic into the app to auto-detect the screen size, density and layout, but especially for Android with the "Fragmentation" (not to be confused with a code I will have a posting on this topic soon...keep an eye out for it...), I don't believe this is going to be always 100% reliable. 

My current advice is to design and offer 2x different apps and guide the end-user to pick the optimal version. Ultimately I'd rather have 2x great apps posted vs. 1x mediocre one. 

Bottom Line: 

A Zebra is in fact not just a White Horse with Black stripes. 

Just like a Tablet is not just a bigger Phone, and therefore we shouldn't treat it as such.

Hope that helps...

Wayne Pau.

p.s. Yes, the opposite is also true. Can you "pigeon hole" users with 2x different apps? With both a Tablet and Phone optimized apps, what about Phablet users? My suggestion is to make Tablet and Phone optimized apps, but not restrict them via the app store (ie. Android Manifest file, etc). This way for users of a device that is a hybrid they can test out *both* apps and find which works best for them.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Fun Topic: Nick LeGrande + Android App + MLB == AWESOME!

OK, normally helping kids with life-threatening diseases will get my attention. Wacky, cool technology barriers pushed, that will get my attention. Sports stories, that often gets my attention too. Android/Mobile Technology stories get my attention...

.. but 'Today' a story turns something sad (at least for a moment) into a story of hope, inspiration and amazement with all 4 ingredients. Tonight we had a boy with rare bone marrow disease (Severe Aplastic Anemia) throw out a ceremonial first pitch for a A's & Yankees game from 1800 miles (or 2896.82 km for us Canucks) away in a Google office using a TeleRobotic Pitching Machine using an Android App!

Children's Wish + Cool Tech Problem + Sports == AMAZING!
I first read about this story on here. Interesting article and it got my attention, but when I dug deeper, the fully story is actually quite a lot more interesting...

If you want to learn more, I suggest you go to the site and watch the background video. I dare you not to both admire and adore the young Nick LeGrande after watching the video. (He's a all-star even if he didn't throw the first pitch at the game tonight.)

Then watch the time-lapse photo of Google Fibre office turned into a pitching mound. This is 'Empathy', Google just didn't put down some astro-turf and a big monitor. They wanted Nick to 'feel' like he was part of the ballpark. (Very cool stuff. Reminds of when I used to work @ SkyDome in the JumbroTron/Production crew and peek @ the grounds crew doing the set-up before a jays game.)

Now what got me *even* more stoked is to learn that it was an Android app that controlled the pitching robot. That's got to be a very cool project. 

"In explaining the process, Google said that LeGrande would use an Android application allowing him to control the movements of the robot in Oakland. That robot was equipped with a camera, livestreaming a view of the ballpark to LeGrande in Kansas City."

If you didn't know Google Fibre is Google's version of a Internet Provider. They claim 1000x faster downloads (and a logo of a rabbit that got hit with the Skittles Rainbow). Google Fibre of course also has a set-top box, etc,etc. 

You can read Google's focus on the story here:

You can also see more photos in the twitter feed here:

Sadly, I saw the tweet, but I haven't been able to find video of the pitch broadcasted anywhere. I'm told didn't show the pitch either. 

************** UPDATE **************

Here is the YouTube Video for the actual pitch. It was posted the day after the event. The pitch actually starts around 3:06.

************** UPDATE **************

Regardless, it's still Amazing. We're in a great time now where technology is progressing to a point we can make amazing things happen for people. We are set-up to help people like never before. The only barriers I see is our imagination and our ability to combine 'compassion' and 'empathy' into 'reality'.

I am sitting here, waiting and watching for what comes next.


p.s. One of the ways (as outlined by the Google Fibre Blog) to help those like Nick and others like him is to get tested to be a donor.

"You can help Nick and others with life-threatening illnesses with one quick cheek swab. Visit to become a donor."

p.p.s. for some more links:

UX Term of the Day: "Hamburger" (#4 Hot UX Trend for 2013...)


'Hamburger' meet World. World meet 'Hamburger'...

A hamburger button or control is basically 3x horizontal lines of equal length that review a side navigation panel. The going 'theory' is that it's called Hamburger because the top and bottom lines are the 'buns' and the middle line is the 'meat' or burger patty.

Visually its identical to the menu button beside address bar on Chrome Browser (for those 52% of viewers who use Chrome to view my blog!).

Don't believe it's a new trend? Gizmodo has as #4 new UX trend for 2013. See here.

This newest little UX pattern is on the latest LinkedIn and Facebook app released just earlier this year. Jessica Lessin from 'WALL STREET JOURNAL' even did a feature article on "Hamburger Button" in March (2013) with a short video demonstration of the control on the WSJ app:

*IF* you are planning on using a Hamburger in your app, I have a few suggestions because this control is implemented so many different ways:

  • When it's used just as a menu control in a top nav bar, it often acts like 'Butcon' (Button Icon) which you 'Tap'.
  • When using as a sliding menu, it is a 'Tap-and-Drag' control
  • However I also like the 'Bezel Swipe' gesture to also open *and* hide a menu control. (This last one is used quite often on BB10 and Win8 Surface to activate standard device menus.)

Therefore you would need at least these 3x ways:

  1. 'Tapable'  Menu butcon with visual feedback for depressed state
  2. 'Tap and Drag' control, so user can "drag" open the menu
  3. 'Bezel Swipe' gesture from the left side of screen (along *all* of the left-hand-side).

Well, there you have it. 

If the trend stays the same, we're likely to see this control on just about everything, just like we saw the explosion for "Pull-to-Refresh". (Interestingly, for those of you who didn't see it, I think Twitter and Loren Britcher got it patented... but agreed to "only use his patent defensively"...)

Baring any radical changed, you should start to see the Hamburger on at least one Mobile SAP app that I have pushed for on at least two different platforms. SAP isn't a radical IxD shop, so when we're adopting it, it's "definitely" gone mainstream! ;)

Hope that helps...

Wayne Pau.

p.s. that Hamburger control, it just three lines right? Well.. make you don't get it mixed up with the following somewhat 'similar' controls:

1. Motorola Hardware Menu Button
2. MS Word Bullet Butcon
3. Android Holo Composition Icon
4. Android Context Action Bar Overflow (top right on Android devices)

To be honest there are a of other very similar ones too, I could have easily expanded the list. It just goes to show you, it's all in the 'subtle' details, right?

p.p.s.Still don't believe me? Well here are two screen shots from the recent Facebook and Flickr apps.
(Facebook @ Android)

(Flickr @ Android)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Fun Topic: Software Developer vs. Computer Programmer (According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

So the other day I stumble on this site:

I hear about BLS on the news all the time. According to BLS they are:

"The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor produces some of the Nation’s most widely followed measures of the economy."

I didn't realize they had an on-line "Occupation Finder". Basically it's a tool to tell you what the outlook will be for a particular job if you are younger person (or I guess a parent of a young person). 

So, I did what I always do when I find something new. I "played" with it. I kept playing around with the filters till I find job that is:

a) The Highest Paying (who couldn't use more $, right?)

b) Fastest Growing (who doesn't want job security, right?)
c) Lowest Education pre-req (who doesn't want the easiest path, right?)

Wanna guess what it was?


Basically it's "Software Developers". (Everything else seemed like Dr or other heath professional... This is why I believe the US needs Universal Healthcare... but another topic for another time...)

It's the only job that had 50,000+ jobs, in the highest pay bracket and only need a bachelor degree

Mark Twain (the pen name for Sammuel Clemens) once said "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." Never was that more true than now..

Honestly, I think the US Bureau of Labour needs to be 'LITTLE' more specifc. Is this mobile developers? Is this game developers? How big is this bucket? So I "click" similar jobs and I got this list:

First I see is "Computer Programmers". Can anyone tell me how that is different from "Software Developer"? Doesn't Software run on Computers? Don't they both Develop Programs

(I *am* in the software industry. I have been for a long time. I am part of 60,000 person "Software Giant" in SAP. I can tell you right now, this is a very very vague title. There are SCRUM masters, there are UX experts, there are test suite managers, there are X-Coders, there are Android Developers, there are COBOL coders, there are QA experts, etc...*ALL* of these people come together to 'develop' software.)

Have a look at the description:

What Software Developers Do
Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or other device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks.

What Computer Programmers Do
Computer programmers write code to create software programs. They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow.

Software developers account for 913,100 jobs, average pay of $90K a year and grow 30%. Computer programmers account for 363,100 jobs, average of $71K a year and grow only 12%?!? 

So what's the real answer if these jobs overlap? Do I add these together? Is there something I'm missing...The only thing I can conclude is that maybe Computer Programmers are just the 'coders'? However in that case, how can it be only 1/3 of the size of 'creative' Software Developers? I would assume that you'd need more execution people than designers, no?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The BLS also grouped Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects into a single group. Web Developers, which according to BLS only develop web sites that provide a "public face" for companies. No HTML 5 or WebApp developers here. No private intra-net or on-line SaaS developers here...

However, I also found this text extremely 'interesting':

"...and additional knowledge of web programming languages can be helpful for web developers."
Hmm... *cough*... I could see how 'knowing' HTML *might* be 'helpful' for web development. Or is HTML not a true 'Programming Language'?

Two things that scare me:

#1 - If this info is given to young people in jr high & high school, which they make some of the most important decisions of their life on. (Just imagine being read this info @ Grade 7 Career Education/Guidance class.)

#2 - If this info is used to create important and crucial future policy, or tax structures.

Either way I'm a little concerned if someone needs to take a critical eye and double-check the data before presenting it? I mean this is"Nation’s most widely followed measures of the economy", right? (BTW I'm sure Canada is no better...)


Wayne Pau.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Fun Topic: Pandas @ Toronto Zoo (Are they the biggest waste of money ever?)

(Dao Mao @ Toronto Zoo)

If you haven't already heard, two pandas arrived earlier this year @ the Metro Toronto Zoo. My family has an annual membership and my daughter *LOVES* the zoo so we are they many times a year. It took us a few weekends, but we finally were able to find a time to go and see both Dao Mao and Er Shun

(I guess "technically" I didn't need to rush, since they will be here for 5 years, before moving to Calgary for another 5 years. Normally these loans cost about $1 million, but according to CBC, Canada didn't pay for the pandas, likely because we were successful in the past to help breed them captivity. The Zoo, which is owned and run by the City did however, spend $8 million on a new exhibit.)

But damn it, pandas are cute. They are iconic. When they arrived, they got better 'red-carpet' welcome than most diplomats. See here

What is not obvious is the sudden back-lash against pandas. (I mean honestly who hates pandas, right? That's like saying you want to punch the late Mother Theresa...). Turns out conservationist Chris Peckham would rather let pandas die off (in a more shocking, less Politically Correct way) and spend the resources elsewhere:
"I would eat the last panda if I could have all the money we have spent on panda conservation put back on the table for me to do more sensible things with..."
He's actually President of Britain's Bat Conservation Trust and part of me wonders if 
  1. The 'eating' is a not too veiled joke about how Chinese people eat just about anything *and* that we as a race are probably responsible for more than our share of eating some species into oblivion.
  2. Or maybe he's somewhat jealous that "bats" simply *do not* elicit the same 'awwww' factor that Pandas do. Besides Gotham superheros, not too sure of how many people use Bats as their symbol?

Here are some more links about the 'Panda Excess':

There are only about 1600 pandas in the wild according to WWF. (They should know, it's their mascott/logo, right?) About 325 pandas in captivity and I got to see 2 of them. (Actually it might be 4, I think I might have saw Quinn Quinn and Sha Yan in 1985 when I was a lot younger, but I honestly don't remember much.) 

I honestly do count myself "lucky", as they are sight to see in real-life. They playful, cute and when not sleeping (which is up to 10 hours a day I'm told) they are "highly" entertaining... often enticing a lot of 'awww's from the crowd.

Internally or Externally motivated  as a person of Chinese decent, I *do* feel a kinship to pandas. They are such a symbol for China and their 'cute mug' is often used for many cute cartoon and anime characters. Much like polar bears are a symbol for Canada, pandas are symbol of National Pride for China.

To me, it was 'great' seeing them up so close. They made my daughter so Happy! I'm sure she'll be talking about it for years to come. So, 'NO', I don't think they are a waste of money. Some things in life are special and shouldn't be subjected to cold accountant like objectivity. 


Wayne Pau.

p.s.  Ironic that the polar bear too now is facing very real possibility of extinction. National Geographic says they may be gone by 2050.