Paralympics 2012

I’m profoundly impressed by people with disabilities who study, work, compete in sports, or simply bring joy to others by not giving up.

Take these two Asian athletes. The first, Maya Nakanishi, lost half of her right leg in an accident at a paint factory in Japan when she was 21. Now 27, and after visiting so many companies to talk about sponsorships, to no avail, she decided to pose in the nude for a 2013 calendar. Everything was done in good taste, her calendar sales reached 5 million yen ($50,000), and Maya is now in London for the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games. Poverty and disability definitely did not get in her way.

Maya Nakanishi. Photo from The Atlantic (see text for details).

The second is 28-year-old Thin Seng Hon, who was born without a fully formed leg. She doesn’t expect to win a medal at the Paralympics because her “lucky leg” (as she calls her sole prosthetic) isn’t even built for sprinting and is therefore infinitely less comfortable than those worn by other first-world rivals (including Nakanishi). Nevertheless, as the sole athlete from Cambodia to qualify for the Paralympics, she said she would try her best. Another stunning example of triumph over disability and poverty.

Thin Seng Hon. Photo from The Atlantic (see text for details).

My interest in the Paralympics began a couple of years ago, when a group of students and I worked on a computer simulation of the game Showdown, which is like air hockey, but for the blind and visually impaired. The players of our prototype game used a Nintendo Wiimote as paddle and had to pay attention to audio (e.g., sound of the ball rolling toward them) and vibro-tactile cues. I’ve another couple of groups currently working on a simulation of boxing, in which blind players also have to pay attention to audio and tactile cues in order to know when to hit and when to block punches of an AI opponent, which in turn reads the blind player’s actions using Microsoft Kinect. There are so many research issues involved, but we hope to produce a robust product within a year or two.

Hats off to all the valiant persons with disabilities in the Philippines, Asia, and the world!

(Photos are numbered 38 and 34 in the Aug 29, 2012 “In Focus with Alan Taylor” article of The Atlantic. Said article has 38 other cool photos so check them out!)

Becoming More Digital

Becoming More Digital

I’m a Wikipedian! I made my very first edit of a wiki page just now, when I created a link from Mario Vargas Llosa’s page to the Lasallian wiki. Mario Vargas Llosa, recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature, studied at the Colegio La Salle in Lima from age 11 to 14.

This (i.e., my editing a Wikipedia page for the first time) in turn prompted me to reflect at how I’m becoming more digital. I then created my “digital time line” (see below), which indicated a couple of things:

  • Compared to digital natives (but not necessarily to digital immigrants), I’m a late adopter of social digital technologies. What is interesting is that I’m a computer scientist!  But…
  • My interest in social digital technologies is picking up, as a result, perhaps, of my pursuing the PhD in Education. You see, technology, especially social digital technology, cannot be absent from any discussion of 21st century education. Therefore…
  • Whereas at first I used social digital technologies because I had to, recently I have begun using social digital technologies to share something that is important to me with those who are important to me around the world.
Date Event What Prompted It
2010 Nov 11 Made my first Wikipedia edit I saw that there was no link to any Lasallian webpage on 2010 Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa’s Wiki page.
2010 Oct 5 Wrote my first WordPress blog This year’s World Teacher’s Day was especially significant to me because I received only a month earlier the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teacher award.
2009 Apr 25 Uploaded my first YouTube video I viewed Jesus Christ Superstar for the first time on DVD, and was again awed, of course, by Ted Neeley’s “I Was Inspired.”
2009 Apr 9 Joined Facebook Brother Ceci (1944-2009) invited me, and I couldn’t say no to the Brother whom I and FORMDEV loved the most.
2004Dec 14 Created my first IVLE e-learning module I was going to teach a course on e-learning so of course I had to set up an e-learning module. I think that my university’s subscription to IVLE was still free at that time.
2003 Feb 21 Created my Yahoo account I had to continue leadership of an ASEAN University Network collaborative project (on software engineering practices) while enjoying my service leave with my family in San Diego. The university e-mail service at that time was not so convenient to access from outside the country.
Late 90s Wrote my first web page I maintained a site on Broadway Musicals (and Gothic Cathedrals, too) which had hundreds of weekly visitors!
Early 90s? Wrote my first e-mail Studies

I have a feeling that my next foray would be into socially immersive games, being the new head of the Game Lab. 🙂