Win a $50 Amazon gift card for participating in mobile app survey


I am conducting a lab-based study to explore user attitudes toward a new mobile phone application. You may be eligible to participate in this study if you have a part-time/full-time job and use a smartphone. Participants will firstly be introduced to the new mobile application that is being developed and then asked to complete a survey. The whole session is expected to last about an hour. All participants will receive a $50 Amazon gift card at the end of the session.

Please hurry up! Seats are limited. If you have any questions concerning the study, please contact Ermira Zifla at

not all profits are evil

In the midst of job loss and recession, Apple reports a blowout earning and people are ecstatic. Goldman Sach also announced a nearly record earning and plan to set aside tens of billions for bonus and everyone call them greedy. One makes real stuffs and make money. The other create a delusion of value and make money. That’s the difference.

Think again when you take shower next time

There are some things it is better just not to think about. Like the 10,000 bacteria you inhale with each breath in the average office building. Or the 10 million bacteria in each glass of tap water. Microbiologists have now added something else to the list of things too gross to contemplate: the deluge of bacteria that hit your face and flow deep into your lungs in the morning shower.


The solution? Run the water at least 30 seconds before you step into the shower. I also wonder how many bacteria leave on the shower curtain at my gym…

iPod growth has stopped

Yesterday, there was a big news. That was not the Fed’s decision to cut the rate by .75 point. It was Apple’s quarterly report. After the report, the Apple’s stock price dived sharply. According to this analysis, this decline has to do with the zero growth in iPod sale.

Unavoidable question then to ask is what is next? Will iPhone become the next iPod? Probably not. Will there be new version of iPod that will generate as much excitement as the original iPod few years ago? Maybe. There are several possible design routes one can take to move the iPod economy into the next one. It will be a fun exercise to speculate in terms of what Apple should do now, and what other competitors can do in order to steal the magic from Apple.

one for Philly and one for the world

According to New York Times, Negroponte, who is leading the One Laptop Per Child project, came up with an idea that Americans will buy one OLPC XO for home and donate one for a developing country.

“And he is reaching out to the public to try to give the laptop campaign a boost. The marketing program, to be announced today, is called “Give 1 Get 1,” in which Americans and Canadians can buy two laptops for $399.

One of the machines will be given to a child in a developing nation, and the other one will be shipped to the purchaser by Christmas. The donated computer is a tax-deductible charitable contribution. The program will run for two weeks, with orders accepted from Nov. 12 to Nov. 26.”

I have an idea. Why don’t we start a program where we donate both of them? One for the city you live (in my case, it will be Philadelphia) and one for a developing country. People who live in the area can adopt a local urban school district to do that.

Anyone interested? Perhaps this could be one Digital Transformation project from the workshop.

Removing Laptops and iPods from School

Today’s New York Times has a story about an increasing trend that schools around the country are removing laptop computers from the school. Not only computers distract students from learning, but they have not enhanced the testing scores, according to the article. Here are some really neat quotes from the article.

“After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement — none,” said Mark Lawson, the school board president here in Liverpool, one of the first districts in New York State to experiment with putting technology directly into students’ hands. “The teachers were telling us when there’s a one-to-one relationship between the student and the laptop, the box gets in the way. It’s a distraction to the educational process.”

“Last month, the United States Department of Education released a study showing no difference in academic achievement between students who used educational software programs for math and reading and those who did not.”

Mark Warschauer, an education professor at the University of California at Irvine and author of “Laptops and Literacy: Learning in the Wireless Classroom” (Teachers College Press, 2006), also found no evidence that laptops increased state test scores in a study of 10 schools in California and Maine from 2003 to 2005. Two of the schools, including Rea Elementary, have since eliminated the laptops.

Well, have these people considered their way of teaching might have to do with this? Sure, when you teach kids exactly the same way and for the exactly the same outcome (standardized test), sure, there will be no change. Why would there be any change?

But, then I came across an article by Mike Elgan, about the growing trend of school’s banning iPod in the school (I see a trend here. I guess anti-technology is cool among school administrators in some parts of the country. It will be interesting to see what will be banned next.) At any rate, in that article, Mike Elgan argues that schools in fact should encourage students to use iPod during the exam.

“So many college students I’ve met — even at some of the nation’s top universities — are there because they have an aptitude for memorization. Many straight-A high school students have few interests, little curiosity and zero inclination toward intellectual discovery. Our system rewards the memorizers and punishes the creative thinkers. An iPod, when used during tests, is nothing more than a machine that stores and spits out data. By banning iPods and other gadgets, we’re teaching kids to actually become iPods — to become machines that store and spit out data. Instead, we should be teaching them to use iPods — to use that data and to be human beings who can think — and leave data storage to the machines. By banning iPods, we’re preparing our kids for a world without the Internet, a world without iPods, a world without electronic gadgets that can store information. But is that the world they’re going to live in?”

I love the way he thinks. This is from Professor Makr Warschauer in that NYT article.

“Where laptops and Internet use make a difference are in innovation, creativity, autonomy and independent research,” he said. “If the goal is to get kids up to basic standard levels, then maybe laptops are not the tool. But if the goal is to create the George Lucas and Steve Jobs of the future, then laptops are extremely useful.”

Few years ago, there was a big scandal in South Korea, when few high school students were found cheating using SMS during the national college entrance qualifying exam (like SAT). They criminalized the students and their collaborators. And I agree that students who unfairly cheat during the exam should be penalized. Yet, a bigger question that should have been asked is this. Given that one can easily answer the question by using SMS, shouldn’t we ask ourselves whether we are asking the right kind of questions to these new kind of kids who grew up with technologies in their entire life? While the ethical dimension of this problem is not insignificant, equally significant is the structural aspect of that incident. That is, schools are not asking the right kind of questions. The schools should be asking the type of questions that cannot be answered easily by simply pressing few buttons on your cell phone. If one can get the “right” answer that way, that question is not worth asking to begin with. Again, Mike Elgan ends his article this way:

“A revolution has occurred. In one generation, we’ve transformed a world where information is scarce and hard to find to a world where nearly all knowledge can be available to everyone, all the time. Instead of pretending that revolution never happened, let’s take advantage of it to propel students into a successful future. Let’s teach them how to deal with the new problem of too much information. Let’s stop banning iPods and start requiring them.”

With that spirit, watch this video.

campus shooting

Yesterday’s shooting at Virginia Tech is just horrible. I just learned that the shooter was a 1.5 generation Korean-American. I feel so sorry for those who suffer from this tragedy. I just hope and pray something good will come out of this incident.

It reminds me of the afternoon of May 9, 2003. I just hope that the day will come that we don’t have to face this type of horror on campus ever again.