Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year! Let’s hope that 2021 turns out to be better than 2020.
If there is one thing we should have learned from last year, it is the importance of taking much greater control of our personal wellbeing. Regular exercise and a balanced diet are essential for remaining healthy. We cannot rely on overburdened medical services and miracle vaccines to get everything back to some resemblance of normal. Although they can help mitigate the impact of viruses like Covid-19, not even the greatest doctors and drugs can do much to resolve underlying problems such as growing levels of obesity across the world. Continue reading Notes from the field: a happy and healthy new year!→
Technology was the last subject on my mind when our tourist guide drew up in front of us outside our hotel in Zhiben. Until, that is, my eyes honed in on the impressive rig that he had constructed at the front of the vehicle, including a phone, tablet, dash cam, and even a couple of USB-powered fans.
It didn’t take him long to put it into action either, starting with a couple of phone calls to his brother and a customer as we set off. So much for the tranquil beauty of the mountains and coastline that my wife and I were hoping to enjoy! Our heads were already beginning to throb with all the noise. Continue reading Notes from the field: making instant movies on the go→
Cooler again on the Four Beasts this morning. Fresher, too, thanks to the overnight rain, though that meant a few slippery spots to negotiate on the way down. A timely reminder that no matter how well you think you know something, you must never become complacent. There will always be nasty surprises somewhere along the way.
The same rule applies of course to all aspects of life. Just as you think everything is going fine, an unexpected problem or issue occurs that even the most sophisticated AI prediction tools didn’t see coming. The key is to be able to pick yourself up from any setback as quickly as possible rather than wallowing in the unfairness of it all. Continue reading notes from the field: preparing for nasty surprises→
As Artificial Intelligence becomes increasingly embedded in our daily lives, it’s never been more important for schools worldwide to equip their students with a theoretical and practical knowledge of how the technology works and how it can be applied.
How to inspire interest in AI among school students? My visit this morning to Qinxian Junior High School in Jiufen to attend the opening of an AI summer camp being held there provided some interesting answers to this question.
As a huge fan of William Gibson I feel a little guilty in confessing that I’m having a hard time working my way through his latest novel, Agency. Although the writing is of the usual high quality, it lacks the sharp edge and raw energy of the prose in his earlier works. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh here, but I can’t help feeling as if it’s a gentrified Cyberpunk. Sure, in places the book is clever and witty, but it tastes more like a cup of caffeine-free latte than a mug of freshly-roasted coffee.
Or, to borrow from 6.18 of the Analects of Confucius, it has a little too much cultural refinement (文/wén) and not enough native substance (質/zhì). For all his love of ritual and propriety, even the great sage himself believed that it was better to err on the side of the latter rather than the former lest you become too fake and foppish. Continue reading Notes from the field: gentrified Cyberpunk in Agency?→
There’s been a bustling air pervading Taipei’s street markets this weekend as people flock to get their provisions in preparation for the forthcoming Lunar New Year celebrations. Forget the city’s luxury shopping malls; the streets where the real action is: the cut and thrust of the haggling over prices and the excited voices and smiling faces of vendors and shoppers alike who both think they’ve got the best of the bargaining.
Will people still go out on the streets to shop when they can order everything they could possibly want or need using their smart phones and have it delivered to their doorstep – or perhaps even neatly placed in their refrigerator or closets? A lot of investors and entrepreneurs are betting that this will be the case by pouring billions into last-mile on-demand grocery and meal services. Continue reading Notes from the field: bustling Taipei street markets→
I’m not sure why it took me nearly three decades, but this was the year I discovered the pleasures of hiking in Taiwan. Isn’t it amazing how easy it can be to ignore things that are right on your doorstep? That’s my excuse, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.
On your doorstep isn’t exaggerating too much either if you live in Taipei. In less than half-an-hour by bus and MRT I can go from home to my favorite stomping ground of Tiger Mountain in the Four Beasts Scenic Area (四獸山). This offers a huge variety of routes to choose from depending on your fitness and lots of great views to enjoy – not to mention lots of interesting temples to stop by at. Continue reading 2019 highlights: discovering the pleasure of hiking in Taiwan→
A pleasure to return to the Four Beasts Scenic Area this morning, even though my lungs and legs took a little time to readjust to the demands of climbing after a couple of weeks of pounding along flat fenland lanes.
One reason I enjoy hiking at the Four Beasts is the strong community spirit among the people who hit its trails. It’s always nice to be greeted by a friendly smile from someone I meet along the way and fun to watch groups of friends and neighbors exercise together at various spots on the hillside. The community spirit is even stronger at the nearby Yucheng Park. This morning the place was packed with people doing Taichi together. What a perfect way to start the day! Continue reading Notes from the field: a morning hike in the Four Beasts Scenic Area→