After UBC Lockdown: rumors and traffic fever

UBC Campus

All is well today, save for a few police siren disturbances scattered through out the night and in the morning, which we used to associate with Totem fire alarms.

No one was hurt, but everyone is confused. What caused the police action? What is being done about it? Are we safe on campus? What is going on?

I personally feel like it’s a normal day. Went to a career fair, went to a project meeting, went to class, now wasting time on my blog. This is probably because I didn’t see the police and their automatic weapons, and the ambulances that waited a few blocks away “just in case”, and the helicopter zooming around. For those who did see these, or those who had to be escorted out of the Bio Building by the SWAT team after being locked down for 3, 4 hours longer than the rest of the campus, today would probably not be normal.

Rumors all around campus. I thought about not listing them, because as a science student, I’m trained to cite only dependable, primary references. But I think if I put a big enough disclaimer, listing the rumors can be justified as showing the level of uncertainty and fear:

* * * THESE ARE RUMORS * * *

First there was the “bomb threat”, which was quickly dismissed because people were locked down inside the building. Similar things go to the chemical/biological spill theory. In fact, many of us recognize the lockdown was a standard procedure for a gunman incident.

Some people suggested “this was all a drill”

Some people said they saw police air-dropping from helicopters.

Some people said the police and media were informed about this incident in the late morning, and put off the response until the “deadline” in the threat.

Someone made the connection to the activists vandalism last month.

Some said it had something to do with animal testing in Bio building.

Someone said the threat originated from the SUB.

My favorite theory: someone was upset that UBC was the only school that didn’t get a snow day on Tuesday, so they decided to make one.

* * * RUMORS END * * *

The police has confirmed that the incident was caused by a serious threat to harm others, and we still wait for more information.

My Blog

And I was worrying that I will never reach my record-high traffic of 142 when I first announce the existence of ZeroRatio to my friends.

Google apparently likes my last blog entry, and ranked it first for the search “ubc lockdown”, which resulted in an influx of just over 1,000 visitors who typed some variation of the search term.

I suspect the impossible Google ranking also attracted the attention of ScienceDave of NowPublic, as he posted a link to my blog and sent me almost 700 visitors. I noticed that and posted a link back to his page, and sent him a humble 130 visits.

Just that one single post, with the right title at the right time, attracted over 2,100 page views, and spilled over hundreds of views to my other posts and pages. Total traffic to my blog yesterday totaled 2,800. A good twenty-fold record-break.

Along with the power of Google, the post wore the “hawt post” crown on WordPress frontpage a few times, and made this blog “the fastest growing blog“. And my favorite effect: it make my previous month of traffic look like nothing.

All of this because of writing one single post that Google liked. Now you believe Google will take over the world.

zeroratio-hawt-post-2.jpg dashboard-stat-board-fastest-growing-blog.jpg huge-peak01.jpg

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Google and my thing for comp sci

Just came back from a successful Industry Panel put on by Department of Comp Sci (which I helped poster, haha), and had some thoughts to write down.

  1. Google once again stole the show. This time by bringing with the bright panelist, a Google camping chair as the grand door prize.
  2. Telus, Accenture, IBM, HSBC, MDA, and Google all had wonderful things to share, and the questions and answers covered topics like the transition from technical developer to management, what job you can get with different level of education, how was their education applied in the work force, etc.
  3. Google has the most interesting structure. I will list a few things:
    1. 20% time. Every Google engineer spends 20% of their work time working on pretty much anything they like. It can be some other projects, or you can put your idea forth and push to create a new project. If the crazy idea didn’t work out, people would just say: neh, too bad. Better luck next time.
    2. PhDs, Masters, and Bachelors, unlike in other companies, are treated fairly equally. Obviously PhDs will have more expertise in some areas, so they tend to “gravitate” towards their area of expertise. But everyone work in a group, and people move around projects often. Those who have been on a project for the longest time become the leader of the project. It all depends on people’s skills, not their degrees.
    3. Google Internship is around 3 to 4 months, and a sure big plus on the resume for a full time Google position.
    4. Google screen resumes, do phone interviews, and then those who pass will be passed onto engineers for an in-person interview, at which stage the questions will be very technical. The engineers want someone good on their team, not someone with good marks or even their resume. The guy who came to speak said “yeah sure, I will ask you about your past experiences, but that would be like an icebreaker sort of thing.” This is quite unlike companies whose HR department does all the hiring. (Although GPA and resume is very important to get past the resume screening and phone interviews.)
  4. Also managed to steal a minute from the event organizer, whom I’ve happily worked with for 2 years, for some contacts for our Entrepreneurship in Science event. Yeah sure working for Google will be cool, but what would be cooler is to spin off and use those skills to start a super awesome company.

Now where do I come in to all of this?

What areas of comp sci am I strong in? What have I done that would land me an internship with Google?

How would my life science background be a help with this, what seems to be a whole different dimension?

That would be for me to reflect on 🙂

Med or no med

Med school is on the minds of many. Mine included.

If I think about it, I can come up with the following reasons  right off the bat:

  1. Personally, morally, and emotionally rewarding. There are very few jobs that offer the same level of “feel-good factor” as a doctor helping a patient regain health. Sure Steve Jobs can make the sexiest computers in the world, but he is helping the affluent get more gadgets. Perhaps working in social services that aim at helping the populations in need – such as alleviating children stricken with poverty and disease – would have the similar “feel-good factor” to helping patients regain joy of health.
  2. Stable income. Docs aren’t the richest people around, but they do well.
  3. Family expectation. Many of us grow up under the constant influence of our families who view raising children to be docs to be the ultimate achievement. When the people dearest to you all think that way, it’s quite impossible to put it off completely.
  4. Social status. It’s not some non-sense pride; it’s very much a real thing: how good do you feel doing what you do? How good do you feel when you tell people what you do? I think feeling good is important for most people.

Why is med school just “on my mind”, and not “all I can see”? Here are some reasons right off the bat again (meaning this post is much open to discussion and expansion):

  1. Crazy hours. I have lots of wild ideas that I’d love to pursue, and if my job occupies me 7 days a week, then bye-bye my ideas.
  2. Idealist bubble burst. Perhaps I fear the vision of coming out of med school for all the feel-good factor in the world, and realize I’m just becoming a soldier of a corporation built on exploiting the suffering.
  3. Somehow being a doc seems less colorful and intellectually exciting than being, say, a Google engineer working on world-domination. Being a doc requires doing the same things over and over, to build up the experience, expertise, and efficiency. Being an innovator requires constant learning, new ideas, and breaking new grounds.

World Wild Web: Map of Strange

Found this through Google Personalized homepage gadgets:

which features a football field with a carved wang, a few randomly captured chopper and fighter jets, a whole series of white horses, a bunch of extravagant randomness.

From the website: The MapOfStrange website is a way of recording strange, wacky, weird and wonderful anomalies, sights and oddities from Google Maps and Google Earth.

In other words, a lot of people with too much time on their hands look through cities, streets, farms, and open oceans, in high enough magnification to find these pictures to entertain a lot of other people with too much time on their hands. And by the look of those white horses, a lot of people with WAY too much time on their hands actually go out and make these things.

Guess what you find if you Google this?

Someone found this website by searching “God requires our intense attention“.

Try Googling that before it’s too late.

Here’s what I found: god-requires-our-intense-attention.png

* * *

That raised a few question for me:

  1. Who would Google something like that? A student who has to hand in a paper with this thesis tomorrow? Someone who suddenly had that idea about God, and wanted to see who agrees with her?
  2. Is she religious or atheist? The search term itself sounds atheist to me: God “requires” our attention? You don’t pay attention to God; you follow Him. It sounded like God is a mischievous child who we always need to keep an eye on. An intense eye too.
  3. Did she find my random, unfinished story to be a satisfying response to her remarkable inquiry?

Judging from a lack of comment, this unknown guest quite possibly cursed about falling into this Google trap, and left after wasting 5 seconds of her time and about 10kb of her bandwidth.

What she might not know is that she left a Search engine footprint that entertained a tired, lonely blogger who should have been in bed an hour ago.