Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Team Introductions

Hello Reader,

We realise we are long over due for some introductions to the Victoria University of Wellington team organising this year’s NZCSRSC conference so here we go…
As the General Chair my main role is to oversee all areas of the conference, ensure the direction, momentum of the project is maintained, and make sure that everyone is having fun :-)

There are lots of exciting things happening this year! We are almost at the end of our paper review process. We have confirmed some very exciting keynote speakers and panelists too. We will have some interesting workshops as well. Please keep and eye on our web site over the next few weeks as we will have a lot more information available very soon including paper notifications, camera ready instructions, and conference registration. Also remember to use the Facebook Discussion area or contact me for any queries you may have.

To keep in touch with what is happening to the conference follow us on Twitter, read our Blog, join the NZCSRSC Facebook group, and subscribe to the mailing list

All the best.

General Chair

An Interview with Pingar

The organising committee recently caught up with Peter Wren-Hilton, Co-founder & Director, Pingar LP who are a Gold Sponsor of NZCSRSC 2010 for an interview.

NZCSRSC: Who and what is Pingar?

Peter: Pingar is a Tauranga-based Search and Online Publishing company. We have worked closely with The University of Waikato / WaikatoLink and Auckland University of Technology to develop a number of algorithms to add semantic and natural language search into Internet and Enterprise user’s search queries. We have also developed a unique search results platform based around generating instant formatted PDF reports from a user’s search query input.

NZCSRSC: Why should I use Pingar Search instead of other search engines?

Peter: Pingar is search engine agnostic. It adds semantic search capability to any search engine. The same applies to our back-end PDF publishing platform. Pingar launched its Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Search ‘layer’ in Las Vegas in October 2009 and has recently launched its Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Search ‘layer’. Pingar is currently developing ‘layers’ for other proprietary and open source search engines. Our aim is to improve the Enterprise and Internet user’s search experience by enabling them to ‘fine-tune’ their search query as part of their search query process. This improves the quality of the search query results and significantly reduces the time it takes to find the right results.

NZCSRSC: What is natural language search?

Peter: We are moving away from traditional ‘keyword’ search. We want query input strings to have meaning so that they become ‘natural language’ questions rather than just a series of keywords. Pingar’s semantic search algorithms are a step in this direction. They provide context to the user’s initial keyword query input and enable the user to drill down their search query. ‘Pure’ natural language search is not there yet, but it is a path we are rapidly progressing. Eventually, it will go beyond the desktop. Imagine being able to query your mobile phone’s search function with a natural language question and have it return a natural language answer

NZCSRSC: What technologies are behind Pingar Search?

Peter: A combination of technologies lie behind Pingar Search. We are currently working with researchers in the fields of data mining, digital libraries, machine learning and artificial intelligence. A combination of technologies are therefore behind the platforms we are building. Going forward, we are looking to extend this research into areas including improved contextualisation, improved summarisation, improving the mobile UI and making our technology more compatible with non-Latin characters.

NZCSRSC: Where and when can I start using Pingar Search?

Peter: An online demo of Pingar’s core semantic and PDF technology will be available from April via our main corporate site at http://www.pingar.com. We will be launching our Advanced Summarisation algorithm in June at the 2010 Microsoft SharePoint Users Conference in Wellington and demonstrating Pingar’s Chinese language version of our semantic search and PDF platform in Shanghai on July 22nd at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Tauranga-based maybe, but with a real focus on global Internet and Enterprise markets and partnerships.

NZCSRSC: What role does Pingar play in the NZ ICT industry?

Peter: During 2010, Pingar will be announcing the establishment of an Advanced Search and Knowledge Engineering Research centre in Tauranga. This centre will provide research collaboration between Pingar, the University of Waikato, Auckland University of Technology and the University of Wales (UK). We have initiated an exchange of PHD and post doc researchers between NZ / UK. In the UK, they will be placed with Pingar’s UK-based subsidiary, Kaimai Research. The ‘NZ ICT’ aim is to generate both functional and blue sky research in the areas of Advanced Search and Knowledge Engineering to make New Zealand a global centre of excellence in this space. The bigger vision is for New Zealanders to understand the real depth of knowledge and talent that we have in our universities and that as a country we need to provide world leading research positions to make New Zealand an attractive home and destination for global scientific research talent.

NZCSRSC: Are there any employment or internship opportunities at Pingar?

Peter: Yes! Pingar is seeking to increase its internal research teams with exceptional people. We are aiming not simply to build a great company, but provide global research opportunities right here in NZ We are working with our University partners, Tech NZ and the Foundation for Research, Science & Technology (FRST) to identify the best candidates to make Pingar and New Zealand a global leader in this space. You do not have to have been to either the University of Waikato or Auckland University of Technology to apply. We are keen to engage with leading candidates in any NZ University or research institute. To register your interest in either employment or internship opportunities with Pingar, simply email your CV to jobs@pingar.com or meet us at our stand at the Careers Industry Night on Wednesday 14 April at NZCSRSC 2010.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Interview with Google

The organising committee recently caught up with Isa Notermans, Talent & Outreach People Programs Specialist from Google (Australia) who are a Platinum Sponsor of NZCSRSC for an interview.

NZCSRSC: Who and what is Google?

Isa: At Google we are making the world’s information universally accessible and useful to all, which can come in all shapes and sizes such as our search engine, Android and Chrome operating systems and our wonderful world of apps. Google was founded in 1998 by two Stanford Grads – Larry Page & Sergey Brin and the term Google comes from ‘Googol’ – 10 to the 100 zero’s relating to the fact that there is an endless supply of information out there.

NZCSRSC: What makes Google tick?

Isa: One thing over all else powers Google’s momentum and that is it’s people. Those that are passionate about making a difference and making the world’s information universally accessible and useful all contribute to what Google has become and what it will be. We share a few common values, top of most is our belief that if we focus on the user, everything else will follow. For example, search is what we're known for. For us we won't be satisfied until a user finds exactly what they are looking for first time, every time. Naturally we still have a long way to go!

NZCSRSC: What can we expect from Google in 2010?

Isa: We are constantly innovating and working on ways to improve our products, so you can expect to see lots of exciting things this year ... locally, we're busy working on products and features that make life easier for Australians and New Zealanders, like making it easy to search for movie show times near you, or being able to see public transport options on Google Maps.

NZCSRSC: What is Google and the Internet going to be like in 2020?

Isa: It's very hard to predict ... with a flourishing internet eco-system, you never know where the next application will come from. We do notice a few major trends though ... the web is becoming increasingly social as people want to share the useful and fun information they find, and more and more people are visiting the internet from their mobile phone. As these trends converge we're going to see some really interesting new products emerge.

NZCSRSC: How is Google helping with global issues such as climate change?

Isa: Climate change is something we feel very strongly about, particularly because it fits so well with our mission of organising information and making it accessible and useful. More information
about how power is being used can help consumers make more informed decisions, which is why we have created a feature called Power Meter (available in the US right now) so people can manage and monitor their usage more closely. We've also developed special layers for Google Earth that share climate change information. To make sure that we're doing our part, we're committed to being carbon neutral, and we've designed some of the world's most efficient data centres, as well as developing on-site renewable energy in some places, to reduce our impact on the environment.

NZCSRSC: What involvement within the NZ ICT community does Google have?

Isa: We are currently about to embark on our Australasian national campus tours. We will bringing our roadshow to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Waikato. We also have several Alumn’s working at our office in Sydney and around the world and our Girl Geek Coffee Clubs on campus currently have a chapter running out of the University of Auckland.

NZCSRSC: How is Google helping support women in computer science and technology?

Isa: In lot’s of ways! The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship is in it’s 5th year! Through the scholarship, we aim to encourage women to excel in computing and technology, and become active role models and leaders in their communities. Such scholarships have created programs like the Google Girl Geek Coffee Clubs on campus as well as sponsorship of the Girl Geek Dinners in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. We also want to encourage young girls to think about computer science at a tertiary level which is why we started the Girls@ Google Day. This year we hope to launch the Junior Anita Borg Scholarship for such girls hoping to study an ICT discipline at University.

NZCSRSC: Why is Google a great place to work?

Isa: We still maintain a small company feel. At lunchtime, almost everyone eats in the office café, sitting at whatever table has an opening and enjoying conversations with Googlers from different
teams. Our commitment to innovation depends on everyone being comfortable sharing ideas and opinions. Every employee is a hands-on contributor, and everyone wears several hats (as well as bare feet and shorts if that is what you feel comfortable in). The rumours are true, we enjoy a very colourful and entertaining workplace that is filled with inspiring people, projects and passions.

NZCSRSC: Are there any employment or internship opportunities at Google?

Isa: There sure are! As we continue to grow, we are always looking for those who share a commitment to creating search perfection and having a great time doing it. We are aggressively inclusive in our hiring, and we favor ability over experience. Also, take a look at:

We have a year round intake of interns for our 12 week full-time program for all degree levels check out: http://www.google.com.au/intl/en/jobs/students/internships/

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An Interview with The IET

The organising committee recently caught up with Karla Smith from The IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology), a Gold Sponsor of NZCSRSC for an interview.

NZCSRSC: What did you study when you were at university?

Karla: I did Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Canterbury. I've completed a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), a Postgraduate Diploma and a PhD.

NZCSRSC: What are you doing now?

Karla: At present I am self-employed and still based in Christchurch. I'm currently contracting to Rodgers Hulston and White Ltd (a consulting firm specialising in telecommunications engineering).

NZCSRSC: How did you get involved with The IET?

Karla: I got involved with the IET through the Present Around the World Competition; I won the Christchurch Event in 2007, and went to Melbourne for the next level of the competition (the South Pacific Present Around the World Competition). Shortly after I returned the Young Professionals AGM was held, and I thought it would be good to be more involved. I am currently Treasurer of the Christchurch Young Professionals, and an IET Council member (Council advises the Board of Trustees, which is the IET's main governing body).

NZCSRSC: Who is The IET?

Karla: The IET is one of the world’s leading professional societies for the engineering and technology community, with more than 150,000 members in 127 countries and offices in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. The IET provides a global knowledge network to facilitate the exchange of ideas and promote the positive role of science, engineering and technology in the world.

NZCSRSC: What does The IET do?

Karla: The IET aims to share and advance knowledge in Science, Engineering and Technology to enhance people's lives. Some examples of the way it does this are: running seminars, workshops and conferences, publishing magazines, creating materials for schools to use and providing career development tools for engineers.

NZCSRSC: What role does The IET play in the NZ ICT industry?

Karla: The IET runs seminars and lectures in the subject area. Plus the IET offers the professional registration ICTTech for ICT Technicians.

NZCSRSC: How can I get involved with The IET?

Karla: There are lots of ways to be involved with the IET. Membership is the first step most people take, but many of our events are open to non-members as well as members. If you see advertising for an IET event, come along! Your Local Network's Present Around the World Competition is a great way to get started as well, since you don't need to be a member to enter. All you have to do is a ten minute presentation on a topic of interest to the IET, and most of the marks are given for presentation skills. An entrant from New Zealand has won the Global Competition (held in London) for the past two years!

NZCSRSC: How can I become a student member of The IET?

Karla: If you email membership.auckland@theiet.org, membership.wellington@theiet.org or membership.christchurch@theiet.org (as appropriate), we can answer any queries about becoming a member. We subsidise the first year of membership for student members, so it only costs $25.

NZCSRSC: What are the benefits of being a student IET member?

Karla: You get informed of any events that are being run in your area, you get a fortnightly magazine full of articles about new advances in engineering and technology, you get free or reduced entry to certain events, and it looks good on your CV! I've found that you get out what you put in - especially if you volunteer your time to help govern the IET. As a Council member I talk to engineers from all over the world, get to experience meetings with 60+ people, and influence the direction the IET takes. It's an amazing opportunity for me to network and gain experience. At the Local Network level I've honed my organisational skills, learnt some PR skills, and done more networking!

NZCSRSC: What scholarships and awards are there that students can apply for?

Karla: The main award that the IET offers in NZ is the NZ postgraduate award. This is open to any member of the IET who is going to undertake postgraduate study (entries close at the end of September each year for the following year of study). There are also a number of awards and scholarships open at all members of the IET. These can be found at http://www.theiet.org/about/scholarships-awards. As an example, a New Zealander won the Sir Henry Royce Award in 2009.

NZCSRSC: Where can I find out more about The IET in my area?

Karla: You can take a look at the website: http://www.theiet.org/nz, which has information about the IET in New Zealand, and also has links to the three Local Networks (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch). The Auckland Local Network covers the top half of the North Island, the Wellington one the bottom half of the North Island, and the Christchurch one covers the whole South Island. Alternatively, go along to any event that you see advertised and talk to a committee member.