Way back on March 8th we went to a Customer Consultation evening hosted by Shaw, our ISP. The reason for this desire to meet face to face with customers was the backlash Shaw experienced from customers like us in response to the User Based Billing issue. The corporation hosted over 30 such meetings across its service area during the first consultation, and judging from the meeting we attended tonight, Shaw listened.
As with the first consultation evening, this one was led by Chris Kucharski, VP Operations, and one of the first points he made was that Shaw heard the message, loud and clear. He stated that at times it was hard to hear people who (like us) had been long term customers, and who, because of the way Shaw initially handled the UBB issue, had lost trust and faith in the company. Throughout each of the original consultation sessions, there was a commonality of thinking that Shaw needed to become transparent in its communication with its customers, who wanted more options when it came to the speed and data usage of their internet access – and the company freely admitted that it learned some very hard lessons throughout that process.
Over the past three months, the teams at Shaw went over all of the feedback they had received both in person and via the internet, and they came to the decision that Shaw’s future involved unleashing their internet customers, not reigning them in. This was followed by a collective mind shift on the company’s focus as it began to really explore what it could accomplish in the way of service provision and pricing to support the ever-growing usage of the internet in our daily lives. None of these considerations would have been possible without the exchanges that went on between the corporation and its customers, and this was a dialogue that Shaw wanted to keep open as it moves into the future.
There are approximately 366 000 Shaw customers still on analogue cable, and over the next 16 months, those customers will be converted to full digital cable. As those customers are moved off of analogue, there will be an increasing capacity of bandwidth available to improve internet services and options. These improvements will be a rolling capacity improvement as each of those analogue customers will have to be visited and their services converted. Those who need to be upgraded to digital will receive their digital boxes at no charge, and while this will cost the company a lot of money, and we know that those costs will be passed along to the consumer in the course of doing business, but to be honest I really don’t have a problem with that, simply because when all is said and done, everyone will benefit.
Some of those benefits have already been realized by those who subscribe to the Extreme internet package, with the bandwidth speed and data transfer allowance already receiving an upgrade that sees the transfer allowance more than double. The new, what I will call lower-tier, packages are shown in the image below – I will get into the higher-tiered packages later in this article.
These transfer allowance improvements are evidence that Shaw was indeed listening to its customers – and are available with no price increase over the current plans. Those of us on the higher-tiered broadband packages will have to wait until June for new options, but I will come to that in a bit.
The topic of the Transfer Usage Tool used by Shaw to show its customers how much data transfer they’ve used, but as was shown in the first round of consultations, this tool does not reflect real-time usage and is in fact two days behind in its reporting. It was also shown to be inaccurate and unreliable. Shaw’s programming engineers will be revisiting the reporting tool and making several improvements in it over the coming months.
There was also the question of Shaw’s flexibility as customer usage of the internet will inevitably change over time as the internet and data transfers become more and more important to the average Canadian as well as to business. Mr. Kucharski stated that as with these new plans, Shaw would review the plans and options when usage changes became apparent. One of the most important issues that started the whole uprising among internet users was very conspicuous in its absence with these new plans. There are no per gigabyte charges. At all.
Should a customer consistently go over his or her transfer cap month after month (not that that has ever happened in our house), they will be contacted by Shaw to discuss plan options as the plan they are on obviously isn’t working for them. The corporation is still working on the best avenue to pursue in regards to those who are consistently over, but they promise to not be combative or punitive. Those customers on plans with transfer limits who go over will be automatically bumped up to the next plan level for the remainder of the month, but again, the company is looking at the best way to communicate this action to the consumer.
During the first round of consultations there had been discussion of educating people to do their downloading during off-peak hours, something that would not always be convenient for those with home offices or who telecommute. After taking the beating that it did during the consultation period, Shaw wanted to take the most open and customer-friendly approach to any changes they made with their internet offerings, and throttling or rewarding off-peak usage simply did not have a place in the new packages. While there will inevitably be a need for some education in regards to transfer usage, the company again felt it better to unleash its customers and give them the internet experience they expected than to leave them feeling sour and limited. Read the rest of this entry »
Researchers at Queens University have found a strong association between computer and Internet use in adolescents and engagement in multiple-risk behaviours (MRB), including illicit drug use, drunkenness and unprotected sex.
“This research is based on social cognitive theory, which suggests that seeing people engaged in a behaviour is a way of learning that behaviour,” explains lead researcher Valerie Carson, a doctoral candidate in School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. “Since adolescents are exposed to considerable screen time—over 4.5 hours on average each day—they’re constantly seeing images of behaviours they can then potentially adopt.”
The researchers found that high computer use was associated with approximately 50 per cent increased engagement with a cluster of six MRB, including smoking, drunkenness, non-use of seatbelts, cannabis and illicit drug use, and unprotected sex. High television use was also associated with a modestly increased engagement in these MRB.
One explanation behind this finding is that a considerable amount of advertising that used to be shown on TV is now being shown on the Internet. In addition, computer usage by adolescents has increased considerably in recent years.
“TV and video games have more established protocols in terms of censorship, but Internet protocols aren’t as established,” says Ms Carson. “Parents can make use of programs that control access to the Internet, but adolescents in this age group are quite savvy about technology and the Internet. It’s possible that these types of controls aren’t effective in blocking all undesirable websites.”
This research, recently published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine, suggests that future studies should examine the specific content adolescents are being exposed to in order to help strengthen current screen time guidelines for youth.
While this study may have some merit in regards to adolescent behaviour, I find that I must add my own thoughts as a parent to its findings. Those of us who are intimately familiar with the video game industry know that this study will give those who blame video games and technology for many of society’s woes more fuel for their fires.
As a parent, I have never used parental controls to limit what my children saw on television, the internet or in video games when they were younger. Instead I used the oldest parental control of all time – conversation. I did not use spy ware to see where my children had gone while on the internet, and while I bought age-appropriate games for my kids when they of elementary school age, when they were nearing or in their teens, I was not quite as strict because I knew that through conversations with my children and in playing alongside them, they knew the difference of what was real and what was not. My kids may at times shock my parents with the things they do or say, but they aren’t bad children and they aren’t out emulating the behaviours they saw portrayed in media.
Just because I let my son watch Power Rangers when he was in elementary school did not mean that he was going to go out and beat on his class mates. He knew that what he saw on the screen were stunts, and that to try the same moves on a friend in real life would hurt his friend – and him, when his friend retaliated. Instead of banning him from watching the show like his school wanted all parents to do, I had a conversation with him and we compared Power Rangers with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We talked about how getting hit with big sticks or shot by a ray gun would hurt, and how pretend can be fun, but hitting with sticks, hands or feet will hurt – and now that he’s all grown up, he every once in awhile puts on armour and hits other grown adults with swords made of rattan and wrapped in duct tape – and he knows that it can hurt, even with the armour.
There are those parents who will use the “well we had parental controls in place” as a scapegoat for not taking responsibility for the basics of parenting – interaction with their children. There are those bleeding heart Liberals who will blame television, advertising and video games for the errant behaviour of teens. We all know that new media is not the base cause of bad behaviour. It may be a catalyst, and in rare occasions the trigger, but seldom is it the root cause. Children need to know the difference between acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour, and as parents that is part of our contract with society, a responsibility we take on by becoming parents.
Children have been pushing the envelope of risky behaviour ever since the time when there was more than one child. It’s what children do, it’s what teenagers do, it’s what young adults do, and it’s even what some aged adults do when they check items off of their bucket lists. There also people who, no matter what you do or say, will do bad things. The important part of the equation is that as parents we give our children the tools they need to know the difference between right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and how to live lawfully in a law and order society. Have we raised our children to have compassion for their fellow human beings and the other living things who share the planet with us? Have we raised them to have a social conscience? I can honestly answer yes to those questions, because I had and still have those conversations with my kids – and while I know they aren’t perfectly angelic examples of the modern child, we can at least talk about it.
Wordcamp Montreal, which is taking place this July 9th and 10th at Coeur des Sciences, Agora Hydro-Québec – UQAM has put out a call for speakers. Early Bird tickets are also on sale now for $30.00.
Game Prototype Challenge has announced its development theme for April – Companion and Rising. Participants have until 11:59pm on April 25th, 2011 to submit their game prototypes. That’s one week away, with a preview event known as Screenshot Saturday taking place on – you guessed it – this coming Saturday. This is the fifth round of prototype challenges, and if the previous four are anything to go by, this one will also see some awesome entries. You can check out all of the previous entries on the challenge’s web site.
The Early Bird registration rate for Interactive Ontario’sINplay 2011 conference has been extended until April 27th. Get your tickets now for what promises to be a great event. If you are a Canadian digital media designer, don’t forget to send in your submission for the CMF Canadian Interactive Showcase, the deadline is May 2nd.
Interactive Ontario has also released the results of its recent eLearning survey. Designed to examine the challenges faced by the province’s eLearning and cultural industry sectors, the 63 page PDF report (which I am still working my way through) looks at opportunities for growth and cross-pollination among all industry genres, including books, gaming, film, television and music.
Sticking with Ontario for the moment, OMDC is now accepting applications for 2011/12 cycle of the OMDC Export Fund – Interactive Digital Media. This program provides eligible Ontario interactive digital media content producers with funding to participate in export development activities that correspond to a strategy for company growth. Primary activities supported are market event attendance and targeted sales trips that relate to the strategy.
In order to be eligible, all applications must be submitted electronically through the Online Application Portal (OAP.) Interested applicants must register their company’s corporate information here prior to commencing an application.
For technical assistance with registration or the application process send an email to OMDC. Applicants are encouraged to commence the application process well in advance of the deadline in case technical support is required. Complete Guidelines and the link to the OAP are posted on the OMDC website.
In lieu of an information session, applicants will have the opportunity to receive feedback on a first draft of their OMDC Export Fund application through a one-on-one pre-application meeting with an OMDC Consultant. Participation in pre-application meetings is not a requirement and is offered as a courtesy for applicants who may be unfamiliar with the program and/or require additional assistance. Applicants are also encouraged to contact OMDC at any time with questions regarding this program.
Pre-application meetings will take place on May 9 and 10, 2011. Please send in an email to schedule a meeting please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Once your email request has been received, OMDC will contact you to schedule a time on one of these two days.
Here is a look at Part Two of the EA Sports video series on re-launching the SSX franchise with SSX: Deadly Descents:
Manitoba’s MTS has joined the “PVR from Anywhere” movement with the the launch of its My PVR (Personal Video Recorder) service which enables MTS Ultimate TV customers to add, change or delete their Whole Home PVR recordings using any computer with an Internet connection or from select mobile devices. This service is available free of charge to all MTS Ultimate TV Whole Home PVR subscribers.
“My PVR is a great addition to our MTS Ultimate TV service and will give customers the freedom to manage their Whole Home PVR from outside their home,” said Stan Kurtas, Vice President, Marketing, MTS. “We are always working to bring our customers the latest in technology in order to enhance, what we consider to be, the most feature rich television service in Canada.”
My PVR, which can be accessed through the customer’s MyAccount portal, offers customers the opportunity to browse through MTS’s online program guide to see what programs will be on in the next 12 days, search by title and create a shared login so anyone in the family can manage recordings over the Internet.
Independent media site rabble.ca is celebrating its 10th anniversary by launching Media Watch, an initiative committed to dispelling myths perpetrated by ideologically driven reporters and sensationalist media. “We don’t want people to be blinded by SunTV,” said rabble.ca Publisher, Kim Elliott. “Our new media watch blog will feature a media consumer Twitter feed #sunwatch and the keen eye of Alheli Picazo.”
Coordinator of Media Watch and rabble.ca blogger, Alheli Picazo, wrote an expose in 2010 entitled “Ezra Levant vs Reality – A Prelude To Fox News North” in which she thoroughly challenged Levant’s characterization of George Soros. Following this piece Soros filed suit against Levant and Sun Media, resulting in a full retraction and apology printed in The Sun’s editorial section 13 short days after Levant’s original column ran.
“With the official launch of Sun TV News – featuring none other than Levant himself – there has never been a better time to establish a media accountability service,” said Picazo.
Though it’s starting off small, Media Watch aims to cover a wide range of media, from uninformed editorials and inaccurate reporting. rabble.ca’s team of dedicated spin decoders and lie detectors won’t just point out misinformation, but will provide readers with links to, and information about, the sources from which we cite accurate information. Be it scientific data, peer reviewed research, documented fact or expert analysis, we’ll share the tools you need to further investigate the issues.
Canadian voters are invited to tune in to rabbleTV on April 18 to watch special election coverage (“for the rest of us”) with the launch of the show Real Issues. Host Trish Hennessy (researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and author of the Hennessy Index) will be joined by guests Canadian Auto Workers economist Jim Stanford, Greg Elmer, Director, Infoscape Research Lab and Bell Globemedia Research Chair, and Atkinson Foundation’s Olivia Nuamah. This first panel responds to the leaders’ debates and the campaign so far, and will tackle the issue of strategic voting.
The Edmonton Social Media Breakfast (SMBYEG) is pleased to announce internet marketer extraordinaire, Jennifer Banks as this month’s guest speaker. This month’s topic is “What the heck? Why aren’t you doing SEO?”
Search engine optimization is probably the most effective, misunderstood, bad-mouthed, and ignored component of a high performing online presence- including blogs and social media. The idea is simple; create your content so that Google knows what you do and assists you with gaining visitors/followers and ultimately, making money from your website. Why is this so controversial? There are no secrets, and the basics are straightforward.
This session will cover:
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Why do I need SEO?
How do I integrate SEO into my blog/website/social media?
Live website audits (time permitting)
Stay after the discussion to network and share ideas within the realm of social media. Marketers, PR pros, entrepreneurs, bloggers, podcasters, new-media fanatics, and online social networkers are all welcome to attend. More seats will be released on April 15th at 12:00 p.m. Seating is limited and fills up quickly so hurry to book your place on Eventbrite.com. (Registration will be taken at the event.)
Nevada-based independent payment gateway organization Shift4 Corporation is pleased to announce a recent integration with Burnaby-based POS innovator Squirrel Systems. This integration pairs Squirrel’s state-of-the-art POS system with Shift4′s SaaS-based enterprise payment solution.
“I’m excited by the potential this relationship holds for both organizations,” said Bob Lowe, Shift4′s Director of Strategic Relationships. “It’s nice to see Squirrel building their POS with truly modern Microsoft SQL technology. Now with a certification to Shift4′s Dollars On The Net®, their offering just got that much better.”
Both companies are industry veterans, recognized as technological innovators in their respective spheres. Squirrel was the first vendor to introduce POS touch screen technology and continues to innovate today. Shift4 introduced tokenization to the credit card industry in 2005, and remains at the forefront of payment technology. Squirrel Systems integration of Shift4 payment solution is a next step in meeting the needs of their customers.
“With the integration of Shift4′s solution to Squirrel, we are able to provide our customers with a very flexible, proven, and secure payment processing platform. Our customers are thrilled with the capabilities and cost-effectiveness of Dollars On The Net,” said Joe Cortese, Squirrel’s Vice President of Product Development.
The integration premiered at the Fort Garry Hotel, Spa, and Conference Center in Winnipeg, Canada. Fort Garry also opted to install Shift4′s It’s Your Card® gift card solution, which enables gift card use across POS and PMS systems, and allows guests to use the same gift card throughout the property’s various revenue centers.
“Thus far, the Dollars On The Net feature most impressive to me is the back-of-house reporting functionality,” said Fort Garry Controller Mike Watson. “It’s all online, accessible from anywhere, and the lookups are flexible — so when I go to search for info, it’s right there at my fingertips.”
In addition to top-notch auditing features, this integration brings Shift4′s industry-leading security, speed, and reliability to Squirrel’s clientele while offering them enhanced flexibility and lower costs.
Given that the federal budget tabled on March 22 was not adopted, the Canada Media Fund (CMF) announced today that it will shortly be releasing a preliminary program budget for the upcoming year which will not include the 100M$ program funding allocation that was proposed in the budget, as it cannot be confirmed at this time.
The CMF can only release a program budget based on confirmed sources of revenue. Therefore at this juncture, the program budget will include the projected monthly contributions from broadcast distribution undertakings, as well as the allocation of funding of 34.6M$ included in the budget of the Department of Canadian Heritage which is allocated to the CMF.
In the event that the CMF receives a further allocation of funding as a result of the adoption of a federal budget later this year, the CMF will release a supplementary program budget shortly thereafter.
Performance Envelopes will be calculated on the basis of the anticipated full program budget that was approved by the CMF Board including the $100 million funding allocation announced by the Government, in order to assist the industry with licensing and production planning. However, the contractually confirmed amounts of the Performance Envelopes will be based solely on the preliminary program budget described above.
I for one am very concerned about what this election could mean to our Digital Media industry and all of the hard work so many of us have been doing to work towards a Digital Economy in this country. What ever your political affiliation, please, if you do nothing else leading up to this election, ask your candidates the hard questions – don’t let them wallow about with non-answers. Make them move beyond the finger-pointing and talk about the issues at hand. Do not let our industry fall back down between the cracks of the political landscape. Most of all, exercise your privilege – get out and vote on election day!
I am including this story in today’s news because I feel that it shows important ways in which the advancement of technology can aid humanity not only in learning about ourselves and our history, but in seeing our potential with the responsible use of said technology.
A Canadian First World War soldier killed in action nearly a century ago can finally rest in peace following the identification of his remains and his burial last week in France. This resolution was possible due to a novel combination of identification disciplines, including that of Burlington, MA company Z Corporation’s 3D printing technology.
Private Thomas Lawless of Calgary, Alberta, were discovered in 2003 at a construction site near Avion, France. He was killed in action on June 8, 1917, a few months after the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He was 28.
Two sets of remains were found at the site. The first soldier was identified using DNA analysis in 2007. A combination of historical research, forensic anthropology (the study of the human skeleton), facial reconstruction and isotopic analysis yielded Lawless’ identification, as announced on February 24, 2011.
“Although it’s sad to contemplate the loss of young lives in war, it’s rewarding to account for the missing, both for the sake of the deceased and for long-grieving family members,” said Andrew J. Nelson, a key researcher on the project and Associate Dean of Research for the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Western Ontario.
The identification team created 3D computer models of Lawless’s skull, derived from CT scan data of several large skull fragments, in order to narrow the list of possible matches for the remains. Physical models of the skull were produced using a Z Corporation 3D printer, which creates physical composite models from scan data much as a document printer produces a business letter from a word-processing file.
Using muscle markings on the skull model, scientific tissue-depth tables and plastilina modeling clay, the team worked with noted Canadian artist Christian Corbet to construct a face on the model. They then photographed that face, and superimposed images of it on photographs of soldiers who were potential matches. By seeing how the images lined up – by face height, width and features such as jaw shape – the team was able to narrow the list of potential matches to two. An isotopic analysis of teeth and the jaw bone indicated that the recovered soldier grew up in Dublin – a direct biographical match with Lawless. To see photos of the rebuilding process, please visit Military Historian Jeremy Banning’s site, where he has posted the images with full permission of Christian Corbet.
“Anthropological analysis and mitochondrial DNA testing are standard approaches for identification,” Nelson explained. “However, mtDNA requires material from living family members on the maternal side to make a connection. In this case, we had none of that at our disposal. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first instance in which facial reconstruction and isotopic analysis were added to the mix. It may result in a new protocol, or certainly new tools, for the identification of the missing.”
Private Thomas Lawless, born April 11, 1889, was a member of the 49th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force and was buried March 15, 2011, at La Chaudiere Military Cemetery in Vimy, France, with his family in attendance. La Chaudiere, a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, currently has 907 servicemen from the First World War buried or commemorated there, including Canadian Private Herbert Peterson, the soldier found in 2003 with Private Lawless.
Private Herbert Peterson was born on February 28, 1895, in Scranton, Kansas. He and his five brothers were the offspring of Charles and Julia Peterson from Rose Lynn, Alberta. On February 22, 1916, just shy of his 21st birthday, Private Peterson joined the 137th Overseas Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force in Calgary as a private.
On his attestation form, Private Peterson listed his (1916) address as Berry Creek, Alberta, and recorded that he was a farmer, single, Presbyterian, with no current or previous military service. During Private Peterson’s medical examination, he was noted as being five feet, nine inches tall, with a fully expanded chest measurement of thirty-nine inches, a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. He arrived in England with the 137th Battalion on August 30, 1916, and was formally transferred to the 49th Battalion, CEF, on December 7, 1916. A few weeks later, on January 20, 1917, he joined the 49th Battalion in France as a reinforcement soldier. He was declared missing after action on June 9, 1917.
Until the recent discovery of his remains, Private Peterson was one of the more than 11,000 Canadian soldiers who died in France during the First World War and who have no known grave. Private Herbert Peterson burial photo credit: from the blog of military historian Jeremy Banning.
Nelson sees a variety of applications for 3D printing in anthropology beyond the identification of soldiers’ remains. For example, his team used Z Corporation 3D printing in the 2003 facial reconstruction of the Sulman Egyptian mummy housed at the Chatham-Kent Museum in Chatham, Ontario. The facial reconstruction of the mummy was also done by Christian Corbet.
“Societies who wish to move forward must know their past to better understand who they are now and where they might be going,” he said. “The high variability of cultures of the past – before the internet – tells us a lot about the interplay of traits like gender, status, health and wealth in different settings. It’s the bones that help us associate those cultural traits with a particular set of human remains. And though CT scans enable us to a look inside a mummy, for example, without disturbing the bones, wrappings and so on, 3D printing lets us extract these pieces, figuratively speaking, by creating a physical model from CT scan data. We can thus examine the bones more closely and learn more from them.”
Via Canadian Heritage & Official Languages: Youth, artists, festivals, and arts training organizations are thriving in Vancouver, thanks to an investment by the Government of Canada. Support for a total of 40 projects was announced today by the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. Minister Moore made the announcement at the Vancouver Playhouse in downtown Vancouver alongside leaders of Vancouver’s arts and cultural community.
“With Canada’s economic recovery still fragile, we are focused on creating jobs and economic growth throughout British Columbia,” said Minister Moore. Supporting Canadian culture means supporting Canada’s economy. Arts and culture bring communities together and contribute to the economic strength of cities. We are proud to support our artists and arts organizations, because investing in the arts is central to strengthening communities in Vancouver and throughout British Columbia.”
The funding announced today will support a range of projects that create cultural experiences, strengthen communities, and bring people together. Projects benefitting from today’s announcement include the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, the DanceHouse performance series, Vancouver Takes the Stage, the Vancouver Early Music Festival, and the Bard On The Beach Theatre Society.
“We are very excited about the opportunity that the Government of Canada has provided to the youth of Vancouver,” said Lucille Pacey, President of Arts Umbrella. The Act One: Youth project will provide the opportunity for youth to work with seasoned Canadian artists in the community and to take those lessons into the classrooms in a leadership role.”
Today’s announcement includes the following Vancouver-area projects:
Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage
The Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program provides Canadians with more opportunities to take part in activities that present local arts and culture and celebrate local history and heritage.
A.I.A. Arts In Action Society – In the House Festival; $5,500
Celebrate Vancouver’s 125th Advisory Committee – Vancouver Takes the Stage (Vancouver Celebrates 125); $109,200
Collingwood Neighbourhood House Society – Collingwood Days Festival; $24,500
First United Church – First United Church 125th Anniversary; $8,400
Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver – Festival Ha’Rikud 2011 Celebrating Love/Ahava; $12,500
Hellenic Community of Vancouver – Greek Heritage Month/Greek Day; $16,400
New Westminster Hyack Festival Association – Hyack Festival; $31,100
North Vancouver Community Arts Council – Art in the Garden Tour; $2,600
Richmond Arts Coalition – 8th Annual Richmond Maritime Festival; $92,000
Richmond Museum Society – Doors Open Richmond 2011; $6,700
Scandinavian Community Centre Society – Midsummer Festival; $9,000
Seabird Island Band – 42nd Annual First Nations Festival; $18,900
Think City Society – Think City Tours; $7,900
Valerie Dudoward Foundation – Teach Me the Ways / Vancouver Aboriginal Heritage and Arts Festival; $4,300
Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration – City of Bhangra 2011; $16,200
Vancouver Korean Dance Society – Soaring: The 15th Annual Korean Dance Festival; $6,500
Canada Arts Presentation Fund
The Canada Arts Presentation Fund gives Canadians increased access to the variety and richness of Canada’s culture through professional arts festivals, presentations of live professional performances, and other artistic experiences.
Centre Culturel Francophone de Vancouver – 22nd Festival d’été francophone de Vancouver and 2011–2012 season; $40,000 (2011–2012)
Coastal Jazz and Blues Society – Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Winterruption, and Concert Season; $300,000 (2011–2012)
Rosario Ancer Flamenco Arts Society – Vancouver International Flamenco Festival; $18,000 (2011–2012)
Seismic Shift Arts Society – DanceHouse; $80,000 (2011–2012)
Powell Street Festival Society – 2011 and 2012 Festival and Season; $28,000 (2011–2012) and $28,000 (2012–2013)
PuSh International Performing Arts Festival Society – PuSh International Performing Arts Festival; $220,000 (2011–2012) and $220,000 (2012–2013)
Vancouver Society for Early Music – Vancouver Early Music Festival 2011 and 2012 and The Early Music Vancouver Winter Concert Season 2010–2011 and 2011–2012; $93,000 (2011–2012) and $93,000 (2012–2013)
Western Front Society – Western Front New Music 2011–2012 and 2012–2013 programs; $20,000 (2011–2012) and $20,000 (2012–2013)
Canada Cultural Spaces Fund
The Canada Cultural Spaces Fund seeks to improve physical conditions for artistic creativity and innovation. It is also designed to increase access for Canadians to performing arts, visual arts, media arts, and to museum collections and heritage displays.
Presentation House Cultural Society – Theatre lighting equipment upgrade; $48,170
Bard On The Beach Theatre Society – New Mainstage and Studio Stage Theatres; $1,050,337 (2011–2012) and $149,663 (2012–2013)
Canada Arts Training Fund
The Canada Arts Training Fund supports non-profit organizations that offer training to Canadians aspiring to a national or international professional career in the arts.
Mandala Arts and Culture Society – Training in the Arts; $40,000 (2011–2012)
Full Circle: First Nations Performance Society – Training in the Arts; $155,000 (2011–2012) and $155,000 (2012–2013)
Canada Cultural Investment Fund (Strategic Initiatives Component)
The Canada Cultural Investment Fund’s Strategic Initiatives component provides funding for initiatives supported by multiple partners and impacting multiple organizations. Supported projects help arts and heritage organizations build and diversify their revenue streams, and strengthen their management capacities/business competencies.
Assembly of Bristish Columbia Arts Councils – Development, delivery, and expansion of a special projects program in capacity and sustainability; $157,200 (2010–2011)
The Playhouse Theatre Centre of British Columbia – Next Generation Arts Leadership; $28,000 (2010–2011)
Canada Cultural Investment Fund (Endowment Incentives Component)
The Endowment Incentives component of the Canada Cultural Investment Fund provides funding to match donations from the private sector to arts organizations’ endowment fund. This year, the Government of Canada is providing 71 cents for every dollar donated by the private sector.
Arts Club of Vancouver Theatre Foundation – Arts Club of Vancouver Theatre Society; $388,961
Vancouver Foundation – Chor Leoni Men’s Choir; $21,883
Vancouver Foundation –Vancouver International Dance Festival Society; $4,258
Vancouver Foundation – Vancouver Society for Early Music; $7,182
Vancouver Foundation – VDC Dance Centre Society; $46,291
Vancouver Foundation – West Vancouver Arts Centre Trust; $71,108
Vancouver Foundation – Théâtre la Seizième; $9,091
Vancouver Opera Foundation – Vancouver Opera Association; $342,888
Vancouver Symphony Foundation – Vancouver Symphony Society; $434,899
Youth Take Charge Program
The Youth Take Charge program supports youth-led projects and is getting young Canadians involved in a range of activities designed to strengthen their knowledge and attachment to Canada.
Children’s Arts Umbrella Association – Act One:Youth; $137,896
Well, not quite, but it was a very full house for a town meeting at our local high school last night. I know, you’re asking what this has to do with digital media. Well, nothing, really – but it has everything to do with Canadian content, and not just on this site, either.
Vancouver production company Force Four is looking for a town to be the focus of a show the studio currently has in development. The premise of the show is to find a Canadian town and assist that town and its residents to overcome challenges faced by the community in regards to economy, community, crime and more. The producers will bring in a variety of high-profile experts to work with the town’s residents to help them meet specific goals – not just on a town level but also on a personal level. They will provide guidance for financial challenges, business dreams and community pride. The premise of the show is to bring a whole town together to inspire other communities, to show others what can be accomplished when a town works together.
Aldergrove has made the short list of roughly a half dozen Lower Mainland communities, and tonight’s town hall meeting built on this area’s reputation of rising to a challenge, of people coming together to build, to support and improve. Speaking from their experience with other documentaries, the producers have found that the best ideas often come from the communities themselves, and to this end has requested that residents and business people
Now I know that some of you are thinking “wait a minute, you just lambasted the Township in the local paper last week.” Yes, yes I did – but that was not my community or my town – that was a portion of the local government who have trouble thinking outside the box – and incidentally, none of those members of Council were at the meeting – or if they were, I didn’t see them, which means they didn’t stand up and take part in the conversation. To the Council members whom I know were there (and not part of the problem I have with local government), thank you for taking the time to support our town.
Force Four Productions is known for such productions as Village On A Diet, Cupcake Girls and Murder She Solved, to name but a few. The studio produces scripted, documentary, factual scripted and children’s programming. This new show will be presented to the Oprah Winfrey Network with the hopes of getting a greenlight for full production.
What did surprise me was the number of relatively new residents who came forward to share their views of our town. One 16 year resident – yes, that qualifies as “relatively new” for me, my family has lived here since 1873, homesteading a quarter section farm just west of the town proper – spoke of her first experiences after moving here with her family, and how a little rain didn’t dampen spirits during our Festival Days parade. People still lined the street to watch the procession and community groups still gave out strawberry shortcake. Another resident who moved here 6 months ago related a similar experience with the annual Christmas parade, except with the dispensing of hot chocolate. Read the rest of this entry »
Beginning this article has been somewhat like the production staff at Kensington Communications deciding which museums to feature in their first six episode run of Museum Secrets. As Series Producer Steve Gamester told me in a recent interview “choosing the museums was really like an embarrassment of riches, there were so many to choose from.” The team knew that they wanted to include at least one Canadian museum along with other well-known historic icons. Like Kensington, I have a wealth of information for this article, and the challenge has not been in writing it, but in putting it all in context and conveying my impressions of the series without sounding like the avid series fan that I really am.
When I was granted an interview with Steve Gamester, I almost went into panic mode because there were so many things I wanted to ask, but one important lesson from journalism class all those years ago is always front and centre in my mind – be respectful of your interviewee’s time. So came the task of narrowing down the kazillion possible questions to a dozen or so that would result in uncovering the most information. What I wasn’t prepared for was Steve’s passion about not only the show, but about history in general, and if you are not already aware of this, people who have a passion talk really fast. My notes looked like hieroglyphic rabble once the telephone interview was done.
Steve completed his post-secondary education with a major in history, and he said that there as there were not many career options open to him at that time, he opted for film, where he has worked since graduation. I understand his passion for times past, as I spend a good portion of my free time either watching shows about ancient history on the History TV Canada channel or surfing around the web visiting museums and historic sites – the internet, to me, is one enormous research facility.
Going back to the beginning of the series, I asked Steve where the show’s concept originated. He told me that History Television (Canada) had put out a call for proposals on shows about museums, and Kensington came up with the idea for Museum Secrets, a show that would be driven by the objects and characters one finds in a museum, following the thought that behind every object is a great story to tell – and “the objects on display in a museum are usually just a drop in the bucket of what the museum actually possesses.”
One of the most important considerations when choosing the museum locations was accessibility, as many museums are constantly undergoing some type of renovation, and there are some which do not allow camera crews at all. Also examined were the individual museum collections – which objects would offer not only a great story but also a new and interesting way to look at the artifacts, making them more than just a static object. It took six months to gain access to the archives in Vatican City, an area which is usually opened only to those who are sponsored by a member of The Vatican, and only for “serious” research purposes. Other considerations which also dictate where the crews will go for future filming of episodes include language barriers, current events and of course, cost.
It was eerily ironic when the episode about the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities aired, as History Television (Canada) carried commercials from Tourism Egypt, with the tag line “Where It All Begins” – and the episode aired just as the recent civic uprisings began. I asked Steve what thoughts went through his head as news about the riots and protests was coming out of Egypt, and he said that first and foremost was “the safety of the people they had met and worked with.” He continued on, stating that “What many viewers may not have realized is that the street where protesters were throwing molotov cocktails was the most vulnerable part of the building, as the museum’s wall is so close to the street, and behind that wall is the Royal Mummy Room.”
The Egyptian Museum was also Steve’s favourite site to visit. He said that the people who worked there were very charming and helpful, and the museum itself is an historic experience all on its own. The architecture of the current building is original, complete with antique display cases and peeling paint on the walls. The artifacts have inhabited this site on Tahrir Square since 1902, in a building which was designed in 1896 by the French Architect Marcel Dourgnon.
In deciding which artifacts would be featured in the six episodes, Steve said that there was an intensive amount of research done which preceded any decisions. Their teams looked at museum backgrounds and consulted with individual curators. They started with a huge slate of possible features, and then began the process of narrowing down their focus, looking for a balance between those items which were famous and those which were not. Of central importance, as he said earlier, was the story behind the artifact, and any emotional connection the item may have with people still living.
This is something I could relate to, as my family has lived in this area for over a century and has many historic ties to the town, including an old thresher which is in the BC Farm Machinery and Agricultural Museum in Fort Langley. The thresher belonged to my great-great-grandfather, and was involved in some cross-border shenanigans with farmers and the sheriff’s department just across the border in Washington state. I wasn’t aware of the story until our historic society included it in one of their published area histories, and we’ve since been down to visit the thresher at the museum.
As a first example, Ernie La Pointe, great-grandson of Sioux chief Sitting Bull, was interviewed about his famous ancestor and the beautiful antique headdress in possession of the Royal Ontario Museum. The Royal Ontario Museum episode was the first of the series to be filmed, and it was here that the crew fully realized the personal attachments curators can develop with the artifacts. Egyptologist Gayle Gibson is emphatically passionate about her work with the ROM’s Egyptian Collection, and it is obvious in the segments examining the Egyptian mummy babies that every artifact carries with it some essence of humanity, and the curators echo that humanity in their treatment and care of the artifacts.
Every episode of this first series has thus far succeeded in showing how these moments in our history still have some type of impact on those living in modern times. One such interview was with Charles Napoleon, descendant of the youngest brother of that famous little tyrant, Napoleon Bonaparte. A new level of interest was definitely added to the Louvre episode when the story of the propagandic Jacques-Louis David painting of Napoleon’s coronation is told by the man who could have been the current monarch of France, had history played out differently.
Another segment aired during the episode on England’s Natural History Museum. Who doesn’t love a story about a cursed, priceless gem? Apparently the descendants of Edward Heron-Allen don’t. The Blasted Amethyst was gifted to the museum after decades of mysterious and nefarious events seemed to surround anyone who owned or touched the gem, which had been looted from the Temple of Indra during the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Most interesting during this segment was the skepticism of Mineralogist Alan Hart, who does not believe in the curse, and the opposite opinion of Curator Richard Savin, who firmly believes the gem has exerted it cursatory power on his life. Ira Jones, the son of Edward Heron-Allen, was offered the opportunity to handle the purple treasure before it was replaced in its display case. He declined. While he did have the opportunity to handle some of the artifacts at the Egyptian Museum, series producer Steve Gamester did not lay hands on the gem either, but he did note that one of the show’s cameramen fell ill the day after the segment on the gem was shot. Coincidence or Curse?
Museum Secrets also takes the science behind some of the artifacts out of the museum and into the real world. Two segments which immediately stand out are the ones where the crossbow and musket go shot for shot in power comparisons and the top secret weaponry employed by Britain’s Special Operations Executive. Who knew that rats could be so explosively deadly?
What made the crossbow segment of the ROM episode so special was the opportunity for Curator Cory Keeble to actually shoot a replica crossbow which had been built to medieval specifications by prop master Chris Warrilow – and his delight in doing so.
During World War II, there was a very real threat that many of the treasures housed in the Natural History Museum could be forever lost should any German bombs fall on the building, so the building was emptied of its treasure hoard, and the spies moved in. The Special Operations Executive, of which author Ian Flemming was a member, were responsible for gathering intelligence on the Nazis and coming up with ways to put serious dents in their activities. The Museum Secrets team and explosives engineer Sidney Alford took a closer look at some of the blueprints for explosive devices used by the SOE to combat Hitler’s armies. Thankfully they took their experiments outside.
I have purposely left two episodes of the Museum Secrets series until last, because the Vatican Museum is one archive I would love be to turned loose in, and The Met has ties to secrets the Vatican would like to keep. No, I’m not a Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons fanatic – I’ve spent decades wondering what secrets are hidden away behind the thick walls of the Vatican. The Met was recently featured as a backdrop location to another conspiracy-based movie, The Last Templar, so I found some of the artifact choices by the Museum Secrets team intriguing simply because of the tie-ins to the whole Templar-Vatican story.
During my interview with Steve Gamester, he said that even with all of the preparatory research done before going on location, there is still the possibility of stumbling upon one special gem, the impact of which you don’t fully realize until you are on location. As he noted elsewhere in our conversation, many of today’s museums did not start life as a museum, and thus have additional stories aside from the ones on display. One of Steve’s favourite segments was the graffiti left behind in the Vatican by the looting army of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, when it sacked Rome in 1527. The graffiti was particularly intriguing, because members of the army had actually taken the time to scratch in the name of their leader, defacing frescoes which had been created by master artist Raphael.
Conspiracy theories and tall tales aside, I have always felt that history and its artifacts belong to the people, and we as members of the human race should have right of access if not to the real thing (in protective cases and covers, of course), then as digitized files – and this doesn’t go for just the Vatican’s treasures, but for all museums. I think that what Kensington and History Television (Canada) are doing, and promoting, with the Museum Secrets series is very commendable – they give viewers a taste of the real history behind the objects, and through the series website, invite you to learn more.
When we were discussing the Vatican Museum, I asked Steve which museum he would like to have unfettered access to, and he replied that one of his top choices would be The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, which is another museum I would love to visit one day, as part of my family came from Russia, escaping soon after the deaths of the Romanovs. Steve mentioned that he has also been researching Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, as he also has an interest in the Ottoman Empire. This conversational line led to my asking Steve which period in history was his favourite, to which he replied Ancient Greek, and lucky for him, the crew is currently filming a new Museum Secrets episode at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. I asked him if they would be filming any segments at Santorini, and to my disappointment, he didn’t think so – but they would be taking a look at the legend of the Minotaur and the mysterious labyrinth.
If you haven’t done so yet, I invite you to visit the Museum Secrets web site, because it is full of interesting things to learn and things to do. The interactive designers at Kensington have given viewers the chance to play with digitized versions of crossbows. There is also a feature called the Object Navigator, which allows you to look at the museum objects in detail and learn more about them. There are also non-featured artifacts sprinkled among them, and you can even save the objects to be looked at later. While the Object Navigator and My Discoveries features do require that you register on the site (if you want to save your lists), once you do, you can also make notes to go with the objects, and you can share them with others. There are many interactive components to be found on the web site, and while I could tell you where they all are, I think it would be more engaging for you to explore the site and find them as you go along.
Every segment also has its own short feature video to also give you a closer look at areas of interest to you, complete with the distinct animated segments used to describe historical events. I asked Steve about those segments, because to me they look reminiscent of the Monty Python shows, and I wondered if this was a kind of homage to those comedic creators of other …historic films. Steve answered that the team wanted a graphic novel feel, somewhat “Frank Miller-ish” to the animations, and that they were simply trying to find a signature way to portray historic episodes without using full CG, as well as stay within the budget. There was no resemblance to Monty Python intended in either the crossbow game or the show’s animated segments.
The Museum Secrets blog offers a behind-the-scenes looks at every episode, and a chance to hear from that episode’s director about the various locations. Speaking for myself, whose interest in history is probably only equaled by my interest in video games, Museum Secrets is one of the most original and educational series to grace the airwaves, and I enjoy it all the more because it’s made in Canada. These are the types of programs I am happy to see my tax dollars support, and I hope that we are given the opportunity to see many more episodes in the future.
Museum Secrets, produced by KensingtonTV with the participation and support of the Bell Fund, History Television, and the Canada Media Fund, currently airs on History Television (Canada), and will be airing in the near future in both the United States and Europe. The Museum Secrets team also welcomes input and feedback from fans on both its Facebook page and Twitter. Aside from the video on the site, you can also check out video on the Museum Secrets’ YouTube channel and see location stills on Flickr.
Last evening Scott and I went to the Shaw Client Consultation meeting that was held in Langley (BC, for those who don’t know which province we live in). Sandwiches and refreshments were provided, which was appreciated by those of us whose “to do list” prevented the consumption of a proper dinner.
As I admitted last evening, I am a Shaw fangirl, and I don’t have a problem admitting that. I’ve had the Telus experience, and Shaw is heads above them for service. That said, when Shaw quietly removed 25gb from my internet plan, without telling me while still charging me the same money, the Corporation lost pretty well all of the trust I had for it, and Shaw is going to have to work very hard to get that trust level back.
Do I believe that Shaw understands it has made a huge mistake? Yes, I felt that Chris Kucharski, Vice President, Operations, who led the meeting, was sincere when he stated such. Do I believe that Shaw wants to work with its customers to find a viable solution? Yes, I feel they do. Do I believe that everyone will be happy with the solutions? No, because you can’t please all of the people all of the time. As Scott said last night on the prospect of follow-up customer sessions – yes, we are interested in participating, but Shaw should do more of these sessions – don’t wait until there is a big problem – commit to holding more of these sessions to avoid the big problems.
The first test for those at the meeting last night will come with their promised follow-up today of the congestion problem we are having. Yes, we are a super-user household, we have the Extreme internet package with three IP addresses, and we pay extra for that third IP. While I feel that $10.00 for that third IP is just a tad high when we get three extra IP addresses for our webserver down at SoftLayer for only $5.00, we need that third IP so we have to pay the piper for it. Periodic speed tests of our bandwidth, done at different times of day on varying days of the week are incredibly inconsistent, and rarely do we approach the advertised 15Mbps download speed, even at the off-peak hours between 4 – 6am. Yes, there are people awake in our house at those hours.
There was some good dialogue at last night’s meeting, with some viable ideas on what to do about the data transfer and bandwidth speed issues. Except for the people who suggested throttling. That is a terrible idea, and is akin to locking a gamer in a dungeon with the golden key inches out of reach. We, like many others in the room last night, are willing to pay for speed IF there are either no caps, or caps that are better applicable to our plan – we have speed (when we’re not congested), and we want to use it. We do a lot of gaming in this house, and along with activities related to running this web site, we need a lot of transfer room. Three PCs, two laptops, two Xbox 360s, a Nintendo DS, a Wii, an iPhone and an iPod Touch need room roam. One day we’ll be able to afford a PS3, then what? More transfer usage.
The current cap of 100gb simply is not enough. As I explained last night, two game packages downloaded and 1/3 of our monthly transfer allowance was gone. Gaming-related downloads in the billing cycle just ended resulted in just over 55gb of data, over half of our plan – and that’s just files, not game play. Who knows how much transfer we used up with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or web-series watching, never mind emails and regular surfing around that big research facility known as the internet.
Already this morning we’ve burned up 4gb just downloading the Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood expansion Da Vinci’s Disappearance for two 360s. Later today I will be picking up 2 copies of Dragon Age 2 for those same 360s, and then we will get to download all of the extra content we’ve qualified for, along with any game build updates. Burn burn burn…
People have asked me why we don’t switch to Telus. Well, let me tell you why. I refuse to sign a contract for telecommunications services of any kind. It’s bad enough I had to sign one for the cell phone service at work. Shaw’s customer service centres are located in Canada. Shaw does not out-source to countries halfway around the globe. They hire people who live in Canada. They support Canadian communities and Canadian enterprise with offerings such as the Shaw Rocket Fund – and yes, Telus supports projects like this too, in fact they are supporting this weekend’s Great Canadian Appathon – but they out-source and trying to get any customer support or technical service is very difficult, so Telus loses many points in the standings. Mr. Kucharksi asked if I thought Shaw was doing a good enough job letting Canadians know just how Canadian Shaw is, and frankly, no, you’re not.
As I said last night, I’d like to see Shaw involved in local creative industry events like the Canadian Games Conference, the Canadian Video Game Awards and SIGGRAPH 2011, all being held in Vancouver – in fact this is the first time SIGGRAPH is being held outside the USA, and is a great opportunity for Shaw to do some good PR work. I know there are other creative industry events in your other markets that would offer similar opportunities for Shaw. Some of you last night were surprised to learn that Canada stands in third spot on the global scale as a digital media producer. Do not implement these horribly low caps and stifle that creativity. Canada is well on its way to taking top spot, let us innovate, create and educate without having to worry about monthly caps or throttling.
We also learned last night about a new Shaw program, which was unveiled as I was writing this editorial. Called The Personalizer, I believe this new idea is meant to give Shaw users more of what they want, and as I said on Twitter earlier, it’s a step in the right direction, but I still have to buy a ton of channel bundles to get the few channels I want, along with many more I do not want. Also, if all Shaw users have to use this, including existing customers, it’s going to confuse the hell out of my parents, who are among the least tech-savvy people I know, and yes, they are Shaw Cable customers. We’re trying to get them to switch to digital phone and get internet at home, but that’s still a little ways off. My Mom doesn’t feel she needs home internet because she can look stuff up when she’s at the office, even though she’s retired and not supposed to be there.
I took a look at this new Personalizer, and on the surface it’s great, we might even save money. Then you look at the channel bundles. We are going to lose the Book and Bio channels, because they are bundled with all of the music channels we don’t watch, and I’m not paying $10.00 for a bundle to get two channels. Thankfully we can get rid of all the sports channels we don’t watch. CBC and TSN are good enough for us. Wait a minute…is regular plain old TSN included in the basics? It’s hard to tell from this:
Personal TV includes over 40 of the most popular channels including 12 HD channels: CTV HD, ABC HD, CBC HD, Global HD, CBS HD, PBS HD, NBC HD, Fox HD, HGTV HD, CityTV HD, History, The Frame, MuchMusic, OMNI, Shaw TV, The Weather Network, YTV, The Shopping Channel, The Food Network, Game TV, Galaxie Music Channels, and more!
What’s the “and more” is it TSN? A&E? Don’t give me “and more” I want to know what the “and more” is, thanks. A careful look at the two sports bundles does not show regular, plain old non-HD TSN. We don’t have an HD TV, so we don’t particularly care about HD channels. Where is APTN? Read the rest of this entry »