Edmonton Notes for April 15, 2018

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Two Second Headways
Two Second Headways, photo by Kurt Bauschardt

Upcoming Events

  • I hope to see you at City Hall on Monday afternoon for the City of Edmonton’s HealthHack Prototype event! It runs from 2-4pm.
  • The 110th Edmonton Kiwanis Music Festival kicks off on Monday and runs through the end of the month.
  • Head over to the Shaw Conference Centre on Tuesday from 10-4pm for the Edmonton Career Fair & Training Expo.
  • The families of four Edmonton-area Humboldt Broncos players will host a public Celebration of the lives of Jaxon Joseph, Logan Hunter, Parker Tobin and Stephen Wack at 1:00 PM MT on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at Rogers Place. You can get free tickets here.
  • The City is hosting two public engagement sessions this week on proposed grass and yard waste collection changes, on Wednesday at the Mill Woods Senior and Multicultural Centre and on Thursday at the Commonwealth Community Recreation Centre.
  • The Sexual Exploitation Working Group is hosting a lunch & learn on Thursday at MacEwan University. Wear orange to support the 2018 Sexual Exploitation Week of Awareness.
  • Rapid Fire Theatre’s Bonfire Festival continues on Thursday and Friday at the Citadel.
  • Friday is 4/20. One of the events taking place that day to celebrate is 420 FEST at Union Hall.
  • The Edmonton Cottage Life & Cabin Show takes place at the Edmonton Expo Centre from Friday to Sunday.
  • Chantal Kreviazuk is performing at the Winspear Centre on Saturday evening.
  • Saturday is Lay Day Edmonton, a free opportunity to “tour the Edmonton Law Courts, view mock trials featuring the Ghostbusters, the Cat in the Hat, Mario & friends, and Superman, and receive legal consultations and information from our volunteer lawyers.”
  • This year’s Spring Edmonton Woman’s Show takes place at the Edmonton Expo Centre on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Save the date! AccelerateAB is taking place at the Shaw Conference Centre on Tuesday, April 24.

Spring Thaw & Rocks
Spring Thaw

Thanks for reading! Want to support my blog? Buy me a coffee!

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #291

PodSummit 2018 is coming up here in Edmonton on May 5 at CKUA! The event features a great lineup of speakers, including Karen Unland, Roger Kingkade, Rob Greenlee, and many more. Tickets are $150 and the event is already 60% sold out. Or you can win your way in, as I have one ticket to give away! Simply leave a comment below (using a valid email address) telling me what your favorite podcast is, and you’ll be entered to win. I’ll draw one name at random on Sunday, April 15, and the event organizers will be in touch with your ticket. Hope to see you at PodSummit!

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

PodSummit
PodSummit 2018 takes place in Edmonton on May 5

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

Want to read great stories about Edmonton? Or maybe you’d like to write them? Join Taproot Edmonton and help us ensure that local journalism has a future in our city.

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for April 8, 2018

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Sunday Afternoon
Sunday Afternoon, photo by Kurt Bauschardt

Upcoming Events

Projects to build prosperous communities
Projects to build prosperous communities, photo by Government of Alberta

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #290

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

  • Goodbye Metro Edmonton, hello StarMetro Edmonton/TheStar Edmonton. Torstar has “doubled the size of our Metro Edmonton newsroom” and will be relaunching/rebranding on April 10. The newspaper will now be called StarMetro Edmonton, and the website will be TheStar Edmonton, a new local hub on thestar.com. The company is promising a much bigger focus on investigations. Alex Boyd will serve as the StarMetro Edmonton Bureau Chief and tweeted “we’re still committed to Edmonton, we’re just gaining a bit more muscle.”
  • The Globe and Mail reports that Torstar is hiring 20 reporters to add to the 15 currently located in Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton.
  • The Edmonton Sun launched in Edmonton forty years ago today. “Despite an ad in the first Edmonton Sun from our competition, the Edmonton Journal, wishing us “a nice visit to the city,” it has been an extended stay.”
  • Looks like changes are underway at 92.5 Fresh Radio. They are changing up the morning show with details to be announced “soon”. Previous hosts Dani and Jay had their last show on March 27 as did evening show host Amanda Propp.
  • Bollywood is For Lovers, the podcast by locals Matt Bowes and Erin Fraser, was featured in an article on TheHindu.com. “What these two unlikely Bollywood devotees represent is a wider cultural movement: non-Indians from around the globe are not only discovering Indian cinema but also creating platforms to celebrate, discuss and champion it through blogs, podcasts and YouTube.”
  • Graham Hicks has the story behind the $258 million sale of Edmonton-based CCI Thermal to an American company, and its connection to Allarcom via Harold Roozen, “the right-hand man, and then son-in-law, of the late, great Edmonton entrepreneur Dr. Charles Allard.”
  • A number of local radio stations and media personalities have been nominated in the 2018 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards. The winners will be announced on May 10.
  • Grant Ainsley wrote an ode to the old police scanner. “Police services, fire departments and paramedic units across Alberta will soon receive more privacy, because new technology will allow traditional police scanners to go silent, at least for the ears of the media.”
  • Here is the latest Alberta Podcast Network Roundup.
  • Paula Kirman is renewing her push to raise $5,000 for Radical Citizen Media. She recently hit 1,000 subscribers on YouTube.
  • The Mark Spector Golf Classic, which has raised $568,000 in four years, is coming up on July 25.

2018_03_24USPORTSCurling (71)
Photo by Don Voaklander

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

Want to read great stories about Edmonton? Or maybe you’d like to write them? Join Taproot Edmonton and help us ensure that local journalism has a future in our city.

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #289

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Improved transit in Edmonton metro region
Improve transit in Edmonton metro region, photo by Government of Alberta

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

  • Gerry Forbes will hang up his headphones at CJAY92 in Calgary this week. “My father was a broadcaster and one of the best at radio station 630 CHED in Edmonton. I was fortunate enough to get to work with him when I was a punk kid and loved everything I saw at the radio station.”
  • The CRTC says it will consult on new ways to make cellular services more affordable, “but stopped short of mandating a model that would have forced large wireless companies to resell network access to startup carriers that don’t build their own networks.”
  • YouTube TV will be the first-ever presenting sponsor for the NBA Finals. “The NBA was the first pro sports league to partner with YouTube with the launch of its own channel way back in November 2005.”
  • Spotify goes public next week and has said it expects to grow to 96 million paid subscribers with revenue of $6.6 billion this year.

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

Want to read great stories about Edmonton? Or maybe you’d like to write them? Join Taproot Edmonton and help us ensure that local journalism has a future in our city.

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for March 25, 2018

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

E-Town
E-Town, photo by Kurt Bauschardt

Upcoming Events

Downtown library March 2018
Downtown Library March 2018, photo by jasonwoodhead23

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #288

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Getting Alberta in the game
Minister Bilous announces a new Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit program, photo by Government of Alberta

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

  • “The latest industry to get a Trump bump: Journalism schools.” Apparently applications have jumped at Columbia’s graduate school of journalism, The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
  • Jason Kottke looks back at twenty years of writing kottke.org. Quite the milestone!
  • The Canadian Association of Black Journalists is running a survey to find out what a re-imagined CABJ should look like.
  • A new report examining virtual reality formats for journalism found that VR “prompted a higher empathetic response than static photo/text treatments and a higher likelihood of participants to take ‘political or social action’ after viewing.”

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

Want to read great stories about Edmonton? Or maybe you’d like to write them? Join Taproot Edmonton and help us ensure that local journalism has a future in our city.

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for March 18, 2018

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Dismount and Walk
Dismount and Walk, photo by More Bike Lanes Please (be sure to read the caption)

Upcoming Events

Cities & Climate Change Science Conference.  5-7 March 2018, Edmonton (day 2)
At the Cities & Climate Change Science Conference, photo by UCLG

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 40

Edmonton’s 40th DemoCamp took place at the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences (CCIS) on the University of Alberta campus on Wednesday, March 14. The event marked 10 years since Edmonton’s first DemoCamp which took place back on March 26, 2008. Here’s what I wrote in my recap of that event:

I counted about sixty people at one point, with some standing along the back walls.
It’s great to see the community growing like this in Edmonton, and I have no doubt that the next DemoCamp will be even better!

To celebrate ten years of DemoCamp, the 40th edition included some demos from past years, for a sort of “where are they now”-style demo. There was also a nice round of applause for Cam Linke, who started DemoCamp here in Edmonton despite others saying it would never succeed.

DemoCamp Edmonton 40

In order of appearance, the demos were:

BritBot, a follow-up to Kory’s previous demo on the improv robot at DemoCamp Edmonton 34, is a new project in conjunction with an art project from the UK focused on Brexit and what it means to be British. With a microphone attached, you fire up BritBot to answer a series of questions. It went a bit crazy during the demo, but we got the idea. The bot tracks user engagement, what the user is saying, and both how complex the answers are and how well they match the questions. To ask new questions, the bot is simultaneously searching a series of neural networks. There are 34 topics and 900 questions. BitBot tracks offensive speech and hate speech, “because people start insulting these things relentlessly,” Kory said. Cool stuff!

Gotta Style is a mobile-first CRM for the hair salon industry. They’re trying to tackle the problem of under-utilization, where the salon is full of empty chairs. Customers with the app can browse styles, see available salons that are on the platform, and can choose a stylist and book an appointment. As a stylist, they can accept and manage bookings, take photos of the haircut so both have a “hair fashion file” of the styles you’ve got, plus add notes for future bookings. They noted they could expand in the future to nail salons, etc. The app also supports social media publishing, if the client approves it, which is something I’ve noticed is pretty popular on Instagram.

Drivewyze, which first demoed at DemoCamp Edmonton 28, does a pre-screening mobile app for long-haul trucking, similar to Nexus. They describe themselves as “the nation’s largest weigh station bypass service” (meaning the United States, they’re active in all but 5 of them). There are about 200,000 vehicles on the road right now that the system handles. They moved their backend to Amazon AWS last year, so their demo showed off the behind-the-scenes and all of the intelligence and automation they’ve built around it. Sean noted they have gone from “hope and pray” to “know and be proactive” over the last two years with all the changes. It was pretty cool to see!

Yardly offers an online service for lawn care and snow removal services. There’s an admin app, a provider app, and a customer app. Yardly can be used for one-time service, or also longer-term or recurring service. They showed off the MVP which looked pretty polished. The service enforces a bit of a workflow – for instance, providers need to take before & after photos with the app. They don’t have any plans to do “inside the house” services, they are focused on outside the house, and want to make sure they get that right.

DemoCamp Edmonton 40

Elsi was up next. Jerry showed off his approach to make managing passwords easier. No sensitive information is stored on your phone, instead there’s a little card-like device that you use that communicates with your phone or other computers via NFC. It uses a patent pending system that “relies on user intention”. Think of it like a security badge that you’d use to access different parts of a building. The purpose of the card is really the fear of having something like your phone with all your passwords connected to the Internet, Bluetooth, etc. I can see the appeal for a subset of people, and it did look really easy-to-use.

ScopeAR, which first demoed at DemoCamp Edmonton 34, was back to show off WorkLink, a tool for building step-by-step instructions or training using the company’s augmented reality platform. The result can then be published and consumed on a device like an iPad (they support iOS, Android, and Windows 10). You can of course use a head-mounted display like a HoloLens, but it also works on a tablet (just not as well). Turning a paper manual into a digital manual can take something like 3 minutes per step, depending on how fancy you want to get. They’re focused on B2B right now and have some big customers, like Caterpillar and Boeing!

Frettable was up next, to show off automatic music transcription. Greg started working on it at a hack day at Startup Edmonton! He promised “one minute of talk, six minutes of rock” and performed a Metallica solo for the crowd! The music is recorded locally and the transcription happens up in the cloud. In addition to a mobile app, there’s a web interface. Once the audio has been processed, you can see a MIDI of what the AI recognized and then download the automatically generated sheet music. Pretty darn cool. Right now it has to be a single instrument at a time, and you can also do vocals.

SAM, which first demoed back at DemoCamp Edmonton 22, was our final demo of the evening. Sean showed off the new Alerts product, which “turns unstructured social media chatter into actionable insight and awareness.” The service, which launched about eight months ago, processes Twitter information exclusively, to the tune of about 10 million tweets per day! There’s automatic classification but moderators can also adjust the classification of tweets. All of that data allows the models to be regenerated every night making the system even better. They’re actively working on new features too, like the ability to extract the number of people hurt in an event. Alerts is English-only for the moment, and counts the New York Times as a customer. The pitch is that Alerts is an early detection system, so news organizations can still apply their due diligence over top.

There were a few demo gremlins, but for the most part, everything went smoothly!

DemoCamp Edmonton 40

It was great to see so many students in attendance! If you’re a student, find out what Startup Edmonton has to offer.

If you’re looking to grow your own business, check out the new Talent Membership. “More than a connection to students, the Talent Membership gives you access to all of the activations we produce to help you recruit and retain our city’s brightest to your teams, from junior developers to mid-career marketing leads.”

Here are some upcoming events to note that were mentioned in-between demos:

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 41!

Climate Change Conferences, Gondola vs. Transit, Best Bar Finder

Here’s the latest entry in my Edmonton Etcetera series, in which I share some thoughts on a few topical items in one post.

From ICLEI to Cities & Climate Change Science

Back in June 2009, Edmonton hosted the ICLEI World Congress to discuss environmental sustainability. I enjoyed attending some of the sessions and related events, in particular the free talk with author Peter Newman on Resilient Cities and Edmonton’s 4th Pecha Kucha Night.

Last week, Edmonton hosted the Cities & Climate Change Science Conference. I was only able to attend one community session: While Nations Plan, Cities Act with David Miller, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and former mayor of Toronto, and Mayor Don Iveson. When asked about the significance of hosting the event, Mayor Iveson drew a straight line from ICLEI in 2009 to this event nearly nine years later. He told the crowd that hosting ICLEI opened up the discussion and that eventually led to the adoption of the Energy Transition Strategy and made it possible for us to host this conference. He did note though, that “we are not where we need to be on implementation” of that strategy.

I really enjoyed David Miller’s presentation. He noted that cities are responsible for perhaps 75% of emissions, but are also where the most activity is taking place to reduce emissions, in four key areas:

I remember a lot of discussion about public transit back at the ICLEI event in 2009 and I suspect it was heavily discussed this time too. Mayor Iveson noted that Canada was the last G8 country without a national transit strategy and attributed the fact that we now have progress to the “increased civic literacy” that former municipal politicians like Amarjeet Sohi have brought to the federal government. Here in Edmonton, the mayor noted that our LRT network won’t be built out until 2030, which could open the door for more business-as-usual in the meantime, which is a good argument for an accelerated investment.

If you like to drive, you’re gonna love the gondola

You probably know that Gondola Over the North Saskatchewan was selected as the winning idea in the Edmonton Project. The couple behind the idea envision “an eight-car system that would stretch three kilometres across three stations, connecting Old Strathcona to the old Epcor power plant and then on to downtown.” It would run year-round and could cost anywhere from $30 million to $300 million.

Maybe you think that’s a cool idea, maybe you don’t. It doesn’t really matter, because it almost certainly won’t be built. The Edmonton Project website says the idea was selected to “move to the next phase” but it’s not clear what that is. There’s no funding in place, and such an idea is unlikely to get Council approval.

Which is why Councillor Tim Cartmell suggesting a gondola could replace LRT to connect Bonnie Doon and the University of Alberta is so frustrating. Even if a gondola ends up being a little cheaper, or can move nearly as many people, that doesn’t mean it’s a better approach. Of course the car crowd will like the idea of something elevated and completely separate, but that doesn’t help with our city’s desired transportation mode shift at all.

Participating in a fun community idea competition? Sure, why not, pitch a gondola. Making a serious Council decision about the future of transportation in Edmonton? No. Stop wasting time on fanciful and unrealistic ideas.

Best Bar None Finder

Planning on drinking some green beer on Saturday for St. Patrick’s Day? Maybe consider choosing a bar that has Best Bar None accreditation. “The Best Bar None program originated in the UK in 2006 and launched in Edmonton in 2010,” and there are now more than 150 accredited bars throughout the province. They’ve built a new tool called the Best Bar Finder to located accredited bars near you.

Best Bar None
(click for larger version)

I thought their infographic to take advantage of the St. Patrick’s Day connection was amusing. Enjoy safely!