Budget Day 2009 in Canada – track it online

Though a lot of information about the new budget has already been released, there are sure to be some surprises and of course, interesting discussions taking place throughout the day. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will deliver his budget speech in the House of Commons at roughly 4 PM EST (2 PM MST) today. All the major Canadian media outlets will have coverage, and some even have unique online coverage too.

Here’s how to track Budget Day 2009 online:

And a few other interesting links:

Here in Edmonton, the federal wish list comes in at $2.4 billion. I’m sure the capital notebook blog and Dave Cournoyer will have more on today’s news from a local perspective.

It’ll be interesting to see how the day plays out! I’ll update the post if I come across any more useful links – leave me a comment if you have one to suggest!

UPDATE: There’s a word cloud of Flaherty’s speech available here, and you can read the full text of the speech here.

UPDATE2: Here’s a PDF of the budget, courtesy of The Globe and Mail.

UPDATE3: The official Budget 2009 site also has the PDF and some other information, but is very slow.

UPDATE4: A number of responses from organizations (CUPE, CFIB, etc.) are available at Canadian Newswire.

Questionmark still hiring .NET developers in Edmonton!

questionmark The software development company I work for here in Edmonton, Questionmark, is once again looking for developers to join our team. The job descriptions I posted back in September are still relevant, but here are the requirements again:

A minimum of 3 years of commercial development experience. Highly skilled in software development using our core technologies: C#, ASP.NET, XML, Ajax, Javascript, T-SQL. Experience with SCRUM a plus. Excellent written and oral communication are essential.

You’d be working on the latest and greatest, both technology-wise (.NET 3.5, etc) and product-lineup-wise (the company’s newest products). It’s a great opportunity!

We’re currently in the process of moving to our brand new office in the Empire Building downtown (10080 Jasper Avenue). As some of you may know, I’ve had offices in the building twice before, and I think it’s a fantastic place to work. It’s great to be right in the heart of downtown, with easy access via public transit and lots of amenities within walking distance (parking isn’t so great, of course).

Job Description for Software Developer

If you’re interested in applying or would like more information, either send me an email or email Kaitlyn Lardin. Thanks!

Northern Voice speakers are primarily from Vancouver and use Twitter

logo by basco5 If you visit the Twitter page for Northern Voice, the one line bio says “Canada’s social media and blogging conference” (isn’t the blogging bit redundant?). The website isn’t quite as direct, but the impression you’re left with is the same: it’s a Canada-wide event. A few days ago they announced the schedule for Saturday, the “conference” part. I took a look at it today and was struck by how many of the speakers are located in Vancouver! Here’s the list, with speaker names linked to their Twitter profiles where available:

Kris Krug – Vancouver
Lauren Wood – Vancouver
Nora Young – Toronto
Rob Cottingham – Vancouver
Stewart Butterfield – San Francisco
Steve Pratt – Vancouver
Nate Elliott – Vancouver
Tod Maffin – Vancouver
Isabella Mori – Vancouver
Airdrie Miller – Vancouver
Briana Tomkinson – Vancouver
Rebecca Bollwitt – Vancouver
Linda Bustos – Vancouver
Jenn Lowther – Vancouver
Nadia Nascimento – Vancouver
Monica Hamburg – Vancouver
Kim Adamson-Sharpe – ?
Hilary Genders – Vancouver
Tim Bray – Vancouver
Robert Scales – Vancouver
Susannah Gardner – Vancouver
Barbara Ganley – Vermont?
Laura Blankenship – Pennsylvania
Nancy White – Seattle
Darren Barefoot – Vancouver
Alfred Hermida – Vancouver
David Eaves – Vancouver
Alan Levine – Arizona
Dave Johnson – Vancouver
Kate Trgovac – Vancouver
Rosemary Rowe – Vancouver?
Dave Olson – Vancouver
Bev Davies – Vancouver
Irwin Oostindie – Vancouver

This list may be inaccurate or incomplete – the NV site lacks bios and abstracts, has one “TBA” slot, and doesn’t make it clear where everyone is from so I did the best I could to look it up. If you spot an error let me know and I’ll correct it.

Canada’s social media and blogging conference? More like Vancouver’s.

A few final remarks: I fully appreciate that this is a community event and that speakers’ expenses are not covered, so it makes sense to have more locals. I noted the Vancouver-specific nature of the conference last year. I submitted a speaking proposal and was turned down for Saturday, but will be leading a session on Friday (hopefully the schedule for that goes up soon).

Great Marketing: Techie Crunch

For the most part, I’d say that Tech Days 08 went as expected this week (in Calgary). Lots of people showed up, some were more interested and enthusiastic than others, and there was a mix of great content and average content. Another thing you can typically count on at a Microsoft event is a bag full of swag. Tech Days attendees did in fact receive swag, but it didn’t come in a bag!

I can’t tell you how many bags I’ve collected at Microsoft events over the years. It’s the same thing, over and over – a bag (sometimes paper, sometimes fabric) filled with marketing materials, a pen, trial software, and sometimes a book or full version of an application. The contents were similar at Tech Days, but the packaging was quite unique:

Techie Crunch Tech Days 2008

Maybe a little over-the-top, but I love it!

Techie Crunch is “Brain Food for a Healthy Mind” and comes complete with a “Free Brain Warming Toque”. It looks just like a cereal box, with all the graphics and marketing you’d expect, a fake UPC code, and my favorite – Nutrition Facts and Ingredients! As you can see they did some work with the contents too, including the toque and a plastic spoon (actually a pen).

This must have a been a fun project for the marketing team to work on. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s details like this that turn an average experience into something more memorable. Well done!

You can see a few more photos of the box with my other Tech Days photos here.

Tech Days Canada 2008 Instructors on Twitter

tech days My list of CanUX 2008 Attendees on Twitter was well-received (and I found it useful myself), so I thought I’d do something similar for Tech Days. Instead of attendees however (not possible given that thousands of people across the country have attended), I’ve started a list of instructors on Twitter (there are about 70 instructors listed at the official site). The people on this list are leaders in the Developer and IT Pro communities in Canada, so follow them and I’m sure you’ll learn something new!

Here is everyone I’ve found so far:

Christian Beauclair – http://twitter.com/cbeauclair
Damir Bersinic – http://twitter.com/damirb
John Bristowe – http://twitter.com/jbristowe
Rodney Buike – http://www.twitter.com/rbuike
Miguel Carrasco – http://twitter.com/miguelcarrasco
Kelly Cassidy – http://twitter.com/k_cassidy
Rick Claus – http://twitter.com/rickster_cdn
Joey deVilla – http://twitter.com/accordionguy
Stephen Giles – http://twitter.com/stephengiles
Barnaby Jeans – http://twitter.com/bjeans
Adam Kahtava – http://twitter.com/adamdotcom
James Kovacs – http://twitter.com/jameskovacs
Paul Laberge – http://twitter.com/plaberge
Mack Male – http://twitter.com/mastermaq
Jason Miller – http://twitter.com/jason_miller
Daniel Nerenberg – http://twitter.com/danieldcn
John Oxley – http://www.twitter.com/joxley
Steve Porter – http://twitter.com/stevevrporter
Pierre Roman – http://twitter.com/pierreroman
Bil Simser – http://twitter.com/bsimser

If you should be on the list or know of someone else who should be, please let me know and I’ll update it!

You might want to follow the official Tech Days Canada account too!

My Tech Days Sessions: ADO.NET Data Services and Internet Explorer 8

I’m in Calgary right now at Microsoft’s new paid conference, Tech Days. Despite being a little critical of the event when I first heard about it, I was asked to speak in Calgary. I figured it would be a great opportunity to get a first-hand look at the event so that I can offer more constructive feedback for future editions of Tech Days, and besides, I love sharing what I know with others!

I did the first two presentations in the Web Developer track – a session on ADO.NET Data Services followed by an introduction to Internet Explorer 8 for developers. I think my presentations went well for the most part, despite a few glitches with the demos. Initial feedback from people in the audience was positive anyway! Here are a few resources.

Goin’ Up to the Data in the Sky: ADO.NET Data Services for Web Developers

Internet Explorer 8 for Developers: What You Need to Know

Thanks to everyone who came to the sessions – feel free to contact me if you have additional questions.

Also, thanks to John Bristowe and the team at Microsoft for the opportunity to be involved with Tech Days. I’m looking forward to the rest of the sessions!

Following the current Canadian political drama on Twitter

As I’m sure you’ve heard or read by now, we’ve got an interesting situation unfolding here in Canada. Essentially the Liberal Party, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois have joined forces to propose a new Liberal-NDP coalition government that would replace Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada. You can learn more about the sequence of events at Wikipedia.

Back in September, I wrote about Canadian Politicians on Twitter. My guess is that our political leaders created accounts in reaction to what was happening south of the border, particularly with Barack Obama’s campaign. So I’m not surprised that none of them have updated their accounts with news about the issue at hand, with the exception of the newly launched LiberalHQ account.

Canadians are definitely talking about the news on Twitter, even if our politicians aren’t. At the moment, the hashtag #coalition is the second most popular topic according to Twitter Search. Other hashtags being used include #canadarally, #canada, #democracy, and #libndp.

Click here to see all related tweets.

There are also a bunch of new accounts being created to cover the news. You can follow both @yes_coalition and @no_coalition if you like!

In addition to some really thoughtful, funny, or otherwise interesting comments from fellow Canadians, you can find links and other resources related to the coalition on Twitter. Here are a few of the things I found:

Also found via Twitter – the news made The Huffington Post today! You’ll find dozens of other news articles, but one that caught my eye is the Globe and Mail’s list of Harper’s ten options.

I’m sure even more interesting things will surface over the next few days. The mainstream media will do a fine job of covering the news, but they can’t match the speed of Twitter. If you want to track the situation in real-time, keep Twitter Search open at all times!

World AIDS Day 2008

world aids day Today is the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. According to statistics from UNAIDS, there are 33 million people living with HIV worldwide, 2 million of which are children under the age of 15. Last year, 2 million people died from HIV. Today, the National Post wrote about how Canada will help cure the biggest humanitarian health crisis of our time:

Canada is poised, yet again, to play a leading role in advancing knowledge about HIV/AIDS to help find a cure. With the partnership announced in 2007 between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the government of Canada to establish the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative, we are now one of the countries pioneering the next stage. This commitment of $139-million is a major boost to Canadian and international HIV/AIDS vaccine research and development efforts. Through this funding, a manufacturing facility will be built in Canada that will produce promising vaccines that can move more quickly to clinical trials. Stephen Lewis has declared this initiative an "important step forward," a sentiment shared by HIV/AIDS organizations around the world.

Stephen Lewis, a Canadian, was the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. You can learn more about the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative here.

Closer to home, HIV Edmonton has compiled a list of community events taking place today. The largest event is a non-denominational evening ceremony followed by a candlelight walk:

WHAT: World AIDS Day, December 1, 2008, 7:00pm
WHERE: Citadel Theatre, 9828 101A Avenue NW. Room TBA.

Please RSVP to Sue Ann Paydli via email or call 780-488-5742 ext. 221.

They point to the World AIDS Campaign website as an additional resource. You can learn more about the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) at Wikipedia, and for local information and events, check out HIV Edmonton.

I think what Terry Duguid said in the National Post is true, “it is easy for those of us in Canada who may not be directly affected by HIV/AIDS to become complacent.” I guess I am guilty of that. It’s only recently that I’ve become engaged, with events like the Aids Walk for Life. I’ve had Stephanie Nolan’s book 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa on my shelf for a while now, but haven’t gotten around to reading it. I really must do that.

Stop Aids. Keep the promise.

Canada votes, nothing changes

Another Canadian election has come and gone, and nothing has changed. Despite just over a month and millions of dollars spent on the campaigns, we are once again left with a minority Conservative government. Does this mean we’ll be back at the polls again soon? So far analysis suggests it’ll be 2010.

Here’s the news from CBC:

As the final tally approached, the Conservatives were up less than one per cent in the overall popular vote, which translated into a 20-seat increase from the last federal election. The Liberals, in turn, were down 2.4 per cent, or 25 seats, according to the projections.

I didn’t feel a connection with any of the parties or their leaders. I ended up voting for the Green Party. In the past, I’ve voted Liberal, NDP, and Conservative. I studied the ballot for a long time today, but couldn’t find Barack Obama’s name. I really wish we had inspirational leaders like they do south of the border!

Speaking of which, with the Canadian election now finished, I can turn my full attention back to the American election. The third and final presidential debate takes place tomorrow night at 9 PM EST. Go Obama!

UPDATE: CBC says voter turnout was less than 60%. About ten million Canadians gave up their right to complain. Sad.

UPDATE (1:20 AM MT): Voter turnout hovers at around 59%, the worst turnout in Canadian history. NDP candidate Linda Duncan pulled off a major upset in Edmonton – Strathcona, defeating incumbent Rahim Jaffer by just 442 votes. The Conservatives otherwise swept Alberta.

Telus and Bell team up, plan to roll out 4G

Big news today in Canada’s wireless industry. Telus and Bell announced they are partnering to upgrade their wireless network to 3G nationwide, laying the groundwork for an eventual move to 4G. The move should put both companies on equal footing with Rogers, but playing catchup is expensive:

Although both companies declined to provide any clear insights to the cost of the upgrade, analysts expect it to be approximately between $750-million to $1-billion, split two ways between Bell and Telus. Mr. Entwistle said that initial capital expenditures for the new network are included in Telus’ original guidance of approximately $1.9-billion this year and is expected to be $750-million higher than historical levels in the following year.

I’m not sure how I missed it, but apparently rumors of this specific deal actually surfaced back in July. The first rumor, that Telus would switch to GSM, started back in January. The announcement today covers the launch of a network with High Speed Packet Access (HSPA/GSM). Bell and Telus hope to have the network ready just in time for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. After that the goal is to move to LTE (4G), which is in line with the plans of most other carriers around the world.

Clearly this is great news for Canadians. Having a single network standard will bring cost benefits, and faster time-to-market for hardware. I’m looking forward to it.

Here’s the Telus press release, and here’s the Bell press release. Both are incredibly similar, though neither one mentions the other! I guess we should use the term “partnership” lightly.