Edmonton Rush Training Camp at WEM

Post ImageI watched some of the Edmonton Rush training camp today at West Edmonton Mall with my brother (and Kimmi too, though the lure of shopping was too great for her). Tom is a big lacrosse fan, so he was quite excited that he could check out the camp, though not so thrilled that the little kids got all the good stuff (like stickers). Wondering who the Edmonton Rush are? They’re our very own lacrosse team, and they play in the National Lacrosse League. They had a whole day of activities planned for today at WEM:

The Edmonton Rush will announce tomorrow, Saturday, November 26 at West Edmonton Mall’s Ice Palace its player roster for the 2006 NLL Season. Players will be introduced to fans at 11:00 a.m. and following introductions the Rush will officially open its 2006 main training camp.

The roster of 23 players and 3 practice players has been built through trades, signing of talented free agents, draft picks and an open tryout camp in October.

I’ll definitely have to check out a game or two when the season starts after the holidays. Apparently they have a really good “dance team” too, cheerleaders!

Read: Edmonton Rush

No Xbox 360 Yet!

There was a pretty fancy event going on at Futureshop tonight on Calgary Trail! They had the spotlight truck going, a road hockey setup, booth babes, and of course three or four consoles hooked up to big TV’s. If you preordered, you could stand in line. If you hadn’t preordered you were given tickets with numbers that would be drawn for the chance to stand in line. I talked to a couple of the guys in line and they said that there were people there getting tickets at 4 PM this afternoon, so showing up an hour and a bit in advance like I did was pretty useless (even though the lineup was very short).

So my plan is to line up very early tomorrow at Best Buy. I think the midnight event carries a bit more glitz, and given that it was rather warm out today, I am not surprised people were there so early. There won’t be any fancy event outside in the morning (at least I haven’t heard of anything), so I am hoping my chances are better. Even still, I’m just going to have a quick nap and get there as early as possible. Wish me luck!

And yes, I realize that if it doesn’t work out in the morning, it could be a while…

Interview with CJSR tomorrow

Post ImageTomorrow afternoon sometime between 5:30 PM and 6:00 PM MST I’ll be doing a live interview on CJSR, which you can find on your FM dial at 88.5 or online at their website. I’ll be answering questions and talking about Humanities 101, the non-profit started by my friends Sharon and May to help promote and make post-secondary-style education available for people in Edmonton’s inner-city. I joined the group a little over a year ago, and have quite enjoyed it! I really think we’re doing something great for the city, and I hope we can continue to do so.

While we have had much success thus far, we want to improve and move things forward, so we’re holding a “Town Hall” event at the University on Monday to brainstorm and share ideas. If you’re interested in attending, please email us. Or if you’re unsure, listen tomorrow as I try to explain why it’s a good idea for you to come! We’re always looking for volunteers, instructors, and feedback from interested individuals and organizations.

As an aside, I realize that our website is very simplistic at the moment – it’s on my todo list! Hopefully we’ll have something much better up there soon.

Read: CJSR

Ready to Rock the Launch!

Post ImageToday was Edmonton’s turn to host the Launch Event 2005, Microsoft’s big push around the release of Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006. The completely booked event took place all day today at SilverCity in West Edmonton Mall with TechNet leading the morning sessions and MSDN taking over in the afternoon. All in all I’d say that things went very well!

There are so many new technologies and features in the three products that cramming them all into a one day event is impossible. I think the speakers (both from MSDN and TechNet but particularly from MSDN) did an excellent job of sharing just enough. It wasn’t fluff, but it wasn’t over-your-head crazy either. Over the next few months there will be many more events around these technologies so that developers and IT professionals can dive in a little deeper. Fortunately, everyone received complimentary software today too, so there’s no excuse not to get your feet wet if you attended!

Edmonton is only stop #3 on the ten city tour, so I wish the MSDN and TechNet teams luck as they continue their trek across Canada. I know the snow last night probably wasn’t the warmest welcome we could have given them, but that’s what you get for hosting an event in Edmonton in November!

I took a one picture today, which you can see in my Flickr stream – lots of developers! There are more pictures and info up on Sasha’s blog too. For members of the Edmonton .NET Wizards, or for anyone who’s interested in joining, please share your feedback on the wiki!

Read: MSDN Canada

BioWare – a Top 100 Employer

Post ImageLast week BioWare Corp. announced that they were recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. From the press release:

“This acknowledgment is a great honour, and we are thrilled to receive this award. It is important to BioWare because it reflects our core value of Quality in our Workplace, and it also demonstrates that BioWare is an employer of choice for prospective employees not only in Canada, but world-wide,” said Joint CEO Dr. Ray Muzyka.

It’s great to see another Edmonton software company achieving great success! Seems to be a really positive wave going for local software firms – hopefully we can join in on the party!

BioWare is hard at work on their next major release, called Mass Effect. It’s a “revolutionary action RPG” being made for the Xbox 360, and it will be published by Microsoft. Looks like a cool game!

Read: BioWare

Small Business Week

Post ImageLast week was Small Business Week in Alberta, and indeed all across Canada. Here are some interesting statistics about small business in Alberta:

  • Small businesses (businesses that employ less than 10 employees) account for 74% (104,000) of all businesses with employees in Alberta. (Source: Alberta Economic Development, 2004 Alberta Business Monitor)
  • In 2004, women accounted for 34% of all self-employed individuals in Alberta; this was the same as the national average. (Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey 2004)
  • From 1999 to 2004, the number of people that were self-employed in Edmonton has increased by 3%. (Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey 2004)

I am included in that last number! Paramagnus incorporated here in Edmonton back in 2000. Speaking of Edmonton, our small business week runs this week, from the 24th to the 28th of October (had to be different I suppose!):

From every small business success story, there is an idea, which through initiative, tenacity and the entrepreneurial spirit, becomes reality. From this entrepreneurial spirit, innovative concepts and dynamic businesses are nurtured. Edmonton Small Business Week 2005 – October 24 –28, is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of small business and the entrepreneurial spirit. Share the spirit and enjoy the week of activities planned!

Blaine Yamkovy
Chair, 2005 Small Business Week

You can see the list of events on their website. Dickson and I are attending the VenturePrize Seminar tomorrow evening (you had to register previously), but other than that I hadn’t really planned to attend anything. I think they need more events!

Happy Small Business Week to my fellow smallbiz owners in Edmonton!

Read: Edmonton SBW

96X Boycott?

Post ImageToday I received a rather interesting email forward. The original email was from Matt Ashdown. I’ll let you read it first before I comment:

Between 9 and 10 am on boh October 12th, and 19th, 96X had on their station what they called the “ADHD HOUR.” During this hour, they only would play the first 90 seconds of each song, and between the songs they would have short vignettes that devalue people with ADHD through humiliation, embarassement, and slander. Essentially what these vignettes are implying is that people with ADHD are stupid. I am quite distressed that after so much human rights legislation, and work has been done, a main stream radio station thinks it is humerous to discriminate against a minority population and gets away with it.

I challenge you to boycott 96X until the “ADHD hour” is removed from the air. Write a letter to the program manager and submit it through either their web site or through me. I will be sending in massed letters next Wednesday October 26th. And finally, you can help through spreading the word to as many people as you can.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me at mattashdown@hotmail.com

Actually, they played it again this morning at 9 AM, and I am pretty sure it’s called the “ADD Hour” – the old acronym for the disorder. Regardless, I don’t think we need to take the show off the air (it’s kind of neat actually) but I would support a name change. It’s probably not the most appropriate name in the world, that’s for sure. You have to give them credit though for at least trying something new. Anyway, now I’ve done my part, by letting you know!

Read: 96X

The problem with insurance

Driving home for lunch this afternoon on the Whitemud, I was passed by a red Chevy Blazer. Keep in mind that the speed limit is 80km/h, I was doing around 95 km/h, and the Blazer passed me like I was standing still. I don’t know for sure, but from what I hear the Blazer is not the safest SUV in the world. Especially not the way the driver was weaving in and out of traffic, not even bothering to signal. Now this might not sound that uncommon, given that it was on the Whitemud after all.

What gets me though, is that the driver of the Blazer was a twenty-something female. And on top of her speeding and weaving, she was talking on her cell phone. Her insurance is probably less than mine. There’s just something incredibly wrong with that.

.NET Wizards October Meeting

Post ImageEarlier tonight was the October meeting of the Edmonton .NET Wizards User Group. We usually have one of our members present a topic, and tonight Dickson did an excellent presentation on Visual Studio Tools for Office. He’ll be posting the code and materials he used on the wiki soon.

I also got around to fixing up the .NET Wizards redirects today. That means that all of our old domains now point to the Edmonton site at http://edmonton.dotnetwizards.org, and my former .NET blog is no more – it simply forwards here. I figured that I really didn’t need a separate blog after all, as I don’t post about .NET often enough to warrant it, and most people simply read this blog already anyway.

If you’re in Edmonton and you’re into .NET, you should come to one of our meetings! And be sure to register for the Launch Tour 2005 event taking place on November 15th – it’s going to be huge! If you want to get on the mailing list, drop me an email at mack@dotnetwizards.org.

Read: Edmonton .NET Wizards


Post ImageToday was a busy day for events. This evening Dickson and I attended a presentation at the University of Alberta by Gennux Microsystems Corp., a relatively new Edmonton-based company. They make an anti-spam product called eW@LL Mail which they say is unique in that it does not use content filtering like the vast majority of anti-spam technologies. They describe the product as a messaging firewall.

The developer who wrote most of the application and started the company is Sam Wong, and he gave the majority of the presentation tonight. He seems very smart, and excited about the work he is doing. Sam led us through some reasons for why spam exists, the numbers around how much spam is sent and recieved and the dollar value for related-costs (like lost productivity), the competition, and finally the Gennux solution. Dickson and I asked a bunch of questions about the technology, trying to find ways around it, but the product does seem very solid. They mentioned some statistics about how well it works, but I very much think that it’s one of those “you have to see it to believe it” things.

We didn’t ask them how much it costs, but I would imagine it’s not cheap. If it works like they say though, it would probably be worth it. They have quite a few installations already, including a fairly high profile one with an ISP in Taiwan. It’s good to see an Edmonton software company doing so well!

Read: Gennux