TEC Connector

Post ImageI attended TEC Edmonton’s TEC Connector event this afternoon with Dickson. TEC Edmonton is a joint venture of the University of Alberta and the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation. Here’s what the event was all about:

This TEC Connector event will showcase companies created from the results of University of Alberta inventions and technologies. In addition, the event is an active connector which will provide networking tools and tips, plus generate opportunities to connect with useful representatives in our community, including: university researchers, start-up company leaders, professional service firms, financial support organizations, government agency representatives, media representatives, inventors and entrepreneurs.

Obviously Paramagnus is not a spin-off company, nor we do use any University research or innovations, but we though the event might be a great opportunity to do some networking anyway. We met some interesting people and found out more about many of the local companies we had only just heard of in the past. I also learned some interesting statistics about University of Alberta spin-off companies:

  • As of March 31st, 2005 there were 69 active UofA spin-off companies
  • There have been 84 such companies formed since 1963, including those that have merged, been acquired, or discontinued
  • These companies employ more than 1000 high-skilled workers
  • More than 80% of the spin-offs are based in Alberta
  • Seven are publicly traded

One of the speakers at the event also mentioned the pending offer to purchase to the Hudson’s Bay building downtown, which if approved is where TEC Edmonton’s new headquarters would be. University administration presents the proposal to the Board of Governors on Friday, so we should know either this week or next whether or not the deal will go through.

Networking events are always lots of fun! This one was especially good because there was free food and drinks 🙂

Read: TEC Connector

Changes at Light Speed

Post ImageLife is funny sometimes. One day, you’re just working away and things are pretty much status quo. The next day, you’re registered for school and your brother arrives in Edmonton! At least, that’s what happened to me in the last two days.

It wasn’t too long ago that I was still unsure of whether or not I was going back to school this semester. I feel like a break, like I don’t want to be in school. I gave it quite a bit of thought, and had some good reasons for just working for the semester, but then I started talking with an advisor and reality hit me like a brick. Our post secondary school system, which we pay like $500 per course for, isn’t really setup to allow taking a break right in the middle. The University seems to want you coming back, spending the money – imagine that!

I flirted with the idea of graduating with a general science degree and just a minor in Computing Sciences as I only needed one more course to do that, but I decided against it. I am going to try and finish what I started, the Specialization in Computing Sciences with a Minor in Business. So I’m now registered in three classes, meaning I’m once again a full time student.

At the same time, I found out that my brother was coming to Edmonton to attend Centre High this year. Apparently the high school in Inuvik was deemed unsafe, as the majority of the building’s pilings are rotting. So in what was probably the fastest turnaround time ever, the decision was made for Tom to come down and live with my grandparents, just as Kim did last year. Kim and I picked him up from the airport tonight, and tomorrow he registers for classes (a little late, just like me). I’ve created a photoset for Tom’s arrival in Edmonton, so you can see the initial three pictures here.

I’ve got to get Tom blogging now! Kim has started once again – she posted today.

Helping Kim Move

Post ImageHaven’t been around much the last couple days as I’ve been busy helping Kimmi move into residence at Grant MacEwan. It’s funny how you don’t realize just how much effort it takes, and just how much stuff you actually have. I don’t think I have ever owned as many clothes as Kim does right now!

The residence itself is very nice – minus the concrete floors that make your feet black. There is room for 900 students total in bachelor, two-bedroom and four-bedroom configurations, and the building is currently home to 600 students. I’d expect it to fill up pretty quickly though. Kim is in a two-bedroom, so she shares a bathroom and kitchenette with a roommate. They don’t have an oven, but they do have a stovetop and a microwave, and let’s be honest, you really only need a microwave anyway! You can see the pictures here.

There are some pretty strict rules about having guests and that sort of thing, so I am not sure how often I’ll actually be there. I also think it’s funny that they are only allowed to have 9 sleepovers per semester. What kind of number is that? Why not just make it an even ten? I don’t get it. At first I thought it was dumb to have such a rule at all, but then I remembered one of those facts of life that I look forward to one day when I am a father – you live under my roof, you live by my rules!

Read: Pictures

AlbertaSpirit – 100 Years!

Post ImageIt was a day of celebration in Alberta today, as the province celebrated it’s 100th birthday. I just got back from the AlbertaSpirit party, dubbed “The Party of the Century Event” (my crappy pictures are here). Hosted by figure skating legend Kurt Browning, the party featured:

There is something for everyone in this family affair as Alberta’s birthday gets into full swing. An evening of great entertainment will finish with a spectacular fireworks display. Entertainment includes: The Emeralds, Barrage, Adam Gregory, Bobby Curtola, the Kupalo Dancers and the Shumka Dancers.

Unfortunately we only made it down to the legislature grounds in time for the fireworks, which were extremely impressive! There was so many people there, and all around downtown Edmonton for that matter. I couldn’t help but wonder as we walked back what it was like in New Orleans when the hurricane first hit. In the incredible throngs of people tonight I lost my bearings, and everyone was in a jubilent mood – not a state of fear. Scary thought.

In any case, our province is now a century old. Happy Birthday Alberta!

Read: Alberta Centennial

Breaking out of his pod

Post ImageToday the Edmonton Journal featured the Alberta Centennial Edition, a collection of stories about 100 Albertans living and working in the province today. Along with each one is a related story about Alberta’s history. If you follow the above link and navigate to page 46, you’ll find an article entitled “Breaking out of his pod”, all about Dickson Wong.

It’s a really well-written article, although it says that Dickson sings in three choirs when in fact he plays piano in three choirs. In fact, Dickson is quite the piano man! He played last night at Yi-Li’s BBQ, and he often entertains guests at the Paramagnus offices, as seen here. The article talks about a number of things including Paramagnus, the podcasting robot, and Dickson’s Chinese heritage and language. It mentions our leather couch and frequent late night trips to Denny’s! I even got quoted a few times.

The subtitle of the article is “Versatile computer engineer aims to market podcasting software in China” – perhaps more a prediction for the future than an accurate representation of present day, but intriguing nonetheless. Dickson scanned in the article, which you can find here.

Congratulations Dickson!

Read: Alberta Centennial Edition

The Key to Violet's Apartment

I went to see another Fringe show on Friday night after the birthday party. Sharon wanted us to get there early so that we’d get good seats unless the show sold out. Unfortunately, we ended up having a lot of time to kill for nothing as the show was almost empty! We went to see a solo act entitled, “The Key to Violet’s Apartment“.

It was written and performed by Paul Matwychuk – a huge guy! He was extremely tall, which I suppose is good because he definitely commands your attention. In the show he tells the story of his friend Violet, and the mystery surrounding the key to her apartment (hence the title). I don’t think Dickson, or Chu or the others enjoyed the show as much as I did. I thought Paul was an excellent story teller.

At the beginning, he explains how he was talking with his friend Max one afternoon about what it would be like to be a woman for a day, just to try it out. Eventually the two men ended up describing exactly the type of woman they would be. Paul then launched into the story of Violet, describing the way she looked. The thing is, I didn’t picture Violet the way he described as the story went on – I pictured her like the woman he described he would be. He saw himself in Violet? Or maybe that’s a little too deep 🙂

In any case, I thought it was pretty entertaining! The lighting was done really well too, as was the stage. Paul sat on a stool in front of a curtain of keys that glimmered red or blue depending on how the ighting changed. It made for a great story telling environment.

Read: Edmonton Fringe Festival

The Key to Violet's Apartment

I went to see another Fringe show on Friday night after the birthday party. Sharon wanted us to get there early so that we’d get good seats unless the show sold out. Unfortunately, we ended up having a lot of time to kill for nothing as the show was almost empty! We went to see a solo act entitled, “The Key to Violet’s Apartment“.

It was written and performed by Paul Matwychuk – a huge guy! He was extremely tall, which I suppose is good because he definitely commands your attention. In the show he tells the story of his friend Violet, and the mystery surrounding the key to her apartment (hence the title). I don’t think Dickson, or Chu or the others enjoyed the show as much as I did. I thought Paul was an excellent story teller.

At the beginning, he explains how he was talking with his friend Max one afternoon about what it would be like to be a woman for a day, just to try it out. Eventually the two men ended up describing exactly the type of woman they would be. Paul then launched into the story of Violet, describing the way she looked. The thing is, I didn’t picture Violet the way he described as the story went on – I pictured her like the woman he described he would be. He saw himself in Violet? Or maybe that’s a little too deep 🙂

In any case, I thought it was pretty entertaining! The lighting was done really well too, as was the stage. Paul sat on a stool in front of a curtain of keys that glimmered red or blue depending on how the lighting changed. It made for a great story telling environment.

Read: Edmonton Fringe Festival

Nighthawk Rules at the Fringe!

Post ImageLast night I went to a late show at the Fringe with Sharon and Dickson. This was my second year attending the annual festival, the first for Dickson, and the millionth for Sharon (she’s such a pro she knows the code-speak the volunteers use!). Parking was non-existent as usual, and there was a lot of people. It was fun though! Oh and for the record, I really don’t like this year’s name, “Fringe A-Go-Go”. Doesn’t appeal to me at all, I don’t know why.

We waited in line to buy tickets, and then had time to kill before the show started so we walked around a bit. To my surprise, they were selling mini-donuts! I love those things, I just can’t help myself when I see them. After I bought a bag, we went to Starbucks. I really wish they had made that one on Whyte Ave and Calgary Trail bigger – it was so crammed last night.

The show we went to see was called “Nighthawk Rules“, from the company 40 Foot Theatre, directed by Jeff Page. It was written by James Hamilton and Colin Doyle, who also starred as the two main characters. The only other character in the show was played by Lora Brovold. Here’s the description:

It’s hard to stay friends. Barry and Dick have been friends since grade 7. The problem is, Barry wants to settle down with his girlfriend Pam, but Dick still wants to drink all night and steal street-signs for kicks. While Dick pulls from one direction, Pam pulls from the other. Dick and Barry embark on a drinking game to end all drinking games-the object of which is the destruction of their friendship or the destruction of Barry’s future with Pam.

If you’re planning to go see the show, skip this paragraph. The description is okay, but it doesn’t really tell you what happens, which I guess is the point, but still. It turns out that Barry and Dick fall in love, and end up starting a relationship. Totally unexpected, but brilliantly portrayed in the show! The guy who played Dick was especially convincing, and delivered his lines perfectly. Lora who played Pam only had a very small on-stage role, and unfortunately for her, it was meant to be completely over the top, so you’re left not liking her character at all. There was a lot of laughing, a lot of swearing, and some good “shock value” moments too, such as when Barry and Dick share their first kiss.

It was a really great show! I enjoyed it, though I could have done without Sharon’s comments afterward. But don’t worry, I will exact my revenge one way or another. I’m planning to go see at least one more show, so watch for another review!

Read: Edmonton Fringe Festival

One Ugly Car!

On Wednesday evening I was driving with Ada to volunteering, and on the way we saw one of the dumbest, ugliest cars ever! It was a Cavalier, circa late 90s, and this is what the guy had done to it:

  • Attempted to put a body kit on the car, but it really only covered the sides and front.
  • Attached what appeared to be chicken wire to the front grill.
  • Painted the entire car an ugly, matte grey-blue.
  • Added a “dual” exhaust.
  • Took off the door handles!

That’s right! We stared at the car, because there were no door handles. We couldn’t figure out how the doors were supposed to open. Anyway, it was a really ugly car. If you’re going to pimp out your ride, at least start with something good, and don’t do a half-assed job.

I should invest in a small camera to keep in my car so that I always have one ready. Would have made an excellent “your caption here” photo!

Edmonton man addicted to updating gas prices

Post ImageWhen I posted about the price of oil on Tuesday, I linked to EdmontonGasPrices.com as a resource for checking out where the cheapest gas is in the city. Then today, reading the Journal, I came across an article talking about Scott Widney:

It’s only noon, but already Scott Widney has earned 450 points as a tipster for GasBuddy.com, a gas-price tracking service that posts good deals on fuel for more than 170 North American cities.

Using the screen name oilmaster, the 46-year-old logs into local gas-price tracking site edmontongasprices.com and reports the price changes at six south-side gas stations about three times a week.

“It’s pretty addictive,” he said Tuesday, the day gas prices at most Edmonton stations shot up to 102.9 cents per litre.

Whatever floats your boat, I suppose! Granted, he does get entries into contests for free gas for every 150 points he earns, so it’s not like he gets only satisfaction out of the deal.

Though I have always thought GasBuddy and EdmontonGasPrices.com were kind of a funny concept. If you found cheap gas, wouldn’t you instinctively want to keep it a secret? To keep it all for yourself? Maybe I’m just selfish. The other reason I thought it was a funny concept is that it allows gas stations to see how their competitors are pricing gas around the city without having to make some phone calls or (gasp!) drive around. Seems to me it would be easier to raise your prices just because someone else did.

Read: Edmonton Journal