Did you shutdown today?

Post ImageI sure as heck didn’t. Like Engadget asked back in February, “how about we all decide to hold our breath for 24 hours, too?” In case you hadn’t heard, today was International Shutdown Day. Yup, they wanted us to not use computers for a day. Fat chance! Engadget explains:

It seems that a pair of men named Dennis Bystrov and Michael Taylor — bitter victims of the bubble, we suspect — want to perform a social experiment wherein people all over the world boycott computers for an entire day; willing participants are encouraged to click a pledge of sorts on the International Shutdown Day website promising to forgo any and all PC usage on March 24th.

Heh, like that was gonna happen. This is the funny part though:

Still, we’ve no qualms with operating in a much greener fashion, but considering that the protesters’ website is actually up and running on a power-sucking machine as we speak, it makes you wonder who the real hypocrites are, no?

So much for dedication to their cause!

Read: Engadget

2007 ETS Community Conference

Post ImageI went to the Edmonton Transit System Community Conference this morning, and I have to admit it was rather interesting. I’m not a transit geek or anything like that, but I happened to come across the conference online last week, and a couple of sessions caught my eye. One was on new technology, and the other was on web technology. Other sessions included a tour of the LRT garage, an input session regarding the 100th anniversary of ETS (happens in 2008), and an information session about Edmonton’s Transportation Master Plan.

I recorded the welcome and keynote, which you can listen to here. Here are some notes from the two breakout sessions I attended. From new technology:

  • ETS has ordered six hybrid buses, two of which are already in service. Each one costs around $700,000.
  • They also recently finalized their largest single order of buses ever (over 200). The new fleet will replace all the old GM buses, and will allow some room for growth. The 2007 Clean Diesel buses cost about $400,000 each.
  • ETS is experimenting with GPS and other wireless technologies. Lots of buses now have a GPS transmitter on top. The only thing preventing them from doing cool things like an “arrivals & departures” board at transit centres is money.
  • Most buses will be outfitted with a camera system consisting of 5 cameras. The cameras record to a DVR on the bus that has around 1 TB of storage, and uses MPEG-4 compression.
  • They have new automatic people counters! Haha, kinda funny they mentioned this one, but it actually does make a big difference I guess. In the future it could be linked to some of the wireless technologies too so that ETS would know if a bus is full or not in real-time.

And from web technology:

  • The webmaster for ETS is the same lady who records the BusLink information, and the old station announcements on the LRT.
  • I came ready to complain about all the new windows that are spawned on the website. Apparently I’m not the only one with that concern! No word on when it will get fixed.
  • The ETS website is the busiest of all City of Edmonton websites, with over 900,000 visits in 2006.
  • They launched an online store four months ago, where you can buy tickets and passes. It has already done over $100,000 in sales.
  • An average of 89,000 plans per month were created in 2006 with the Trip Planner tool.
  • There is a lot of things they’d like to add to the website, but it sounds like they have to jump through hoops to be able to make any changes.
  • It was mentioned in passing, but it sounds like the City of Edmonton is gearing up to overhaul their entire web presence.

The new technology session was particularly interesting for me…I have long wondered if they were testing GPS and similar technologies. Turns out they are!

It was announced in the keynote that the recent U-Pass referendum at the University of Alberta passed with 84 percent voting yes. You can read more about the vote at The Gateway. The ETS staff seemed pretty excited about it.

I’m not sure I’d go to this conference every year, but it was definitely worth checking out. And hey, you can’t beat the price – free!

Edmonton Festival City

Post ImageI was looking around for event listings for Edmonton recently, and yesterday I stumbled upon the Edmonton Festival City website. My first reaction was – wow, this is great! – and my second reaction was – how did I not know about this site?! From the about page:

The people of Greater Edmonton are physically connected to each other by streets, sidewalks and bridges. We are also united culturally through our sports teams, the arts, local media and — uniquely to Edmonton — by the range, depth and variety of our festival scene.

The site has photos and some general information, but the real gem is the calendar. All of Edmonton’s many festivals are listed, with dates, contact information, and brief descriptions. There are events listed right up to November 2008.

It’s a pretty good resource. They really should have a blog/RSS feed with festival-related news though, then it would be really useful.

Read: Festival City

Edmonton's Capital EX

Post ImageLast night Sharon and I went to Capital EX (formerly Klondike Days, or simply K Days). The ten day festival ends tomorrow, and with rain in the forecast, I would expect attendance numbers for the last two days to be quite low. The rain stayed away yesterday though!

There’s a bunch of new rides this year, and many of my favorites are now gone (like the Drop of Fear and the Zipper). We only went on the ferris wheel, which we tried to time just right, so we’d see the fireworks at the same time. Apparently it was “too windy” though, so the fireworks were cancelled! I wasn’t impressed. We did get the ferris wheel ride for free pretty much though – as we were in line to buy tickets, this guy came up and offered us his card which had 11 credits left on it (we needed twelve, hence the pretty much free) as he had just received a wrist band from someone.

New to the EX this year is Ed Fest, a big concert series with some popular musical acts like Nelly Furtado, and Sam Roberts (who closed the show last night). You can hear the music from almost anywhere, so there’s no need to buy tickets really! The stage is pretty poorly placed though, because it is so loud, it drowns out the nearby Epcor stage which has magicians and other acts. It was really annoying, though the magician we watched made the best of it.

Another thing the organizers did this year was separate the little kid rides into a completely separate section. Very smart move, as it made it much easier to walk through the midway and to the normal rides. Inside the Sportex there was a display from the Art Gallery, which looked kind of neat in the pictures promoting it, but turned out to be really unimpressive in person (it was a river made of jars). There was also the usual stuff like the military displays, and the thousands of people hawking all sorts of crap.

And what trip would be complete without mini-donuts! I absolutely love those things, and they sure were tasty yesterday. I wish there was a mini-donut street vendor near the office – I’d probably be his or her best customer!

Read: Capital EX

Congrats Violet and Vincent!

Post ImageYesterday afternoon my friends Violet and Vincent were married in a lovely ceremony, which was followed by a banquet last night. Violet looked absolutely gorgeous in her dress, and Vince didn’t look too bad himself! The weather was great yesterday, and I think everyone had a good time.

I’m only 22 years old, but events like this sort of make you feel older, you know? For instance, in between the ceremony and the banquet, a bunch of us went to Moxie’s downtown. When I went up to the bar with our waitress to pay, she asked if we were celebrating a grad or something. I replied, “nope, a wedding.” Now maybe she meant a post-secondary graduation, but I got the feeling she was talking about high school, which is especially odd since it was the afternoon, and it was July. Regardless, I realized that big events for my friends are now weddings and children, not graduations or simple gatherings.

I took lots of pictures yesterday, which you can see here. Unfortunately the ones from the actual ceremony are not great, because the official film/photo crew were hogging all the best places, and at one point, even asked the guests to refrain from taking pictures, which most of us promptly ignored.

If you’re reading this V&V, I hope the move to Calgary goes smoothly, and have a wonderful time on your honeymoon! And Jane et al, thanks for the superb organization, I know the newlyweds appreciated it, as did guests like myself.

Read: Photos

Podcasters Across Borders

Post ImageThere are so many podcasting events taking place now, which is a good sign of the buzz level surrounding the technology. The latest one I have run across is called Podcasters Across Borders, taking place on June 23rd and 24th in Kingston, Ontario. There isn’t too much information on the event yet, so stay tuned to their blog if you’re interested in going. They also have a details page with a little more information.

I think we’ll start to see more and more targeted podcasting events appear. I have a feeling that there can only be so many “general purpose” podcasting events, and with the Portable Media Expo, Podcastercon, and other conferences like Gnomedex or Northern Voice, I’m willing to bet that we’re getting close to reaching the limit. So if you’re a conference organizer looking for a great topic related to podcasting, let me suggest one! I’d love to go to a conference about business podcasting. How are businesses using podcasting? How could they use it? That sort of thing.