Waterloo, Ont.'s DALSA goes to Hollywood

The most famous high-tech company in Waterloo, Ont., of course, is Research in Motion. But there's another company – a semiconductor company — in Waterloo which, like RIM, was started up by a U of W professor who wanted to commercialize some good ideas he had. And like RIM in its early days, DALSA Corp. is quietly building a very nice little business for itself. In today's paper, I describe the latest chapter in DALSA's development — the push into Hollywood:
DALSA Corp., a Waterloo, Ont., semiconductor maker, is off to Hollywood early next year, hoping to revolutionize the way movies are made.
Beginning in January, DALSA will start renting out what it calls its Origin camera, a digital movie camera it believes will quickly become a favourite of cinematographers for its potential to save money on a shoot and yet deliver the same picture quality as film.
“This is a disruptive technology,” said Savvas Chamberlain, DALSA's chief executive officer. “We're changing the paradigm in the industry . . . [Read the full story in the Globe and Mail]

A sobering perspective: Let's get people electricity before we get them computers

From time to time, I find myself at confabs and conferences for the North American technorati and we get carried away about ideas like high-speed wireless Internet services streaming to all sorts of IP-enabled devices and gadgets that will be so dirt cheap everyone will have one. Heck, just yesterday, for a story on the launch of Microsoft's Halo 2, I came across some research that suggested that more than 40 per cent of all Canadian homes have at least one videogame console and that, of those, more than half are likely to have two or more videogame consoles by the end of this year.
And yet, the United Nations is reporting today that there are 1.6 billion people in the world who do not have electricity in their homes. Needless to say, getting more Internet bandwidth to these homes is a pretty low priority.
“Day in and day out, rural women spend hours at a time gathering fuel-wood, inefficiently processing food and inhaling smoke from wood-fired cooking stoves,” said Susan McDade, a New York-based UN project manager.
“For these women and their families, dependence on traditional fuels and fuel technologies barely allows fulfilment of the basic human needs of nutrition, warmth and lighting, let alone the opportunity for more productive activities.”
The UN cites some research that suggests that bringing energy and electricity to poor rural areas is one of the most effective ways of fighting poverty. And to get electricity to the poorest 700 million people in the world, one professor suggests it would require an infrastructure investment of about $20-billion (U.S.) a year for the next 10 years.
Why shouldn't we be able to do that?

Online holiday shopping slowing, Forrester says

Forrester Research says online holiday sales are likely to grow by 20 per cent this year compared to last year. But that's a slowing pace of growth, Forrester said. Online sales for Christmas 2003 were 31 per cent better than Christmas 2002.
Spending at online sites during the holiday season (which starts officially down south after the U.S. Thanksgiving) should total just over $13-billion (US).
Forrester says several factors are contributing to slowing growth including:

  • A more mainstream web means that online sales now generally mirror offline sales.
  • To keep profitability levels up, retailers will offer fewer free shipping offers and percentage off deals online.
  • In fear of a soft holiday season, retailers will use the web to push consumers into stores.

America: Red, blue and purple?

Sometimes I worry that, in an effort to describe a complex situation or event in a way that a large number of viewers or readers will quickly understand, the Media (that's Media with a capital M) end up simplifying something so drastically that something important gets lost. I think about this when I see the ongoing discussion about red states and blue states in the wake of the U.S. election.
I suspect America is not so easily compartmentalized and that it's the tough job of responsible media organizations to upset that already comfortable metaphor.
Barak Obama, the great Democrat hope who was elected senator in Illinois, is already trying to do that. He has noted several times since the election that he and George W. Bush shared a million voters. How do we (the Media with a capital M, again) explain the paradox of a voter who can put an X beside Obama's name a few minutes before doing the same beside Bush's name?
Let me start to answer that by referring you to a series of maps which breaks down the red/blue state dichotomy into what might be a more helpful metaphor. These maps break down the voting beyond states, using some techniques geographers use to get a more accurate spatial representation of some data, the data, in this case, being votes cast by people who live in a geographic region.
Looking at the data in a granula form, these topographers find America does indeed have some small bright red chunks and some bright blue chunks, but by and large, America is not so much red and blue as it is purple, an amalgam of those two colours:

National Post drops columnist on plagiarism allegations

My Globe and Mail colleague James Adams reports on an Editor's Note that appeared in Friday's National Post, the Globe's chief competition for the title of Canada's national newspaper:

A columnist with the National Post has lost her assignment with the newspaper after it learned that a column she wrote in 2002 contained five sentences that should have been attributed to a 2001 article published in a U.S. magazine . . .
…. It … was the second time that the Post had to deal with allegations that Ms. Nickson had used unattributed quotes ….
Before the controversies erupted, Ms. Nickson took a hard line on plagiarism.
In a March 15, 2002, column in the Post headlined ” 'Plagiarism' is 'stealing.' End of story,” [Nickson] said: “The original voice is
irreplaceable, and unmistakable, and should never be overrun in desperation. You deserve to get caught, because what you are selling is
that perfect distillation of you up against raw material, and that drags us out of the cave, our narrow little tribes, into the light.”

Bittorrent users account for one-third of all Internet traffic

Wow. Here's an incredible info-nugget: “According to British Web analysis
firm CacheLogic,
BitTorrent accounts for 35 percent of
all the traffic on the Internet – more than all other peer-to-peer programs
combined – and dwarfs mainstream traffic like Web pages. BitTorrent is rapidly
emerging as the preferred means of distributing large amounts of legitimate
such as versions of the free computer operating system Linux,
and these benign uses may give it some legal protection.”

Dell leads Canadian market; shipments crack 1 million units for quarter, says IDC

For the first time ever, more than one million portable, desktop and server computers were shipped into the Canadian market in a single quarter, according to market researcher International Data Corp. Canada Ltd. of Toronto.
IDC said yesterday that the Canadian computer market continued its streak of five consecutive quarters of growth, with the number of units shipped during the quarter ending Sept. 30 growing 16 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier.
IDC said growth was driven by strong demand for notebook computers, a stronger Canadian dollar which makes foreign-made products cheaper, and excess component inventories. Dell Inc. held the biggest share of the Canadian market at 24.6 per cent, followed by Hewlett-Packard Co., International Business Machines Corp., Toshiba Corp., and Acer. [Clipped from today's Globe and Mail]
So who's doing what?
Here's the breakdown according to IDC:

  1. Dell | 248,000 units shipped for a 25 % market share, up 37.2 % Y/Y
  2. HP | 203,000 units shipped for a 20 % market share, up 4.8 % Y/Y
  3. IBM | 107,000 units shipped for an 11 % market share, up 4.9 %
  4. Toshiba | 58,000 units shipped for a 5.7 % market share, down 4.8 %
  5. Acer | 51,000 units shipped for a 5.1 % market share, up 230.6 %

IDC noted that Acer was making its first appearance in the top 5 vendors in the Canadian market and did so by positioning itself as the value-priced computer maker.
Apple also had a solid third quarter, IDC said, with its shipments jumping 23% compared to the same quarter last year.

Frank Clegg to step aside at Microsoft Canada

Frank Clegg, (left) a long-time leader at Microsoft Corp.'s Canadian subsidiary, will step down from his job at the end of January.
Mr. Clegg, 50, will take a six-month sabbatical from Microsoft Canada Co. of Mississauga. He said he, his wife Davida, and their two daughters plan to travel the world during his sabbatical.
Microsoft said he would return to Microsoft at the end of his sabbatical in an as yet unspecified role.
Microsoft Corp. named David Hemler as Mr. Clegg's replacement. Mr. Hemler, an American, is a 10-year employee with Microsoft.
Mr. Clegg's 15-year tenure as a Microsoft employee has made him a wealthy man, wealth he has often invested in Canadian technology startups.
One of those early investments was The DocSpace Company Inc. of Toronto, which was bought by Critical Path Inc. of San Francisco at the height of the dot-com boom in 1999 for $530-million. Mr. Clegg and Ken Nickerson, a Microsoft Canada colleague at the time, were the source of the first funds beyond the founders and their families for DocSpace's development.
Their bet on DocSpace translated into a payout of several million dollars for both men … [Read the full story in today's Globe and Mail]

Did the wired generation in America matter?

It looks like a Republican blowout, south of the border. The candidate who spoke about “the internets” is a likely winner. If that's the case, what was all that fuss about the wired generation using short-text messaging, blogs, and Internet activism to change America and vote out Bush? Maclean's Paul Wells says all of the hype from young, urban, wired voters didn't amount to much:

… the next time some candidate enjoys a surge of popularity among Hitherto Disenfranchised Urban Youth — especially if he claims an advantage among cell-phone users and bloggers — bet heavy against him. He's dooooooooooomed.