Imagine: The waterfront of 2035

Imagine on a hot summers day driving over the overpass into Prince Arthur’s landing seeing the blue water touching the rocks and the sun beating down on everyone enjoying the park. You have a busy day ahead, a whole range of activities have been planned and more is waiting to be explored. You decide that today is a great day to enjoy the sites and sounds and take a walk through the entire park.

The first stop is to the playground filled with laughing kids and parents chatting away the weeks news. Laughter, birds and a slight breeze fill the air while your kids enjoy themselves on the equipment. You sit on the edge of the playground with some friends and enjoy each other company. The week has passed and now you are enjoying the freedom given to you by the weekend. Plans are made and the future discussed but that is all above the children as they jump from swings to slide and back again. The sand between their toes and the rush of playing tag with a group of new friends. Time flies as the endless energy of kids is spent but its time to move on as some friends go to explore elsewhere.

Walking down the sidewalk you notice kids using the picnic tables as a ramp to try out all the latest moves and your kids aspire to try that when they get a little older. There are other families sitting along the rocks having a lunch and individuals strolling around the park on such a beautiful day. It isn’t long before you see what your little heart desires, a big cold ice cream cone. After standing in line and seeing the other happy faces of the children who had been just as overcome with joy as you with seeing the ice cream shop it is finally your turn. So many choices to look through and so little time to choose, a regular ice cream cone or something fancy to tell your friends about. Your heart pounds as your parents pass you the cone; not even 10 seconds has passed and your eating away at the ice cream. Not even the sound of the kids riding the skate boards could gain your attention from the ice cream. The ice cream which had made your heart pump was only a small enjoyment and your favorite part was next.

The 100 feet is takes seems like an eternity but when you get there the excitement rushes over you again as you start to hear the noise. The noise of water crashing, laughter and parents laughing as they watch the joy overcome their kids. You rush to the water but your parents call hold you back, you forgot something which is very important. You forgot to change your clothes, you can’t go rushing in to the water in your good clothes. Grabbing on to your parents and tugging them along you tug open the doors to the Water Garden Pavilion and look up as its high ceilings and massive size make you feel tiny. You rush into the change room with parent in tow and change as quick as you can. The doors stand no chance as you push them out of the way to get into the water and soaking wet. Father takes a stroll through the building to look at the art pieces and see how busy the restaurant is. The place is packed, filled with people of all nations enjoying there food and expressing it in the many languages that grace our planet. On coming back out the splash pad is filled and kids are having the time of there lives. As time passes its time to continue the stroll, family in tow its time to move on to the next adventure.

Passing through a busy market area and heading to a friend’s condo its easy to see why they purchased the space. The view is great, the place lively and there are so many people to meet with. After going up and having a drink the step out onto the balcony is just unimaginable. The sail boats, the people, the giant and the lake come together to make a magnificent picture that not even the greatest artist could put onto paper. The breeze moves through the room and fill it with a gentle smell, only the kids getting restless can break the silence. One of these days this will be your home and it will only be a short walk from your condo to his. Its time to move on from the warmth of your friends condo and continue the walk and continue to explore the park.

In the distance you can see something rise up skyward, almost as tall as the building in which you had left. A grey metal beast built for war but used mostly for protection and aid. This new addition to the park will be one of the most enjoyable parts of your trip but you need to get there first. The new board walks hug the waters edge and hundreds more boats fill the new marina. Engines turning over and people getting ready to enjoy the day fill the air as this part of the park slowly quiets down. This is a more peaceful area filled with trees, plants and grass for which many come to have picnics and relax. The water touches the rocks with a little more energy as the wind slowly picks up but nothing more then to make the sound enjoyable. The walk is starting to make everyone a little tired. You can still see the metal giant and want to get as close as possible. You push your family for a little more strength to get there and after coming around the last couple turns you have arrived.

The ship stands like a giant along the pier, a ship of much history and honor. It has seen areas of the world in which you may never and has done things to keep our freedom. This ship was once to be feared and terrified the enemy but now it sits in its final resting point at the Thunder Bay marina. A private company is allowing tours of the ship and you jump on the earliest one. The size and scope continues to amaze you and your family, the guns that once scared away the enemy to the life rafts that could have saved hundreds. The tour has inspired your child and he talks of joining the navy and the sights he will see. The tour reminds you of how you too aspired to be part of the military when you were a young lad. Daydreaming together father and son of things that could and could have been, mom runs off to get a cool drink and something to munch on. Together you talk about the importance of the role of the navy and talk about how much this means to a city like Thunder Bay. A city with a huge background in ship building, grain elevators, the navy and more; this piece is a perfect fit for the city.

 

The trip has left you and your family exhausted. At a perfect time too, the park has now ended but that will soon change. With the addition of the Iron ore dock area to the park it will expand it beyond what any involved with phase 1 could have dreamed. The land will stretch from one sliver of land to kilometers of green liveable space designed for enjoyment. One day you will be able to walk down the whole park and see everything that has changed. Sooner rather then later hopefully there will be a perfect balance of industry and green space in which all can survive and prosper.

http://brookmcilroy.com/projects_project.php?pid=23 – Iron Ore Dock’s project

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Northwestern Ontario merger

One of the things that people love about Northwestern Ontario is the vast distances between people, towns and embracing the nature of the area. This size of Northwestern Ontario is similar to the size of France but yet only has around 250,000 people. It is the largest portion of Ontario and yet barely makes even the smallest dent in the overall population of the province. Many of the towns and cities were developed around a couple of different industries which at times have boomed and allowed for success and then crumbled leaving the towns hopeless. With Thunder Bay owning over 52% of the population for the region it is no wonder that the majority of the attention is paid to this single city and many smaller towns forgotten. Even though the city of Thunder Bay is the largest in the region is still suffers from a lack of population and the problem of being ‘lost from civilization’.

In 2003, when the forest industry collapsed the towns built to support the mills were shattered. Many of these towns relied so heavily on these single industries that it made up 30-50% of there annual tax income and for many it was the only real source of employment. With the loss of these mill the towns were forced to look for other ways to keep there citizens from leaving and trying to find work elsewhere. Many looked to the government to help them pull through this crisis but it wasn’t until 2008 when the crisis affected more then lonely North Western Ontario did the government listen. It’s stimulus packages helped to create short term jobs in the region but failed to create the needed momentum and give private industry the push it needed to spend its cash. Now in the face of another recession and a return to the glory days of the forestry industry all but gone. A new type of thinking needs to occur within the government and a merge of towns and townships needs to occur.

Many of the towns in north western Ontario are looking for the same things and the same amount of money to start projects. The problem is for these councils is simply the fact that the funding all comes from one source. Many of these towns are too small for private industry to even really consider investing in which causes economic issues in itself. These towns are then forced to rely on single sources of income to help sustain and provide the economic engine for the area. The problem with such a plan was brought to the forefront when the forest industry collapsed and now it is time to make sure we don’t repeat such plans. I would propose that the government looks at merging towns together and moving populations to a more central location to provide more economic stability and opportunity for these areas.

Towns such as Kenora, Thunder Bay, Dryden, Ignace, Upsala, Nipigon and Fort Francis could all become the anchors to hold the key to a more prosperous and environmentally friendly Northwestern Ontario.

For example if Nipigon was to take on the citizens of Red Rock, Beardmore and Dorion its population would rise from 1,700 to around 3,600. Not to mention the advantage it gains from location on the highway and the fact that traffic must flow through.

Imagine if the towns that were struggling to gain some momentum economically after the forest industry collapse could come together and move in with neighbors. The construction work would be an economic feat in itself but the councils of these new much larger towns would have more say in provincial matters and the reduced amount of people asking for money would allow more projects to be completed. Projects that have been put on the shelf could again be brought to the forefront and moved into new phases. They could also become more of an attraction to private investment as the larger population allows for more customers and success. The move from a number of smaller communities to slightly larger ones allow for more area to be allowed for such things as farming, provincial parks, forested area and more. It also allows for more industrial expansion into areas that might have once been considered off limits. Projects like mines, power generation (wind or solar) could all be something positive that comes from the movement of people to the city. Land taken from aboriginal partners years back could also be returned with the reduction of a spread out population. Helping to settle major differences and return a sense of peace to the area.

While I dont expect this to happen it would be an amazing feet it if were to happen. Uprooting thousands of people and moving them into new areas, the number of houses needed to be built alone would be a feat. Roads, infrastructure and integrating people into the society would be a interesting challenge but the advantages to this process could make it worth it. Economic stability, increased funding for cities and moving from a single sourced form on income (forest industry) could all help to make north western Ontario a better place.

Imagine if this:

became this:

 

The population is in a more more centralized location, the remaining towns and cities would be able to better collect funds from the government and use them in a smaller location.

So what you think?

Media running with a story.

When you look into tech news recently one story or in the case company will stand out beyond the rest. RIM or Research In Motion the creators of the Blackberry smartphone seem to be in the news daily. While the reasons they are in the media merit the coverage the amount and how much media companies have run with it is extremely questionable. It seems that almost everyday or anything said will be front page in the tech section and sometimes make the front page. Blog after blog and even professional journalists digging deeper into a story and coming out with a completely wrong outcome. Now there are stories that need to be run with and being Canada’s biggest tech company it draws extra attention.

– RIM’s stock was and is an important story but now it has passed the residual book value and the shareholders meeting, if your not a share holder it means little. The numerous blogs and stories about the loss of share value are completely useless and focuses on a past company that has gone through significant changes. These types of stories shouldn’t come back into the press until the shareholder meeting, a company plans a takeover or RIM plans to go private.

– RIM’s financial numbers while important in the short term and for those paying attention to the company long term aren’t headline tech news or front page news. Unless RIM is announcing a bankruptcy then I’m not sure why this is really necessary for the news. The company has shown time and time again that its moving to a new platform and that its taking a lot of money and time to do so. In the mean time there sales are dropping due to a lack of new/interesting phones on the market. Yet, the titles “RIM is dead” or “RIM’s death spiral” continue to light the blog boards.

It really amazes me that the North American media pays such attention to RIM besides the fact its in transition and has made some serious misjudgements is in good position globally. It has 2.2 billion in cash, 0 debt and in number 1 in many of the developing countries. These facts continue to allude people when they write articles about RIM but what else is going on in the tech world also seems to disappear after the news hits.

Nokia was once the biggest phone manufacturer in all of the world and was one of the bigger employers in Finland. With the transition to smart phones from feature phones, Nokia failed to pay attention. They have lost billions of dollars and even last quarter (3 months) they lost 1 billion. But yet the media and the company found silver linings in the news and it was out of the media within hours. In that quarter Nokia moved the last plant out of Finland and into the developing nations, a story which likely received attention in Finland but did nothing for North American media. To Finland the company has the same recognition as GM, now imagine if GM moved all its plants to Mexico the media attention that would get!

HTC is another company running Google’s Android operating system. They make good phone and were extremely successful for a number of years. It really didn’t start having problems till Samsung released the extremely popular Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Note. Since then the company has been pushed out of markets by Samsung and there phones are having a huge issue of recognition after the media campaign by Samsung. Why isn’t HTC in the news more then the few hours after there market share numbers are released or the new quarterly report? If they continue, the company could be relegated to a much smaller market share or be squeezed out of the market by Samsung and other cheap phone manufacturers. HTC is a fairly big company and to be squeezed out of that market would be a huge story for the media but it seems like no one cares.

Sony doesn’t have the market share of RIM or any of the major companies but yet its smart phone division has been losing cash like they been wiping there ass with it. Apple has the Foxxconn issues and the legal battles with Samsung that never make more then a bloggers front page.

So why RIM, is it just an easy company to hate on as people moved from Blackberries to iphones, galaxy etc? Is it the way it fell or how it fell? Is it because it was Canada’s shining star in the tech world?

Leave your comments in the section below, what you think.

Battle of the tablets

August 9th, the new 4G LTE Playbook will be released to carrier in Canada. Rogers, Bell and Telus will initially sell it in Canada and slowly the playbook will make its way into more hands and more countries. The 4G LTE Playbook is the second in Research In Motion’s lineup in tablets. It allows users to be able to use the internet anywhere and improves upon all the areas considered weak in the first version.

Released in July the Google Nexus 7 is the first in a partnership between Google and Asus. The Nexus 7 was designed to take on the Playbook, Kindle Fire and Amazon tablet market. Sales are said to be going well as both the 8 and 16 GB models have been sold out on the Google Play store. The tablet is running Android OS 4.1 (Jelly bean) which is google’s newest operating system.

 

Both tablets are new to the market. The 4G Playbook so much so that it hasn’t even hit the shelves yet and the Nexus 7 only recently. These two tablets will be the main competitors in this price range until a new Kindle Fire or lower priced tablets becomes available. When it comes to size they both rock the same 7 inch screen which is great for portability and storage, they are roughly the same size wise but the Playbook is about 85 grams heavier.

There are some major differences in the way that the tablets were designed and their target audiences. The 4G Playbook has a couple things that the Nexus 7 doesn’t including a front facing camera, LTE (HSPA+) connectivity, flash and NFC. The advantage for the Nexus 7 is the cheap price, consumer familiarity with Android and 46 more pixels per square inch then the Playbook. Lets take a quick look at the pro’s and con’s for both:

Playbook Pro’s – Flash makes using the internet great, instead of getting mobile websites with 1/2 the information missing, you get the full site. The rear 3MP camera allows for crystal clear communication between devices, the 5 MP front camera allows for great photos from the tablet and the 1080p allows for HD recording from the device. The 32 GB of storage allows for a lot of photos, videos and apps to be put onto the device. The device also has access to over 40,000 apps dedicated to it and Blackberry 10 for users to enjoy.

Cons – The Playbook name has been kind of tarnished with the half backed release of the first one and the company situation itself. Other then the small bump in speed and the LTE this playbook is almost the same as the original the only difference is the 300+ difference in price. This device only has 40,000 apps where as Nexus 7 has apps ranging in the 400,000. The price might be a little high for consumers as it is almost in Ipad range which has much more support int he general public.

Nexus 7 Pros – Its cheap, and allows for people who might not be able to afford a higher end device the opportunity to own a tablet. There are tons of free and paid apps for the users content, 10 hours of battery is good to get you through the day and running OS 4.1 gets all the latest from Google and Android. The Quad core CPU should help power this device through spam and handle the users demands.

Con’s – 8/16 GB of storage is small and wont be able to handle lots of movies. The lack of a front facing camera means no peer device communication and the 1.2 MP front and 720p recording is a little weak in today’s market. The lack of flash means a user will experience mobile sites instead of regular one including some videos from youtube and more.

Lets check it them out!

4G LTE Playbook

Google Nexus 7

Operating System : Playbook OS 2.0 Operating System: Android 4.1 – Jelly Bean
Dimensions: 194 x 130 x 10 mm

Weight: 425 g

Dimensions: 198.5 x 120 x 10.5 mm

Weight: 340 g

Size: 600 x 1024 pixels, 7.0 inches (~170 ppi pixel density) Size: 800 x 1280 pixels, 7.0 inches (~216 ppi pixel density)
Memory: 32 GB storage, 1 GB RAM Memory: 8/16 GB storage, 1GB RAM
Camera: Primary: 5 MP, 2592×1944 pixels, auto focus

Video: Yes, 1080p

Secondary: Yes, 3 MP

Camera: Primary: 1.2 MP

Features Video-calling

Video Yes, 720p

Secondary No

CPU: Dual-core 1.5 GHz CPU: Quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A9
Tools:

– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– Micro HDMI port
– Document viewer/editor
– BlackBerry Bridge
– Media player MP3/WMA/AAC+
– Video player DivX/WMV/XviD/3gp
– Organizer
– Predictive text input

– NFC

Tools:

– Google Wallet
– SNS integration
– MP4/DivX/Xvid/H.264/H.263/WMV player
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA player
– Organizer
– Image/video editor
– Document viewer
– Google Search, Maps, Gmail,
YouTube, Calendar, Google Talk, Picasa integration
– Voice memo
– Predictive text input (Swype)

Browser: HTML5, Adobe Flash Browser: HTML
Price: 32 GB – $549.99 outright (Telus), $549.95 outright (Bell) and $349.99 on a year year plan (Rogers) Price: 8GB – $199.99, 16GB – $249.99 (US)
Battery: 4800 battery or 8-9 hours Battery: Standard battery, Li-Ion 4325 mAh or 10 hours

City of Thunder Bay and technology.

The world is a fast placed place, time is important and properly managing it is even more so. In this fast paced world the days of phone calls and mailed letters seem to have died and been replaced with social media and faster communication. While the older ways of communication are still important in today’s world (radio, tv and print communication) there is a major push by the newer generations to the social media world of Facebook, Twitter and email.

There are a number of areas where the city could improve in it use of technology to make it more efficient and productive. Area’s could include the road construction crews all the way to the top in making the city more effective and more approachable. Devices like smart phones, tablets, laptops and even desktops connect us in ways we never were before and make general communication easier. While there are some things that the city does well, there is always room for improvement and the ability to make jobs easier.

Email: One of the easiest and most reliable ways for reaching someone inside the city. Many employees including the city manager have fast and reliable response times. To get a private answer between you and the employee this is still the best route. There seems to be some people inside the city that you can never get an answer from which is a challenge to try and get proper answers. There are a number of times when a single question could likely be better posed to someone else or its not worth the time to write a long well thought out email. This is where the city could be using other forms of social media to better uses to get the quick answer and let people work.

Pro’s: Fast response times and you usually get a proper answer shortly

Con’s: Most email’s today are spam, close to 60% of all daily emails are spam and making out legit from spam can be hard.

Facebook: Likely the cities most successful story about using social media in today’s world. Facebook pages from the Waterfront development page, Event center page and the local city page all provide an area for people to communicate and ask questions to the city. The waterfront page was one of the busiest pages that the city has promoted and was a great space to be able to ask questions on the project development and beyond. The city was also fairly quick at responding to these inquiries provided by the citizens. The local city page has also been a good place to get the news from the city’s official website in a smaller and less compact site. The issue seems to be that in the 21t century and everything is go go go, an answer coming the day or week later provides some background of a city transitioning but not quite ready to fully accept. Overall the city does a good job of using Facebook to reach a new audience but there still seems to be some push back to the new forms of media.

Pro’s: Most successful usage of social media by the city

Con’s: Answers can be a long time in coming and still there seems to be some backlash to the change to social media.

Twitter: Of the two social media sites that the city uses, twitter seems to be one that isn’t all there yet. While the city has improved the twitter account is still being used wrong and isn’t effective. Twitter is different from social media sites like Facebook or Google +. Its a much more intimate and conversation based site instead of a posting site. While the city basically uses it to pass of the message that one could find on the official website, it doesn’t properly allow for the conversation between the city and interested party. As a citizen of the town it would be much more impressive to see the city use twitter for the way it was designed, a conversation between 2. A more successful use of this tool would be to have someone sit down at the computer for an hour or 2 and answer questions or tweets presented by others. Bringing in people to answer questions or making it a weekly event could provide a new platform for younger audiences to express there feelings in a comfortable way.

Pro’s: The city is trying it out and trying to make it work

Con’s: Its not used properly by the city to communicate with residents. A daily answer session could add more spice to the conversation and make residents feel involved.

On the road: From road crews to police officers, technology is becoming more and more important in today’s work world. Technology from tablets, portable printers, cell phones and more could all provide a way to make life easier for crews. More and more police services around the world are switching from paper to phones to make life easier for police crews and more efficient. Police in the UK are now able to scan a person finger prints onto the phone and look up the person in the system. Instead of being forced to bring a person back to the station and use valuable time they can do most of the work on the street side. Officers laptops in vehicles are also being replaced by Playbook’s to control all the normal systems of the car as well as everything the laptop would have to offer. Less buttons allows the officers to pay attention to the road longer and less clutter allows more space for movement. Its not just police who are looking to go from paper to tech, the US Air force recently replaced all of its manuals with Ipad’s. To provide more space and less clutter the pilots will now look for a tablet instead of a book.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGubks35EGUWaterloo Police Force

http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/45537/candian-police-cars-use-blackberry-playbooksPlaybooks in Cars

More then just police and military can make use of these technologies. Crews roaming the city streets doing daily tasks can now take less trips back to the home office and get information quicker. As technology continues to improve its a great asset to look at teaching new and older employees how to use the technology which could keep them on the road longer. Phones and tablets could be provided to crews to help to get from job to job efficiently. Cambridge recently annoucned they would partner with RIM and IBM to create a system that they felt would help make there employees jobs easier.

http://www.techvibes.com/blog/ontario-city-partners-with-rim-to-arm-staff-with-blackberry-playbooks-2012-03-19/Cambridge partnership

Having trucks that can print, fill and finish work order or other work that may be passed to the employee could provide for a lot of benefits. Moving forward with the city and integrating with the newest technology would be a great benefit to make the city work faster, more efficiently and communicate better.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ipp4elBnLsFuture of Mobile device management

Just some ideas and ranting 🙂