A Canuck In The Machine

Mark Relph - Senior Director - Startup and VC Team

January, 2005

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Fun Times At CUTC 2005


    On Thursday Jan 20th I was invited to speak at the CUTC (Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference) "Techshow 2005" at their annual conference in Toronto.  Techshow was done in a "talk-show" style and was just so much fun to be a part of!  500 students and all future developers in the audience!  Just an awesome event.


    My talk was themed around my part-time persona of "Gadget Man".  Basically, I have taken my extreme "geek" habits and turned them into a talk I do for students around trends in "digital lifestyle" technologies and how they can get involved as developers to fix the "gaps" in the current capabilities of technologies.  My hope is that these students will take a different view on some of the hot new technologies and get inspired on how to develop new applications for them in the future.


    As I promised to everyone in the audience, my slides will be posted soon. (I will add the link once they are ready)


    As a little background - this whole "Gadget Man" presentation started when I was asked to speak at the University of Waterloo in Ontario about what I thought were the coolest new trends in technology.


    What's Cool: 

    For CUTC I highlighted a few areas (and included some others in the slides I decided to skip due to time restrictions):


    • Voice-Over-IP as an industry-shaking trend, as well as technologies like SIP and Real Time Communications / Live Meeting


    • The continuing evolution of Digital Media and the home - including Windows Media Centre 2005, Media Centre Extenders and Portable Media Players.  I want to highlight the fact that Media Centre 2005 has an all new SDK that allows anyone to extend the capabilities and to add new features.  As an example, check out: http://www.mcesoft.nl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=70&Itemid=143.  Also check out Adam Gallant's blog for other MCE focused development articles.


    • The acceptance of Web Services by consumers - the example being the new for-fee Napster service which I think is an excellent model of content delivery over broadband


    • PodCasting - it kills me that this is named after Apple's iPod, because there are so many great portable players on the market (like the Creative Zen, which I use).  I cannot change this now, so I will have to live with it!  The ipodder.org definition (http://www.ipodder.org/whatIsPodcasting): "Think how a desktop aggregator works. You subscribe to a set of RSS feeds, and then can easily view the new stuff from all of the feeds together, or each feed separately. Podcasting works the same way, with one exception. Instead of reading the new content on a computer screen, you listen to the new content on a Portable Media device. Think of your Portable Media Player as having a set of subscriptions that are checked regularly for updates. "


    For more information check out:



    There are even .NET Podcasts out there - check out the guys from DotNetRocks!!




    What's Not-So-Cool:

    I feel that it is very important in a presentation such as this to include my thoughts on what doesn't work to balance off the "what's cool" factor.  Technology continuously evolves and while we are making huge strides, there is always room for improvement! For the CUTC talk I focused in on these "gaps":


    • Security, Privacy and Anti-Spyware
    • Home Networking Is Still Too Hard
    • File Storage, Organization, Retrieval
    • Backup
    • Islands of Devices
    • Lots of Bad User Interfaces
    • Government Regulation Is Inconsistent
    • Industry Attitudes (Music, Film)


    My challenge to every student developer out there is to really dig into these issues and put your great talents and innovation to work to close the gaps in the future.  To that end, I have included a few links to get you started:


    Developer Links:


    For Gaming:


    For Windows Media Centre Development:


    For SPOT:  .NETCPU SDK Kit


    For Live Communications Server:  http://msdn.microsoft.com/office/understanding/livecomm/default.aspx


    Of course, one of the best ways to build your development prowess is to compete in the Imagine Cup (www.imaginecup.com).  Canadian students will be really well represented this year and the prize is a trip to Japan for the finals!


    Lastly - I was asked by a few people where I got my "gadget gossip" from.  The 2 best sites in my opinion are:  www.gizmodo.com and www.engadget.com


    Thanks to Steve, Katelyn and the CUTC crew for inviting me and I hope I can be back in 2006.


  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Talking Innovation In Vancouver


    On Friday afternoon I spoke at the Westlink / CATA sponsored Innovations & New Ventures 2005 Conference in Vancouver.  The conference focused on building the "innovation economy"  in Canada.  http://westlink.ca/NewVentures2005/


    From the press release "Participants in the conference will share venture formation strategies aimed at jump-starting Canada's innovation network….

    Partners in the "Innovation and New Ventures 2005" Conference in Vancouver, January 21-22, 2005, include CATAAlliance -- Canada's largest high-tech association -- and WestLink Innovation Network, an organization which includes western Canadian colleges, universities and technical and research institutes."


    I spoke about Microsoft Canada's involvement with the "Emerging Business and Venture Capital Community.  The themes in my presentation included:

    • Microsoft is a partner-driven company and emerging businesses help to enhance our partner ecosystem. 
    • VCs and Startups are a critical part of driving innovation in the marketplace.  Emerging Companies push the limits of the platform and drive innovation.
    • Microsoft builds a “technology stack” designed for others to innovate upon
    • There will always be functionality that partners / ISVs will provide above and beyond that stack
    • Partners helps us provide niche or vertical solutions for customers
    • This coupled with our US$6 Billion Research organization ensures an incredibly healthy platform for customers


    I also talked about how my team engages with Emerging Businesses across the country, including:

    • Platform Roadmaps / Technology Support
    • Exploring New Opportunity Areas
    • Certification
    • Partner Management
    • Sales Engagement
    • Co-Marketing
    • Access to our channel and partner ecosystem


    While in Vancouver I also caught up with my friends at Rocket Builders - www.rocketbuilders.com.  They just released their Top 25 "Ready To Rocket" List last week and the amazing thing is that 12 of the 25 using .NET and other parts of the Microsoft technology stack.  I think this is a great example oo the awesome being done by Independent Software Vendors all of Canada.  Some of the companies include: Copperleaf, Colligo, Loki, Flowfinity, Caelo, ResponseTek, NewHeights and Galeforce.

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    .NET Podcasts


    The latest trend is Podcasting.  Podcasting = the use of RSS to distribute audio files in a "subscription" model, thus letting the user collect and consumer the feeds at their leisure.

    I hate the fact that this is named after the ipod (obviously).  I will save the commentary on the number of great audio players out on the market for a different blog.

    For now, check out how the DotNetRocks crew are using the podcasts.



Page 1 of 1 (3 items)