A Canuck In The Machine

Mark Relph - Senior Director - Startup and VC Team

March, 2009

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    IE History Of The Net Video…"oh, that’s what InPrivate is for…”


    Say what you want about IE, the product team has pulled together this really funny video about the “history of the Net”…..  I particularly like the “developer” chant.  :-)

    (and for the record, you really should give IE8 a try…. it’s a whole new ballgame for us)

    <br/><a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=dc85f3da-9951-4167-8209-66202d255de2" target="_new" title="IE8 Net History">Video: IE8 Net History</a>

    There are a bunch of shorter video out-takes posted here as well.

    You might also want to read Joey’s post “You, Silverlight and Internet Explorer 8: A Hot Threesome of Browsing Fun”

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    IT Skills Shortage – Myths and Realities – Part 3


    (This is part 3 of a 4 part series, you can read the first post here)

    Here is the second part of my discussion with Shane Schick on the Myths & Realities of the IT Skills & Talent landscape in Canada.  This part is titled “Myth 3 – I have to leave to stay employed”.  Check it out, let me know what you think.


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    IT Skills & Talent In Canada – Myths and Realities – Part 2


    (This is part 2 of a 4 part series, you can read the first post here)

    Here is the second part of my discussion with Shane Schick on the Myths & Realities of the IT Skills & Talent landscape in Canada.  This part is titled “Myth 2 - There aren’t enough Skilled IT people in Canada”.  Check it out, let me know what your thoughts on the topic are.

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    IT Skills & Talent In Canada – Myths and Realities - Part 1


    Working in today’s IT industry comes with a variety of challenges, especially in these tough economic times.  Jobs are becoming more complex, employers expectations are high and employees need more than just technical skills to grow their careers.  I had a chance to sit down with Shane Schick from itWorldCanada to discuss the state of the IT Profession in Canada.  We discussed several “myths” and industry perceptions on the IT skills shortage and lack of IT talent in Canada.

    We chatted about what the IT industry as a whole can do to help close the gap between employers and employees expectations.  The key is driving the right demand for IT skills, while meeting this demand with the right supply of talent.  We also highlighted some of the things that Microsoft Canada is doing to address these issues – such as Techdays, EnergizeIT and the Ignite Your Career Series.

    Shane and I divided our chat into the discussion of 4 “IT profession myths”.  Shane even had actual comments from his readers that we used as the focal point of the discussion.

    Here is the first part of the series, titled “IT Doesn’t Matter” (in Silverlight).  Check it out, let me know what your thoughts on the topic are.


    I will post parts 2, 3 and 4 later this week.

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    Searching For The $1000 Laptop – Our New Ad…

    <br/><a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=0bb6a07c-c829-4562-8375-49e6693810c7" target="_new" title="Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion">Video: Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion</a>
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    DreamSpark: Preparing the next-gen workforce


    DreamSPark logo

    I have been thinking a lot lately about the IT skills shortage. According to the Information and Communications Technology Council, from 2008 to 2015, Canadian employers will need to recruit as many as 178,800 technology workers. But based on their projections we’ll likely fall short of hiring requirements in a number of areas.

    This is true outside of Canada as well, so it was great to hear Bill Gates today announce the expansion of the DreamSpark program.


    If you haven’t already heard of DreamSpark, it's all about giving students access to Microsoft developer and design tools at no charge. The best part is that, as of today, more students than ever can take advantage - originally geared to college and university students, we just made DreamSpark available for high school students as well.

    Over the years I’ve seen my share of Imagine Cups and other locally sponsored code awards, and seen students develop some amazing stuff. They have the smarts, the passion and the drive, and DreamSpark is really about giving them the resources they need to take their skills to the next level.

    If you read my blog you know that I believe that we all need to step it up when it comes to innovation, an area where despite some impressive examples, Canada still tends to lag. This makes initiatives like DreamSpark even more important because the next generation of innovators are critical to ensuring the strength of local software economies across Canada.


    To learn more or sign-up a school, visit the DreamSpark site. Looking forward to seeing students get a head start on their careers, especially given the increasingly competitive environment the recession has created. But that’s a whole other discussion.

    (If you are a high school student doing something cool with our development tools, please leave a comment and tell me about it!)

    Here is some press from today -

    And here is a video of BillG discussing Dreamspark & students from Channel8 -

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    In The News: User experience is the driving force of innovation: Microsoft Canada


    Check out Liam Lahey’s article over at echannelline titled “User experience is the driving force of innovation: Microsoft Canada”.  This is another piece coming out of MIX09 with a Canadian focus.

    “With the kickoff of the MIX09 conference in Las Vegas underway, here at home Microsoft Canada took the opportunity to trot out a couple of customer success stories as it pertains to Microsoft's vision of software-plus-services and its shiny, new browser: Internet Explorer 8.

    While speaking about the 'power of the desktop and devices', Daniel Shapiro, product manager, Microsoft Canada, said software-plus-services is all about combining the desktop with the ubiquity and flexibility of the Web.“

    Read More - http://www.echannelline.com/canada/story.cfm?item=DLY031809-3

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    In The News: Microsoft releases Expression Blend 3; Canadian-based solution provider uses Expression Blend tool for Canada Post office outlet solution


    Another good Canadian focused article coming out of MIX09 is in the news:

    Microsoft releases Expression Blend 3 - Canadian-based solution provider uses Expression Blend tool for Canada Post office outlet solution

    3/19/2009 10:11:00 AM By: Maxine Cheung

    “During its MIX09 conference held in Las Vegas yesterday, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MFST) announced its Expression Blend 3 Preview product. Innovapost, a Toronto-based IT solutions and services provider, used this interactive design tool to create a solution for Canada Post office outlets across the country.

    Microsoft's Expression Blend 3 Preview is aimed at improving the workflow and productivity of designer and developers within an organization. Tracy Alburger, solutions delivery director at Innovapost, said the company worked with Microsoft solutions such as Expression Blend and Visual Studio 2008 to help develop and create a solution for Canada Post office outlets, many of which are located in Shoppers Drug Mart stores across the country.”

    Read More Here: http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/home/News.asp?id=52472

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    Bill Buxton’s Keynote @ Mix09 – A must watch.


    Head over to http://live.visitmix.com/ and watch it…. seriously, it’s great.

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    itWorldCanada - Microsoft extends RIA push with Silverlight 3.0 beta


    “Microsoft Corp. revealed the beta version of Silverlight 3.0 and previewed Expression Blend 3 at its MIX09 conference in Las Vegas. Rich-Internet Applications from Canadian customers CTV, Workopolis.com, and Innovapost”

    Read More:


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    CTV first Canadian network to offer high definition video online (done in Silverlight!)



    High definition streaming video is now just a click away for online viewers across Canada.

    CTV.ca, Canada's online destination for news, sports and entertainment, is bringing high definition video to the computer screens of Canadians with the launch of the CTV HD Beta Player.

    CTV becomes the first Canadian network to deliver HD quality content on the web.

    The CTV HD Beta Player will allow fans of Canada's #1 original comedy "Corner Gas" and hit CTV police drama "Flashpoint" to catch every minute of action in clear, HD streaming video format from the comfort of their home computer. "Malawi's Song," CTV's first-ever, made-for-digital production, will also be available for viewing on the HD Player. The initiative is part of a beta program being conducted in connection with industry leaders Microsoft and Akamai Technologies. In addition to providing CTV and its partners with an opportunity to experiment with HD technology online, the player will also be leveraged to solicit feedback from users that can be used in the future development of the player.

    "Being the first Canadian network to offer high definition video online is a reflection of our ongoing efforts to evolve the online space," said Stephan Argent, CTV's Vice-President, Digital Media. "The CTV HD Beta Player allows us to raise the bar even higher in our commitment to delivering premium online content to Canadians on their terms. Experimenting with this technology and incorporating the valuable feedback we receive from our audience will be an excellent learning initiative for us and provide us with significant insights as to how HD video can enhance the overall user experience."

    The CTV HD Beta Player will run parallel with the industry-leading CTV video player which, in combination with stellar programming and best-of-breed technology, led to doubling video streams for Canada's online network throughout 2008, a reflection of Canadians' growing appetite for high quality online content.

    The HD player will run on a new streaming video innovation called Akamai AdaptiveEdge Streaming for Microsoft Silverlight, the latest in streaming video technology to come from industry leaders Microsoft and Akamai. This technology is different because it adapts stream quality based on a user's connection speed - so consumers with varying bandwidth connections can experience HD quality streaming with instant start-up times and no buffering. It will mark the first time the technology is being used in Canada.

    "We're proud to support the CTV HD Beta Player and help CTV bring stunning HD quality TV programs to Canadians." said Mark Relph, Vice President, Developer Tools and Platform, Microsoft Canada. "It's another demonstration of how Microsoft Silverlight is helping leading Canadian companies deliver an unparalleled online viewing experience to their users."

    Powered by Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) 7.0 Smooth Streaming Technology, Microsoft Silverlight and Akamai's AdaptiveEdge Streaming for Microsoft Silverlight, this solution enables CTV to deliver a high fidelity online viewing experience for the consumer with instant start up times and no buffering.

    "Akamai is pleased to be a part of this initiative to bring premium HD programming to CTV.ca," said Tim Napoleon, chief strategist, Digital Media at Akamai. "We believe that Akamai AdaptiveEdge Streaming has the potential to change the way consumers experience higher quality video online. Showcasing these popular Canadian shows with adaptive streaming is just another step in our long-standing relationship with CTV as they push the envelope to bring viewers the most rewarding viewing experience via the most advanced technology possible."

    The trial will run through the end of August and provide access to the full seasons of both "Corner Gas" and "Flashpoint." The CTV HD Beta Player can be viewed at:


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    National Forum for Women in Technology Builds Momentum with Microsoft Canada


    National Forum for Women in Technology Builds Momentum with Microsoft Canada and Launch of BC Chapter
    CATA WIT Expands its Support to Women in Technology in Challenging Economic Times

    Vancouver, March 17 2009 - The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance - Women in Technology (CATA WIT) Forum, today announced Microsoft Canada as its newest national sponsor as well as the launch of its BC chapter. Microsoft Canada's support along with CATA WIT BC will provide more value to women who join the national, community-based network committed to helping women excel in Canada's advanced technology and bio-tech sectors.

    "We are pleased to support CATA WIT's endeavors at both a national and regional level," said Mark Relph, Vice-President, Developer and Platform Evangelism, Microsoft Canada. "Microsoft Canada actively encourages women to join the IT industry, and as a corporation that values diversity in the workforce, we will continue to help technical professionals realize their full potential through connections and programs designed to make a positive difference in their professional and personal endeavors."

    Through Microsoft Canada's sponsorship, CATA WIT Forum will extend its reach to Microsoft's vast network of customers as well as leverage a Microsoft-based technology platform to bring additional services to CATA WIT Forum's members.

    "The launch of the BC chapter with the support of national companies like Microsoft further expand our efforts as an advocator and support network for women in technology." said Joanne Stanley, Co-Founder and Managing Director of CATA WIT Forum. "With 2009 promising to be a challenging year economically, we believe investment in and support for women in technology is a key for Canada's economic advantage."

    The new BC chapter is co-chaired by Joanne Hausch, Associate Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP and Tabitha Creighton, Strategy Practice Lead, KnowledgeTech. CATA WIT BC will hold its first public event in June in Vancouver. For more details visit: http://www.catawit.ca.

    The other national partners of CATA WIT Forum are Merrill Lynch, MTS Allstream, NRC's Industrial Assistance Program, Helix Commerce International, Highroad Communications, Information Communications Technology Council, Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, and Status of Women Canada.

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    Canada <Heart> IT. Vote Now – IgniteIT Awards


    This year we brought together the MSDN and Technet Canada awards to create the IgniteIT Awards.  This is a special award in Canada as it recognizes the hard work and innovation of the members of our IT community across Canada.

    The submission periods is close and now we are on to the Voting phase.  It’s all about the community making your voice heard: who are the top IT leaders.

    A few details:

    • The Ignite IT Awards Voting Phase happens throughout the entire month of March, closing on March 31.
    • Through a random draw, participants could win 1 of 10 4GB Microsoft Zunes just for voting
    • The community can vote for the top 5 Developer submissions and the top 5 IT Professional submissions. Microsoft judges will then select the winners from those finalists.
    • Voters can vote for as many of their favourite submissions as they’d like, but they can only vote for the same submission once a day.
    • Voters can vote for their own submission.


    Prizes will be awarded in May 2009. WINNERS RECEIVE:

    Developer or
    Developer Team of the Year

    • Prize of $5,000
    • MSDN Code Awards Crystal Trophy

    IT Professional or IT Professional Team of the Year

    • Prize of $5,000
    • TechNet Innovation Awards Crystal Trophy

    The top 5 Developers and top 5 IT Professionals receive:

    • A Microsoft Software Kit including a full edition of Visual Studio Pro - an approximate value of $1,000
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    Hey Canada Technology Professionals: Ignite Your Career!


    We’ve launched a great new set of webcasts called “Ignite Your Career”.  It’s all focused on helping Canada’s ICT professionals be a successful as possible.  So, it’s all about you.  We’ve pulled together 6 great topics and a set of awesome guest speakers.  If you head to the site you will see a list of the sessions and a nice video from yours truly talking about the sessions.

    clip_image002Here is the official pitch:

    “Welcome to the Ignite Your Career Webcast Series. The goal of this Webcast series is to support your career development by bringing together experts in the Canadian ICT industry to provide insights and to answer your questions. This year, we have broadened the range of topics and are reaching out to all sorts of audiences – it doesn't matter if you manage infrastructure, development, or IT architects.”

    Everything is both live and on-demand…. so you can be a part of the conversation or watch/download it later.

    You definitely should read Rick’s post here about how the sessions are being run.

    Series Line-up

    Industry Insights and Trends - Tuesday, March 3rd - 12PM-1PM EST REGISTER NOW

    Discovering Your Trusted Resources - Tuesday, March 10th - 12PM-1PM EST REGISTER NOW

    How to Establish and Maintain a Healthy Work/Life Balance - Tuesday, March 17th - 12PM-1PM EST REGISTER NOW

    How to Become a Great Leader - Tuesday, March 24th - 12PM-1PM EST REGISTER NOW

    Building, Managing and Strengthening Your Team - Tuesday, March 31st - 12PM-1PM EST REGISTER NOW

    Women in IT Panel Discussion - Tuesday, April 7th - 12PM-1PM EST REGISTER NOW


    There is a good post here about the Women in IT session and Shane at itWorldCanada also blogs about the first webcast here.

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    In The News: “Welcome to the global cloud”


    I had the chance to chat with Briony Smith at itWorldCanada.  She was doing an article on Cloud computing and the article appears here.

    We discussed how the Cloud is evolving, Microsoft’s views on how software will be built in the future, our Software + Services Strategy, Azure, Office Live, Interoperability and the downside of the “pure play” vendors.

    Thanks to Briony for taking the time to chat with me.

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