Thursday, May 8, 2008

  • UW's news offered on BlackBerry
  • Arts technology conference to open
  • A few pixels in the big picture
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Group posing in front of stone wall]

Excellence in teaching was the goal, as this group of faculty took part in a three-day “Academy” in late April to revise one of their course outlines with guidance from award-winning teachers and staff of the Centre for Teaching Excellence. Working at St. Paul’s College for most of the event, they adjourned to the University Club to post their finished products and toast their success. Today brings another event in the same spirit: a Celebrating Teaching Excellence reception (by invitation) to honour teaching award winners and others involved in teaching improvement. It starts at 3:30, again at the University Club.

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UW's news offered on BlackBerry

UW has joined Maclean’s and Canadian Business as one of the few publishers of a free weekly news digest for smart cellphones. Waterloo becomes the first public-sector organization to use new technology — developed at UW — to provide this service.

People with a particular interest in UW, such as alumni, industry partners, students on co-op and government officials, and a BlackBerry can get a news digest of stories. The digest, called UW Mobile, downloads every Monday, stores text and photos automatically in the BlackBerry’s memory, and appears instantly when the user clicks a small black-and-gold UW icon – no long waits for web downloads.

“This technology presents us with a tremendous tool to further connect with alumni and friends of the university, and highlight certain activities and developments for them,” says Meg Beckel, vice-president, external relations. “It also gives us another wonderful opportunity to help showcase a new piece of technology with strong connections to the University of Waterloo.”

The technology to make the mobile digest possible for UW, the two magazines and other publishers has been developed by Polar Mobile, a content delivery firm formed in 2007. The firm’s five founders studied computer engineering, software engineering, and economics at UW, and the company continues to hire alumni as the business expands.

“As co-op students at Waterloo, we were exposed to and got excited about the mobile industry,” says Kunal Gupta, CEO of Polar Mobile. “As well, being in the backyard of RIM (Research In Motion) we got to know the BlackBerry. We started thinking about ways to repurpose content effectively to reach people through their mobile devices.”

The mobile digests are currently designed specifically for BlackBerrys, though Polar Mobile intends to expand to include other smartphones in the near future. “Because the content has already been stored, you don’t even need a network signal to read UW Mobile,” says Gupta. “You can read it anywhere, even on an airplane.”

Early issues of UW Mobile have been published for the last few weeks by the university’s communications and public affairs office. Each issue contains two news stories, two stories or profiles focused on research, and a profile of a UW alumnus. Much of the material is adapted from the previous week’s Daily Bulletin issues.

To sign up, visit on a BlackBerry browser and download the free application.

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Arts technology conference to open

from the UW media relations office

About 150 cultural managers, arts programmers and artists from across Canada and the U.S. will visit UW this weekend for a conference on how they can best use new technologies.

The inaugural Canadian Technology in the Arts conference will draw multi-disciplinary experts to discuss how emerging technologies, especially web-related developments, can improve the day-to-day management of cultural endeavours of all types and sizes, including individual artistic practice.

The event, aimed at arts and heritage organizations, is co-sponsored by the Centre for Cultural Management, based in UW's faculty of arts, and the Center for Arts Management and Technology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

"We will examine and discuss how Canada's arts and heritage professionals are using technology for both administration and programming," says Bill Poole, director of the UW centre. "Our goal is to be a resource for the arts community, sparking dialogue around the role of technology in our planning and programming, discussing best practices as well as lessons learned, and providing hands-on, practical skills."

The conference will feature 15 presentation-style workshops on such topics as how the Internet transforms arts organizations, how to improve an organization's website through usability testing and what makes web-surfing visitors curious to know more about online museums. Other topics include social networking opportunities for the arts, podcasting and virtual concerts.

On Friday, Gerry Remers, president of Christie Digital Systems Canada Inc., will give the conference's keynote address on the future of visual media, starting at 3:30 p.m. in Arts Lecture Hall room 113. Christie manufactures a wide range of digital projection technologies.

Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m., Ken Coates, UW's dean of arts, will give a speech on culture and creative industries in the information technology revolution. Three of the conference workshops will be led by faculty and staff from UW's faculty of arts: Gerd Hauck, professor of drama and speech communication; Marcel O'Gorman, professor of English language and literature; and Andrew Hunter, curator of the UW art gallery.

Digital media is emerging as an important area for UW's faculty of arts, which is also home to the Canadian Centre for Arts and Technology, and will be a focus of a new campus planned for the nearby city of Stratford. The UW-Stratford initiative — with significant support from the City of Stratford, Province of Ontario and Open Text Corp. — will build on the faculty's strength in digital arts communication, with a grounding in digital images, hypertext, sound and video.

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A few pixels in the big picture

“To ensure that confidential paper documents are securely and completely destroyed in the most economical manner,” says a memo from UW records manager Carolyn Dirks, “the University has purchased an industrial capacity shredder. Effective May 1, confidential materials will be shredded onsite in a secure area monitored by closed-circuit television cameras. Under normal circumstances, materials will be shredded within 24 hours of pick up by Central Stores. In preparation for the new system, the Shred-It boxes located in a number of University buildings will be removed.” Her memo to departments gives the details on how to use the new service: pack the materials and call ext. 33935 to get “bright green labels” for the boxes. “At the point of shredding, Central Stores will enter the information from the label into a computer file, enabling them to tell you, if required, exactly when your boxes were shredded. Under normal circumstances, shredding will take place within 24 hours of pick up.”

The initial issue of The Boar magazine, created by students in the faculty of arts, has been out for some while (it’s dated “winter”) but has been sitting unread on my desk until this week. I can now report on the very eclectic contents — fiction, poetry, a report on Scientology and another on the economics of the sex trade, a music review, a trivia crossword puzzle. The centre-spread is a dramatic double-page photo of Render, the UW art gallery, and it’s not clear whether it’s there as editorial content or an advertisement. Editor Ashley Csanady, who had the idea for an arts magazine and worked until it became a reality, observes that “a few glitches prevented us from fulfilling the intended proportions between sections”, but still sounds confident that the magazine “encompasses the diversity and creativity of this faculty”. The Boar takes its name, naturally, from Porcellino, the bronze boar sculpture outside the Modern Languages building (who incidentally has been sporting a red bandanna for some time now — not, I hope, an indication of gang involvement).

Management sciences doctoral students Sachin Jayaswal and Joe Naoum-Sawaya received honourable mentions in this year’s Student Paper Competition organized by the Canadian Operations Research Society, the engineering faculty’s e-newsletter reports. Jayaswal was recognized for his paper entitled “Product Differentiation and Operations Strategy in a Capacitated Environment" and Naoum-Sawaya for “A Nested Benders Decomposition Approach for Optimal W-CDMA Telecommunication Network Planning”.

The engineering e-newsletter also reports that Wail Menesi and Alondra Chamorro, both graduate students in civil and environmental engineering, placed second in the first UMA-Canadian Society of Civil Engineering Sustainable Asset Management Student Competition. The students have been invited to present their findings in June at the annual CSCE Conference in Québec City.

A recently published issue of Math Ties, the newsletter for alumni of Waterloo’s mathematics faculty, includes updates not just on activities within math, but on the lives and work of many graduates and in some cases the companies they operate. Among them: Wallenstein Feed & Supply, founded in 1958 by Lloyd Martin and now headed by his son, Rick Martin, a 1978 BMath graduate in mathematics and business. “Rick brought to the family operation,” says the newsletter, “a logical way of looking at their operations, analyzing their processes and using mathematical applications learned in his C&O courses . . . being able to use mathematical models to predict the quantities and types of feed a farmer will require throughout the life span of a flock of chickens, for example.” The article notes that Martin “has also found time to serve” on the board of governors of Conrad Grebel University College.

Barbara Way, a housekeeper in Village I since 1984, officially retired from UW’s staff as of May 1. • Alex Lopez-Ortiz, a faculty member in the school of computer science, has been named chief scientist for Discovery Engine Corp., and will spend some of his impending sabbatical leave at the company’s San Francisco headquarters. • The staff association is scheduling its fourth annual “pilgrimage” to the outlet malls of Erie, Pennsylvania, for November 7-9.

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) hosts a wine and cheese reception today, 4 to 5 p.m., to launch Canada Among Nations: What Room for Manoeuvre? Released this month by CIGI and Carleton University's Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, the book “examines Canada's foreign policy and assesses whether it is effective enough to advance national interests and values,” according to a CIGI media release. The free public event takes place at 57 Erb Street West, Waterloo, Seagram Room, second floor. Details and registration at


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Link of the day

World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day

When and where

‘Methodological Challenges in Health Research’ workshop today 8:30 to 5:00, Lyle Hallman Institute, registration closed, details online.

Surplus sale of UW equipment at central stores, East Campus Hall, 12:30 to 2:00 p.m.

Bike Centre volunteer drop-in session 3:30 to 5:00, lower level, Student Life Centre, details online.

Math alumni reception at Ontario Association of Mathematics Educators convention, 5:00, Sheraton Parkway North, Richmond Hill.

Warriors Band practice (new members welcome) 5:30 to 6:30, Physical Activities Complex room 2012.

Last day to add a spring term course: May 9 (distance education), May 16 (on campus).

Graduate Student Leisure Research Symposium (16th annual) Friday, Lyle Hallman Institute auditorium, details online.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Yuri Kolomiyets, Wireless Update, Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

Leadership expert and author Robin Sharma speaks at Wilfrid Laurier University, Friday 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Theatre Auditorium, tickets $40 online.

Research Institute for Aging announcement with officials of UW and Conestoga College as well as Ontario government, Friday 2:30 p.m., Village of Winston Park, Kitchener, by invitation.

Carousel Dance Centre spring performance, “The Wizard of Oz”, Friday-Sunday, Humanities Theatre, details online.

Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery presents Wilhelm Nassau, formerly of Wilfrid Laurier University, “The History of Ceramics”, Friday 4:30, 25 Caroline Street North, admission $5; to be followed by “The History of Glass” May 30.

CBC radio broadcasts the Wintermeyer Lecture by UW dean of arts Ken Coates, “Losing the Arctic? The Role of the North in Canada’s Future”, given in November at St. Jerome’s University, Friday 9:05 p.m. on Radio One.

Going Green workshop series sponsored by Grand House student co-op: “Natural Landscaping” May 10, “Cob Building” May 17, details online.

Spin-a-thon to support Sears National Kids Cancer Ride, Saturday, Columbia Lake Health Club, 340 Hagey Boulevard, information online.

[Da Capo logo]

Da Capo Chamber Choir, based at Conrad Grebel University College, concert “Three Reaching Beyond”, including premiere of “Moonset” by Jeff Enns, Saturday 8:00 p.m., St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener, tickets $20 (students and seniors $15).

Mother’s Day Brunch at University Club Sunday 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., $24.95 per person, reservations ext. 33801.

Waterloo Unlimited “Vision” program for grade 10 students, May 11-17, including public speakers: Amit Chakma, UW provost, “Education Unlimited for a Global Village”, Sunday 7:00 and 8:15 p.m., CEIT room 1015; Art Green, retired fine arts professor, “What We Know vs. What We See”, Thursday 7:00 and 8:00 p.m., East Campus Hall.

Fiscal year end for 2007-08: deadline for accounting transactions before April 30, 2008, to be submitted to finance office, East Campus Hall, is May 12.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses listed on Quest starting May 12. Appointments for continuing students, June 2-14; new students, July 14-27; open enrolment begins July 28.

Learning about Teaching annual symposium May 12-14, details online, including Presidents’ Colloquium Monday 2:00, Humanities Theatre: Marilla Svinicki, University of Texas at Austin, “Changing Students’ Attitudes about Who’s Responsible for Learning,” reception follows, all welcome.

UW Blooms: free seeds, seedlings and garden gear, pick up or exchange, Monday 10:30 to 4:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee.

Waterloo Aerial Robotics Group recruitment meeting Monday 4:00, Davis Centre fishbowl lounge.

Work reports from co-op students’ winter work term due Monday 4:00 p.m. (most programs).

Gregory Baum, theologian and author, “Diversity, Religion and the Limits of Multiculturalism” Wednesday, May 14, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University, admission free.

Victoria Day holiday Monday, May 19: classes cancelled, UW offices and most services closed.

IPgentsia: workshop on copyright and intellectual property management, Tuesday, May 20, 1:30 to 3:30, Tatham Centre room 2218, registration ext. 33300.

TD Canada Trust Walter Bean Visiting Professor in the Environment: Tavi Murray, Swansea University, Wales, “Warming Climate, Melting Ice”, Wednesday, May 21, 3:30, Humanities Theatre, reception follows.

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