Vancouver

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Welcome to the Vancouver technology entrepreneurship scene

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 30 Nov 2017 | Tagged as: British Columbia, Vancouver, meetings and conferences

Welcome to Vancouver, B.C. You want to get involved in the entrepreneurial technology startup “scene” here? That is wonderful. Here is my current list of activities and organisations that form good entry points into the entrepreneurship community in Vancouver. Check them out. Participate in what interests you. Ask at these events for further suggestions. Enjoy!

Note that I am not an authority on the totality of entrepreneurship in this area. I am just an ordinary participant. This is my worm’s-eye view. It’s probably incomplete. Perhaps others will post in the comments the wonderful events and orgs that I missed. But this at least will get you started. Continue Reading »

The Radiogram Game

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 30 Jun 2017 | Tagged as: Vancouver, community, radio

This is a description of the Radiogram Game, a skill-building activity for amateur radio emergency preparedness groups to conduct on their radio nets.

Many amateur radio operators love us our emergency preparedness. The Canda-based Radio Association of Canada (RAC) has an Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) activity. The US-based Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) has an entire National Traffic System™, a structure of procedures and organisations and schedules and routings. I personally am a member of VECTOR, a amateur radio group affiliated with the city of Vancouver, B.C.. VECTOR operates a weekly radio net. It operates according to formal radio procedures of the sort we would use in an disaster, so just checking in following the right procedure is good training. But the organisation is looking for more ways to train its members. Anytime you can turn training into a game, it makes people more eager to participate. The Radiogram game is a skill-building activity disguised as a fun game.

A radiogram is a structure for short messages, designed to be sent by amateur radio volunteers during a disaster, when other communication links are down. Knowing how to hear a radiogram message over the air, and transcribe it correctly, and use the right forms and handling instructions, is a useful skill for the emergency preparedness volunteer. The ARRL’s National Traffic System publishes a radiogram form (fillable PDF, 2-up letter size, 71kB). (There is also a simpler but bulkier 1-up radiogram form; PDF, 442kB). See the NTS’s manual for instructions on how to use it as part of the NTS, especially in chapter 1, The ARRL Message Format, of the NTS Methods and Practices Guidlines.

Here’s how the game works.

The club announces the game to its members in advance. At the radio net on such and such a date, a radiogram will be sent. Any member of the club is encouraged to transcribe the radiogram, and submit it back to the club for points. Draw up a scoring list: so many points for transcribing the message, with deductions for errors; so many points for correct routing information; so many points for submitting it in person at the next club meeting, and so on.  See below for a possible scoring list. It helps to award points for both fun and amusing activities as part of the scoring; maybe you want to award points for the best dramatic reading of the radiogram at the next club meeting.  Designate the proper way to turn in completed radiograms (in person?  by email?). Don’t forget to designate the deadline.

The club picks someone to be the radiogram author and reader. The challenge for the author is to make the message concise but interesting and amusing. Maybe embed a joke or puzzle in the message. Maybe have the message parody local events.  The goal is both to help the participant learn a bit more about radiogram use, and reward them with a chuckle.

It might be nice for the club to clear with the operator of the radio net that the radiogram game will be played, so that they aren’t surprised by it!

During the radionet, at the appointed stage in the proceedings, Net Control turns the frequency over to the game’s reader. The reader sends the radiogram using correct methods and practices, getting the listeners accustomed to hearing radiogram delivery in its full glory. Listeners who care to participate by transcribing the message, and submitting it as directed. The reader reminds listeners of what those directions are, and what is the deadline for submission.

The ringleader for the radiogram game collects the submitted radiograms, and awards points.  The winner can be announced at the next club meeting. All participants should be thanked for taking part, and given their score. Personally I think they should be notified by email even if they aren’t at the meeting in person. This interaction is also a great time for a more experienced member to coach the participant on how well they did, and to answer questions. The interaction then also becomes a touch point which builds relationships within the club.

The game will be more effective with repetition over time. At first, many people won’t hear about the game in advance. They won’t be prepared. They won’t know what to make of it. But over time, especially if it sounds fun, more and more people should take part.

Here’s a sample message: TWO HAMS MARRIED X COMBINED THEIR ANTENNAS X CEREMONY WASNT MUCH BUT RECEPTION WAS SPECTACULAR . Sure, it’s a lame joke. But it fits in the radiogram form, and will give people a chuckle.

Here’s a sample scoring list:

Message body: 50 points if fully correct, 1 point off for each wrong word.

Handling: total 10 points, 5 points if handling information fully correct. 5 points for the receiving station’s information.

Procedures: 20 points for recording message on an ARRL Radiogram form (printed from ARRL web site OK). 10 points for writing it legibly on any other medium. (The point being to make people familiar with the radiogram form.)
Delivery: 10 points for submitting message by correct method, on time.  6 points if method is nearly correct, or missed deadline by less than 72 hours.

Having fun with it: 10 points for best dramatic reading of the radiogram at the next club meeting. 5 points for others who try the dramatic reading.

Total: 100 points.

Judges can award bonus points for any variation which makes the game more fun or more educational.

I have come up with a message for the radiogram game. I can’t wait to try it out on my club.  The above are the guidelines I came up with. I have no doubt that others will improve them. I wouldn’t be surprised to find I’ve reinvented something someone else has already done.  If you try this game, please comment below about how it went for you!

Open Data Day 2017, Team Meta, and a Prize!

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Mar 2017 | Tagged as: Vancouver, government, meetings and conferences, web technology

Open Data Day was celebrated here on Sunday, 4. March 2017. The Open Data Society of B.C. sponsored a buzzing, successful hackathon, with participants from several communities in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, and even Washington State.

I plunged back into my continuing project for Vancouver Open Data Day, to make a language census of Vancouver’s Open Data Catalogue. You can check out our Team Meta #VODay hackathon report as submitted via github. I’ve summarised it below.  I was very pleased to be awarded the City of Vancouver Focus Challenge Prize for the work we accomplished that day. Continue Reading »

Town Hall on Electoral Reform, Dr Hedy Fry MP in Vancouver Centre, 15 Aug 2016

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Aug 2016 | Tagged as: Canada, Vancouver, government, meetings and conferences, politics

I favour electoral reform. I am a newly-minted Canadian, who deeply hopes my first vote for Parliament will not be conducted under the current, archaic, unfair First-Past-the-Post system. So, when my MP convened a Town Hall meeting on electoral reform, I made a point of attending. Here are some notes on the event. I hope they are helpful documentation for other democratic reform advocates.

Continue Reading »

More on Vancouver Opera’s business situation

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Jul 2015 | Tagged as: British Columbia, Vancouver, culture, music

Last month, the Vancouver Opera announced that it was going to have one more year of a regular season, then switch to a “festival” structure. That is, instead of four productions spaced throughout the year, it was going to have a concentrated three-week burst of opera once a year. Or at least that’s how the story seemed to run. Yesterday, I went to a town hall for subscribers. General Director Jim Wright spent 30 minutes laying out the Opera’s business situation, and an hour in a lively question and answer session. It was informative, and placed the Opera’s strategy in a much better light. Continue Reading »

A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (3) Where, When, and How

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 28 Feb 2015 | Tagged as: Unicode, Vancouver, culture, i18n, language, meetings and conferences, multilingual, software engineering

Our little meetup now has a name: Vancouver Globalization and Localization Users Group, or VanGLUG for short. Follow us as @VanGLUG on Twitter.  We had an outreach meeting in late January. So it’s long past time to conclude this series of thoughts about VanGLUG. Part 3 discusses “Where, When, and How”. Earlier in the series were A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (1) What, Who (Oct 31, 2014), and A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (2) Why, Naming (Dec 31, 2014).

Where

One challenge of an in-person meeting is where to hold it. The usual habit for such events is to meet in downtown Vancouver. This can be inconvenient, not to mention tedious, for those of us in Surrey or Burnaby. But I expect this is how we will start.

I would, however, be delighted if there was enough interest in other parts of the Lower Mainland to start up satellite groups in other locations as well.

Could we meet virtually?  In this day and age, it should be cheap and practical to do a simple webcast of meetings. Some may want to participate remotely. An IRC channel or Twitter “second screen” may emerge. But in my experience, the networking which I suspect will be our biggest contribution will come from in-person attendance.

When

In an era of busy schedules, finding a time to meet is likely an overconstrained problem. Our technology industry tends to hold meetings like this on weekday evenings, sometimes over beer, and I suspect that is how we will start. But it is interesting to consider breakfast or lunch meetings.

When to get started?  The arrival of Localization World 2014 in Vancouver got a dozen local localization people to attend, and provided the impetus to turn interest into concrete plans. After Localization world, we started communicating and planning. The net result was a first meeting in mid-day of Monday, December 8, 2014. Despite the holiday distraction, we were able to land a spot guest-presenting to VanDev on 6 essentials every developer should know about international. Our next opportunity to meet will likely be April 2015, perhaps March.

How

The Twitter feed @VanGLUG was our first communications channel. I encourage any Twitter user interested in monitoring this effort to follow @VanGLUG. We have 37 followers at the moment. We were using the twitter handle @IMLIG1604 before, and changed that name while keeping our followers. The present @IMLIG1604 handle is a mop-up account, to point stragglers to @VanGLUG.We created a group on LinkedIn to use as a discussion forum. This has the snappy and memorable URL https://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=6805530. If you use LinkedIn, are in the Lower Mainland or nearby, and are interested in localization and related disciplines, we welcome you joining the LinkedIn Group. We are also accepting members from out of area (for instance, Washington and Oregon) in the interests of cross-group coordination. But for location-independent localization or globalization discussion, there are more appropriate groups already on LinkedIn.

Subsequent communications channels might perhaps include a Meetup group (if we want to put up the money), an email list, an outpost on a Facebook page, and other channels as there is interest.

GALA (the Globalization and Language Association) is one of our industry organisations. It has a membership and affiliate list that includes people from the Vancouver region. I spoke with one of their staff at Localization World. They are interested in encouraging local community groups. I believe this initiative is directly in line with their interest: we can be the local GALA community for here.  They have included us in a list of regional Localization User Groups. We are also on IMUG’s list of “IMUG-style” groups.
Do you want to see this meetup grow? If so, I welcome your input and participation. You can tweet to @VanGLUG, post comments on this blog, or send me email at jdlh “at” jdlh.com. Call me at +1-604-376-8953.

See you at the meetings!

A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (2) Why, Naming

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Dec 2014 | Tagged as: Unicode, Vancouver, culture, i18n, language, meetings and conferences, multilingual, software engineering

I am helping to start a regular face-to-face event series which will bring together the people in the Vancouver area who work in technology globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation (GILT) for networking and learning. This post is the second in a series where I put into words my percolating thoughts about this group.  See also, A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (1) What, Who (Oct 31, 2014).

Happily, this group has already started. We held our first meeting on Monday, Dec 8, 2014. Our placeholder Twitter feed is @imlig1604; follow that and you’ll stay connected when we pick our final name. And we have a group on LinkedIn for sharing ideas. The link isn’t very memorable, but go to LinkedIn Groups and search for “Vancouver localization”; you will find us. (We don’t yet have an account on the Meetup.com service.)  If you are in the Lower Mainland and are interested, I would welcome your participation.

Continuing with my reflections about this group, here are thoughts on why this group should exist, and what it might be named.

Continue Reading »

A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (1) What, Who

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Oct 2014 | Tagged as: Unicode, Vancouver, i18n, language, meetings and conferences, multilingual, software engineering

The time has come, I believe, for a regular face-to-face event series which will bring together the people in the Vancouver area who work in technology globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation (GILT) for networking and learning.  The Vancouver tech community is large enough that we have a substantial GILT population. In the last few weeks, I’ve heard from several of us who are interested in making something happen. My ambition is to start this series off by mid-December 2014.

Continue Reading »

Open Data Day 2014, and a dataset dataset for Vancouver

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 28 Feb 2014 | Tagged as: Vancouver, government, meetings and conferences, web technology

Again this year, I joined Vancouver open data enthusiasts in celebrating Open Data Day last Saturday. Despite limited time and schedule conflicts, I was able to make progress on an interesting project: a “dataset dataset” for the City of Vancouver’s Open Data Catalogue.

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For OpenDataDay 2013, a language census of Vancouver’s datasets

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 28 Feb 2013 | Tagged as: Vancouver, culture, meetings and conferences, multilingual

OpenDataDay 2013 was celebrated last Saturday, February  23rd 2013, at over 100 hackathons and work days in 38 countries around the world. The City of Vancouver hosted a hackathon at Vancouver City Hall, and I joined in. My project was a language census of Vancouver’s open data datasets. Here’s what I set out to do.

Open Data is the idea that governments (and other bodies) publish data about their activity and holdings in machine-readable form, with loose terms of use, for citizens and other parties to use, and build upon, and add value to. Open Data Day rallies citizens and governments around the world “to write applications, liberate data, create visualizations and publish analyses using open public data to show support for and encourage the adoption open data policies by the world’s local, regional and national governments”.  I’m proud that local Vancouver open data leader David Eaves was one of the founders of Open Data Day. The UK-based Open Knowledge Foundation is part of the organisational foundation for OpenDataDay, but much of the energy is from local groups and volunteers (for example, the OKF in Japan).

Vancouver’s Open Data Day was a full house of some 80 grassroots activists, with attendance throughout the day by city staff, including Linda, the caretaker of the Vancouver Open Data portal and the voice of @VanOpenData on Twitter.  I missed the “Speed Data-ing” session in the morning, where participants could circulate among city providers of datasets to talk directly about was available and what each side wanted. I’m told that national minister the Honourable Tony Clement was also there (who now is responsible for the Government of Canada’s Open Data portal data.gc.ca, but who also in 2010 helped turn off the spigot of open data at its source by killing the long form census). I saw Councilmember Andrea Reimer there for the afternoon working session, and listening to the day-end wrap-ups, tweeting summaries of each project. I won’t try to describe all the projects. Take a look at the Vancouver Open Data Day 2013 wiki page, or the tweets tagged #vodhd13 (for Vancouver), and tagged #OpenData (worldwide).

I gave myself two goals for the hackathon. First, provide expertise and increased visibility for internationalisation and multi-lingual issues among the participants. Second, work on a modest project which would move internationalisation of local data forward.

My vision is that apps based on Vancouver open data should be localised into all the languages in which Vancouver residents want them. Over 30% of the people in the Vancouver region speak a language other than English at home, says Stats Canada. That is over  700,000 people of the 2.9m people in the area. Now of course localising those apps and web sites is a task for the developer. My discipline, internationalisation (i18n), is a set of design and implementation techniques to make it cheaper and easier to localise an app or web site. At some point, an app or web site presents data sourced from an open data dataset. In order for the complete user experience to be localised, the dataset also needs to be localised. A challenge of enabling localisation of open data-sourced apps is to set up formats, social structures, and incentive structures which makes it easier for datasets to get localised into the languages which matter to the end users.

To that end, I picked a modest project for the day. It was to make a language census of the city of Vancouver’s Open Data datasets. The link is to a project page I started on the Open Data Day wiki. I intended it to be a simple table describing the Vancouver, but it ended up with a good deal of explanation in the front matter.  I won’t repeat all that, but just give a couple of examples.

The 3-1-1 Contact Centre Interactions dataset (CSV format) has rows like (I’ve simplified):

Category1     , Category2     , Category3          , Mode    , 2012-11, 2012-12, 2013-1
CSG - Licenses, Animal Control, Dead Animals Pickup, Voice In,      22,      13,     13

While the Animal Control Inventory Deceased Animals dataset (CSV format) has rows like (again, simplified):

ID,  Date      ,CatOther   , Description              ,Sex,ACO            , Bag
7126,2013-02-23,SDC        , Tan/black medium hair cat,   ,Duty driver- JT, 13-00033
7127,2013-02-23,Dead Budgie,                          ,   ,Duty driver-JT , 13-00034
7128,2013-02-26,Cat        , Black and White          ,F  ,               , 13-00035

Note that most of the fields are simply data: dates, numbers, codes. These do not need to be localised. Some of the fields, like the Category fields in the 311 Interactions, are English-language phrases. But they are pulled from a controlled vocabulary, and so could be translated once into the target language, and would not usually need to be updated when new data is release. In contrast, a few fields in the Animal Control Inventory dataset, e.g. CatOther, Description, and ACO, seem to contain free text in English. Potentially, every new record in the dataset represents a new translation task.

The purpose of the language census is to go through the datasets in the Vancouver Open Data catalogue, and the fields for each dataset, and simply identify which fields are data, which are controlled vocabulary, and which are free text.  It’s not a major exercise. It doesn’t involve programming. Yet I believe it’s an important building block towards the vision of localised apps driven by open data.

Incidentally, this exercise inspired me to propose another dataset for the Vancouver catalogue: a dataset listing the datasets. There are 130 datasets in the Vancouver Open Data catalogue, and more are on the way. The only listing of them is an HTML page intended for human consumption. It would be nice to have a machine-readable table in CSV or XML format, describing the names and URLs and formats of the datasets in some structured way.

I’m happy to report success at my first goal, also. Several participants stopped by to talk with me about language support and internationalisation. I’m hopeful that it will help the non-English localisation of the apps, and city datasets, happen a little bit sooner.

If you would like to help in the language census, the project page is a wiki, and you are welcome to make constructive edits. See you there! Or, add a comment below.

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