Waterloo

The Informer

Business

Comments

BlackBerry’s latest setback: no more Alicia Keys

(Image: BlackBerry: m lobo; Keys: Walmart)

(Image: BlackBerry: m lobo; Keys: Walmart)

So much for that branding exercise. About a year ago, when it was getting ready to launch its new line of phones, BlackBerry announced R&B singer Alicia Keys as its “global creative director,” a gig for which she was reportedly paid about $1 million. Now, with the smartphone maker hemorrhaging billions of dollars and pulling back from the consumer handset market, it seems a pop-singer brand ambassador is no longer needed. The Globe reports that Keys will shill for the Waterloo company no more.

There have been some questions about what celebrity appointees like Keys actually do—but we understand she gave at least one PowerPoint presentation, so there’s that. According to the Globe, she also participated in some marketing exercises, and performed at company-sponsored concerts. We guess BlackBerry’s pop-star days are over, at least for the time being—but maybe Colin Mochrie is tired is of repping crackers and would appreciate a call?

The Informer

Business

1 Comment

Talk of mass layoffs at Blackberry completely upstage the company’s massive new phone

(Images: smart phone courtesy of BlackBerry; pink slip, pink slip Rick)

We knew things were really bad at BlackBerry. Now we know they’re really, really bad. Rumours are swirling that the faltering tech giant will cull up to 40 per cent of its workforce by Christmas, which would bring its employee count below 8,000. (To compare, two years ago, the company had more than 17,000 people.) BlackBerry wouldn’t comment on the story, but sources say the cuts will come in waves, affect all departments and hit BlackBerry’s Waterloo headquarters the hardest. The extra twist of the knife: news of the layoffs broke the same day that the company unveiled the BlackBerry Z30. It has the largest screen and longest battery life of any BlackBerry to date—not that anyone noticed. [Wall Street Journal]

The Informer

Random Stuff

5 Comments

Toronto area code stereotypes: a guide to the city’s shifting phone-based social hierarchy

Each area code in Toronto comes with its own set of stereotypes that—rightly or wrongly—circulate with remarkable persistence. When Toronto and the rest of the GTA each get a new area code in March (437 and 365, respectively), the trash-talk hierarchy will only get more baroque. As Maestro has revealed no plans for a “416/647/437/905/289/365 (T.O. Party Anthem),” we offer this handy primer on phone-based bigotry.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Business

Comments

The best and worst moments from the Blackberry 10 launch, starting with RIM’s big name change

The BlackBerry Z10, which will be available in Canada next week (Image: Twitter)

This morning, Research in Motion held simultaneous splashy events in New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Johannesburg and Dubai to launch the BlackBerry 10 operating system and associated phones—the ones analysts (and the dwindling ranks of BlackBerry fans) have spent most of the last year waiting to see. Below, we round up the best, worst and strangest parts of the day’s BlackBerry hoopla, including a surprise celebrity hire.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

4 Comments

Langdon Hall’s Jonathan Gushue has been found

(Image: Waterloo Regional Police)

The Waterloo Regional Police announced this afternoon that Langdon Hall chef Jonathan Gushue is alive and well. Gushue was reported missing earlier this week, and hadn’t been seen by his family since December 31 of last year. Police told the Toronto Star that the decorated chef had been spotted at Union Station, and that he was finally found at an undisclosed location outside the province. [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Features

1 Comment

Jesse Brown: Why local tech wizards are taking their big brains and bright ideas elsewhere

When a University of Waterloo grad used crowdfunding to raise $10 million for his smart watch company, the tech industry took notice. Is this the future of venture capitalism?

Jesse Brown: The Smart Money

On the day I speak to Eric Migicovsky, he has been a millionaire for less than two months. The 26-year-old is the inventor of the Pebble, a clever watch that wirelessly syncs with your smart phone, pushing emails and texts to your wrist and controlling things like music so you needn’t pull out your phone while jogging or biking. When he couldn’t interest venture capitalists in Pebble, Migicovsky asked the Internet. He crowdfunded the project on Kickstarter, a site that lets creators gather seed money from the masses. “The night before we launched,” he remembers, “I was thinking how cool it would be to hit our $100,000 mark.” Pebble blew past that target in a few hours. When the campaign ended five weeks later, Migicovsky had made Kickstarter history, raising a record $10,266,845 from
68,929 backers.

His story has already become part of start-up lore. Got a great idea? No need to go hat in hand to banks or venture capitalists. Just do what Migicovsky did and pitch it online. More than any other project, Pebble has introduced the concept of crowd­funding to the public, and nowhere has the news been covered more enthusiastically than in Canada. That’s because Migicovsky is Canadian, raised in Vancouver and educated at the University of Waterloo. But he doesn’t live here anymore. He and his company have moved to Silicon Valley. They had to, or Pebble might never have happened.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Sports

Comments

Meet the Torontonian who is transforming Madison Square Garden

(Image: Marlon E)

The latest entry in our file of Torontonians making it big in the Big Apple will leave his mark on one of New York’s most famous landmarks: Madison Square Garden. This weekend, the Globe and Mail ran a short profile of Waterloo-born architect Murray Beynon, who is responsible for the stadium’s nearly $1-billion redesign. Beynon is a principal at Toronto- and Ottawa-based BBB Architects, which beat out 20 U.S. companies for the contract (reportedly, the firm’s expertise in designing and managing luxury suites such as those in the Air Canada Centre and Vancouver’s GM Place helped net them the job). It’s a complex-sounding project: unlike Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, which were both built from scratch on land next to the old venues, the new Madison Square Garden is being constructed within the existing building—and while the New York Rangers continue to play there. Beynon said the “Herculean task” of remaking the venue will be the crowning highlight of his career (and this from a man who worked on the then-SkyDome back in the ’80s). [Globe and Mail]

The Informer

Politics

8 Comments

Rob Ford plans to unleash Ford Nation on Kitchener-Waterloo

Rob Ford is now looking outside Toronto’s borders to continue the eternal fight for subways. Ford, an avowed supporter of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives, told radio listeners Sunday that he’d to use the powers of Ford Nation in the provincial by-election in Kitchener-Waterloo. “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure a certain party does not win,” he said. “We cannot let the Liberals run this province like they are.” See, if Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal party win the seat, they’d clinch a majority government at Queen’s Park and the support for LRT construction would continue. If anyone but the Liberals win the seat, there would still be a chance for the Liberal minority to be toppled, setting the stage for PC leader and Ford buddy Tim Hudak to re-open the notion of subway-building. Sounds like a lot of ifs to play out before Torontonians are riding underground along the length of Sheppard, but Ford is nothing if not obsessed with subways, subways, subways. [Metro News]

(Images: Rob Ford, Shaun Merritt; Dalton McGuinty, Jennifer K. Warren; Sheppard subway station, Kenny Louie)

The Informer

Business

Comments

Professors hate Jim Balsillie’s think tank enough to boycott two Ontario universities

(Image: AtelMedia Technologies)

Canadian professors triumphed over former Research in Motion exec Jim Balsillie earlier in the month when they got York University to reject a partnership with Balsillie’s think tank (one of the few instances, we imagine, when not getting $30 million was viewed as a victory). Looking to keep the momentum going, the Canadian Association of University Teachers has come out with a warning to the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University: loosen ties with the Balsillie’s Centre for International Governance Innovation or face a boycott this fall. The association believes the CIGI has way too much sway over the universities’ joint Balsillie School of International Affairs and gave the pair of universities six months to remove threats to academic freedom or they’ll discourage academics from working at either university come November. Both universities maintain that the allegations are unfounded, while CIGI responded with the usual “hey-we-love-academic-freedom” soundbites. As for Balsillie, we imagine he’s already at work on another op-ed. [Toronto Star]

The Dish

Food Porn

6 Comments

See every course of the R.M.S. Titanic’s final first-class dinner (meticulously recreated by a food blogger)

All aboard (Image: Renée Suen)

April 15 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and Titanic-mania has become pretty much unavoidable: there’s a memorial cruise retracing the luxury liner’s doomed voyage, a 3-D rerelease of James Cameron’s 194-minute epic and, inevitably, collectables from the Royal Canadian Mint. The culinary world is by no means immune to all this, of course. Food blogger Paula Costa (of Dragon’s Kitchen) has taken the event to her food-loving heart, challenging herself to recreate the 11-course first-class dinner from the eve of the vessel’s demise. Although the Kitchener/Waterloo–based food blogger has previously hosted similar Titanic-themed dinners with others (mainly of the second- and third-class menus), this was her first solo effort. The project, based on the recipes found in Last Dinner on the Titanic by Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley, was a year in making, with weeks devoted to testing recipes and sourcing ingredients used during the Edwardian period. In the end, eight guests were invited to partake in the dinner, which involved $400 worth of ingredients, three days of preparation and assistance from a few sous-chefs on the evening of service itself. See Costa’s entire Titanic feast—including a chunk of iceberg from off the coast of Newfoundland—in our slideshow »

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Features

24 Comments

Why three prominent Chinese-Canadian writers launched a $10-million plagiarism suit against Ling Zhang

A tale of death threats, tarnished reputations and literary jealousy

Something Borrowed

(Image: Daniel Ehrenworth)

The streets near Scarborough’s Confederation Park curve and loop in a vertiginous web. The neighbourhood was built in the 1970s—several blocks of low-lying split-levels and bungalows divided by neatly trimmed hedges and 20-foot pines. The 401 is just a few blocks away, but these houses are quiet and isolated, even prim. Ling Zhang lives here in a large mock Tudor. She answers the door on the first ring, a diminutive woman with full moon cheeks and a bashful smile. At 54, she wears her hair in a wispy, youthful updo and is dressed in a peacock-blue sundress, a simple cardigan and slippers. The house is immaculate. We pass through a large front hall with a formal dining and living room off either side. Matching white leather sofas sprawl across polished cherry floors. Everywhere I look, there are vases filled with flowers in pastel pink and white. They’re all fake, but the effect is cheerful.

In the kitchen, Zhang makes me a cup of tea. Her husband, Ken He, a slight man in a short-sleeved plaid shirt, pops in to say hello—but not much else. Zhang explains his English isn’t great. “Moving to Toronto was a big sacrifice for him,” she says. The couple met in Vancouver, at the church where Zhang, a born-again Christian, was baptized as an adult. They came to Toronto so Zhang could take a job at Scarborough General Hospital as an audiologist. Her husband, who was an ophthalmologist in China, now sells real estate to the GTA’s Chinese immigrant community.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Business

Comments

Research in Motion grinds to a halt as Blackberry blackout goes global 

Millions of people are feeling CrackBerry withdrawal symptoms as a blackout inhibiting all email, texting and browsing enters its third day. While the problem had originally been restricted to Europe, Asia and Africa (if three continents can count as “restricted”), Canadian users found themselves disconnected this morning as the outage crossed over to the Americas. RIM blames the catastrophe on a “core switch failure” at its head office in Waterloo that has caused a massive backlog of data—unlike most phone companies, RIM handles all email and message traffic internally. Hurt most are RIM’s favourite users: business people, who rely on steady and secure service. (Although if BlackBerrys are really as popular among execs as is often claimed, we’re surprised the global economy didn’t shut down within the hour). And while there’s no good time for a widespread service failure, hitting on iPhone 4S launch week seems like a cruel joke. We wanted to check on how the beleaguered company is coping, but strangely RIM did not respond to our BBM messages for comment. Read the entire story [The Globe and Mail] »

The Informer

Business

2 Comments

RIM spends $100 million—possibly (hopefully) to be more like Apple 

Research in Motion announced Friday that it has agreed to buy Irish developer NewBay for a reported $100 million. The 200-employee firm creates software for mobile phones that allows users to upload and share pictures and videos, as well as automatically update their social networks. We dare say that it appears the Waterloo-based company may have finally realized that entertainment and social interaction sell phones. The company’s previous acquisitions this year—Montreal-based Tungle, Waterloo’s tinyHippos and Seattle-based Gist—stuck to the “business first” motto often cited as the reason behind RIM’s downfall. If the company is targeting more casual users, the change can’t come soon enough. Last month, comScore data revealed that the 16-gig iPhone 4 is the most popular phone in Canada, with 763,000 users, beating out the 421,000 patriots who favour the BlackBerry Bold 9700. Read the entire story [National Post] »

The Dish

Coffee and Tea

8 Comments

“Stuff of Canadian legend”: locals and expats react to the new Dubai Tim Hortons

We’re pretty sure that Tim Hortons brass were excited to set up shop in Dubai last weekend, but going by initial reports, that’s nothing compared to the joy of expats who’ve discovered a tiny oasis of Canadiana away from home. Sure, we’re used to getting our fix at any of three locations within spitting distance, but Canadians living in the Middle East have had to live Timbit-free since leaving home. We decided to poke around the Emirati blogosphere to see how locals and blissfully re-caffeinated Canucks have taken the big news.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Business

1 Comment

Google buys Motorola’s cellphone branch, which, apparently, is good news for RIM

RIM’s problems run deeper than its tablet sales (Image: The GameWay)

The big news from Wall Street this morning is that Google found some $12 billion in its sofa cushions and decided to splurge on a cellphone maker. Motorola Mobile, the cellphone division that’s responsible for some of the better Android smartphones on the market, is now going to be part of the Google cult family. While at first glance this marriage of search giant and tech factory would seem like bad news, bizarrely, it actually might be good news for Research in Motion (and, really, the first the BlackBerry maker has heard in a while).

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement