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March 2008 Archives

April Fool's from Telus

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

There's an interesting trend going on in the Canadian cellphone market - the country's Big Three carriers are admitting their rates are too high. But before you think they're finally coming clean, hold on a second: they're doing it through indirect means. The worst offender so far: Telus Corp.

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eBay census: Who's buying and selling what

by Jennifer Wilson, CBCNews.ca

Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec top the list for the "eBaying-est" provinces in a country that bought and sold more than $7 million worth of NHL rookie cards and more than $45,000 worth of outerwear on the online auction site in 2007, according to the company.

The site's "Community Counts" data, released Thursday, tracks the number of items auctioned or purchased in communities across Canada. Based on postal codes, eBay said the top communities in Canada were Belle River, Ont., Sooke, B.C., and Kemptville, Ont.

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One minute for science

by Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca

The U.S. Project for Excellence in Journalism came out with its state of the news media report this week, and the news was, unsurprisingly, not good for coverage of science and technology.

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No Canadian iPhone? Blame the government

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

From the "we're getting tired of writing these stories" department comes the following: Apple on Friday launched the iPhone in Ireland and Austria. But of course, still no Canada.

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Aboard the Amundsen: Lights, cameras and action at the moon pool

Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca's regional journalist for Ottawa, is spending seven days on the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen, a scientific research icebreaker in the Amundsen Gulf.

Wednesday, March 12
by Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca

Sometimes toward the end of your trip, you think about the things you haven't seen and realize you're unlikely to see them unless you come back again. And then at the last minute, they surprise you.

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Aboard the Amundsen: Back to high school

Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca's regional journalist for Ottawa, is spending seven days on the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen, a scientific research icebreaker in the Amundsen Gulf.

Tuesday, March 11
by Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca

After days spent reliving grad school amongst the Master's and Ph.D. students on board, I decide to regress a bit and hang out with a group of high school students.

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Aboard the Amundsen: Micro muskoxen and thin ice

Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca's regional journalist for Ottawa, is spending seven days on the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen, a scientific research icebreaker in the Amundsen Gulf.

Monday, March 10
by Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca

On Monday, Gautier and I are invited on a helicopter survey with Capt. Stéphane Julien and chief scientist Gary Stern.

The purpose is to scout out a suitable place for an ice camp – a place where scientists can take measurements from a fixed location over a period of weeks.

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Aboard the Amundsen: Breaking ice for broadband

Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca's regional journalist for Ottawa, is spending seven days on the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen, a scientific research icebreaker in the Amundsen Gulf.

Sunday, March 9
by Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca

Many on board the Amundsen are eagerly awaiting the Crew vs. Science soccer game scheduled for Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

In the morning, the BR tractor carefully plows and grooms some of the rugged landscape, which is punctuated by irregular chunks of ice and snow, forming a rectangular soccer pitch. Then an announcement comes over the PA system informing us that we are moving. It's because our internet service is down, and that's a serious problem.

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Aboard the Amundsen: There's no Saturday on the sea

Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca's regional journalist for Ottawa, is spending seven days on the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen, a scientific research icebreaker in the Amundsen Gulf.

Saturday, March 8
by Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca

On board a research ship, no one takes a break on Saturday or Sunday – especially not during what is for many the last possible week here.

Many of graduate students on board are leaving Thursday, and must finish gathering crucial data for the thesis they need to graduate. Some work in the labs until the early hours of the morning.

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Aboard the Amundsen: A sled under the sundogs

Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca's regional journalist for Ottawa, is spending seven days on the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen, a scientific research icebreaker in the Amundsen Gulf.

Friday, March 7
by Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca

The next morning, Gautier and I head out with Ralf Staebler, an Environment Canada scientist and Phil Tackett, a graduate student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, to check on some equipment that had been left on a sled about a kilometre from the ship, which is sitting at 71 degrees north latitude and 123 degrees west longitude, in the Amundsen Gulf off Banks Island.

The ship's captain Stéphane Julien is our gunman and chauffeur. He carefully eases the BR tractor over small chunks of ice and snow as well as the occasional metre-high ridge while Black Sabbath and Nirvana tunes blast inside the cabin.

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Arctic journal: Aboard the Amundsen

Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca's regional journalist for Ottawa, is spending seven days on the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen, a scientific research icebreaker in the Amundsen Gulf. She is one of 15 journalists from around the world selected and sponsored by the World Federation of Science Journalists to report on the ship's study. The $40-million project is examining the circumpolar flaw lead system — areas of open water in the ice —
which is expected to show how the Arctic might change as the global climate grows warmer.

March 5: A mild day in Inuvik

The Boeing 737 lands in Inuvik, NT, a couple of degrees north of the Arctic Circle, at 11:40 a.m. after passing over a spectacular snowy landscape of serpentine rivers, crinkled rocky ridges and stark white lakes, with a dark stubble of trees in between.

As I disembark, I'm surprised to find it is far milder than it's been in Ottawa for much of the winter — 12 degrees below zero, sunny, and dry, with barely any wind. I know temperatures on a single day are no indication of the overall climate, but my thoughts naturally turn to the research I am on my way to observe.

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Microsoft going Blu-ray? Say it ain't so, Bill

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

Microsoft is reportedly in talks with Sony to bring a Blu-ray player to the Xbox 360.

I was asked just the other day if I thought Microsoft would add a Blu-ray player to the 360 and I must admit I said no. After all, the two companies are bitter rivals when it comes to video game consoles. For Microsoft, which was one of the main backers of HD DVD, going Blu would basically be sleeping with the enemy.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates underlined that thinking at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in January, where the next-generation DVD war was all but settled. In his keynote speech, just days after Warner Bros. levelled the deciding blow by announcing it was dropping HD DVD, Gates took the opportunity to push video downloads rather than talk about physical discs. Many analysts took this as an endorsement for consumers to skip discs altogether and move to online delivery of movies. Of course, what else would Gates say? His side had just lost the war, after all.

Lo and behold, Sony Electronics U.S. president Stan Glasgow spilled the beans at a media dinner on Thursday in San Francisco, according to the U.K.'s Financial Times. If true, this opens a can of worms.

First off, did Microsoft make a mistake by not embedding an HD DVD player in the 360? The company may have been hedging its bets in case the format lost the war, but many observers have said this lack of commitment was one of the main reasons Blu-ray did win out. A self-fulfilling prophecy, of sorts. Could Microsoft have done more to ensure HD DVD won out?

Second, do people really watch movies on their video-game consoles? It's sort of like taking photos with your cellphone – you can do it, but the experience always seems substandard. How did movie players ever get locked into video game consoles anyway?

Thirdly, are discs indeed on the way out? I was at a media briefing with Apple today where executives showed off the Macbook Air, which is of course famous for fitting into an envelope and for not having any DVD drive to speak of. The Apple folks swore up and down that the optical drive is becoming less and less important. If both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates say the disc is on its way out, who is Sony to disagree?

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The challenges of learning in the internet age

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

A first-year computer engineering student at Ryerson is in serious hot water for running a Facebook group that the university says helped him cheat at chemistry. The student, Chris Avenir, is defending himself by saying the Facebook operation was merely an online study group, no different from ones that exist and meet offline. Avenir is facing an expulsion hearing on Tuesday and the issue is sure to get a lot of attention, because it raises a number of questions about how the internet is issued by students.

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