Daily Archives: October 1, 2007

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Revealed

With Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), now due in the first quarter of 2008, Microsoft is deemphasizing the role that service packs play in the ongoing updating and maintenance of its operating systems. Vista SP1 will be a traditional service pack, collecting previously-issued updates into a single installation, and including few new end.

There are a number of reasons for this de-emphasis of service packs with Vista SP1. Most customers of Microsoft’s latest OS releases have pervasive Internet connections and regularly update their systems automatically via the company’s numerous online updating services, which we might collectively think of as Microsoft Update. (These services include Microsoft Update, Windows Update, Office Update, Automatic Updates, Windows Server Update Services, the Microsoft Download Center, and others.) And thanks to new updating mechanisms in Vista itself, Microsoft can drive improvements to customers more quickly than via service packs.

These improvements are delivered in a variety of ways and include such things as security updates, new versions built-in Vista applications (like Windows Mail/Windows Live Mail and Windows Photo Gallery/Windows Live Photo Gallery), new functionality (such as Windows Mobile synchronization via Windows Mobile Device Center), new and updated device drivers, and other system updates (such as the recently released Vista performance and reliability updates). Even Windows Ultimate Extras can be thought of as simply another avenue for deploying new features to Windows users. (Though of course the Extras are delivered via Windows Update.)

Improvements to Vista are driven by customer feedback and Vista’s built-in (and opt-in) Windows Error Reporting (WER) tool and the related Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) and Online Crash Analysis (OCA) services. Thanks to these tools, Microsoft and its hardware and software partners can drive the most-needed improvements directly back into Vista much more quickly than was possible in the past. Thus, as new drivers, security fixes, application compatibility fixes, and other software updates are delivered electronically to customers, Vista gets better and better over time. Previously, customers would have to wait for monolithic service packs, released irregularly and often over long periods of time, to get these improvements.

Microsoft points out two major and recent examples of these types of fixes, which have indeed dramatically improved the Vista experience. Earlier this month, the company issued two reliability and performance updates for Windows Vista. Had the company followed its deployment schedule for previous OS releases, Vista customers wouldn’t have gotten these fixes until SP1.

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Ontario Christian school revealed as being fully funded

TORONTO – Although Premier Dalton McGuinty has repeatedly stated his opposition to supporting non-Catholic faith-based schools, his education ministry must feel differently, as it recently came to light that Eden High, described as an “alternative Christian high school” on its web site, is fully funded by the ministry. According to Niagara District School Board Superintendent Linda Kartasinski, St. Catharines’ Eden High is a “regular public school” with about 780 students of diverse faiths, “including Jews and Moslems.”

However, she acknowledged that whether there actually are Jewish and Moslem students attending is “hard to tell. We don’t ask questions. We accept students from all faiths. Nobody is excluded.”

She said that the Bible classes are generic and focus on character-building themes such as honesty, integrity and loyalty. During regular school hours, “you couldn’t tell the difference between Eden High and any public school,” she said. “It’s the Ontario-based curriculum.”

However, Craig Danielson, the school’s spiritual life advisor, confirmed that students in Grade 10 and up must attend morning chapel services before starting the school day and Grade 9 students must attend a Life Quest Bible Program. Religious activities, which are mandatory, take place outside school hours.

“It’s never been a huge issue [with students of other faiths],” he continued. “Once they enroll, they know. It’s not a boundary school. It’s a choice. It’s a multi-faith school. It used to be very Mennonite when it was private.”

(Eden High was originally a Mennonite Brethren high school and became ‘Christian alternative’ in 1988 when it was included in the public school board.)

“We like students to consider things outside their own comfort zone regarding spirituality and faith,” Danielson said.

The Spiritual Life Department is funded by donations from parents, businesses and corporations. There are no tuition costs.

Frank Dimant, executive vice president of B’nai Brith Canada, said, “”We now learn that McGuinty’s flawed, discriminatory policy of funding only Catholic schools, is itself being applied inconsistently, even as the government tells us that it has been rigorusly implemented. The recent example of Eden High says differently. It speaks to the reality that faith-based schools are operating here in Ontario and will continue to demand their full and equal rights as the law ought to provide. It speaks of a government that cannot even enforce its own policies consistently. It also underscores the inherent injustice of an educational system that purports to extend privileges to some faith-based communities while excluding others.”

Patricia MacNeil, senior media relations coordinator for the Ontario Ministry of Education, explained that Eden High, once a private religious school, was having problems with high tuition rates and low enrollment in the late ’80s and “asked the Lincoln Board [now the Niagara Board] to oversee and take on Eden High as a publicly funded school. It actually is a publicly funded school, not a private religious school, run by the publicly funded education board,” she said. “It offers religious studies outside of instructional hours. It [religious instruction] is not part of the curriculum…. The point is that the school was admitted by the public education board.”

Still, the school admits that religious instruction is mandatory and that Eden High is a faith-based school.

Asked why the McGuinty government is unwilling to discuss similar arrangements with other faith-based schools, which have expressed their goal to be included in the public education system – as well as a willingness to follow provincial educational guidelines and have the ministry oversee the curriculum – MacNeil said: “That’s a political question. I can only tell you what our policies and programs are. Those decisions are made at the political level, not the [education] ministry level.” Whether other religious schools are willing to work out these details to be included, that’s “political speculation.”

In discussions with religious school administrators, many claim they already follow ministry guidelines and the parent body is committed to the public side of education.

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A publicly funded Mennonite school in Ontario – Liberal Hypocrisy?

A public school in St. Catharines that for two decades has offered chapel services and Bible classes for its Mennonite students proves Dalton McGuinty’s arguments against funding religious schools are “nonsense,” according to the Progressive Conservatives. Eden High joined the public system in 1988 during the Liberal government of premier David Peterson.

So what does that have to do with the “funding proposal” on the table today?Mr. Van Soelen noted five current Cabinet ministers — including Greg Sorbara, the Finance Minister and Liberal campaign chairman — were members of Mr. Peterson’s caucus.

“They would have been at the Cabinet table. They must have believed in it at the time,”
We have a new Native spiritual school in Toronto with full funding, busing and snacks. Also, five Ukrainian Eastern Rite schools with full funding under 3 Catholic school boards; extra 30 min of instruction per day in Ukrainian language and heritage and prayers in an old Slavic language paid for by government heritage grants and or church/parents.

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Three Men, a Cow, and the Beating of the Dead Horse

The Amiga world is an interesting one to follow. As an outsider, it is almost impossible to fully understand all the processes at work over there. The various companies, the individuals, the developers, The Three Men And A Cow who own an AmigaOne – they are not making it any easier.

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Microsoft finally unveils its answer to Google Docs

After months of speculation about what it would do to stave off potential encroachments on its Office turf by Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Microsoft has spelled out its strategy. Office Live Workspace is, in Microsoft’s words, “a new web-based feature of Microsoft Office which lets people access their documents online and share their work. It’s aimed at consumers and small-business users, not corporations who are interested in being able to access their documents anywhere — from any computer and any browser. In other words, Microsoft isn’t playing up Office Live Workspace as a head-to-head competitor with Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE). Microsoft is positioning its Microsoft-hosted SharePoint, Exchange and Office Communications Services (which it has now rebranded with as its family of “Office Online” services) as its GAPE competitors.

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Nokia to buy Navteq for $8.1 billion | Tech News on ZDNet

No. 1 cell phone maker Nokia on Monday said it plans to buy digital-map supplier Navteq for $8.1 billion in one of its largest acquisitions ever. Already selling more cell phones around the globe than any other handset maker, Nokia has been aiming to add software and services like music, games and navigation to its business.

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Faith-based funding – Tory may change plan

Reports indicate Conservative leader John Tory could change his plans on how he’ll bring in funding of faith-based schools. Campaign sources have told the Toronto Sun Tory is expected to announce that if he forms the next government he would put the issue to a free vote in the Legislature, rather than insist Conservative MPPs follow the party line.

Wynne was jeered when she suggested the funding plan would not lead to social cohesion. She says the Liberals “have been re-building a system that was undermined by the previous government. If we stop now, this province will not be strong.”

On the streets of Toronto, while some people told CFRB News that they may change their vote if Tory softens his stance on the issue, others said they wouldn’t, because the Conservative leader still believes in funding religious schools.

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John Tory to Unlock $1 Billion For Social Housing

Ontario PC Leader John Tory committed that a Progressive Conservative Government will invest to improve the living conditions for low-income families who reside in social housing throughout Ontario.

“As the former volunteer chair of the United Way in Toronto, I have seen first hand the challenges that face the most vulnerable people in our community,” Tory said. “Whatever reasons or circumstances may lead people into poverty must not be allowed to rob them of their right to hope, opportunity, dignity, government services and protection under the law.”

Tory made his comments at Toronto’s Flemingdon Park neighbourhood. A large number of Flemingdon Park residents currently reside in social housing, where there are persistent complaints about issues ranging from leaking roofs, substandard plumbing, poor air circulation, poor security and general deterioration.

“It is clear that something needs to be done to improve these living conditions. We need new leadership to fill this gap,” Tory said.

Under John Tory’s plan, a PC government will unlock $1 billion for capital repairs and new construction over the next ten years.Currently, social housing operators lack the funding flexibility to raise funds needed for capital repairs.

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“I want to be most inclusive leader” – John Tory

Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leader John Tory has set himself a searing pace for his campaign to lead the Province. He is, quite literally, all over the place. And a good number of hours are spent on wooing GTA’s growing immigrant communities.

Perhaps making up for past deficiencies in the Party, Tory can today boast of a few more ethnic candidates in the fray, come November. At a recent media meet, he ‘showed off’ some of them like Brampton’s Pam Hundal and Scarborough’s Appadurai. There might be more but that will be known only after all the nomination battles are done with.

Given his successful corporate record (he was the CEO of the very successful Rogers), there is an economic angle that he brings to bear on every problem. And what makes money sense will eventually make political sense. His campaign booklet is a rich source of what is going wrong with our immigration policy. Of course, that is no secret for many of us, but when a Conservative politician spends as much time researching the subject, it can only be good for public policy. Premiere Dalton McGuinty has already set the tone of that change in public policy by pushing through Bill 124 that prevents Ontario’s Professional bodies from taking a chalta hai attitude to foreign credentials. Now we need more action on the job situation.

And I quote from ‘Ontario’s Skilled Immigrants: A time for action’, a comprehensive strategy paper prepared by the PC party. In other words, ‘Tory’s how to do it manual! It states: “In fact according to Statistics Canada, ‘At least one in four recent immigrants with a university degree who were employed between 1991 and 2001 had a job requiring no ore than a high school education. This was twice the proportion of only 12% among native-born Canadians.”

“This is a long-standing problem. Statistics Canada reports that at least 21% of employed immigrants with university degrees who arrived between 1985 and 1989 were still in low-paying jobs in 2001. This rate is higher than in the general population where university degree holders accounted for 9-15% of low-income earners.”

Tory says that this is not acceptable not just from a “social justice” perspective, but also from the economic angle. By underutilizing or misusing immigrant talent, Canada is losing billions of dollars.

Tory said at a recent ethnic media roundtable, “These Canadians (pointing to the new candidates) are a testament to the changes our party is making to accept diversity. And if given the opportunity, I will do the same in government. I want to be the most effective and inclusive leader that I can be.” PC party have chosen the following ethnic origin candidates so far: Mark Beckles (Brampton West),Pam Hundal (Bramlea-Gore-Malton) Mohamed Kassim (Etobicoke North) Ki Kit Li (Markham Unionville) Alex Yuan (Richmond Hill).

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Highways vs. transit, suburban vs. urban

Highways have always been a priority in the transportation budget. Even as Mike Harris was dropping responsibility for transit in the laps of cities in the early 2000s, he was pouring cash into highways.

At the same time as the province was crying poor to transit initiatives in its largest city, $3 billion went into building highways. However, even at this rate and regularity of maintenance and construction, the GTA’s highways can’t keep up with the demand of the driving public.

What is being done for highways? The recent implementation of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on highways 403 and 404 aims to reduce the number of cars on the road. GO Transit bus right-of-way lanes and park-and-ride stations are also relieving single-occupant cars from cluttering these routes, with a full bus potentially removing up to 57 cars from daily traffic. Given these examples of highway improvements, it seems that the solution for daily gridlock is really an increased partnership with transit.

It’s not only bumper-to-bumper traffic that damages the quality of life of Torontonians. The environmental cost of highways also needs to be taken into account. Each hour, 7,000 vehicles hit the 403 — and with growing awareness of the cost of greenhouse gases and pollution, mass transit becomes even more essential.

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Mixed Blessings: Split-grade Classes

Wondering what a split-grade means for your child?

Some readers may find it disturbing that when Gina Brak’s son, Jake, was entering grade three, she registered him in a combined senior kindergarten to grade-three class at the local public school. Voluntarily. The Belleville, Ont., mom figured it would boost Jake’s teamwork skills and independence if he shared a teacher with 26 other kids who’d celebrated anywhere from five to nine birthdays. “When I tell other parents about his class, they’re horrified,” she says. “They say, ‘How can he learn anything in there?!’”

But children in split-grade classes (also called combined or blended classrooms) do learn. And due to limited budgets and fluctuating enrolments, you’ll find these classrooms across the country. Research shows that compared to children in straight-grade classes, children in split-grades make the same gains academically — and do even better socially. Yet, some of us still regard them with the same enthusiasm as we do head lice.

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McGuinty looking to hydrogen-fuelled GO trains

The Ontario government is talking to Bombardier Transportation about funding the development of one of the world’s first hydrogen-powered trains.A train that uses a hydrogen fuel cell to combine hydrogen with oxygen to create the electricity needed to run its motor would essentially be a zero-emissions vehicle, producing only water vapour.

The trains might run on hydrogen produced by Ontario’s nuclear plants. Still, the technology remains unproven and much more expensive than conventional locomotives. However, private consortia and governments in the United States, Europe and elsewhere are looking into hydrogen trains, and a pilot project is on the rails in Japan.

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