Looking for some Champions!

Do you use technology in your home, school, or business in interesting ways—ways that you feel makes your life easier, your work more productive, your free time more entertaining or more interesting? If so, we would like to talk with you! We are again featuring Olds Connected Community “Technology Champions” on our website, blog, and YouTube channel. We’re looking for families, youth, students and businesses willing to share their stories, and encourage others to explore the ways technology of all kinds can enhance our lives. Contact Jamie Syer, Communications Co-ordinator.

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Christmas gift list sharing made easy

Does your family share gift lists? the same list to everyone? and then people receive more than one of some of the neat things on the list? Our family has been using a free website that helps manage the lists for three years now – each person can prepare & save their list. Others in the group can see the list, add to it as a surprise, “claim” items they are buying so others know not to get it. Using the site helps prevent receiving those socks or ugly sweaters.

It’s called CheckedTwice – http://www.checkedtwice.com/default.php and it’s free. developed by a family for families. For this year, they have done major improvements. Adding a gift can now be done with automatic searches of Amazon.com for pictures & descriptions, or by a user provided link, or without any link. Customer support is great too – got a reply to a question about reminding family members who had not signed in yet within 12 hours.

The first person to sign up or other family members can invite others to join. Can be used for other occasions too – birthdays – would work as a wedding gift registry too.

It’s an example of how technology can be used to make our lives better – solving a problem we face. Merry Christmas

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Web design method works across viewing platforms

Responsive website design supports the variety of viewing formats people are using these days. Just received a link from our web developer & site host (OTR Web Solutions) describing how their new platform design modifies how a website info is presented to match the users format – mobile or full desk screen.  No need to set up different sites for user view types – should be a great saving & make website operations easier to keep up with.

Check this link for more details.

Web design works with mobile & other access formats

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O-Net is immediate boon for business

O-Net is up and running and businesses could not be happier.
Tuesday, Oct 23, 2012 03:00 am | Johnnie Bachusky Olds Albertan Weekly

The new fibre optic service provider is earning early rave reviews for its speed and accessibility to markets deemed impossible just a few months ago.

“It’s amazing,” said Monte Hindbo, owner of Olds Iron Works and Spearhead Design. “We are doing giant laser scans of three gigabytes and we need to transfer that data to companies around the world.

“Our geographic information systems guy sent one file and it took 31 seconds to upload,” he added. “Before, it was impossible. It would take up to 12 hours.”

Hindbo, whose businesses are cutting-edge companies in the fields of design and fabricated steel and iron, said O-Net has moved past traditional Internet service providers and opened up a “whole new avenue” for companies wanting to expand their business.

“It has given us a whole new marketplace for us. Instead of uploading one file every 12 hours we can do 50 files in two hours,” he said, adding the service has a “whole list” of advantages. “It opens up a whole new access to new technology. We have access to cloud-based servers. We don’t need to upgrade servers. We can have data stored on servers throughout the world, with all having extra security and backup.”

Best of all, he added, the O-Net fibre optic technology will allow his companies to stay in Olds.

“In the past others have had to leave,” said Hindbo, who has 35 employees. “It will definitely excel our business but it will allow us to stay here. This is quite an innovation for Olds.”

O-Net was initiated 8 years ago by the non-profit Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development. It is a partnership between the province, which provided $3.5 million in grant funds, and the Town of Olds, which loaned the institute $6 million.

Stirling McLeod, an O-Net director and financial coordinator for the institute’s technology committee, said the goal was always to create a service for the region’s business community, along with residential users, to have a world-class communications system.

“Without this initiative we would continue to fall behind the large urban centres, and businesses like Spearhead Design and Olds Iron Works would have to consider moving to major urban centres to perform the work they are doing.”

McLeod said O-Net filled a need when no traditional service provider was interested in moving to the fibre optic level.

“We tried to convince them,” said McLeod. “We did this (O-Net) to ensure our businesses were on a level playing field with everyone else in the province and nation. It wouldn’t happen without the fibre optic network.”

In the meantime, businesses such as Olds Iron Works are finding the cost for the new service is about the same as the previous traditional service provider.

“It is the same cost for a whole lot more service,” said McLeod, adding about 60 per cent of the community – business and residential – should have their installations completed by the end of the year. “This network is owned by the community and will prosper with the support of the community. It is a win, win and win situation for everyone involved.”

For more information on O-Net visit www.o-net.ca.

From Olds Albertan http://www.oldsalbertan.ca/article/20121023/OLD0801/310239944/0/old

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World of Warcraft in School? Crazy or Brilliant?

World of Warcraft in School? Crazy or Brilliant?
by Lesley Winfield
I’d like you to take a moment to reflect on the typical day of a high school student.
The gentle hum of the lights overhead mingled with the shuffle of papers as the students check their cell phones to see how many minutes until the bell rings. In the hallways we can see the invisible lines drawn between groups of friends. The previous lesson is neatly filed into the far reaches of their minds, if not forgotten promptly after exiting the previous classroom. When the final bell rings, there is much anticipation about getting onto with their ‘real lives’.
This picture it is very close to reality for most students in today’s high schools, and is not due to lack of dedication by any of our school officials, teachers, or even students. In fact, many teachers try very hard to come up with new ways to make the material interesting and relevant for each learner. However, there is an inherent lack of connection between schools of thought in our educational institutions. This lack of interconnection leads to a compartmentalized view of learning, teaching, and understanding. Alternately, by encouraging the use of video games in the classroom, specifically World of Warcraft in this example, students will become more engaged, experience better retention of material, and create new and exciting relationships with peers and teachers. This open-ended role-playing game combines group work, storytelling, and an intricate web of economics and professions to complete quests and progress in a virtual medieval based world.
While not all video games are created equal, this Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) is a perfect testing ground for including video games as part of the school curricula. This tool will give students the opportunity to experience and enjoy their lessons across multiple subjects while playing a game. In this twice a week elective class, English, Math, and Social Studies can all be discussed with the context of the game in mind. This can be done in the game and while sitting in the classroom. Students would have time to play the game with specific goals in mind and direction from their instructor. They would then have the opportunity to discuss with their teacher how their time in the game connects with their other lessons. The fact is, when students are having fun they often don’t realize they’re learning. In fact, leading professionals, including Dr. Susan Ambrose, agree, “this is motivational because we can quickly see and understand the connection between the learning experience and our real-life work.” (Jessica Trybus. n.d. Game-Based Learning: What it is, Why it Works, and Where it’s Going. New Media Institute . July 13, 2012. http://www.newmedia.org/game-based-learning–what-it-is-why-it-works-and-where-its-going.html.) Also, video games, like World of Warcraft, can allow students the opportunity to learn about teamwork, leadership and cooperation. These skills are hard to teach through lectures alone and must be experienced. Problem solving skills, the spirit of competition, interpersonal problem solving, and unexpected positive social interactions are all outcomes that can be achieved by using this game in schools.
I recognize there is a negative perception about video games. Some parents and school officials will undoubtedly have the perceptions that video games in school are a waste of time. However, I’m not proposing we cancel English class all together. I’m suggesting that we use them in close relationship with the excellent learning objectives already in place. This project can be offered as a new elective class; allowing students the opportunity to, with their teacher, discuss further and experiment with the material learned in their other classes. Inside this simulated world, common threads can be discussed and connections can be made in a fun interactive environment.
It’s not often that we have the opportunity to discuss English and Math in the same class. I can give countless examples of how this game could be used to reinforce curriculum objectives. The most obvious examples would be in English. Not only is World of Warcraft a vastly lore based, story driven game with immense amounts of reading, there are opportunities for character creation and development. Students could be given an assignment to explore and write the back-story to their character. Another less obvious connection can be made when discussing history. Guilds are built around the concept of a monarchal hierarchy. This could be paired with a discussion on various social ideologies and even a paper about the differences between the Horde and Alliance ruling systems in the games lore. The economics in the game are run by an auction house, professions, and trade between characters. The laws of supply and demand are a natural fit for experimentation inside the world.
There is a risk that some teachers may not be familiar with the game and there may be some apprehension to start a project of this nature. Resistance is always difficult to deal with. I’ll admit, it’s easier to stick with what you’ve done for years. However, this type of program wouldn’t have to be created from scratch. There are a number of schools across North America who have already incorporated this approach. Lesson plans and examples have been created by education professionals. I would invite you to visit the following website for further examples; http://wowinschool.pbworks.com/w/page/5268731/FrontPage. In fact, it may be a great opportunity for students to be involved in creating their own lessons!
Further, the guild dynamic is a perfect place for students to experience teamwork, leadership, and cooperation. Much the same as the class president idea, there are guild leaders. There is definitely a risk of this becoming a popularity contest. However, much like a student council election, if this was monitored and students had to campaign it could simply be used as yet another curriculum tie in! As and added bonus, students that might be apprehensive to run for student body president may not be as scared to run for the guild leader position. Further, you can have more than one guild giving more people the opportunity for leadership experience. In a dungeon, (group questing area), there are various problems that can only be solved by having the right combination of skills, gear, and people in your group. This encourages planning and preparation as well as teamwork to complete the objectives. Actually, you can’t complete a dungeon without joining a team with four other players. Each player has a role and a function to complete and one can’t succeed without the support of the other players in the group. This is, in fact, a superior form of group work because no one in the group can sit back and let the others pick up the slack. The game dictates that everyone must do his or her part to succeed. Also, students will even make connections outside of their regular friendship circles in order to create the perfect team. Finally, since World of Warcraft is an MMO, there can be connections made with people all over the world. According to WOW insider there are over 11 million subscribers worldwide. (Michael Gray. October 28, 2008. World of Warcraft hits 11 million subscribers worldwide. WoW Insider. July 13, 2012. http://wow.joystiq.com/2008/10/28/world-of-warcraft-hits-11-million-subscribers-worldwide/.) I am already thinking of the wonderful spin this would give to the traditional pen-pal program!
There is an added interpersonal and social aspect of the game that can do wonders for the students in school who just don’t seem to fit in on the football field. Connections in game will almost always trickle down and show up in the hallways as well. While there are always risks of negative interactions in any endeavor, by encouraging or requiring students to play together on the same server you give them the opportunity to interact without the traditional social pressures. Students who have a natural aptitude for computers now have the possibility of being picked first for a team! Social interactions in game may even translate into conversations and friendships in the hallway simply because you’ve offered them a completely non-traditional way to make a connection. We can’t prevent negative interaction here any more than we can on the football field, but we can give a different medium for students to explore relationships in.
Student relationships will not be the only ones to benefit from a program like this. Student/Teacher relationships can also be fostered. Imagine the joy a student can get when the roles are reversed and he or she is now helping the teacher learn something new about the game. I’ve seen first hand how a simple connection like playing the same video game can foster a different relationship. As an avid World of Warcraft player and gamer myself, I’ve had many opportunities to talk to high school students about gaming after school. These relationships have grown over the past few years. Some of the students even come in and ask me fore advise on job searching, research, and applying for college or university. I attribute this to the trust that was built by making a connection on a different level.
Finally, I understand the accountability and pressure school officials feel by the perception that students will be encouraged to ‘play’ instead of ‘learn’. However, I would counter that by learning in this format the concepts will no longer be filed in the far reaches of a students mind after they walk out the door. Of course students shouldn’t be left to sit in the classroom with no direction and simply be told to play the game. However, coupled with lessons and experimentation, the game can take learning to the next level. When students return home and turn on their own computer some of them may even enter the World again. With lessons already engrained, it will be natural for them to think about what they’ve learned as they enjoy their afterschool activities. This brings learning out of the classroom and reinforces it using something they are already engaging in anyway!

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Photos from the 2nd Annual Olds Technology Trade Fair – September 6, 2012

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

The 2nd Annual OCC Technology Trade Fair

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

1st On Site Computer Service

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

Rip’s Audio Video & Spas

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

Otto’s AVU

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

O-Net

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

Olds Dodge

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

Olds Institute for Community & Regional Development

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

Hildebrand Motors

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

Olds Connected Community Committee

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

Simple Life Celebrations

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

Gadget’s Computers

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

EB Games Gamestop

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

Central Alberta TV.net RDTV.ca

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

Cap Solar

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair Sept 6 2012

Cam Clark Ford

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Power to the Online People

The internet is more than entertainment as shown in this infographic from OpenSite:

So many people regularly interact online that if the Internet were a nation, it would exceed the Americas, Europe and the Middle East combined in population. No wonder more than 13 million members of the online community used Reddit and other media platforms to protest SOPA, a proposed Internet censorship bill. Keep this graphic in mind next time you log on, because knowledge is power — and a little knowledge goes a long way in the Internet Age.

You can see the original infographic here.

olds connected community - olds institute - RADF

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Media Release: Olds Connected Community and Community Lifestyles present a community information night

Olds Institute for Community & Regional Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Olds Institute Committees Partner to Connect With the Community

Olds Connected Community and Community Lifestyles present a community information night

(OLDS, Alberta – August 21, 2012) The Olds Connected Community Committee is hosting its second annual Technology Trade Fair on September 6, 2012 from 5-8 PM in the Auxiliary Rink at the Olds Sportsplex. The Olds Connected Community Committee is partnering with the Community Lifestyles Committee at this year’s fall community information night. These two Olds Institute committees expect that new and existing residents of Olds will be able to register for groups, activities and programs in the community and get to see first-hand, samples of technology from local vendors.

“Our Committee believes that effective use of technology can enhance our personal & business lives.”, said Wilson Loree, Chair of the Connected Community Committee. “Our partnership with the Community Lifestyles Committee, also a part of OICRD, creates a greater opportunity to support the community of Olds.” The technology trade fair was held in the Olds Municipal library last year and was successful in connecting members of the community with technology vendors from the Olds area. By bringing the event to a larger venue this year, the Olds Connected Community Committee expects to connect with more people from the community.

The technology planned for display at this year’s trade show ranges from the latest in gaming systems to home entertainment to a sample of the new technology included in the latest cars and trucks. With more space available for vendors this year it’s expected that the residents of Olds will be able to see more of the technology available in the community and enjoy a more hands on experience.

The Mission of the Olds Connected Community Committee is to encourage effective use of technology in Olds. The Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development (OICRD) was established in 2001 as a “think tank” to help coordinate the economic initiatives of the four major players in the community of Olds. The OICRD encourages, initiates, and facilitates community and economic development through the incorporation of the five dimensions of sustainable community; cultural, economy, environment, governance and social.

– 30 –

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Wilson Loree, Chair, Olds Connected Community Committee

wilson.loree@ualberta.net     Ph:403-556-8548     website: www.Oldscc.com

The Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development (OICRD)

Website: www.oldsinstitute.ca

Olds Connected Community Technology Trade Fair - September 6 2012

olds connected community - olds institute - RADF

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Benefits gained using fibre-optic networks

Each day new technologies are integrated into our lives in an effort to simplify, automate, supplement, and ultimately improve how we operate. This integration of technology in our day-to-day lives is a shift that requires devices – computers, tablets, PVR’s, appliances, etc. – are capable of communicating with one another, and you, to function properly. To effectively communicate with one another, devices must be connected to networks that allow them to quickly transfer information back and forth. As these devices’ ability to communicate increases, so do the technical requirements to transfer data; quickly obsoleting our existing technologies. As copper connections become outdated, people should consider upgrading to a fibre-optic connection. Fibre-optics use thin strands of glass to transport data in the form of light. It is more reliable, and capable of transporting far greater amounts of data, or “bandwidth”, than traditional copper wiring.
For many people, the term fibre-optics is synonymous with internet, due to the high bandwidth it can offer. However, to simply use the technology for just internet would be similar to using an oven for just the timer. Through fibre-optics a breadth of different services can be offered to end-users. In addition to superior internet, the increase, in bandwidth from fibre-networks allows people to have access to television, home phone, countless applications, smart homes, eHealth, and many more features not possible using the traditional copper infrastructure.

 

The eHealth technology can offer a variety of services to residents connected to a fibre-network. For seniors, devices can be installed into their homes to monitor their health daily – blood pressure cuffs, SPO2 sensors, heart rate monitors – and instantly be uploaded to be checked by their local physician. Additionally, buttons can be installed in the home that require residents to check-in a predetermined times, to avoid issues where they may have a problem, such as a fall, that goes undiscovered for days. It can greatly increase seniors’ independence, and health, and lower the need for assisted living.
Smart homes that have a fibre-connection have the capability to improve the resident’s lives drastically; from having thermostats that can sense when you are home, automatically adjusting the temperature to what your preference is, to telling you the amount of electricity or water your household is using in real-time displays. Homeowners can save money, maintain their homes, and live much more comfortably as they install these technologies.

 

As end-users begin adopting more and more technology into their lives, the option of having a connection to high bandwidth in your home is vanishing. Similar to other essentials many of us cannot imagine living without in our modern world – running water, gas, electricity – bandwidth is joining their ranks. It has become the newest form of utility, and living without it ultimately limits ones’ connection to the world. In order to continue to work, live, learn, and play in our evolving world, people need the bandwidth that can service their growing needs. Connecting to a fibre-network will meet their requirements today and long into the future.
Prepared by Nathan Kusiek, Manager, Sales and Marketing, O-NET. WWW.O-NET.CA

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Farmers save time by using on-line resources

The Internet is changing the way business gets done. Do your banking, renew licenses, take part in auctions and more, online. Hear about time-saving apps you might not know about. Check out this Farm Credit Canada video presentation: http://www.farms.com/Commentaries/fcc-video-save-time-with-online-resources-53327.aspx

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