Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies June 21 1999
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies June 21 1999

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies

Playing with the big Boys

Millions of teenage girls around the world dream about meeting the Backstreet Boys—but for Caitlin Deachman, that fantasy has come true. The 13-year-old Ottawa girl started a fan Web site {www. backstreet.net) featuring the chiselled twentysomething crooners in January, 1998. Even though it is one of hundreds of Internet sites dedicated to the U.S. pop sensations, it caught the attention of the band’s keyboardist and their record company, BMG/Jive. In May, Deachman’s encyclopedic 700 pages of text was declared the Backstreet Boys’ best “un-official” Internet site.

In honour of her Web-whiz status, the band flew her and her mother to New York City. There the teen helped launch the group’s second CD, Millennium (which shot immediately to No. 1 on the charts), co-ordinating telephone calls from around the world during a fan conference broadcast live on the Internet. “It was really something. I was on stage with them and had so much fun,” says Caitlin. “I just wish I could have had more time to talk with them.”

Back home, she works on the site two hours a day, updating information and answering e-mail from Backstreet fans around the world. The site now receives 15,000 hits a day (between 20,000 and 25,000 on weekends) and has drawn rave reviews from teen magazines, one of which she now writes for. “My friends really like my Web site,” she says. “The guys at school just make fun of it—but I don’t care.”

Not so funny bone

Some medical students at the University of Ottawa may want to stick to cadavers until they get a little sensitivity training. In the latest edition of the medical student newspaper, Pelican, future doctors had filled the pages with degrading jokes and sexist wisecracks, featuring frigid wives, pushy “bitches” and accommodating “whores.” A group of offended students, male and female, demanded and received an apol-

ogy from the editor, but they believe the jokes don’t bode well for future patients. “All of us are going to be doctors. We’re suppose to be advocates for women’s health,” says one medical student, who didn’t want to be identified. “There’s no way in hell I’d choose a doctor who endorsed this kind of thing.” That’s why the medical faculty is planning to include a workshop on gender issues and sexual harassment during fall orientation. “These problems run so deep,” says Linda Peterson, assistant dean of undergraduate medical education. “And this kind of illustrated it for us.”

Standing on guard in Quebec

As a longtime federalist activist in the Quebec City area, Pierre Roy has encountered his share of intimidation tactics. But nothing like the attack on his Lac Beauport home when, at 1:30 a.m. on June 3, adummy grenade crashed through the livingroom window. “If someone had been on the big couch near the window they would have been very seriously hurt because the flying glass was incredible,” says Roy. His garage was also spraypainted with the letters FLQ, the acronym for Front de libération du Québec, a terrorist organization whose aim was to violently separate the province from Canada.

Roy, 62, is best known locally for his instrumental role in getting the Canadian flag flying outside Quebec’s city hall. In addition to the grenade inci-

dent, he recently received death threats from men claiming to be FLQ members. Graffiti has also appeared at a Quebec high school and on the statue of British general James Wolfe located in front of the Musée du Québec. A Montreal Gazette reporter and the head of an English community group had their cars spray-painted with the letters FLQ. At week’s end, police said they had no suspects for any of the incidents.

Still, Roy vows to keep promoting Canadian unity. For 2V2 years, he and two other men, Raymond Carrier and Jos Bilocq, showed up daily at 6 a.m. in front of Quebec’s city hall to hoist their Canadian flag. Mayor Jean-Paul L’Allier, who had had the Maple Leaf removed after the collapse of the Meech Lake constitutional accord in 1990, agreed to reinstate it last year. To those responsible for the attack on his house, Roy says: “If you break my window another time, I’ll repair it. But don’t count on me to stop. I’ll never stop.”

Explorer

No-snoop screen

The problem is the snoopy colleague, or perhaps the annoying seatmate on a crowded flight—the person who cant resist a peek at the material on someone else’s computer monitor. The solution, for some people, may be the Exclusive View monitor, developed and manufactured by Sceptre Technologies Inc., based in a Los Angeles suburb. A flat-panel monitor, which is a mere 2.5 cm thick, the Exclusive View looks like similar monitors—except when it is switched on nothing is visible on the screen. A film-like substance, embedded in the screen, makes the screen appear blank unless the user is wearing special eyewear resembling sunglasses. Perfect for the office solitaire player.

Surfing the office

The barriers between the Internet and the personal computer continue to fall. Last week, Microsoft added to the Web momentum with the release of the latest version of its top-selling Office package. It features such traditional software as wordprocessing and spreadsheets. But Office 2000 also allows users with access to a Web

Say cheese’ for the computer

After Toshi Kondo and his wife, Mizuho, had their first child, Rika, last January, the Toronto-based Sony of Canada executive was anxious to send pictures back to his parents in Tokyo. But rather than using a conventional still or video camera, Kondo relied on a new Sony product called the VAIO Cl PictureBook computer. The compact laptop has a digital camera, about the size of a tube of lipstick, embedded in the lid, which Kondo used to record his daughter sleeping in her crib. He then

server to work simultaneously on the same document no matter where they are located. Plus they can painlessly post documents to and from internal corporate networks, called intranets, and the Internet. Another way the Redmond, Wash., software giant is signifying the importance of the Net: the more expensive versions of Office 2000 include Web site publishing tools. Prices for Office 2000 range from $770 to $1,230.

Condensing news

When Foy Sperring gets up in the morning, he heads for his personal computer, rather than the doorstep, to retrieve the newspaper. Sperring is a vice-president for Wayne, N.J.-based Audible Inc., a company that produces portable audio players, about the size of a deck of cards, which can store up to seven hours of material on a digital memory chip. Audibles 7,000-tide library includes newspapers, periodicals and speeches. The recordings can be purchased through the company’s Web site, downloaded and transferred on to an audio player. Sperring says the company has a network of people who each night read and record about 15 Wall Street Journal and 31 New York Times articles.

D’ArcyJenish with Warren Caragata in Toronto

VAIO Cl PictureBook computer: digital camera

sent the images to his parents by e-mail. “My parents got the photos within hours,” says Kondo.

The PictureBook will be available in Canada in mid-July for about $4,000. Weighing just 1.3 kg, it is one of the smallest laptops on the market and the first to include a built-in camera. It runs on Windows 98 and contains a photo menu with 25 different functions, allowing the user to take still or moving images in colour, black and white, sepia and many other formats.