Opening Notes

Tanya Davies October 4 1999

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies October 4 1999

Opening Notes

Edited by Tanya Davies

Gone, but not forgotten

It has been 17 years since Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould died of a stroke at age 50, but worldwide interest in him and his work has not diminished. His original and rereleased recordings continue to be best-sellers, new books about his life are published each year and hundreds of Web sites are dedicated to him. And then there was the Glenn Gould Gathering, a five-day event held last week in Goulds home town of Toronto that celebrated his life, career and legacy.

Organized by the non-profit Glenn Gould Foundation, the event attracted 300 fans from 17 countries. The program was packed with seminars, films, plays and concerts, and in-

ternationally acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma from New York City played at the closing ceremonies. Outings included a visit to Goulds grave site in Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery, a celebration dinner on his birthday, Sept. 25, and a trip to the Toronto Humane Society, where a plaque honouring the animal lover was unveiled.

The gathering was also a chance for Internet Gould admirers to meet. The F-Minor chat group—named after the musical key in which Johann Sebastian Bach, one of

Gould’s biggest inspirations, composed a number of fugues —is for people who, as one subscriber says: “eat, drink and sleep Glenn Gould.” The group held a breakfast round table on Saturday to finally meet face-to-face, and, of course, talk more about their beloved pianist.

A signage squabble

Relations among many residents in the Quebec town of Shawville and the province’s so-called language police have never been idyllic. But a recent controversy has soured them even further. The municipal council in Shawville, 95 km northwest of Ottawa, where the vast majority of 1,600 residents are anglophone, is asking the Quebec government for special status—an exemption under Quebec’s French Language Charter—that would allow signs with English and French lettering of the same size. (Bill 86 permits bilingual signs provided French is predominant.)

It was an incident in June that

grabbed headlines. After a language inspector took photographs of a sign in the Shawville H&R Block, she was trailed by the business owner and a few others in their cars. The media reported that the inspector was chased out of town, which Shawville’s mayor, Albert Armstrong, says is an exaggeration. He does admit that business people have run afoul of the Commission de la protection de la langue française, the watchdog agency that enforces Quebec’s language laws, but he believes that the sign stipulation is an infringement on residents’ rights. Armstrong says that while 60 per cent of signs in Shawville are either bilingual or totally French, the remaining merchants have English-only signs or have done away with signage altogether. He adds that the town council is acting now because “the language police have really started to prey on Shawville.”

Still, the chances of Shawville being exempted are slim. A spokesman for Louise Beaudoin, the minister responsible for the language law, says it isn’t in the cards.

Made to order

Ford Motor Co. and Microsoft Corp. have entered into a landmark agreement that will, within two years, allow Internet users to custom order cars direcdy from the factory floor. Under the deal announced last week, Ford will take a minority interest in CarPoint, Microsoft’s


Web site for selling cars. The two companies hope their agreement will fuel a major shift in how people will buy their vehicles in future. In the past, most automotive Web pages simply allowed visitors to research cars or directed them to dealers. Car companies, meanwhile, relied on market research to decide how many vehicles to equip with a particular option package, or how many of a certain colour the company should make. Invariably, the inefficient process left dealerships stuck with unpopular models, which then had to be discounted. Now, would-be car buyers can look forward to choosing the paint colour, upholstery, stereo system and other details online. Ford would then build cars to clients’ specifications, and refer them to a franchise dealer, who would negotiate the price. Yet another another twist in the electronic highway.

Taking on the Palm

The Palm Pilot is the No. 1 hand-held computer in the world, a veritable musthave for throngs of business executives or otherwise busy people trying to organize hectic lives. According to International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass., sales of Palm units last year accounted for 42 per cent of the global market for handheld computers. With sales expected to grow from 3 million units in 1997 to more than 13 million in 2001, there are many Palm Pilot wanna-bes—but none like the Visor.

Made by Mountain View, Calif.-based Handspring Inc., the Visor is set apart from other hand-held computers byvirtue of its pedigree: it was invented by Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky, the same people who created the Palm Pilot. Last year, Hawkins and Dubinsky left Palm parent 3Com Corp., of Santa Clara,

Calif., to establish Handspring. Their creative energies resulted in Visor (short for advisor), whose functions include an address book, date book, memo pad and the ability to download e-mail. Under a licensing agreement with 3Com, Handspring obtained the rights to the Palm operating system, permitting the Visor (powered by AAA batteries) to run thousands of software applications already available for the Palm. Furthermore, the less expensive Visor has a so-called Springboard expansion slot to accommodate plug-in modules. These modules, some of which are still being developed, allow the Visor to function as a pager, modem, MP3 player, cellphone, global positioning system or digital camera. Available in Canada starting this month, the basic model, with 2 MB of memory, retails for $220, while the Visor Deluxe, with 8 MB of memory and a choice of five colours, costs $370.

Danylo Hawaleshka