“There is no real difference between work and play – it's all living.”

-Richard Branson

Showcase Ontario 2010

This post was migrated from my old blog and has been slightly modified for improved readability.


Showcase Ontario is Canada’s largest public sector education conference. It’s held annually in Toronto, and its target audience is the government of Canada,

One of the benefits of working in Ontario’s Public Sector (OPS) is that you get gratis entrance to the conference. Other spectators can attend for a fee.

I attended Showcase 2010 for one day and was present for the following talks:

Security: Viruses, Trojans, and other Malware

How we Defend the Network and Investigate Security Incidents

We learned how the OPS looks over ~75,000 workstations (all workstations on the OPS network) and makes sure they’re safe and being used for acceptable reasons.

They have a suite of tools that let them analyze lots of different data. They even use Twitter to stay up to the date on the latest security news.

Before they can take action, they have to find a “needle in the haystack”. Three things that commonly raise suspicion are: (1) excessive bandwidth usage, (2) unusual amount of blocked websites, and (3) users locked out of their accounts.

  1. Malware can have outgoing (or incoming) connections and the public servant could be none the wiser. It can also be public servants downloading movies, streaming media, and so forth – all are unacceptable use of IT resources.

  2. Either the public servant is deliberately trying to access many blocked sites (e.g. porn, youtube, facebook), or there is malware trying to access a blacklisted site and keeps making attempts that are unknown to the computer user.

  3. A public servant has gotten their password stolen (by a coworker or someone else) and they are locked out of their account.

If anything looks suspicious then the case is sent over to the IT Forensics Unit. A resolution can range from a manager reprimanding an employee to a legal battle in court.

I&IT Innovation Panel

Building Ontario’s Knowledge Economy: Challenges, Potentials and Innovations

The panelists were:

  • Sir Terrance Matthews
    • Chairman of Wellesley Clover, Mitel, and March Networks
    • Awarded Knighthood in 2001
    • Started over 80 companies
      • Roughly 4 per year
      • Only 6 failed so far
  • P. Thomas Jenkins
    • Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of OpenText of Waterloo, ON
    • Chair of the Federal Centre of Excellence Canadian Digital Economy
  • Donald H. Morrison
    • Chief Operating Officer of Research in Motion
Highlights from Sir Matthews

You need “first mover advantage” to increase your chances of success. It’s much more difficult to play catch-up.

Do not speculate about the market. Find interest and buyers first, then start the company – not vice-versa as many do.

Build an umbrella structure of connections, and use them as marketing channels.

Small companies need to make alliances to get noticed – usually with other small companies.

Hire fresh grads. They have no “luggage” or “roots” (more flexibile lifestyle, no marriage, no family, no mortgage, …). They are excited to do the work for little pay. They like the experience and would rather have shares of the company in the long run.

Startups create new jobs.

Canadian government needs to invest in Canadian companies.

Highlights from Jenkins

Canada’s smaller scale (compared to US for example) is actually an advantage. Places with large scales overcomplicate processes. It’s much easier if you have a smaller scale workforce. Yet Canada has the worst of both worlds because we don’t use this advantage. We are small scale but try to do things at a large scale and unnecessarily overcomplicate things.

Highlights from Morrison

None, my notebook is empty. I guess he didn’t have anything valuable to say or he was pitching BlackBerries to the government.