Posts Tagged ‘Holland College’

CBC reporters offer tips to cut through the media spin

December 4, 2009

The best way for someone to sense they are being spun is to listen for jargon or trigger words repeated over and over, says a reporter for the CBC.

With the seemingly never ending barrage of news stories popping up in the media related to politics, citizens are constantly exposed to political spin. Most politicans have become masters of trying to influence the behaviour of voters.

How can a regualr person see through the spin tactics of politicians and make an informed decision?

Political reporter Bendan Elliott said if someone keeps going back to or repeating the same message using different words, then this person is more than likely trying to spin you into hearing their version of the story.

“Also, regular news observers should listen to whether a question is actually being answered. If a journalist asks a question, and the person does everything except answer the question, then there’s a good chance that person is spinning.”

a It is hard for the average person to counter this spin, he said.

“The only suggestion would be for the person to continue asking their question until they feel satisfied that their question has been answered.”

CBC producer Donna Allen, said people should stop and ask themselves a few

questions,when considering whether or not they have been spun.

“Does this sound likely, reasonable, does it pass the smell test? What aren’t they telling me? Why is this person saying what they are saying? Might there be an ulterior motive? Does this person seem credible to me?”


Sega producer teaches students ins-outs of industry

December 3, 2009

Sega producer Ethan Einhorn showing the platform of some of his most recent work, the iPhone. Conway photo

Prince Edward Island is the best place to visit when heading out to see a game developer, says Sega of America’s digital content producer.

Ethan Einhorn spoke to students of both the Video Game Arts and Design and Interactive Media programs at Holland College’s Charlottetown Centre on Oct. 8.

He praised the students.

“They had a lot of great questions. They are clearly focused on wanting to understand what major publishers are looking for in games.”

The presentation was made possible through Video Game Art and Design instructor Chris Sharpley, once a co-worker of Einhorn’s.

Before becoming an instructor at Holland College, Sharpley was a game artist who worked for several different developers, including Sega.

While working at Other Ocean in Charlottetown, he did some of the design work for the iPhone version of Super Monkey Ball,  a popular Sega property and a game produced by Einhorn.

Of all of the producers he has worked with, Einhorn was one of his favourites, Sharpley said.

“He was probably the most easygoing and easy to get along with and I’ve never had any problems with him.”

Sharpley saw the presentation as a possible source of inspiration.

“Hopefully the students aspire to follow their dreams like he did and if you put the hard work in you can work anywhere you like.”

The students enjoyed the opportunity to talk with Einhorn individually after the lecture, Sharpley said.

“Afterwards, he must have spent twice as long casually chatting with students, just as he did during the presentation.”

During the presentation, the students learned about the role of a producer in a game’s devlopment and a little bit of Einhorn’s background before he worked for Sega, said Sharpley.

If the presentation demonstrated one thing, it was even though P.E.I. is a small part of Canada, it is still possible to be employed with a full-time job, Sharpley says.

“You could work on top international brands, dealing with people in San Francisco and Tokyo and see your work releashed globally and appreciated by millions of people.

Einhorn said he wished he had the same opportunities growing up that the students of the Holland College Video Game Arts and Design program have.

“I wish there were schools like this available when I was a student myself, but there was really no such thing as video game programs that long ago.”

Related posts:

Holland College prepares students for work in the gaming industry

Program challenges students to excel in the video game industry

Charlottetown studio develops game for the Nintendo DS

Wireless Internet continues to expand throughout Holland College

December 2, 2009

Holland College student Spencer Mosher, tries out the new wireless Internet connection in the Charlottetown Centre cafeteria. Conway photo

Due to a growing student demand, the wireless Internet connection at the Charlottetown Centre the first of what could be a series of upgrades.

On Oct. 15, the wireless Internet services provided at the campus expanded as part of a pilot project to make it more accessible throughout the campus.

The new wireless system is designed to be more stable and manageable, said Richard MacDonald, manager of computer services.

“It is  also capable of handeling traffic more efficiently.”

The new connection was made possible due to the co-operation between Computer Serivces, the Student Union, and the Computer Information Systems and Business departments, he said.

“With everyone working together, we have a better wireless connection here than we would have had if we did not co-operate.”

Still, there are only three routers providing wireless Internet for the cafeteria and bottom floor, he said.

“To provide coverage to the entire building would require 20, 30 wireless routers. We could eventually have 25-30 routers to provide full coverage.”

Students are enjoying the wireless connection, although there are some minor glitches.

“It’s pretty good. It goes down sometimes but other than that it works well,” said Spencer Mosher.

MacDonald said the main goal is to figure out the best way to have wireless access on a large scale for all Holland College centres.

“Students want to be connected and we want to provide it without students having to pay too much for it.

“It would be nice to have the same student experience in all of our major centres.”

How to protect important information with biometric technology

April 20, 2009


First year CIS students; Norma Mayhew, Paige Palmer and Jean ‘Louis Pinet presenting the facts about Biometrics. Conway photo.


   With the growing threat of identity theft and security breaches, the need for the government agencies, big companies, and even home computer owners to protect themselves is a growing need, says Computer Information Systems student Norma Mayhew.

     Biometrics is a method of using an individual’s behaviours or characteristics to positively identify them and to make sure they are the only ones to access their information.

       Biometric technology is the next step in high tech security.

       Mayhew said one such biometric technology is the use of Dynamic Signature Varification, which uses the handwriting of the computer user to confirm his/her identitiy.

        “It is not just the image that is verified but also the speed in which they write, and the pen pressure that they use. It is more of a three-dimensional characteristics that they use.”

       She said these security measures are becoming more widely used anywhere from big companies to home computers.

      “Even laptops can use biometrics. Some use voice recognition and fingerprint scans.”

       Paige Palmer, who is also a student in the CIS program, said different companies and government offices are using biometrics to gain access to confidential information.

        “For example, finger print scans of employees are often used instead of punching in numeric codes.”

         Mayhew said it all depends on how secure they need their enviroment to be.

         “The idea behind biometrics is that the use of passwords or ID cards can be stolen or forged or someone could have been given the password by someone from within the company.”

     “With biometrics it is physical or behavioural characteristics of a person which grants access to the information, making it much harder to forge these things.”

       The type of information, whither it is a scan or an image of an employee, is placed into a database and when someone makes a request for the information they wish to access, they would have to make one of the scans in the database to acquire it, she said.

      “It runs on the fact that no two people are alike.”

       Palmer said even identical twins have their own individual set of characteristics that could be pick up in a scan.

      “They have different finger prints and retinal characteristics for example. Everyone has their own unique characteristics.”

      These systems are advanced enough to tell even if someone is conscious, she said.

      “For example if someone had cut off an employee’s finger to gain access to the information, it would not work because there would have to be a pulse or temperature for the print to be properly identified.”

      She said with the constant improvements in this technology, its usage is becoming more and more common as information is becoming more valuable.

       “Finger print and retinal scans are the most popular.”

        Mayhew said voice scans are a popular choice for home computers and laptops because all the user needs is a usb port to plug in a microphone or the computer might already have one built in.

         “Voice scans work in one of two ways. Text dependent, which the user would have to not only have their voice match the scan but also say a particular phrase to gain access. Text independent on the other hand, the user can use any phrase they choose because it is only the voice that has to match.”

      The sound is broken up into segments and each of the words spoken by the user is compared to the sample in the data base, she said.

      “If there is a match it checks to see if the tones and the voice pattern are are match as well.”

      Mayhew said as long as the need for secure information continues to grow, more biometric systems will be put in place to protect that information.   


College students end up in provincial court

April 20, 2009


P.E.I. Provincial Supreme Courtroom number 5. Conway photo.


   It was 10 a.m. on the Thursday before the Easter holiday when a group of students from the Holland College journalism program entered the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown for a tour of the facilities.

    The students and their instructor were greeted at the door by Sheila Gallant, clerk of the Court of Appeals. Gallant welcomed them warmly and informed them she would be their tour guide.

     The first stop on the tour was courtroom No. 5. This is where some of the larger court cases are handled as it can hold up to 120 people.

     Gallant started off the tour of the courtroom by pointing out the holding area in which the defendant would be held  to protect those in the court and themselves as well.

      “Prisoners leave the holding area to go up stairs with the deputies,” she said. “It is to prevent violence.”


Sheila Gallant, showing students around  the courtroom. Conway photo.


       Gallant said this particular courtroom was also used in civil cases and explained how a criminal case differs from a civil case.

        “The purpose of a civil case is to settle a dispute for money,” she said. “It often involves an insurance claim.”

         Students were shown everything from the judge’s desk to the jury box, but one thing they found really interesting was the press area.

          The area is in the same area as the public seating area but with one special difference. The seats in the press area have a special little tray attached to each seat for a reporter’s tools of the trade (their pen, paper and what not). Some of the students couldn’t help but test out these little trays first-hand.

     Gallant took the time to inform the students about the relationship between journalists and the court system.

     She pointed out such things as the need for journalists to seek permission to record court proceedings and to learn of any publication bans that might be in place.

      “In a family case, for example, the name of a young offender can not be used,” said Gallant. “Although the offenders initials can be used in violent cases.”

       The students began to explore the room to take photographs as Gallant continued to explain the inner workings of the court.

       Some of the students looked down upon the room from the judge’s bench as they took pictures from this  new perspective and even posed for a group photo.

       One student noticed how close the jury box was to the witness stand. Gallant said that was to make sure the jury members could clearly hear the testimony as well as to observe the mannerisms of witnesses. It is all an effort to make sure the jury will make the best judgment possible.

       Gallant also pointed out that this particular courtroom is also used for special occasions, as it is called a ceremonial court.

       “This courtroom is also used for when a new judge is sworn in to the Supreme Court,” she said.

        The tour of courtroom No. 5 came to a close and the tour group was on the move as they made their way upstairs to courtroom No.3.

         The students couldn’t help but feel as if there was something different about this new courtroom, something which separates it from the room they had visited just minutes before.

      The students were surprised when they realized the courtroom was actually quite smaller than the one they had already visited.

       Gallant said this is a courtroom used for the court of appeals, mostly for human rights and workers compensation cases.

       One of the young journalists asked about an interesting painting being proudly displayed in the room. Gallant explained it was a portrait of Henry Davies.

court4Gallant answer a question asked by Journalism student Patricia Nunez. Conway photo.


       “The only Islander to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada,” she said. “He held the position from 1876-9. He was also an MP and the Fisheries Minister as well.”

          Before the tour ended, Gallant gave a bit of a history lesson about her time working at the Supreme Court.

          She started in 1984, which makes her tenure, the third longest in the court.

         “Only two of the girls from the head office have been here longer than I have.”

           She said she had seen her fair share of strange occurences.

          “We had one bombing, two fires, a broken sprinkler system, and of course the car crash that happened a few months back. I’m glad that one happened at night, considering how busy the lobby gets during the day.”

          “We also deal with some pretty rude or ‘interesting’ characters on , well I wouldn’t say daily but definitely a weekly basis.”

           After Gallant ended the tour, she gave the students directions to courtroom No. 8, which was holding a hearing at the time.

     The students (mysef included) were surprised to see a young man enter the court room in shackles. It was quite surreal. He was facing multiple charges, including drug possession, impaired driving, public intoxication, and public mischief.

      The man pleaded guilty to all charges but with the time he had already served and the defendant’s willingness to improve his situation in life, the judge sentenced him to pay a $1,000 fine, a $100 fine, 12 months probation, and spend four days in the provincial correctional centre. His drivers licence is also suspended for 12 months.

        It is safe to say that these students will not forget their first day in court.                          





Holland Steppers sell sweets for an even sweeter cause

April 20, 2009


Holland College Stepper Barbara Henry, working at the bake sale to raise money for the Run For the Cure. Conway Photo.


   The boardroom of Montgomery Hall was filled with people looking to buy the delicious baked goods of the Holland College Steppers to help fund breast cancer research on April 8.

    The Holland College Steppers is a group of 32 people who are Holland College staff members, retirees, and a few family and friends who participate in the CIBC run for the cure, said bake sale organizer Barbara Henry.

    “The Holland College Steppers have been together for four years now and since then we have organized six fundrasing events a year, which include plant sales, pickle and preserve sales, chili cook offs, and bake sales.”

     Henry said everything at the bakesale is handmade by members of the steppers.

     Henry worked at the Charlottetown Centre of Holland College until about two years ago when she retired but she returns to the campus every now and again to see some old friends and raise money for the Steppers.

      She said she remembers her time at the college fondly.

      “My time here was excellent and I would like to say how I am impressed I am with the folks here at Holland College for working as hard as they do and for being as helpful as they are with the fund raisers.”

       Shirley Gallant from Computer Services at Holland College is also a member of the Holland College Steppers. She said the group has had one main goal since it was formed four years ago.

       “The purpose of the group is to raise awareness for the Breast Cancer Foundation and to raise money for breast cancer research.”

     Gallant, like Henry, said the bake sale is only one of the different fund-rasiers which the steppers organize throughout the year.

       “We also held a silent auction at the bake sale as well. We also have barbecues, a garden sale in which we sell some nice plants that we had grown and dug up. And we have held lunches as well, like the Chili Cook Off we had in the cafeteria last month.”

        Gallant said she enjoys her time as a member of the Holland College Steppers.

        “We have a lot of get togethers before the sales and do the cooking and we get together before the Run for the Cure as well, to just relax and have fun.”  






Staff Spirit Award to honour teachers who go above and beyond

April 20, 2009


Staff Spirit Award committee member Joanie Murray, poses for the camera. Conway photo.


     The Staff Spirit Award committee at Holland College Charlottetown Centre is looking for a teacher who goes beyond what a teacher normally does to help students achieve their goals, said committee member Joanie Murray.

       The awards are dedicated to teachers who do their best to be a positive influence on the learning experience of students. The award will be presented during the Student Athletic Awards on Thursday, April, 16.

       Murray said students were given sheets in which they were encouraged to write down a teacher they felt was worthy for a nomination.

       “Students were requried to write the teacher’s name and the reasons why they feel the teacher they had chosen to nominate was deserving of the award.”

        The committee looks for a candidate who they feel goes above and beyond for their students.

         “There are nine different nominees and some were voted in multiple times. The nominees are kept confidential until after we know the outcome and it will be released in an email.”

          Newly elected Student Union president Michele Bradley who is also on the committee said the committee has gone through the list of nominees during their first meeting April 1.

          “We read what was said about each one, and about how they have made a lasting impression on the students and the school.”

            She said she was extremely excited to read about each of the nominees because of the respect she has for the college staff.

        “The staff here at Holland College is amazing. They should all get the award! This award is extremely important because it recognizes the feelings the students have towards their learning instructors.”

          Murray said there is no bias towards any of the nominees who have been chosen for the award.

          “We hope that we choose the right staff member for the award. Someone who has gone the extra mile for students.”


Program challenges students to excel in gaming industry

April 17, 2009


Video Game Art and Desgin student Darcy Fisher helps classmate Marshall Harrington with his latest project. Conway photo. 

  I-phone game development is a growing industry in P.E.I. and students at Holland College are taking full advantage.

Video Game Art and Design is a two-year course, which gives students the chance to get a feel for the video game industry by taking part in the development of games for the I-phone, said student Marshall Harrington.

 “The Video Game Art and Design program gives a broad coverage of the different sides of the gaming industry.”

Harrington said one of his best strengths is modeling 3D environments such as interiors and exteriors.

“It means creating the area where the game takes place.”

The program challenges students everytime there is a new assignment and there is always a motivation to work as hard as we can, he said.

“The program instructor has experience in the industry and has a pretty blunt opinion when it comes to criticizing our work. So it helps motivate us to try harder.”

Marshall is currently working on art for an I-Phone game, which is a collaboration between Holland College students, he said.

“Holland students will create the art for the game and then send the art to students from UPEI who will program the game.”

The game is a tribute to a Super Nintendo title called On the Ball, which Marshall said is just simple fun stuff.

“The player tilts the I-Phone to roll the ball around brick textures.”

Not only do students work on developing games but they also develop their own personal work to show to potential employers.

“They are stuff like still renders and character animations. This is your own work and is not part of a game and would be part of your portfolio.”

Darcy Fisher, who is a classmate of Marshall’s, said his strength is in creating concept art.

“It is pretty much all hand drawn and I also scan my drawings and use Photoshop to colour them.”

Fisher said he had been drawing for as long he can remember and had always been a fan of video games and after learning about the program. It seemed like the right fit for him.

He said he inserts his original artwork in the background layer, then he draws a layer of an outline of what he did .

“Then I add a layer for all the different colours, depending on what I am drawing now.”

He said as an artist, he has gotten into the habit of taking his sketchbook with him whereever he goes.

“I take my sketchbook book everywhere and draw different things. Anything that pops into my head. I also do a lot of fan art of some of my favourite games as well.”

Fisher is currently working on a retro themed gamed, much like Harrington’s project.

It is based on the game Geometry Wars, he said.

“The game is pretty basic. You’re a spaceship at the bottom of the screen shooting at whatever enemies come up on the screen and getting different power ups.”

Even if the game is simple, it still a game, which players will enjoy playing, said Fisher.

“The artstyle of game will have the characters in neon colours. Even if the game is simple there is still a lot going on and it catches the eye and draws in your attention.”

The program has helped Fisher improve his skills as an artist and has motivated him to go beyond just drawing for the fun of it.

“Ever since I have started, I have been trying to make my drawings the best they can be before I try to break into the gaming industry.”

Fisher credits the model drawing portion of the course as being helpful towards sharpening his skills as an artist.

“We draw stuffed animals such as crows and dragonflys, and take the pictures and put them on a 3D surface. Life drawing also helps us learn proportions.”

After graduating from the program, Fisher would like to work for one of the developers in P.E.I. or at least somewhere in the Maritimes for the next five years or so, taking any job he could get in the industry.

“I would take anything at first. With a lot of people competing to break into the industry, you can’t be picky. You need experience before breaking into one of the bigger companies.”

Harrington said he would really like to be a digital artist.

“A digital artist who works with 3D mostly, maybe some animation but mainly a digital artist.”

Related Posts:

 Holland College prepares students for work in the video game industry

Charlottetown studio developing for the Nintendo DS