Eat, Write, Dance… Create

Gary Hilson, September 2013I eat, write and dance, but not necessarily in that order. I spend most of my time creating.

I write. A lot. In many formats.  My specialty is taking complex concepts and translating them into plain language for target audiences with flair and creativity built on a foundation of journalism and an out-of-this-world imagination with a dash of project management.

I eat, so I find it helps to enjoy cooking. I’m not a gourmet chef, but I will knock your socks off with a slow cooker or casserole recipe. I generally follow a Paleo diet.

Rehearsing and performing this fox trot is one of the best experiences of my life.

Here I showcase my work and blog a little about everything and anything, including recipes, Lego construction, comic books and the odd rant about something or other. I am an amateur photographer and aspiring author.

You can e-mail me, if you like.

Legacy IT is dampening fintech disruption in Canada [Portfolio]

As fintech disruption in Canada heightens speculation of what the future holds for traditional financial institutions, most of the attention is being focused on what’s keeping banks from transforming how they serve customers. UX is everything after all, especially with millennials dropping banks left and right.

Fintech disruption in Canada fumbles More recently, legacy technology has been identified as the culprit, as it impedes the ability of banks to adapt.

Read my full article on Tektonika.

The future of sustainable business requires greener IT [Portfolio]

Today, IT procurement must take the entire lifecycle of hardware into account, and there’s increasing pressure to make sure the supply chain you’re purchasing from is also green and ethical. To attain a future of sustainability, everyone must do their part, but the question is: How can your business do its part without adding to the many pressures already on your IT staff?

Read my full article on Tektonika.

Canadian SaaS companies are rejuvenating Ottawa’s tech scene [Portfolio]

At the nation’s capital, the tech sector is experiencing a renaissance due in part to Canadian SaaS companies.

Nearly two decades ago, Ottawa was poised to become a technology powerhouse, fueled by a strong telecom sector which included Newbridge Networks and its numerous spin-offs. Corel CEO Michael Cowpland believed he could take on Microsoft by buying WordPerfect. There was a general feeling that the city could be more than a sleepy government town as feds were shedding jobs to balance the books. The concept of Canadian SaaS companies was yet to be born.

Read my story on Tektonika.

Flourless Paleo Pancakes [Recipes]

I love pancakes, and for a while I’ve been trying to find a Paleo, flourless option that doesn’t fall apart.

After trial and error, I’ve found one that works, based on a recipe I found.

Ingredients:

6 large eggs
3 bananas
1/3 cup of Almond Flour or Arrow Root Starch
Coconut oil (for greasing the frying pan)

Blend eggs, bananas and flour / starch.

Pour mixture in small circles on frying pan coated with coconut oil at medium-high heat.

Cook 3-5 minutes on first side and then flip for a minute. Arrow root starch pancakes are thinner and will cook faster than almond flour pancakes.

This will make a lot of pancakes. I usually reduce the recipe by a third for a hearty weekend brunch: 2 eggs, 1 banana, 2 TBSP of flour / starch.

Almond flour will make slightly thicker pancakes but it’s double the price and double the calories. The original recipe I found called for coconut flour but I didn’t have it.

The bananas and the coconut oil from the pan give the pancakes a sweet flavor even without maple syrup.

Micron Talks 3D NAND Sans Intel [Portfolio]

TORONTO — On the heels of shaking up its partnership with Intel, Micron Technology Chief Technology Officer Ernie Maddock took the stage at the J.P. Morgan 16th Annual Tech Forum at the 2018 International CES to field questions about the road ahead.

In a Q&A and session moderated by Harlan Sur, analyst for U.S. Semiconductor and Semiconductor Capital Equipment Research at J.P. Morgan, Maddock emphasized that the update to Micron’s working relationship with Intel is only related to NAND development.

At the top of the week, the companies announced they have mutually agreed to work independently on future generations of 3D NAND. Micron and Intel will complete development of their third-gen 3D NAND technology toward the end of the year and into 2019. Maddock said based on evolving roadmaps and the needs of each company’s respective markets, it made sense to diverge for the next node.

Read the full article over at EE Times.

 

NVM Express Set for Busy 2018 [Portfolio]

TORONTO — Following on the heels of a major specification update and its eighth annual plug fest, NVM Express is poised to have a busy year as it continues to develop the base NVMe specification while expanding the NVMe Management Interface (NVMe-MI) specification and one for accessing SSDs on a PCIe bus over fabrics.

In June, the NVMe specification got its first major update in nearly three years, putting it on the cusp of becoming the defacto standard for SSD interfaces. Version 1.3 added a significant number of new features, something that hasn’t been done since November 2014, encompassing 24 technical proposals spread across three major buckets that address client, enterprise and cloud features. Most significant was improved support for virtualization so developers can more flexibly assign SSD resources to specific virtual machines, thereby addressing latency.

Meanwhile, the eighth NVMe Plugfest at the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Laboratory last fall offered the first official NVMe Over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) compliance and interoperability transport layer testing for RoCE, Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) over Converged Ethernet, and the Fibre Channel. UNH-IOL fills the role of independent testing provider of standards conformance solutions and multi-vendor interoperability, and the latest plugfest generated 14 new certified products for the base NVMe integrators list and one for the NVMe-MI integrators list. Eight inaugural products were also approved for the newly launched NVMe-oF integrators list, which accepts RoCE initiators and targets, Ethernet switches, as well as Fibre Channel initiator, targets and switches and software.

Read the full story over at EE Times.

Go green with clean tech business solutions [Portfolio]

You’re probably all getting pretty tired of the debate raging on about the role of oil pipelines in our economy, but hopefully some info on clean tech has cut through all the noise. Behind the scenes, Canadian clean tech has been soldiering on, leveraging information technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), and even quantum computing to promote sustainability as modern tech drives us forward.

And with Canada’s Environment Minister as one of 30 committed to the Paris Accord, there are plenty of greenfield opportunities to build business solutions around clean tech in Canada. Better yet: There’s an important role for skilled IT people to play.

Read the full story over at HP Tektonika.

5 Key Books for Your Star Trek Discovery

5 Key Books for Your Star Trek Discovery

There’s been lots of chatter about the production problems and delays affecting Star Trek: Discovery. But the latest series in the franchise is no different than its predecessors. What’s new is the existence of social media.

Star Trek productions have always been fraught with challenges to varying degrees over the past fifty years. Reading about the development and filming of the various series is part of the fun of being a fan. I discovered Star Trek more than 30 years ago when I was not even a teenager, and I’m still learning new things about the franchise.

Discovery is no doubt going to prompt new fans to investigate the series that began it all and the ones that followed it. There’s no shortage of books chronicling the voyages of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future, but there are several that stand out in terms of detail and thoroughness that should be at the top of anyone’s list.

These Are The Voyages

Star Trek: These Are The Voyages
Marc Cushman’s These Are Voyages provides an incredibly balanced view of the original Star Trek while shattering many myths about the series.

In fact, there is a book for each of the original Star Trek’s three seasons for a total of nearly 2,000 pages. They are the best proof that Discovery is not unique when it comes to growing pains. Social media would have had a field day with the tumultuous production of the series in 1960s.

Authored by Marc Cushman, These Are The Voyages pull together detailed production documents, memos and interviews that actor Walter Koenig has described has the definitive story of the making of the original Star Trek. In provides an incredibly balanced view of the first incarnation while shattering many myths about the series.

For fans of classic Trek, These Are The Voyages are a must-read, and those interested in TV production would find them fascinating as well.

The Making of Star Trek

This book is often mentioned by fans and writers of later Trek series as being a treasure trove of information and insight. It’s hard to come by now, and for some reason I let myself part with my copy, but if you can find it, hold on to it. It’s considered the first of its kind in terms of Star Trek reference books thanks to the multiple points of view from a wide range of contributors, everyone from studio executives to fans.

Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

Inside Star Trek: The Real Story
Inside Star Trek: The Real Story debunks many of the myths that had arisen about Star Trek over the previous 30 years.

Written by Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman, both executives who worked on the series, Inside Star Trek: The Real Story is the first book I read that didn’t sanitize the making of the original series the way most official reference books published at the time.

It’s a fascinating book from two insiders that complements Cushman’s series and is full of production art and behind-the-scenes photographs, primarily from Justman’s personal collection. And like These Are the Voyages, the book also debunks many of the myths that had arisen about Star Trek over the previous 30 years.

Star Trek: The Fifty-Year Mission

The Fifty-Year Mission
The Fifty-Year Mission is described as an “oral history” of the Star Trek franchise.

Like These Are the Voyages, The Fifty-Year Mission is more than one book. Authors Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman split 50 years of Star Trek history in two. The first volume is dedicated to the original series through to its feature film era, and the second covers the subsequent series and the J.J. Abrams films.

Described as an “oral history” of the franchise, it pulls together decades of interviews by Gross and Altman, who as journalists wrote about Star Trek for more than 30 years for publications such as Starlog. It’s a no holds barred look at 50 years of the franchise from the many cast, crew and writers involved in its many incarnations.

The Star Trek Encyclopedia

When it comes to books that pull together everything about the Star Trek universe, there’s no better tome than Mike Okuda’s Star Trek Encyclopedia, updated and re-released for the franchise’s 50th year.

Make no mistake, this is an encyclopedia in the truest sense, split into two heavy hardbound volumes, assembled by someone who worked on four of the series and continues be a steward of Star Trek continuity, most recently with his wife Denise on the Star Trek: The Next Generation BluRay remastering and documentaries.

It’s not something you can carry to the beach with you, that’s for darn sure.

Star Trek Lives!
Star Trek Lives! Tells the story of how a canceled TV series became a cult classic in the 1970s

They are many more books that are well-worth reading. Allan Asherman’s Star Trek Compendium is a great companion while watching episodes of the original series. Larry Nemecek’s Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion does the same. Writer David Gerrold dives into the making of his well-loved “The Trouble with Tribbles,” in a single book, and takes a broader look at the original show with The World of Star Trek.

Star Trek Lives! tells the story of how a canceled TV series became a cult classic in the 1970s and the rise of Star Trek conventions, while many of the biographies and autobiographies of cast members over the years provide differing perspectives. The relatively recent Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History by Robert Greenberger is a great visual and chronological overview of the franchise.

Star Trek: Discovery will both enjoy and endure a great deal of scrutiny in real-time thanks to the Internet, but eventually it too will be the subject of many books that dive deeper into its production, and hopefully its longevity and success.

Under A Yellow Sun proves comic books’ literary value

The first publication to print my work was the Ottawa Citizen as part of its “High School Confidential” section. Nine of my articles were published from 1993 to 1994. Two decades after writing this review of a Superman graphic novel, I took a course on writing comic books.

To most of us, comic books are a medium best left to youngsters.

Since their creation, comics have been very much maligned — both as children’s entertainment and as a form of literature. It is only recently that comics have proven to be popular to an “adult” audience — although loyal readers will tell you that this has been the case for quite some time.

Under a Yellow Sun was a prestige graphic novel published by DC ComicsAs recently reported by Michael D’Acosta here in the Citizen, “adult” is not meant in a lewd sense. It merely describes a mature readership that wishes to read thought-provoking and complex stories in a comic book format. Examples of these comics are such titles from DC’s Vertigo line as Sandman and Shade, The Changing Man, and independent titles such as Madman Comics.

Of course, the majority of comic books are still Action/Adventure Super-Hero books, but there are also a few that fall in between. Superman has been at the forefront of the action titles for years, but interestingly enough, the Man of Steel recently appeared in a story that wasn’t just an “action/beat-the-villain” story.

Entitled Under A Yellow Sun, this prestige graphic novel from DC Comics is presented under the guise of a novel by Clark Kent, reporter with the Daily Planet. Clark is desperately trying to finish his second novel, which his agent expects to be completed in a week. The story line of the novel concerns an ex-marine named David Guthrie, a man so desperate for work that he unknowingly takes a job working for a crooked businessman manipulating the politics of a small South American country.

While Clark struggles to resolve his protagonist’s situation in the novel, he also faces difficult decisions on other fronts. As Superman, he has been doing his best to stop street gangs from terrorizing Metropolis. These street gangs have been discovered to be using some very sophisticated weaponry which can be traced to Lexcorp. Superman confronts Lex Luthor, but of course, Luthor feigns ignorance.

Under A Yellow Sun proves comic books' literary value
“Under A Yellow Sun proves comic books’ literary value” was published in the Ottawa Citizen in the summer of 1994

As Clark becomes increasingly frustrated with both fiction and reality, he begins to question the values he was brought up with. What follows are the parallel stories of Guthrie and Superman as each tries to win their battles without sinking to the level of the enemy.

Under A Yellow Sun should not be dismissed as just another super-hero comic aimed at kids. The story and the morality play presented contain universal concepts and values that can reach many people at different levels. It is the type of story that you can let your children read and hope they learn from. At the same time, the story can be enjoyed by an adult audience, and it will no doubt give them food for thought.

Under A Yellow Sun is a tale of significance, and it demonstrates that comic books are not always a corrupting influence on young people’s minds, and are in fact a legitimate form of literature.

Written by John Francis Moore with art by Eduardo Barreto, Kerry Gammill and Dennis Janke, Under A Yellow Sun is available at comics specialty shops for $8 from DC Comics.

Gary Hilson is entering first-year journalism at Algonquin College.

IBM Simulates Complex Chemistry with Quantum Computing [Portfolio]

TORONTO — A novel algorithm developed by IBM scientists is improving the understanding of complex chemical reactions and optimizing quantum computing.

The scientists have developed a new approach to simulate molecules on a quantum computer using a seven-qubit quantum processor to address the molecular structure problem for beryllium hydride (BeH2), which is the largest molecule simulated on a quantum computer to date, according to IBM. The results are significant as they could lead to practical applications such as the creation of novel materials, development of personalized drugs and discovery of more efficient and sustainable energy sources.

In a telephone interview with EE Times, IBM quantum computer research team member Abhinav Kandala outlined how they implemented an algorithm that is efficient with respect to the number of quantum operations required for the simulation. Using six qubits of a seven-qubit processor, they were able to measure BeH2’s lowest energy state, a key measurement for understanding chemical reactions. The results were just published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, which Kandala co-authored.

Read the full story on EE Times.