All posts by planetweb contributor

Working From Home? Check Out These 5 Tech Tips

Most of us in Canada and the US are now on lockdown. Our employers require us to work from home for the next few weeks or so.

Here are five tech tips for you to check out to improve your collaboration when dealing with clients and colleagues.

Tip 1 – Use Your Webcam Wisely

We all use video calls now to speak with our colleagues, our boss and even our clients. Make sure to have light source at your face and to put your chin up. Make sure your head and your shoulders are in the shot. Focus your camera at your eye level , so if use a laptop with a webcam, make sure to put it up on a book or something to raise the webcam to eye level.

Tip 2 – Do Not Be Lagging

We all love the convenience of the wireless internet. But the problem with Wifi is that it could be slow, your calls could drop due to dropped signal and increased latency. To make sure you are not lagging – try connecting with ethernet cable instead directly from your computer / laptop into your router or switch. If cabling is not possible, try moving your router to the center of your house for better performance.

Tip 3 – Update Your Contact Info

You are working from home that usually means you do not have access to your phone landline at the office. Make sure to update your email signature and include the best way to reach you. Is it google hangout? or your cell phone? or maybe it is Skype? Whatever it is – go to your signature setting and update your contact info.

Tip 4 – Prepare Your Laptop

When you are on a video call, try to clean up your desktop a bit. Move over any questionable files or graphics away from desktop. Turn off those notifications as well, you do not want a popup email reply from your friend titled: “How much I hate my boss… ” to appear when you are doing a company’s morning meeting. Just go to Systems – Notifications – and turn those notifications off while you are on a call. Oh and notify your spouse that you will be on call and make sure that you are not disturbed during that time.

Tip 5 – Track Your Time

You want to keep track of time to make sure you stay productive and focused. You can use time management apps like Clockify or you might just want to write down your tasks on a piece of paper and dedicate specific amount of time to it. After say 2 hours , you may want to take 5 minute break, walk around your house or make a cup of coffee as a reward for finishing your task.

Montreal Mixonset AI Startup Helps To Discover Music

Mixonset is the best way to discover music that fits your vibe. It’s like having a personal DJ in your pocket that curates the music you listen to by suggesting exactly the songs that you’re feeling in the moment. Mixonset’s AI also beat-matches your Spotify playlist so that everything sounds great together, and even creates seamless transitions at the right moments. It’s a DJ that you can use anywhere with one tap.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

Zeyu Li and Boris But founded the startup. A few years ago, Zeyu was building software for investment banks in Toronto in the day and working the turntables at clubs at night. He decided to go back to McGill to learn how to apply Artificial Intelligence to mix music – which sowed the seeds for Mixonset. After working on the Mixonset algorithm for a couple years, Zeyu met Boris at McGill University and started the company.

Our short term goal is to monetize our app through an ad-supported free version and a premium version with features that will blow every other music app out of the water.

Longer term, we can also license our music mixing technology to other music streaming services as a value differentiator.


Boris But

Co-Founder & CMO

How are you being financed?

Mixonset is currently bootstrapping with personal investments and grants. We made personal investments into the company, won an AI entrepreneurship grant from the government and won the Videotron Innovative Media Prize at StartupFest.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?

Our biggest obstacle is scaling up with minimal spending. Since Mixonset is still a 2-person startup, both Co-Founders are juggling too many tasks at the same time. We’re testing new features all the time, new interfaces, new market segments, and speaking to different user persona types. We’re definitely on the right track, but we need to nail down the exact recipe for success and get to the next phase of our development.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

We have a network of IT guys that we can hire because we’re deeply embedded in McGill University. Considering there is an AI boom in Montreal right now, we can find top-tier talent. But the best way to hire is still through friends of friends of friends and build upon that chain of trust.

Who is your biggest competition?

Our closest competitors are mobile DJ apps that transpose complicated music mixing software onto a much smaller screen – it just doesn’t work. Our biggest competition is Spotify, even though they’re not directly in the music mixing space.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?

Our short term goal is to monetize our app through an ad-supported free version and a premium version with features that will blow every other music app out of the water. Longer term, we can also license our music mixing technology to other music streaming services as a value differentiator. We can also expand to other audio-based industries, such as gaming and video production.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.

There are an important number that we track every single day on our office white board. There’s a ‘98’ written next to a poorly-illustrated coffee cup which represents the number of coffee dates I’ve been on in the last few months with end users. This number reminds me to leave the office and speak to the people who actually use Mixonset so I can truly understand what problem we’re trying to solve – and from that, what solution we can build. Our success hinges on building something that people love.

If you’re interested in trying out Mixonset for free, Spotify Premium or iTunes users can install Mixonset on the Apple App Store.

Largest Tech Conference in Canada Is Cancelled Due to CoronaVirus

The Collision conference in Toronto with over 30,000 attendees from 125 countries will be cancelled as per their press release this morning.

Instead the conference will be taking place online only, as Collision from Home .

Collision is a very popular tech conference taking place once a year in Toronto bringing startups, venture capitalists and celebrities to Toronto. Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, recorded video welcoming the conference to Canada, and participated as a speaker.

The conference validated the city of Toronto, as the place to be, if you want to be in tech.

For now, given the evolving nature of Covid-19, we think gathering tens of thousands of people from almost every country in the world in one place this June would be irresponsible. Toronto has not suffered a significant Covid-19 outbreak, and at Collision we want to ensure that remains the case.

Second, while Collision will still take place online, as Collision from Home, all our attendees will still get full transfers of their tickets to Collision 2021.


Paddy Cosgrave

CEO Web Summit, Collision, RISE, f.ounders

Coronavirus has originated in China on December 31 2019 and have spead to more than 80 countries with more than 3,381 deaths.

The Collision conference is not the only conference being cancelled, Toronto conferences like Mobile World Congress, Google’s I/O developer conference, Facebook’s F8 conference, and Shopify’s Unite in Toronto have also been cancelled.

Ottawa Requests Wireless Providers to Lower PriceS

Canadian government says that it now requires cell phone companies like Rogers, Bell and Telus to lower its cell phone bill by 25% within the next 2 years or face consequences.

Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains says that unlimited talk-and-text plans that offer two gigabytes, four gigabytes and six gigabytes of data need to be reduced by 25% further from their current prices.

That means that the six-gigabyte plan that is now $60 would go down to $45. The two-gigabyte plan that is now $50 should be $37.50.

If cell phones’ bills are not reduced by 25% , Bains said, that Ottawa will introduce regulation that might force carriers to open their networks to wireless re-sellers.

Ottawa will start compiling cell phones’ pricing information and publish it every quarter for the next 2 years.

“Canada is at an exciting turning point in the future of connectivity. Wireless services are no longer a luxury. They are a critical necessity—for working, for learning at school and for engaging in modern society. We heard Canadians when they asked for more affordable options for their wireless services, and we have delivered.

Canadians shouldn’t have to choose between having a cellphone or heating their home. These new tools build on a number of initiatives we already set in place to help lower prices, improve access and ensure affordable, high-quality wireless services in every corner of our country.


Navdeep Bains

Innovation, Science and Industry Minister

Bell Canada spokesperson Marc Choma said that right now is the worst time to regulate the industry as they are spending millions of dollars to roll out much needed 5G across the country and will put jobs and innovation at risk.

Foodora’s Couriers To Unionize in Ontario

Part time delivery employees at Foodora, online food delivery company, have decided to unionize. The Ontario Labour Relations Board said today that since Foodora part time employees are dependent contractors they can unionize.

Until today, Foodora employees were considered independent contractors, and had no legal right to unionize and did not have the same benefits as full time permanent employees.

Foodora workers were unhappy how Foodora has treated them due to lack of health and safety protection as well as poor compensation model.

The Board has carefully reviewed the evidence called by the parties using the factors historically considered by the Board from Algonquin Tavern, supra in the interpretation of the statutory definition of dependent contractor. The couriers are selected by Foodora and required to deliver food on the terms and conditions determined by Foodora in accordance with Foodora’s standards. In a very real sense, the couriers work for Foodora, and not themselves.

This is the Board’s first decision with respect to workers in what has been described by the parties and the media as “the gig economy”. However, the services performed by Foodora couriers are nothing new to the Board and in many ways are similar to the circumstances of the Board’s older cases. This is not the Board’s first case examining the relationship of couriers. The Board has been tasked with the same questions about dependent contractors in various sectors including transportation and construction. Such cases have always been fact based inquiries that require a balancing of factors. This case is no different in many respects.

Ontario Labour Relations Board

Foodora said that it is reviewing this decision in Ontario. They said they will see how it plays out when the union is formed and what to do about it after it is formed.

Just last November the Supreme Court of Canada heard the case about Uber and whether it should allow to classify its workers as contractors. Uber has asked the judge to stop the proceedings due to the arbitration clause – the federal judge has allowed it. However Province of Ontario decides to proceed without the arbitrator. Uber is trying to overturn the Ontario’s decision to make sure its workers are not classified as employees.

UPDATED: Canadian Privacy Agency to Investigate US Facial Recognition Firm

Update #1: The company in this story, Clearview AI, has just been hacked and more than 2,200 organizations spanning law enforcement to universities have their information accessed. Clearview has clients such as US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Justice, the FBI, Macy’s, Best Buy. In Canada multiple police agencies have used them such as Ontario Provincial Police, Ottawa Police, RCPM, Durham Police, etc.

Canadian privacy agency has launched an investigation into NY-based Clearview AI firm to see if its facial recognition technology complies with Canadian privacy laws.

Clearview uses millions of images across the internet to screen for potential terrorists and criminals. Many law enforcement agencies in US and Canada , like Durham Regional Police in Ontario, have used or have tested the technology.

Critics in both US and Canada said that just pulling images from internet provides no consent , and can be used misused.

The indiscriminate scraping of the internet to collect images of people’s faces for law enforcement purposes has significant privacy implications for all Ontarians. We have made it clear in the past that my office should be consulted before this type of technology is used.


Brian Beamish

Ontario privacy commissioner

Privacy regulators in every province in Canada have agreed to work together to develop guidance on usage of bio-metric data when it comes to facial recognition.

Some twitter users expressed their dissatisfaction with this facial recognition data used by the police.

Police chief in Ontario said that even though they have used the technology to on trial basis , they will discontinue the use of it until further guidance.

The Durham Police Chief ordered that the use of such technology (facial recognition) be stopped immediately until the matter is reviewed and further direction is received from the privacy commissioner.


Dave Selby

Police spokesperson, Durham Regional Police Service

CRTC To Regulate Tech Firms like Facebook and Google in Canada

Canadian government is set to introduce a new law, where it will give special powers to CRTC, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications, to regular tech companies in Canada.

Government said that it will provide updates to the new legislation, to give more power to CRTC, which will include letting CRTC issue licences, fine companies that do not comply and force companies to provide commercially sensitive information.

It’s about the future of the entire industry. It’s not about any one particular streamer or studio. That’s why we encourage the government to have as many tools available as possible so that we have flexibility in a new-and-improved Broadcasting Act that can adapt to this fast-changing, dynamic market.


Reynolds Mastin

President of the Canadian Media Producers Association

The current Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act is outdated the way it is now, as it was written before the internet. Canadian government said that Canadians are afraid that their culture is being threatened by big tech giants like Netflix and Facebook.

Because firms like Facebook and Netflix are digital, they do not require license to operate in Canada, and do not have to play specific percentage of Canadian content to viewers.

This Canadian television sitcom comedy series showcases the antics of the residents of Letterkenny, a small rural community in Canada.

While it is nice to see Canadian government to play active role to ensure that Canadians across this beautiful land can login to stream their shows like Letterkenny and Tout le monde en parle, they have to be careful as well.

It is interesting to see new power to police by CRTC being announced shortly after Google’s announcement of creation of 5,000 new jobs in Canada.

The problem is if Canadian government provides unlimited powers to CRTC and CRTC starts imposing fines left and right, some tech firms might pull their products away from Canada.

This is exactly what happened with political ads few years ago. Canadian government changed the election laws when it comes to advertising. Facebook decided to comply while Google said that it will disallow any politic ads in Canada on its platform.

While Heritage Ministry is giving more powers to CRTC, the Finance Department is set to start requiring foreign tech companies in Canada to collect and remit federal sales taxes. This media tax is already being collected in both Quebec and Saskatchewan.

Liberal government is in its minority right now in the parliament, so it will need another party’s support to pass the laws above. The way it stands right now, both Bloc Quebecois and NDP , are willing to support the Liberals.