York team designing automated videoconferencing

A team of researchers from York University is working on an automated videoconferencing system that is commanded by using hand signals and can pick out a voice in a crowd, reports the Toronto Star Feb. 10. “It’s not that we want to put the human (video camera) operators out of a job, we just want to bring the costs down so we can start deploying these systems everywhere,” said John Tsotsos, computer science professor in York’s Faculty of Pure and Applied Science. Tsotsos is also the director for the York Centre for Vision Research, where much of the work is conducted.

Influence or corruption at city hall?

Municipal politics has always been vulnerable to influence by private developers, said Robert MacDermid, a political science professor in York University’s Faculty of Arts, about Toronto’s computer leasing fiasco, reports the Toronto Star Feb. 10. But there is a fine line between influence and outright corruption, he said. “I’m not a believer that businesses give money away for philanthropic reasons to politicians…. But I wouldn’t call this corruption…. There has always been influence in politics. I suppose what’s good is that we are starting to find out about it with some greater degree of frequency and that alerts people to what’s actually happening. That’s a good thing.”

Marsden, Bennett send letter to PM

The Toronto City Summit Alliance, a coalition of civic leaders that includes York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden and Chancellor Avie Bennett, sent a pre-budget letter telling the prime minister that Toronto needs billions of new federal dollars if it is to live up to its promise as a great city and a critical economic engine, reports the Toronto Star Feb. 10.

‘York is U’ strives for spirit

It bothers Jeremy Greenberg that no one steps up to defend his school when it gets bashed by rivals. So the York University student and a small group of visionaries decided to go out and search for pride and spirit at the 43-year-old school on the fringe of the city, begins a feature in the Toronto Star Feb. 10 about York is U. In the past year, since the launch of their “York is U” campaign, the small group of students headed by Greenberg has recruited 600 members from the University’s 43,000-student body.

Young to fight extension

Alan Young, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and Toronto lawyer who represented two of the eight people who successfully challenged the medical marijuana regulations, says he fully expects Health Canada to appeal an Ontario Superior Court decision that found Health Canada’s medical marijuana regulations to be unconstitutional, reports The Ottawa Citizen Feb. 10. “We will fight any attempt to ask for an extension of time [to distribute marijuana to people with medical exemptions]. Health Canada has known for over a year that distribution was a big problem.”

Education leads to higher income

Investing in an education should be a top priority, says financial planner Carey Vandenberg, commenting on life-cycle savings strategies in the National Post Feb. 10. “As was pointed out in a presentation by Moshe Milevsky, a professor of finance at York University’s Schulich School of Business, your education and the increase in income it can provide you with over the long term is part of your personal balance sheet.”

Airlines can’t shrink way to profit

“The shrink-your-way-to-profitability strategy – that’s never worked in the airline industry. You just shrink your way to oblivion,” said Fred Lazar, a business professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, Feb. 8 in The Globe & Mail. The article was about lower credit ratings for Air Canada. “Can you expand and do well? Only if you have the flexibility on how you can use your workers.” Lazar said he’s doubtful that the employees will give Robert Milton, Air Canada’s president and chief executive officer, the concessions he wants. But he said that if they play along, Milton may be able to achieve his dream of making Air Canada both large and profitable.