Lost Packets

While beer and good communication don’t normally go hand in hand, Labatt Brewery recently took a closer look at its back-end infrastructure and decided the system needed a change. With the help of Onlinetel Corp., a VoIP services company, and Quintum Technologies Inc., provider of the Tenor VoIP switching platform, the brewer began a promotional program dubbed the “Labatt BlueLine” last July. The program works like a calling card application with the users’ minutes billed by Onlinetel to Labatt’s account and allows customers who sign up at the local bar or online to call anywhere in Ontario at no charge. Using VoIP, Onlinetel said it offers Labatt low cost-per-minute, while enjoying acceptable margins on the traffic. For details, visit www.labattblueline.com.

Belgium gets electronic IDs

Forget trying to forge identifications in Belgium. The country’s government last month began issuing electronic Java- based ID cards (EIDs) to residents in 11 cities, and plans to provide every Belgian resident over the age of 12 with one. Developed by Sun Microsystems Inc., the cards include all the same information as traditional Ids, including name, photo and date of birth, but also allow Belgian citizens to authenticate themselves electronically and securely when accessing e-government services. Citizens will also be able to use the cards to apply electronic signatures to digital documents. According to Sun, the EID project is the largest government deployment of Java card technology in Europe. For details, visit www.sun.com.

PDAs may help hemophiliacs

A Hamilton, Ont.-based physician and researcher last month was awarded a $50,000 grant to advance research in evaluating whether PDAs can help hemophilia patients improve the way they use blood products critical in controlling the bleeding associated with the condition. Dr. Irwin Walker, director of the Hamilton Niagara Regional Hemophilia Clinic, recently conducted a study whereby patients recorded “bleed diaries,” in which they kept track of the usage of the critical blood products. The study found that hand-written diaries were susceptible to errors and omissions. Through PDAs, Dr. Irwin expects patients to have greater accuracy. The PDAs can read bar codes on product labels and can transmit information in real time, and are expected to better inform patients and physicians on product usage. For information, visit www.bloodservices.ca.