I Hereby Challenge YITIS…

…to engage in the 2006 Yukon Election.

Most other special-interests groups, including the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Yukon Medical Association, are engaging candidates and their parties in their organizations’ special focus. For example, CPAWS sent a questionnaire to parties to gauge their level of interest and commitment in “green” issues. The YMA has released their view of an election platform.

As a result, they’re turning their societies’ interests into public election issues.

I think this needs to happen for IT as well and so I’ve been writing about this in my Yukon News Geek Love column.

But, y’know, I’m just one man fighting the good fight for Yukon geeks here and I’m really just a rambling curmudgeon with no mandate other than my own wild dreams. The political parties will do little more than snub their noses at my words.

Yet, as an information professional, I feel it’s important to hear from the politicians in regards to how they plan to engage and improve this important industry I make a living from. After all, Fentie has been blowing hot air in regards to the arts, culture, film and sound industries. What about IT?

I would insist that it’s incumbent upon YITIS as a formal society that purports to represent the Yukon IT industry to engage in this election.

YITIS must get all of the political parties to outline their interests and intentions in regards to the IT industry. How will they improve our capacity? How will they spur entrepreneurism (i.e. will they pump more money into YTIC and expand its scope?)? How can they improve access to IT for the average citizen? What do they plan to do to improve their use of IT as a service to citizens? And, most importantly, what will they do to reign in the wild-west-world of sole source contracting?

So, I hereby challenge YITIS to perform this important role of a special-interests society and engage in the election. Get every party to make some commitments you can use as leverage to acheive your goals once a government is formed. But, most importantly, make the IT industry an issue in this election. Prove to us that you are a qualified representative of we geeks’ special interests.

If you fail to live up to this important obligation you’ll also fail to live up to your inherent obligations as a industry society and will lose credibility.

Come on, boys. I can’t do it alone, here. Show me your stuff.

Geek Love Yukon Election Platform (Part 2)

Okay, so this blog made it through last week’s column relatively unscathed from reader commentary. That can only mean one of three things: you all fully agree with what I’m saying; you all think I’m a rambling crackpot not even worthy of response; or worse, nobody’s reading this stuff.

Whatever the reason, it’s incumbent upon me to continue, since I’ve made the commitment to do so. If nothing else, my further actions will serve to school the politicians on how to carry through with promises made.

After geeking out on the infrastructure and industry elements of northern technology last week, I’m going to turn my attention to two more global matters that our next government could well improve by geeking out themselves: civil society and the environment.

In a sense, government and technology are the same thing. They both share the same primary directive: serve the people. And they both tend to often conveniently forget that objective.
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Geek Love Yukon Election Platform (Part 1)

Since it’s that time in the Yukon again, when possibly the grumpiest and most disgruntled population in Canada gets to stir the electoral pot, I figured I’d spend the next few weeks leading up to the election throwing my own two cents into the mix.

Don’t be surprised if none of your local candidates come knocking at your door with these ideas (though, feel free to borrow ’em, you guys). The hot air that’s lifting the fog off of the Whitehorse valley these days is obviously more about winning votes than discussing real policy – heck, we all know about the difference between election-speak and the closed door of a caucus room.

So without further ado, I hereby launch my bid to become the unofficial whiner of the invisible community of information technology professionals during this election. One caveat I’ll point out right up-front: this is not a comprehensive policy; it totally ignores most social and infrastructure issues. Really, it’s all about winning the silent-but-deadly geek vote.
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Alright… Who’s Idea of a Joke is This?

VTech 2.4GHz : t2326-01 (black)The other day I received a box that arrived expedited via UPS from VTech in Richmond. Inside, not surprisingly (seeing as it was from VTech) was a phone.

Odd. I didn’t order a phone.

There was no packing slip inside. No note regarding its source or reason for being in a box addressed to me. I called VTech. The customer service representative was caught off balance. He had no explanation and struggled to explain why I might have received a phone from them. I’m not even in their customer database.

Unfortunately, it’s not the greatest phone. It’s a sort of run-of-the-mill 2.4GHz cordless you’d find at Wal-Mart or Superstore. So, I guess it’s okay. It must be functional.

So, the question I have for readers of this blog: is somebody playing a joke on me? Are you poking some fun at a blogger who’s obsessed with hi-tech gadgetry by sending him some lo-fi product.

Because if you are, it worked. I’m just sitting here obsessing over why, if this is an error, it didn’t involve some totally rad product like a Sony Milo or a Slingbox (truly my heart’s desire these days). Heck, I’d even write a review.
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Free Mobile Calling! (WiFi Skype Phones)

But this phone now!Engadget has some great gadget porn of their unboxing this stylish little device.

It’s the Skype WiFi phone from Netgear. About the size of a cell phone, and designed to operate the same, you can use this gizmo to make phone calls from any Wifi network, event secure ones, via Skype. That means, essentially, free phone calls.

Belkin offers an alternative product in an opposing tone, sort of their version of Darth Vader to Netgear’s Luke.
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Bill Gates’ Personal Workflow

I’m not the biggest fan of Microsoft but one can’t help but have respect for Bill Gates, he’s definitely a remarkable mind.

So it’s interesting to read this column he wrote for CNN Money that describes some details about his personal workflow. Really, what it comes down to is a hefty dose of workflow discipline combined with a good sense of organization.

I’m all on board with Mr. Gates in the sense of rarely working with paper. I despise the stuff. It’s so much easier to communicate and share ideas electronically. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with me and too much effort is spent getting things to “print right”.

And it’s nice to hear him comment on how he doesn’t really dig to-do lists. I have trouble with them as well, and I like some of his ideas for alternative task-managment methodologies.

If nothing else, click over to see the photo at the bottom of the column with Mr. Gates looking like he’s at the wrong end of a bad day. See? He is a human after all.

Once a Geek, Always a Geek (or, “How to hack Windows XP out of Virtual PC to Make a Bootable Install CD”)

Dsc04311Lately I’ve tried to stray as far away from my geek roots as possible. Y’know, no coding, no RAM installs (well, one for Mom, but that’s an obvious exception). I’m trying to move higher up the IT food chain, y’know. Like, I’m an analyst, man.

But I suppose it’s just inside some people. And the other night, just after I decided to finally crack that MacBook Pro that’s been hanging around, unopended, in my studio for a while, I had to do it: I had to get Windows onto that Mac. But not just any Windows, man. I had to get that nasty Windows Vista RC1 on my system.

But, y’know, I chickened out. At that last possible moment, as my finger hovered over the button that would change my world forever (check the pic over there) I chickened out and went for XP instead. But, oh and woe for me, that was even more demanding an effort for, you see, the only install I had available to me was trapped inside a copy of Virtual PC 7 (whilst, damn, they’re giving away Vista for free these days: go figure). So I ended up hacking and burning my own slipstream Windows XP SP2 install disk. Not for the feint of heart, my friend.

Read on for the gory details (or just bail out now if you can’t stomach hardcore geek talk; you’ve been warned).
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