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The holiday party season is upon us this year and the theme is definitely geek.

But wait – you’re not “in” on IM? Do terms like terabyte and USB leave you cold?

Well, this is your lucky day because my self-help program is being offered exclusively to Yukon News readers to help you avoid situations like the following: Continue reading

The Gap in History


It’s 100 years or so from now.

A young girl pulls an ancient box out from under a bed.

Its clear body is blemished with age.

A cloud of dust stirs around her as she pulls it across the floor and sits down beside it. The girl glances quickly at the door. She’s being secret, doesn’t want to be discovered.

The morning sun pours in through the window behind her as she carefully lifts the cracked lid off the box. Its fragility is almost unbelievable as it flexes slightly. She looks at the word on it: Rubbermaid.

Plastic. She’s been told this is plastic.

Inside she finds more plastic, only it’s different.

Continue reading

Announcing Texthorse: Whitehorse’s First SMS Game

TexthorseI’m really pleased to be able to publicly announce a project that I’ve been working on with some partners for some time now.

It’s called Texthorse, and it’s a text-messaging treasure hunt that will take place for 5 weeks throughout the entire city of Whitehorse. We’re launching on Tuesday, November 27.

As many readers here know, for quite some time I’ve been interested in the potential creative and business opportunities that mobile telecommunications technologies offer.

To me, mobile today feels like the web felt back in 1994: full of explosive potential. But I think mobile contains more promise than even the pure web does today.

Mobile is an incredibly disruptive medium in the sense that it’s ubiquitous and so can have an effect anywhere and anytime. Leveraging that effectiveness is an interesting challenge, and it’s a challenge I’m hoping to engage with Texthorse. Continue reading

You Don’t Own Any Software

Honestly. You don’t own any software at all.

Even though one day you may have walked into a store like Staples and bought a boxed copy of Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop, all you purchased was a disk.

What’s on that disk does not belong to you.

Instead, the real value of what you purchased is a mere limited-use agreement with a software publisher like Adobe or Microsoft.

That’s it. The software still belongs to Adobe or Microsoft. And, if they tell you to stop using their software, you have to stop using it.

It’s a funny world, eh?

You buy a car, you own it.

You buy a loaf of bread, you own it.

You buy a house, you own it.

You buy an $800 software product: you don’t own anything.

Well, if you were lucky you received a printed manual. Continue reading

Bell: Location Services for iPhone not Enabled

I just spoke to a customer service representative who told me that Bell has made a public statement to the effect that, “location services [for the iPhone] have not been launched.”

There was no indication as to when they might actually get around to setting that up.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s a significant oversight as so many aspects of the device depend on location services for full functionality so I’ll certainly be making a refund request.

What’s more, he indicated the fact that the time zone setting for the Whitehorse towers likely won’t get corrected in the foreseeable future. That should cause some grief for some people stepping off the plane up here!

Bell’s Whitehorse iPhone Wormhole Closing Fast…

As I’ve been running around Whitehorse doing errands today I’ve been constantly checking my iPhone’s location awareness. It’s been a mixed bag.

Sometimes it thinks I’m somewhere in the southwest corner of the Northwest Territories. But when I’m at home it can locate my properly to within a few feet, as in this screen shot (I really love how the compass functionality even shows what direction I’m facing):

iPhone GPS in Whitehorse

The iPhone uses a service provided by Skyhook Wireless to provide location services. Skyhook evaluates a device’s location by cross-referencing a proprietary database of Wifi base station locations, cell tower information, and GPS data.

It’s unlikely that there’s any Wifi base station data for Whitehorse in Skyhook’s database. And, judging by the fact that my iPhone, when it’s set to automatically set my time, still indicates that I’m in the Mountain Time zone, I don’t think Bell’s cell towers have been properly configured for Whitehorse yet.

So my guess is that Bell has done something in the last few days to kick-start GPS services to devices in Whitehorse. So, for now, location services on iPhones in Whitehorse are totally dependent on GPS, it would seem. My mixed-bag of results then, is probably based on my device’s access to a good view of the southern sky, which I often didn’t have whilst downtown today.

Workaround for Bell’s Whitehorse iPhone Wormhole

My Whitehorse iPhone in Edmonton

As I posted yesterday, there appears to be a problem with Bell’s new 3G HSPA network in Whitehorse. The core issue seems to be its location setting: for some reason it reports to devices, at least to iPhones, that they are in Edmonton, Alberta. This not only affects location, of course, but also time and date since Edmonton is located one hour ahead in the Mountain Time (MT) zone. (Whitehorse is in the Pacific Time (PT) zone.)

So, on an iPhone in Whitehorse, the following problems will manifest:

  • if time is configured to automatically set itself, the iPhone will be an hour ahead;
  • if you use location services, such as in the Maps app, the iPhone will resolve itself to be in Edmonton; and
  • if you sync with a network calendar, such as MobileMe, the iPhone will automatically set time zone support to the MT zone.

One other risk, which I haven’t been able to verify to date, is that phone calls may be getting assessed as having being made from Edmonton. That could mean that local calls in Whitehorse may be billed as long distance. I’m trying to verify this with Bell.

It’s easy enough to work around the network problems on an iPhone. Unfortunately, you’ll lose one of the device’s coolest and most useful features in the process: location services.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Bell irons out the wrinkles in the local network sooner rather than later. In the meantime, here’s how to make your iPhone behave in Whitehorse. Continue reading