Is the Smart Phone the Modern Oracle?

There’s no debating that “google” is a verb. If you wondering about something, you just open a web browser and “google it.”

But for my 7-year-old son and the small circle of friends and cousins he hangs out with, whenever I’m around and they want to know something (that I don’t automatically know), they tell me to, “Ask the iPhone.”

And I might Google it for them, or I might use an app. But I inevitably get them an answer that satisfies whatever question they asked within a minute. (The last one was, “Ask the iPhone how many minutes there are in a year, Dad.” The answer is 525,948.766, by the way. And I got that from Bing, oddly enough.)

The point being that, because we carry our permanently internet-connected devices with us all the time, the window through which we peer at information has been lifted from the platform to the device level. For an emerging generation it’s not all about Google’s robust informational data store as it was for us early inhabitants of the web. It’s about the multitudinous entry points to knowledge that a mobile, connected device affords us.

CBC Yukon Election Forum Tonight

Just in case there are any stragglers out there who may not have noticed the excellent social media campaign our friends at the local CBC affiliate have been managing on Facebook and Twitter, I’d like to remind you that there’s an all-candidates debate this evening at 7 pm at the Gold Rush in Whitehorse.

You can read more about it on the CBC’s Facebook page about the event, CBC Election Forum, or by following either the hashtag (#cbcytdb8) or their account (@cbcyukonforum) on Twitter.

It’s an open forum, so submit your question early on Twitter or Facebook or email it to, or bring it along with you tonight. The biggest question of all will be, of course, will any questions actually be answered? These are politicians we’re dealing with, after all.

If you can’t make it there in person, the debate will be broadcast on CBC radio and on the web at

Personally, I’m gonna haul my 7-year-old down there to introduce him to the concepts of democracy and debate in Canada. And he tells me he has a question about the abolition of elementary school, so we’ll see if the CBC can fit him in on that topic.

From 2014, A Random Canadian Citizen Looks Back on a Conservative Majority Government

Remember the election of 2011?

The one where Stephen Harper’s Conservatives barely eked out a majority government?

I know it’s only been a few years. But, wow. Things sure have changed since then.

Like the cost of internet. It’s gone up. Way up.

And now we’re all afraid to go online for anything other than to send Grandma an e-card.

The “authorities” – as the now-neutered Privacy Commissioner refers to them – are monitoring everything we do online. Continue reading

Why I’m Down on Google, RIM and their Ilk

It seems like a lot of people assume I’m all boo-hiss on Google, RIM, Samsung, HTC, and their ilk just because I’m absolutely blindly in love with Apple.

While I certainly admire Apple, it’s not a blind love. I have plenty of criticism for that company and its products (don’t get me started on the company’s abysmal cloud strategy or the failing quality of its consumer Mac software products).

After all, one can’t help but admire a company that literally comes back from the brink of death and in 10 short years redefines the entire consumer technology industry. And one also can’t help but heap scorn on the also-rans that seek merely to duplicate Apple’s accomplishments through rank mimicry. Continue reading

An Example of the Conservative Platform in Action

Following on my post from earlier today, it seems that US citizens are waking up to what sort of liberties law enforcement services down their way are taking with their liberties.

An article that’s spreading across the web today, “US Police Increasingly Peeping At E-Mail, Instant Messages“, reveals what Christopher Soghoian, a doctoral candidate at the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University, learned in a recent study.

Police and other agencies have “enthusiastically embraced” asking for e-mail, instant messages and mobile-phone location data, but there’s no U.S. federal law that requires the reporting of requests for stored communications data…

“Unfortunately, there are no reporting requirements for the modern surveillance methods that make up the majority of law enforcement requests to service providers and telephone companies,” Soghoian wrote. “As such, this surveillance largely occurs off the books, with no way for Congress or the general public to know the true scale of such activities.”

The article explains that AOL receives over 1,000 requests per month for private information from law enforcement, and Facebook receives 10 to 20 every day.

Should the Conservatives reach majority status in the House and force through their omnibus anti-crime bill, then this is the sort of thing Canadians can expect in the not-to-distant future. All funded by increases to our internet bills, most likely.

Conservative Platforms Promises to Bring US Homeland Security Paranoia to Canada

In what can only be described as a goal of dystopian lunacy, the Conservative platform includes a shady corner that promises to vastly increase cost pressures on Canadian internet providers – no doubt thus driving costs to us up even higher – by requiring the implementation of technologies that would permit the government secret, uninhibited access to our private information and online habits.

The Conservatives have promised to ram a “lawful access” bill through parliament as part of an anti-crime omnibus bill within their first 100 days as a majority government.

To get the full back story on this issue, check out Michael Geists blog post, “The Conservatives Commitment to Internet Surveillance“, in which he concludes:

Few would argue that it is important to ensure that law enforcement has the necessary tools to address online crime issues. But these proposals come at an enormous financial and privacy cost, with as yet limited evidence that the current legal framework has impeded important police work…

Given the Conservatives have included fast tracking lawful access in their platform, they should be asked to explain the need for new Internet surveillance, address who will pay for it, and justify their proposal legislative approach to these dramatic reforms that have never been the subject of Parliamentary debate or hearings.

It’s tough to consider voting for a party that promises to steal personal rights, freedoms, and privacy for no apparent good reason.

Yukon, Vote for the Internet

Forget the gun registry.

Forget Afghanistan and Libya (most Canadians already have, after all).

The hot button issue of this election is the internet in Canada. Or, rather, the relative lack thereof.

This is particularly true in the Yukon, where we suffer from the very worst of Canada’s very bad situation.

The internet in Canada is, simply put, too expensive and too crappy when compared to other developed nations.

Canadians are falling behind other nations in our ability to affordably and effectively access information online.

Our access to the internet is controlled by a small group of companies with competing interests such as cable television and traditional telephone services.

Again, this is particularly true in the Yukon.

There is growing concern amongst Canadians about this.

This election is about changing that. Continue reading