Free Showing of Minecraft: The Story of Mojang

I’m organizing a free showing of the film Minecraft: The Story of Mojang here at The Guild on December 27, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome, and tickets are free, but you must reserve them in advance. Get tickets and complete details over at the Hacker in Residence blogEveryone is welcome.

Wanted: Smart, Technology-Literate Educator to Develop a Plan for Education Technology in Prince Edward Island

The Province of PEI has released a Request for Proposals, with an incredibly tight 9-day window for response (responses are due December 20, 2013), for the development of a “Education K-12 Technology Strategic Plan.” It’s a substantial project with two threads:

Development of five year technology strategic plan which aligns leading educational research in instructional strategies, critical thinking and other 21st century skills, as well as educational technology with provincial top achievement priorities;

Assessment of the current IT infrastructure and identification, quantification and prioritization of initiatives to ensure the IT infrastructure is optimized for the delivery of services to Education.

The project is to start in January and finish in April, and the result will be a template that will guide the use of technology in education in the province.

This is a process that demands an broadminded, technology-literate educator, not a “computer consultant” and I fear that the short time to respond to the RFP will unnecessarily limit the responses to it.

If you or someone in your network would be interested in and capable of conducting such a project, I encourage you to pass along the tender documents. Quickly.

PEI Interlibrary Loan Form 2.0

A decade ago there was a little web app that allowed patrons of the Provincial Library Service to submit an interlibrary loan request form online. It wasn’t particularly user-friendly, but it was there. And it allowed patrons like me to build tools like this ISBN-to-Interlibrary-Loan bookmarklet.

It’s now 10 years later, and the Provincial Library Service has regressed: patrons visiting the Interlibrary Loan page are instructed to “Fill out and submit an Interlibrary Loan Request Form to your local library.”  And by “submit” they mean “put your coat and boots on and walk over to the library and hand it to them in person.”  The library helpfully Tweeted that forms can be emailed.

As if this regression weren’t bad enough, the form itself isn’t even a bona fide PDF form, so you actually have to print it out and fill it out by hand.

In other words, we’ve successfully recreated the 1973 experience of making interlibrary loans.

At the very least the process calls for an improved PDF form – it calls for much more, but you have to start somewhere – so in the spirit of co-creation, I’ve created the Interlibrary Loan Request Form 2.0. It’s the same old form, but with PDF-form-filling-magic applied to it, so it’s slightly less hostile.

You still need to, in theory, walk it over to the library – although you could try emailing the filled-in form and see what happens – but at least it need no longer be filled out with quill pen by candlelight.

Were I to offer you up to advertisers, here's who you are…

I haven’t run any advertising in this space for many years, but that doesn’t stop me from receiving information from Google – stripped of any personally identifying data – about who you in the readership are.

Google, being deeply entrenched in every aspect of our web browsing lives, can deduce a lot about who we are; here’s how it describes how it gathers age and gender data:

When someone visits a website that has partnered with the Google Display Network, Google stores a number in their browsers (using a “cookie”) to remember their visits. This number uniquely identifies a web browser on a specific computer, not a specific person. Browsers may be associated with a demographic category, such as gender or age range, based on the sites that were visited. In addition, some sites might provide us with demographic information that people share on certain websites, such as social networking sites. We may also use demographics derived from Google profiles.

Below is data about who you are, as a readership, demographically speaking (with data gathered from November 24, 2013 to December 10, 2013), according to Google Analytics.

Age Range

If I were to be writing to my majority audience, I’d be writing to 25-34 women who are avid readers and in the market for a used car.

And I’d be ignoring the men, 65 years and older, who are water sports enthusiasts and in the market for a new Buick: you’re way, way down the list.

While I’m not making any use of this data, it’s important to realize that many websites are, showing advertising to you based on Google’s deductions about your age, gender and interests. You can opt out of Google using this information against you by going to

You can also see how Google has you pegged; I’d opted out previously from Google “interest based ads,” but I hadn’t yet shut of YouTube “interest based ads” – before I did so, here’s what Google thought I might be interested in:

  • Adventure Games
  • Banking
  • Books & Literature
  • Cooking & Recipes
  • Education
  • Fashion & Style
  • History
  • Hygiene & Toiletries
  • Mobile Phones
  • Online Video
  • Search Engine Optimisation & Marketing
  • Shooter Games
  • Social Networks
  • TV Reality Shows
  • Visual Art & Design

That’s me: big into the education and the toilet paper and the shooter games.

Hello, Elevator Phone…”

The Elevator Phone at The Guild

I was walking through the office of The Guild this afternoon on my way to the basement print shop when I overheard the personable Michelle, Event Liason, mention that the elevator phone had rung earlier in the day.

You mean the phone in the elevator rang has a number?”, I asked.

I guess so,” replied Michelle, “the calls were all wrong numbers.”

I resolved to confirm that this is, indeed, what happened.

So when the elevator got to the basement I switched it off, opened the elevator phone door and picked up the phone.

I was greeted with some jazzy Muzak and, after about 15 seconds, a friendly voice on the other end said “Hello, Elevator Phone…”

I explained my situation and the elevator-phone-answering-woman happily confirmed that on her phone was the “caller ID” for the elevator phone, a regular-seeming 368 exchange number of a pattern that seemed quite likely to be dialed as a wrong number.

I never thought to ask where the elevator phone actually rings into: I know that all the elevator phones in Charlottetown used to ring into the Message Centre at the corner of Hensley and Grafton, but since they’re no longer there, I’ve no idea.

Given my regular transit between “composing” on 2 and “printing” in the basement, I am the most frequent user of the elevator. Indeed several staff have admitted to me that they never ride it for fear that they will be trapped inside (it’s an old, old elevator: every ride sounds like it will be the last, so this is not an unreasonable approach). As such it’s likely that some day I will have cause to use the elevator phone to call for the fire department to extricate me.

So today was a good practice run.