It seems that wireless is following me around. On Friday night I had dinner at the same table as the folks from Downeast.net, an ISP in Ellsworth, ME that’s rolling out 802.11a wireless to their customers as we speak. Then, last night, I had a great chat with an Australian Croat investor who’s been seconded to work at SkyPilot, which, on the surface, looks like it might have the right combination of technologies to make “roll your own neighbourhood ISPs” viable. Conference is over in 3 hours and I’ll be leaving the pleasant wireless womb I’ve been in for 3 days; I will be hard to plug in a modem and fiddle with calling cards after this.
Back in 1995, in an off the cuff comment, I suggested that the Government of PEI set up an online digital camera. I’d seen the famous coffee pot camera from the U.K. and figured we might do the same. Much to my surprise, some money flowed out for the project, and PEI got the IslandCam.
The camera has been in place for 6 years now, and has been based in locations as diverse as the Brookvale ski hill and the Marine Atlantic ferry from PEI to New Brunswick. And its hardware has evolved from a complicated (but mostly functional!) jury-rigged Apple QuickTake camera setup to an elegant (and almost completely functional) Axis camera setup.
I’ve never completely understood how wonderful the IslandCam is until this very moment: sitting in a theatre, 1000 km from home, missing my partner and my son, and now able, using this great wireless connection, to call up the IslandCam and see a little bit of my hometown chugging along through its own Saturday.
The wireless panel — John Sculley and Carl Yankowski — have just finished up, and one of their themes was that wireless everywhere has the capacity to grow and foster relationships. They talked about how the successful wireless apps in Japan, Korea and Europe have been SMS-like — sending small messages (60 billion in Europe in 2001) from person to person to “stay in touch.”
I needed a laptop for this trip, and I needed it in a hurry. I just couldn’t bring myself to buy one of the generic Compaq or HP or Toshiba laptops from Future Shop or Staples in Charlottetown. So I bought an iBook from Little Mac Shoppe.
For the past three days, this, my chunnel to the Internet has been exclusively through Mac OS X, Apple’s new operating system for the Mac. It is beautiful and intuitive and amazing so far. More later.
One of our morning sessions here at Pop!Tech involved Don Norman and Marc Canter. They were an excellent matching: fire and water. Or oil and water. Or yin and yang. Marc Canter is channelling my friend and colleague Dave Moses. Or vice versa. Great stuff, and perhaps a bit of the “edge” that people at dinner last night thought might be missing from the conference.
By the way, I’m missing Cinemaniax this weekend — the shooting of the initial epsiode of Dave’s new TV series. If you’re around and about Charlottetown, you should check it out. If you’re in the right place at the right time, I imagine it will be self-evident.
I had lunch with Bob Rosenschein from Atomica, which is a product I know primarily from its connection with ActiveWords. If you haven’t tried out Atomica yet, you should: its essence is making every word, everywhere on you computer screen clickable. Bob is an interesting guy, who describes his product well. Check it out.
I have discovered that one of the useful educations of having a child is that you learn how to pee with one hand. This is an invaluable still to have when at a conference and trying to balance laptop and related stuff. Thank you Oliver.
Well, the new Jetta took me from PEI to Camden in fine style (thanks to Alan and Craig for sending me to Bob, Nettie and Tom at Sherwood VW — you were right!).
I’m typing this live from the Camden Opera House floor during the coffee break on Saturday morning, courtesy of a wireless Airport network. Conclusion: cutting the umbilical cord is way cool. You wouldn’t think it would matter that much, but iut does. It’s transportative; it changes the nature of the laptop tool into something completely different. It’s a new medium.
Conference is something of a personal odyssey for me — I’m taking a decidedly less shy approach to the whole thing, and remembering to talk to people when I would otherwise cower away in the corner. Although I suppose I am cowering as I write this. Key to this, I have discovered, is asking people to talk about themselves and their passions; people love doing this. I have my grade 13 biology teacher Judy Libman to thank for this (thanks, Judy).
More updates later in the day, cowering notwithstanding.