Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park. Photo © Kyla Duhamel, via creative commons and flickr

Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park.

Nature Boy uses a number of smartphone apps with his work. Some help him identify birds. Others help him key out wild plants, fungi and other assorted roughage. He opens the astronomy app whenever he’s outside on clear nights. And because he works with people, he often photographs—with permission—families, school groups and kids Doing Cool Stuff Together in Nature, then immediately emails the pictures to the respective parents and teachers.

For somebody who interfaces so intensely with the natural world, he’s pretty hip to the latest gadget, gizmo and gew-gaw. His use of technology to augment his and others’ experience of the outdoors exemplifies some of the more positive, constructive aspects of being constantly connected. ]

Those integrated, positive interfaces came to mind when news broke earlier this year that Parks Canada proposed to provide WIFI access at busy areas of some national parks and historic sites over the next few years.

For example, with park WIFI access, I could double-check the tides before paddling around Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. I could check the day’s weather before setting out on the Long Beach Challenge, the 9.5-kilometre route that Pacific Rim National Park is marketing as the latest, greatest B.C. marathon-fitness trail. I could get Nature Boy to look up that weed while we stomp about Fort Rodd Hill.

Of course, with cell-phone coverage in this region, I could do most of that without park WIFI. At Fort Rodd Hill, I may even receive annoying text messages from the U.S. about cell-phone roaming charges.

However, my reaction to the news about Parks Canada joining the 21st Century may have been atypical….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

Cellphone driver. Photo © James Legans, Jr., creative commons

A century ago, people who drove automobiles unsafely on city streets were called jay-drivers. Like Toad of Toad Hall from the children’s book, Wind in the Willows, they wandered all over the road, drove too fast or drove too slow, stopped and started unpredictably, and caused mayhem—and consternation—among other road users.

Jay-driver was an insult. “Jay” meant rube, or an uneducated, unsophisticated person, someone so caught up in looking at the sights, they obliviously endangered others.

Today, jay drivers often are DUI or DUD (driving while using devices). And we call them something else altogether other than jay-drivers. Occasionally, we call the cops, too….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist…. 

Tinfoil hats. Photo © teaeff, via flickr“They don’t need to read my mind,” I informed Nature Boy when he offered me his tinfoil helmet. “They can read everything else.”

What They would read are my emails, my Internet use, my cellphone data, and every other item or card on or near my person with a radio-frequency identification tag, GPS or other signal.

Every time I use a bank or credit card, turn my cellphone on, drive my GPS-enabled vehicle—even use a telephone landline—I leave a digital trail.

That trail can be tracked.

What I find truly amazing is that anyone could possibly find li’l ol’ me interesting enough to want to access the virtual banality of my existence.

Connected and ready to share (and be tracked). Photo © Nik Cubrilovic.
When former National Security Agency contractor-turned-renegade Edward Snowden revealed the NSA’s Internet spying program earlier this year, the revelations threw light on who might be interested in the digital trails I and hundreds of millions of others create every day.

Compared to that, this month’s ruling by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to uphold B.C. employers’ rights to track their workers’ whereabouts seems, well, small potatoes….

Continue reading this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

Blackberries in season. Photo © Julie (hello-julie flickr)

Blackberry picking, like developing Blackberry devices, is a prickly business.

When Nature Boy was growing up on the Mainland—long before e-mail or smartphones came along—his family would venture out to harvest THEIR blackberry patch near Pitt Meadows.

Nature Boy always assumed danger duty. He’d armor himself with rubber boots and his grandfather’s welding helmet and jacket. Then off he’d go with an ice-cream pail, pushing deep into the brambles. Once inside, he’d fill bucket upon bucket with berries no other human dared to reach.

These days, we can find berry lovers harvesting this year’s bounty along many of the region’s trails, roadsides or parks.

Likewise, we’ve recently been hearing of the tumbling fortunes of Blackberry. The Canadian tech giant has been losing market share to Samsung, Nokia even, and that other fruit company.

In August, the company announced it was seeking buyers or alternative investment options. Going private or being bought would allow the company to re-organise its business in peace without outside shareholder scrutiny.

Given the current open season on both kinds of blackberry/Blackberry, I’ve assembled a few pointers on how to approach picking either fruit….

Read the rest of this editorial in the Victoria Times Colonist.

 No cellphones, by Oscar Anton, www.oscaranton.com

According to the most recent survey of cellphone use, these devices have now invaded every aspect of our lives.

Seventy-five per cent of the survey’s respondents admitted to using handheld devices to text, talk, surf, purchase items and conduct business while attending to other business with another handheld device in the washroom.

I suppose announcing this information is in the public interest. We really don’t want to know, but now that we do, we can act to limit how these behaviours affect and infect us.

Say no to norovirus. Say no to phones in the WC.

 Continue reading….



Sources include:

11mark’s survey of phone use in toilets

Accidents and close call situations connected to use of mobile phones, by Leena Korpinen and Rauno Pååkkåonen

2012 Ipsos Reid survey for ICBC on distracted driving

Study on cell-phone use by perfusionists at SUNY Upstate Medical University