Beware, our words are backed by cheese curds!

image The work of Bitcasters and 2KGames in partnership with the Canadian Historical Society and Historical Canada comes this very unique way of learning Canadian colonial history – HistoriCanada, a free expansion pack for the PC game Civilization III: Conquests. They’re also donating 100,000 copies of Civ3 to high schools.

The game starts off in 1525, nine years before Cartier first lands in what is now known as Quebec. Setting the stage for the upcoming cultural collision, players get to play one of the seven First Nations, England or France, to fight for territory.

In this way, players can create their own alternate virtual history, based on real geographical and culture variables. Maybe a history where the Europeans are driven from the New World, or where the French becomes the dominant society. It’s a cool way to teach students that history is more than dates and places and people with funny hats. [via Shacknews]

Goodbye hello.jpg

The Internet gross-out phenom that is the domain is now for sale. If you’re curious as to what Goatse actually is, for all that is sacred and holy, don’t look at the actual site, please read the Wikipedia article instead.

To be honest, this came as a surprise. Goatse has been a source of humour and horror for net.citizens for at least 7 years. Turns out it’s a domain run by a sysadmin guy in LA. To be honest, I always thought Goatse had no real owner. Its legend is so great I thought it was hosted and powered by the Internet gods as some sort of public service.

Guns 4 games

Remember the old economic diagram with guns and butter? Mexican police are now trying something a little better substitute than Land o’ Lakes. Mexico City has launched a gun amnesty program with a twist: Give them your poor handguns and pistols will receive cash and Xboxes.

Oh, and if you’ve got something a bit heavier, like say a machine gun, you can trade it in for a nice desktop computer. Unfortunately it is a Windows PC.

There are unconfirmed reports that EBGames will follow suit with a “Trade in your entire arsenal, get a free Game Boy Colour” promotion.

Top 10 Wi-fi Cities

DailyWireless lists their 10 Most Connected Cities in the World.

Most of the implementations lauded in this article are in Asia, although wireless mesh “in U.S. cities” gets the nod at #7.

The coolest use of wireless broadband probably goes to Shoreditch, England, which created a sous-veillance IPTV system where one can use their telly to access any public security or traffic camera. As the article says, “After all, what type of criminal would be inclined to steal a car knowing that a few hundred people are watching him?”

The article is generally quite bullish – perhaps too bullish. For example, it doesn’t note the economic issues plaguing Taipei’s WiFly service. Apparently even at a piddly US $12.50/hour, Q-Ware is struggling to reach a sustainable user base – free coffeeshop wireless, ubiquitous ADSL in homes and customer apathy to mobile access are to blame.

Moreover, in the US, municipal Wi-Fi networks including Corpus Christi are getting mixed reviews due to supposedly sluggish performance and poor coverage.

So is Wi-Fi all hat and no cattle? It may be too early to tell. Taipei for its part is branching out into offering Wi-Fi to Sony PSPs, digital cameras, and launching a VoIP service. Munis are urging indoor web surfers to purchase signal repeaters to amplify the signals from outdoor APs.

Perhaps this is more of a case of resetting customer expectation – a mindshare market adjustment if you will. Time will tell.

Vista: Not fully hatched, media still insists on counting

New York Times is calling Windows Vista’s sales to be more weaksauce than Wow:

“Despite reportedly committing close to $500 million on its Vista marketing worldwide, Microsoft did not generate nearly the excitement last week as it did 12 years ago when the company introduced its 1995 operating system.”

Of course, in 1995, New York Times ironically painted Windows 95 sales with the same doom ‘n gloom:

Microsoft Corporation’s Windows 95 operating system is not gaining adherents as rapidly as previously predicted, because of the continued success of older versions of the Windows system…

It’s true, Vista is having some shortcomings in the driver compatibility department, and major software stability, but really, it’s an operating system, not tickets to see Justin Timberlake. People will get around to grabbing a copy – eventually.

iPhone launches, smartphone market flips out

With the gadget world enthralled with Apple’s new touchscreen musicphone announced yesterday afternoon at CES 2007, the rest of the smartphone market takes a dive.

RIM was the biggest casualty, with their stock dropping over $10 in half a day.


And the phone is using the slow EDGE wireless Internet standard, and has no removable storage, all the while costing $500 with contract. The stock price of AT&T, the owner of Cingular Wireless, the exclusive provider for the Apple iPhone, only scooched up 1% or so. If anything, the Microsoft Zune (which is double the size and half the features of the iPhone, and MS just announced will be able to play games…in 2008) is the only real casualty here in the long term.

But it doesn’t matter – iPhone is already picking up the ladies: Silverlotus and Space Cadet are already coveting it.

Web 2.0 publicly debuts: It's not me, it's you

People are starting to see how modular and extensible the web actually is, TIME Magazine aside: YouTube played a part in a murder investigation when the Hamilton Police posted the security video of a fatal stabbing on the popular video sharing site. Apparently 34,000 people viewed the clip before the suspect turned himself in to the authorities.

Perhaps he was shamed by the comments, all which were most likely variations of “What a looser!” and “FAKE!”.

Wii all scream

Let me say this now: the Nintendo Wii is the first gaming console where my business associates will spontaneously talk about – and this is without me first broaching the subject of my glorious video game collection.

Maybe it’s because it’s a physical manifestation of Nintendo’s embrace of disruptive innovation and blue ocean strategy. Or maybe it’s because it’s freakin’ cool. It is everything a typical game console is not: it’s small, quiet, and uncomplicated.

I took several co-workers to check out the live Wii demonstration at Toronto Eatons Centre, and several came away saying that if they ever touched a game console, this would be it. Check this kid out playing a boxing game on the Wii:

People are getting so excited play this thing, there are reports worldwide of people accidentally breaking their television sets, fixtures, and even bystanders’ faces. I couldn’t help but notice that the Wiimotes at the demo had a thicker camera strap backing up the standard, thinner one:

Because finding patents can be painful

Darling Google has released Google Patent Search. This is an incredible boon for patent agents and intellectual property professionals searching for prior art in the USPTO database, because USPTO’s website frankly isn’t terribly good. For starters, the search engine didn’t dig very deeply into the documents themselves.

It’s so bad in fact that a cottage industry of patent search companies and services has sprung up. Our own law department retained a ridiculously expensive piece of software for the sole purpose of extracting patents from the USPTO for perusal.

Wired comments that this is definitely a search that caters to a very niche and exclusive audience. Perhaps this is yet another initiative, like eco-friendly power supplies, that Google hopes to reap externalities from. After all, now that full text searching on filed patents is fast, accurate and free to all, Google has just made the patent system a lot more transparent, making it more difficult for patent trolls to thrive.

UPDATE: Dennis Couch of Patently-O weighs in. The general consensus is that it’s fast, but not as accurate as they would prefer.