Category Archives: Around Calgary

News, better design and technology tips for living a more interesting life in Calgary are posted in “Around Calgary”.

shaw robot

If you’re a Shaw internet customer you get access to free wifi. This you may already know. However, it can be a problem always having to enter your login information to connect because first, who has time, and secondly, who remembers their Shaw login information!

As a result, as you unassumingly enter a wifi zone, your phone’s data sensors (technical reference) seize up trying to connect to wifi while you’re busy looking up how many calories are in a Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte with an extra shot of spicy pumpkin or what 90s pop band your family is or why your left knee wears your pants out faster than any other part of your legs.

In a fit of impatience, you turn off wifi and forget to turn it back on for three days. As result, your phone bill suffers severe financial consequences and you are forced to re-mortgage your iphone to pay for it. It’s a vicious cycle, my friends, but there is help for you and I am here to share it with you. Follow these simple steps to never login again.

Step 1 – Find your Shaw username and password
Consult your personal archivist, plead with Shaw support after a lengthly wait, or guess correctly from your favourite passwords. Login to  Customer Centre.

Step 2 – Navigate  to Internet –> Shaw Go Wifi

Step 3 – Find your Mac Address
A mac address (media access control) is a universal identification number for your phone’s network adapter. It’s like a VIN number for a car  in that every one is unique and every device that accesses the internet has one. Don’t be confused by the name – you don’t need a mac or an apple phone to have a mac address. This number identifies your phone and Shaw remembers it to allow your phone wifi access automatically.

Here’s how to find your mac address on an Android phone:

  1. On the Home screen, tap the Menu button and go to Settings.
  2. Tap About Phone.
  3. Tap Status.
  4. Scroll down to see your WiFi MAC address.

Here’s how to find your mac address on an iPhone:

  1. From the home screen, tap Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap About.
  4. Wi-Fi Address is your mac address

To find your mac address on a laptop, follow these instructions. Keep in mind, Never share your mac address, it should be kept secret. Bad people can pretend they are your phone if they get their hands on it.

Step 4 – Enter Mac Address on the Shaw website
Depending on your Shaw plan, you receive a number of assigned devices you can connect.

Shaw Wifi

Now, you’re in business! Anytime you enter a Shaw wifi zone, you will have instant access! Good luck and happy interneting!


There is too much to know about checking out digital material from the Calgary library system to do it quickly, easily and without frustration. This is unfortunate but it’s a free, publicly funded resource and I’ve learned that we can’t be too critical.

Here’s a quick tutorial on checking out and downloading an audio book. Reading this will save you several hours!

Step 1

Download the Overdrive media Console app on your phone
This application is free on the app store and connects to your library account. It’s used to download, manage and play any media you choose to check-out. Once you download the app, add the Calgary Public Library to your list of libraries. It should be noted that you cannot use media from the library in any other way – just through Overdrive.

During use of this application you will find that it often displays chapter information erroneously, for example, you’ll often encounter books with multiple chapters 2s or 3s. It can also not be counted on to properly display the length of a chapter you are listening to. You may never learn to truly love Overdrive. I’m sorry in advance.

Step 2

Login to the Library website on your phone and open the website on your computer
Despite the fact that you will be checking out the media on your mobile device, finding the book you want to listen to is best done on a larger screen with a keyboard and mouse. But, before you do anything, make sure you are logged in on your phone. This will save time later in this process.

Step 3

Search Wisely
The Library website has some misleading navigation options. Don’t click on “e-library” this takes you to a list of some online resources that do not include downloadable items. Also, don’t use the regular catalogue to search for audio books – it returns results that are too varied. Instead, click here. This takes you to the advanced search tool for the good stuff. This section of the website is more difficult to find and doesn’t share the same navigational menu as the other parts of the website. Bookmark it.

I often find that the books I am interested in are not available because they are checked out. With this being the case, you have to decide whether you want to listen to a book now or later. If you want a book now, check the box “Only show titles with copies available”. If you want a book later or are just browsing for something to put on hold, leave this box un-checked.

Step 4

Find the Right Type of Audio
Overdrive Media Console for the iphone will only allow you to play MP3 audio books for sure. WMV files – maybe, maybe not*. These are the two types of audio books the library offers. As of February 2012, the library has a selection of 3,072 MP3 audio books. You can browse all compatible books by selecting “Overdrive MP3 audiobook” from the format dropdown menu and press “search”. Alternatively, you can add the title or author of the book you are looking for into the corresponding search fields and search for MP3 books this way too. You will know you have found a compatible book by the icons that are displayed in the search results. If the MP3 icon is bright, you can use it on your iphone.

* Confusion surrounds the topic of compatible audio files. It seems like if you have a windows formatted iphone you may be able to play MWV files. If you have a mac formatted iphone you cannot. You may want to experiment with this.

Step 5

Send the Link to Yourself
When you have finished your book research, copy the URL of the book you want to listen to and send it to an e-mail account you have access to on your iphone. Open the message on your phone, click the link and this will take you to the item in Safari. Because you are already logged in just click on “add to cart” and complete the check-out procedure. Done!

Enjoy your audio book! Any other tips or tricks about using the Library website or Overdrive, add ‘em in the comments.

Having difficulty deciding on the best candidate for Calgary’s next Mayor? Tired of searching for clarity through the mud-slinging? Looking for an easy way to see through the empty, deceptive promises? If so, this post is for you!

By using the powerful knowledge of an experienced graphic designer we’ll analyze several leading candidate’s campaigns to reveal the true intentions of each potential mayor. By analyzing their advertising for subtle nuances and repressed themes, the discoveries made in this post will not only give you clear picture of each candidate’s personal motivation but save you hours of mind-numbing research.

It should be noted that this post does not reflect any views or opinions of the blog owner nor has this technique been approved for actual voting purposes – although it may be one day. This post is also not a commentary on a candidate’s prior behaviour or personal character. With that cleared up, let’s jump right in.

Ric McIver:

Ric McIver

Campaign breakdown: This is a campaign for the ages – all the ages. The conservative and traditional nature of the red, white and blue signage would feel equally at home in any era. The Arial Black choice for the main typeface makes no attempt to be anything other than a solid and trustworthy partner of the boring check mark – an exhausted excuse for election imagery. The photography used in the campaign is unremarkable, utilitarian and lacks any hint of creative flair. A strong design correlation between this campaign and a typical North American vehicle dealer is expressed strongly in his signs, website and posters. Ironically, his campaign headquarters is a vacant Chevrolet dealership on the corner of Glenmore and Mcleod.

Future Predictions: By analyzing the the design of this campaign it is clear that Mr. Mciver has clear intentions of moving Calgary along a linear path of low risk, low return trajectory that may not differ much from the ideals that guided mayors since the invention of civic government. In four years, Calgary will be very similar administratively, satisfying to most residents, and a tad less stylish.

Barb Higgins:

Barb Higgins

Campaign Breakdown: For semi long term residents, it gets difficult to remember whether Barb Higgin’s advertising is for a mayoral election or a nightly newscast. The crisp, clear imagery is classic Higgins, it’s well designed, bright and convincing. Myriad is a modern font choice with deep roots and is used effectively in all situations. The light blue is calming and reassuring, the dark blue is strong and solid. Overall, the aesthetics are pleasing to the eye but her signage does not offer much in terms of useful information.

Future Predictions: It’s clear from the campaign design that Barb Higgins will improve the way Calgary is perceived by residents and visitors alike. The glossy, professional nature of the campaign reveals that perhaps Ms. Higgins may look the part and be able to the talk the talk, but when it comes to getting involved in the day to day, she may be hesitant to roll her sleeves up. If Higgins is elected, we may see a future Calgary that presents well but may have deeper issues that do not see resolution.

Wayne Stewart:

Wayne Stewart

Campaign Breakdown: This campaign may just be the most intriguing of them all. The design is an awkward hodge-podge of unrelated elements that somehow serve to give the campaign a memorable look. How is this possible? Let’s break it down. Using stacked text is a common format for film posters. Add the word “Wayne” from Wayne’s World, the Wal-Mart corporate colours and font (Helvetica Black) and you’ve got yourself something familiar. Despite the familiarity, the campaign sends mixed messages about focus and speaks to a poorly hashed out platform without a sense of priority. From the layout of his signs, it’s also quite apparent that Mr. Stewart may be distanced from social media and is not comfortable with technology.

Future Predictions: If Calgary becomes Wayne’s World, there may be some question of the priorities the new mayor has. He may gather information from multiple sources and remix it for a new perspective on the way Calgary politics usually looks. His campaign speaks to a certain level of versatility but a scattered and priority-less style of leadership. At the end of his four year term he may have started a number of projects that have not been completed.

Naheed Nenshi:

Naheed Neshi

Campaign Breakdown: Nenshi’s campaign is new. Scary and new. Not that scary really, maybe just for the older folks. The use of purple is brave, daring and used without regard for tradition. Most signs advertise texting as a method of communication which is unheard of in most local voting circles. It promotes texting-while-driving – which is generally regarded as a dangerous practice. The use of the purple to black gradient and the arms-crossed posture is a strong sign of hidden things lurking beneath the surface. Whether these mysteries are good or bad discoveries is obviously yet to be determined. Remember to be aware of this as you cast your ballot.

Future Predictions: If Mr. Nenshi becomes the favourable choice of Calgarians, this Mayor will be in the media with greater frequency than the current mayor. We may be surprised by and interested in decisions that are made. The way council conducts business is not something that will not continue in its current form. There will be a general uproar among older citizens. And don’t forget the mysteries that lie beneath – they will make themselves apparent during his term.

Considering voting for Joe Connelly, Bob Hawksworth, Jon Lord, Craig Burrows? Find out what their campaigns say about them in part 2 of this exciting series. Coming soon!

Update: It seems as a part two to this series, although half written, is not necessary after the majority of the other candidates have decided to throw in the towel.