iPhone Tethering and the Canada Line Have Improved My Life by 2.3%

Last week Julie and I spent a couple of days working from a cabin on one of the islands off the Sunshine Coast. There’s no cable or landline phone service to the cabin, so the only way we could manage this feat was by using the Internet Tethering feature on our iPhone.

For those outside the Cult of Mac, tethering transforms your iPhone into a modem for your computer. You use the phone’s 3G signal to access the web at slow but manageable speeds. You’re not going to play World of Warcraft, but it’s good enough for email or work-related web surfing.

This is kind of a game-changer for us. It means that we can work anywhere there’s 3G cell service. How much of BC is that? Not very much, but it’s a good start and I suspect that it’ll get better. Still, the promise of working remotely more–as well as always being able to access the web on my laptop in the city–is excellent news.

Canada Line, Ho!

When we’re in Vancouver, we usually stay near Cambie and Broadway. So we’ve been anticipating the opening of the new SkyTrain line for months. Since it opened last Monday, I’ve taken it like, 17 times. Okay, maybe more like six times, but it’s fairly awesome.

The trains are frequent and spacious, and it takes only 25 minutes to get all the way out to Richmond Centre. It’s a joy to ride the Canada Line right now, because it’s entirely advertising-free. All of the poster frames are empty, and the video advertising screens are off.

My only criticism of the Canada Line is that the subterranean platforms are aesthetically banal. Having ridden subways in a bunch of other cities around the world, I’ve always enjoyed it when individual stations have distinct designs. The Canada Line platforms look pretty much identical. Maybe this is due to time or budget restrictions, and there are plans to individualize the platforms down the road.

On a vaguely related note, we went out to Richmond Centre for a meeting on Wednesday morning. We walked through the mall–I don’t think I’d ever been before–before the stores were open. We passed several hundred Chinese seniors doing calisthenics to the music of, oddly, the Counting Crows. It was, I must say, a little Maoist. There was also a smaller group doing Tai Chi. I’d heard of seniors doing mall walking, but the scope of these exercising oldies was truly impressive.


  1. I have been lusting after the iPhone for so long now and the tethering option really appeals to me. How much have you used? I assume you have the 6gb plan.

    As for the tai chi at Richmond Centre, it’s interesting that you mention that because I think all of the malls have some kind of fitness class in the morning. Back when I worked at Brentwood, they had a yoga/pilates class that took place in the morning before the mall opened. Interesting use of space.

    1. I do have the 6 GB plan, but I barely put a dent in it. I haven’t paid much attention to the data until recently, but over the last three weeks, I’ve only used 50 MB. Julie uses data at a similar rate. I’d ask around to a few other people to get their experience, but I’d imagine that you’d be safe with a 1 GB plan.

  2. Do you tether via USB or Bluetooth? The freedom of tethering over BT is great but really unreliable for me.

    Just sharing some personal experience, I canceled my home Shaw “High Speed Lite” internet connection to tether over the 3GS and it’s much faster but less reliable. And not being a music or video downloader but otherwise avid surfer, you could say, I’m averaging using 4GB per month. I don’t know about Fido iPhones/tethering but for Rogers, they offer 500MB over which you cannot officially tether because their threshold is 1GB. The only other data plan for iPhone is the 6GB plan.

    I noticed that you’ll tweet about things in the Broadway/Cambie area – where I work/play/live – and I wondered which hotel you stayed in.

    Agreed that the Canada Line stations are disappointing uncreative. Just the colour-coding of the stations in Toronto was very useful when you’ve nodded off during the morning commute and open one eye to see where you’ve pulled up to.

    1. Because my MacBook is running OS 10.something-not-current, I have to use Bluetooth to tether. The downside of that is that it sucks a lot of power from the phone and the laptop, so I’d actually use USB a lot of the time if I could.

      We actually stay with family when we’re in Vancouver and in that neck of the woods.

  3. I love tethering. I used it while I was in Newfoundland this month, and since I didn’t seem to have wi-fi anywhere I was staying, it was hugely useful.

    Because Rogers did some stupid idiot things when I signed up for them, they tried to make up for it by giving me two months of unlimited data, among other things. So I tried to push the data as far as I could, to see where I would end up. I uploaded one or two dozen reasonably high-res vacation photos every day for about ten days, watched and downloaded anything I wanted, and still at the end of the month only made it to 1.5GB. So once I default back to the 6GB plan, I should be just fine.

  4. I can’t wait to ride the Canada Line – and I am excited by the precedent the cut-n-cover sets for future lines in Vancouver. I am jealous and I wish Victoria were getting something more useful in a long term way to help us get to our airport than a massive highway interchange/overpass.

    So my blind comments on transit station/platform design: I think they can go either way, that is be unique and interesting or be consistent and the … but each must be done extremely well to really stand out.
    For example, on one hand you have stations like the Moscow metro, – each station is astoundingly different and lovely in it’s own way. An the network is like an architectural gallery or museum, each station like a different room or wing. In contrast to this is something like the Metro in Washington DC where platform designs are identical but the design they have chosen is incredibly elegant and in a strange way produces a remarkably restful and soothing feeling (no doubt for the sanity of weekend transit users in that city).

  5. Just wait until the Olympics when you will be able to use your iPhone tether in Canada Line tunnels on the Bell/TELUS HSPA network.

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