My Flickr Favorites

A trip to Kyōto in October

I took a trip to Kyōto between October 26th and October 27th.

Some photos I took on my trip:

Time for a change

This weblog ends here, now.
A new one will carry on. It will step in, fill the old one's shadow.
See you on the other side.

Rogers, iPhone, Canada. Lame.

Rogers is continuing it's strategy of gouging Canadian customers and making us the laughing stock of the wireless world.

Today, Rogers announced their price plans for the iPhone, which they and their wholly-ownded subsidiary (once upon a time their only competitor), Fido, will be carrying come July 11th.

 Www.Tuaw.Com Media 2008 06 Rogerspricingsbm06272008

Their plans are the most expensive and carry the longest mandatory contract length of any of the 70 countries Apple is so proud to be launching in... not to mention do not offer unlimited data, which (and this is the part Canadians still don't seem to get, or so Rogers has us believe) is what makes the iPhone useable beyond phone calls.

Canada is the single most backwards wireless market in world. It is a shame considering the role Canada has played in the development and furthering of telecommunications technology and culture.

Shame. On. You.

and more importantly: SHAME ON US. Wake up Canada.

P.S.: I am venting my frustrations over on Get Satisfaction:
for Rogers
for Fido

I wish I wish I had the time and energy to mount a real campaign of sorts. Sigh. Anyone? Help?

What I yelled into the Competition Bureau of Canada's webform:

After the acquisition of their *only* competitor in the Canadian GSM wireless service provider market, Fido, Rogers Wireless has been allowed to become a de facto monoply, controling the price of products and services in this GSM mobile market.

While it may be argued that the details of which wireless technology is being used to provide mobile network connectivity does not isolate Rogers from other wireless carriers such as Telus and Bell Mobility, the simple introduction of the Apple iPhone demonstrates that Rogers is alone in this market (as the iPhone requires a GSM-capable carrier)

As such, Rogers is asserting it's monopolistic status and has announced price plans which clearly show it.

The announced packages and rates for offering this industry-changing device in Canada are:
- the HIGHEST of all the 70 countries worldwide that Apple will be launching the device in come July 11th (price gouging)
- requires the LONGEST mandatory service contract (lock-in)
- withholding of that which is most valuable in the product and services' offering: unlimited data (hoarding and protectionism) DESPITE unreasonably high rates and restrictive conditions.

I demand that the Canadian Government investigate Rogers' standing in the mobile carrier space, and that it is done with full knowledge and understanding of that space.

I further demand that more help be given to any new up-and-coming carriers, be it by tax breaks or spectrum price reductions or something. Fer chrissakes put some competition back into the system!

Distributed and federated "microblogging"

What you need:

- a CMS

that allows posting entries
-- via quick-post form
-- instant message
-- text message (how relevant is this in iPhone + unlimited 3G data world?)
that outputs
-- an ATOM feed of your posts
that handles quick authorization and authentication requests
(so that if your feed isn't publicly available, your friends can put in a request to follow, with their OAuth or OpenID or other credentials, be given a unique RSS feed URL, and as soon as you "accept" them they start getting your posts. Until you authorize them, the system throws an HTTP 403. If you deny, 404.)

- an aggregator
that allows quick subscription of other's feeds.
-- auto submission of OAuth or OpenID or other credentials
-- respects HTTP error codes etc which indicate state of relationship ("404 - I've denied your master, remove their submission to follow me from your queue. They can always try again...")

etc etc

There are issues with this of course. And I am full aware that it is essentially what we had before Twitter, except we used blogs and aggregators and wrote more than 140 characters... Conditions where not right for this to develop this way, but perhaps they are now?

There is at least one other person who is sensing this desire (Evan Prodromou):

Aaaaand someone's already started work on a spec:

Whoop whoop and more:
Prototype for distributed / decentralised microblogging using semantics

*right now*

The age of the information one has access to, and the age of one's assimilation of it.

The present, is a separatrix between the past and the future: the line that exists only as the point where memories and dreams meet.

But memories do not exist; you cannot touch or see or smell or hear or taste a memory. It is purely information stored and archived.
And neither do dreams; they are conjectures, vectors drawn out on the anchor points of memories.

The only thing that exists, is the present. You and I and everyone,
exist right here,
exist *right now*

But most of us live in the past.
Most of us live in a world made up only of what we recognize; what we see in our memories.

Memories reside not only in our individual minds, but also in our collective minds.
Memories reside in words, in images, in songs, in movements and actions.
They manifest themselves in the comings and goings of societies, in their cultures and customs, in their policies and politics.

When we share memories, we spread information; we create a culture, a common view of the world.

And it takes time for memories to spread. Time from the moment a memory is created to the moment it is widely accepted as ... a reality.

Most of us live in the past. And there is no future.

There is only *right now*

And the closer you keep an eye on *right now*
and the more memories you have and understand,
the quicker you realize what's happening.

*Right now*

Long time

We last spoke the end of last month.
It wasn't long ago.

Since then you have been in 5 cities, on 3 continents.

Been a far place.

(I didn't even have to check that website... I track you in my mind's eye and heart. ;)

Where you been man?

2007-10-31 23050 start: Montréal -> London (one way) (3250km)
2007-12-10 53210 start: London -> Paris (211km)
2007-12-14 53210 finish: Paris -> London (211km)
2007-12-19 4446 start: London -> Tokyo (one way) (5947km)
2008-01-25 105515 start: Tokyo -> Aomori (359km)
2008-01-28 105515 finish: Aomori -> Tokyo (359km)
2008-02-13 61090 start: Tokyo -> San Francisco (one way) (5142km)
2008-02-21 61090 finish: San Francisco -> Montréal (5142km)
2008-02-23 117564 start: Montréal -> New York (332km)
2008-02-25 117564 finish: New York -> Montréal (332km)
2008-03-07 42339 start: Montréal -> Austin (1674km)
2008-03-12 42339 finish: Austin -> Montréal (1674km)

Will start writing again soon. Oh yes.

A cruel trick

(written December 19th, 2006. Forgot to publish until December 31st, 2007)

My thoughts as I ride a taxi out of Delhi towards the domestic airport on my way to Bangalore, turn to the chaos, the disorder, the disarray, disrepair, destitute and abject poverty evident everywhere I looked in this city.

The saying is that "time is money", but this is a cruel trick; a slight of hand to keep one from seeing that when one has no money, time means little. Yes, even the poorest strive every moment for any rupee they can get, but it is out of purest survival and not the for the maintenance of the many layers of abstractions many of us, in the so-called "civilized" west, live in, removed from that most frightening point--the point where survival runs out.

I came here with an enormous sense of anxiety, the source of which I was not entirely clear on. I knew it was not work related, and though I thought I could chalk it up to apprehension towards the unknown elements of my travel plans, I knew it couldn't be that. I work well in adversity, I can flow with the moment.

"Please sir, two rupees," she said as she weakly presented some daily newspaper to me and mimed putting food in her mouth. Her eyes were dull. Almost dead. She was under ten years of age and perched here on the side of an overcrowded roadway, peddling whatever she could for survival.

I, on the other side of the open window, was in a taxi that was going to cost me 350 rupees. I rather not even think for one second how many rupees I just credited the last 3 nights in a 5 star hotel to without going flush, with a weight in my chest.

The taxi began to move again, but I was paralyzed.

(I have no illusions of the many faces of this coin: a few moments later, at the next intersection, two children came and begged and after another tortuous refusal, they both cracked huge mischievous smiles, the younger boy smacking me on the knee as they ran away laughing... It was not malicious, and I am not callous or over sympathetic; I laughed then too.)

The anxiety I had been feeling came from weeks of preparation for this horrible moment. Weeks of dulling my emotions, killing my heart and steeling up for the moment when another sentient human being came to me and asked for help that I could so ... SO easily and fluidly provide... and have to refuse.

Why refuse? I don't know. But the shock is tremendous.

As I pondered this, a scooter zipped by with the following admonition advertised on it's spare wheel cover:

"If your neighbor is suffering injustice and you can sleep, then just wait your turn."

2007 in quick review

Started the year in Tokyo, after having travelled from Delhi, Bangalore, Singapore and Bangkok.
Ended it in Tokyo, after travelling to London and Paris.

Spent a week in Hong Kong setting up a blogging platform for the HKU Journalism department (JMSC)

Got offered a job in Hong Kong as Interaction Designer. Failed to follow up.

Consulted The Japan Times, informally, on matters of business models for journalism.

Consulted Reuters, for GlobalVoices, on web technologies and interaction therewith.

Launched a full redesign/restructure of

Launched the Global Voices "Lingua" translation project.

Started, produced and hosted Pecha Kucha Montreal, 3 times by year's end.

Visited Tokyo, twice.
Visited Paris, France, twice.
Visited London, England, twice.
Visited New York City, once (and stayed in a former Greatful Dead's apartment on the border of ChinaTwon and Little Italy)

I travelled to far away places, mostly to see people who are important to me.

Joined as Lead Web UI Designer
(or something like that... titles, pshaw!)
Moved to London, UK for 6 weeks to work on

Biked, a lot.
Drove, a lot less.

Ate a lot of fruits and veggies.
Ate a lot less meats and dairy.

Met a lot of truly great people,
and made a lot of new friends.
Lost a few too, I always do,
and met a few wankers as well.

I loved, was loved, and lost. I am loved, and love, once more.
Let us not dare to hope, lest we lose again.

I had one thousand conversations that had deep impacts on me; I can only hope some of those had an impact on you too.

Thanks to all of you, one way or another.
Without you I am no one, no where.

So you want an iPhone eh?

Very quick email I just sent to an acquaintance in Montreal who was asking if he should get an iPhone and have it unlocked. I know a bit about it so...

So basically here's the deal:

the iPhone is not yet being sold in Canada. That means if you get one, you are *outside of the frameworks that Apple and their carrier* want you to be in.

Those frameworks are:
- economic
- technical
- political (support?)

If you buy an iPhone and have it unlocked, be aware that:
- Apple will continue releasing software updates that will kill your iPhone if you install them
- to bypass this you have to do alot of work, staying on top of hacker community developpments
- pay someone who does that for you.
- never install updates. totally acceptable current functionality will continue to work indefinitly

When the iPhone does come to Canada, it will be because Rogers (and/or Fido) will finally offer a special rate plan for data access. "So what" you may say. Well. About 80% of the cool features of the iPhone rely on a data connection, either "EDGE" or "WiFi". WiFi is free at home and here and there at cafés etc (though rare). "EDGE" is expensive. Very expensive. In fact Canada has the highest mobile data rates *in the world*. No shit.

So when Rogers/Fido release the iPhone they will *have to* introduce a special data plan (because Apple won't sell it via them otherwise). When they do this, *do not* expect to show up at Fido/Rogers and say "hey I have this iPhone, gimme the rate plan!" They will tell you to take a hike, because you got the phone otuside of their "jurisdiction", outside of their economic framework.

There are basically two kinds of people who by and unlock iPhones:
- showoff morons with too much money
- hackers/mobile technology geeks who buy 2-3 new mobile devices every six months anyways and who don't care about restrictions and work involved.

Still want it? ;)

p.s.: They say "where there's smoke there's fire", and there is *alot* of noise about Rogers offering the iPhone as of this January. Let's see.

View from Ebisu

for Joi (and others):

Click to see video.
I know this view from somewhere nearby.


I didn't want this to be the first post in a while but what the heck...

I've been thinking a lot about the nature of time again recently. Especially the future. Gibson's quote, "The future is already here - it is just unevenly distributed." keeps coming back to me, and it is very much inline with my thinking.

And as I was just thinking about it again a few moments ago, how what some might think is futuristic is very much "now" for others, I thought:

"What is now to me is in your future."

Which brought back an old memory, from Art History in college. Renaissance artist Masaccio's "The Holy Trinity" features a tomb at it's bottom, with a skeleton and the inscription:

"I was once that which you are, and what I am you will also be."

In that context it is very poignant of course. And absolutely not in the scale nor scope of what I am thinking of, but a neat parallel anyways.

Right then...

That was a tad dramatic, wasn't it.
Where was I...

Revisiting an old curse

A supposed chinese curse goes "may you live in interesting times."

First of all, we need to update this to "may you live in an interesting time and place," as surely there are always "interesting" things going on somewhere.

By interesting, it is meant "where things are happening," sous-entendu some sort of considerable upheaval, like war or profound societal changes.

To be frank, that isn't much of a curse in my eyes. There is nothing so mind numbingly boring and soul draining as a stable, well fed, content society, selfishly pursuing "happiness." "May you live in comfortable times" seems to me a much more damning pronouncement, let alone situation to find oneself in.

I should rant about the navel-gazing idiocy most of us find ourselves in, were it not for my own lack of the fortitude required to drop into a war-zone, just to get a taste of what being alive really means.

There is no room for the thinking man in a quasi-utopia; the artist reduced to carnival clown feeding on the scraps presented to him on a silver platter at the feast. When the layers of abstraction are painted on so thick, how can he begin to see what is real?

I live in a comfortable time and place, and I am damned. And I damn myself by staying here.


Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) - Wild World

Now that I've lost everything to you
You say you wanna start something new
And it's breakin' my heart you're leavin'
Baby, I'm grievin'
But if you wanna leave, take good care
I hope you have a lot of nice things to wear
But then a lot of nice things turn bad out there

Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
It's hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
I'll always remember you like a child, girl

You know I've seen a lot of what the world can do
And it's breakin' my heart in two
Because I never wanna see you a sad girl
Don't be a bad girl
But if you wanna leave, take good care
I hope you make a lot of nice friends out there
But just remember there's a lot of bad and beware

Baby, I love you
But if you wanna leave, take good care
I hope you make a lot of nice friends out there
But just remember there's a lot of bad and beware

This song, and sadly Leo Sayer's "More than I can say" are etched permanently in my skull thanks to my first WalkMan and a Caribbean cruise I was stuck on at the age 6. :p