October 2003 Archives

Oh... damn... no...

I trashed two backups of my User folder without checking if the Panther Upgrade actually kept all my files and settings. There were indicators that it hadn't; I should have thought of checking. I was hurrying and had had two glasses of wine; I didn't think of checking.

Not the end of the world. Approximately two weeks worth of email and new contacts, gone. Years of ICQ chat logs, gone. My extensively configured web development environment, gone. My extensively configured system and applications settings, gone. A couple of files sitting on my Desktop, gone.

Guess what I'm doing tonight?


Change is good, sure. Timing is bad. ;)

It's Oh So Quiet

by †Bjork
Shhhh ,Shhhh
It's , oh, so quiet
It's , oh, so still
You're all alone
And so peaceful until ...
You fall in love
Zing boom
The sky up above
Zing boom
Is caving in
Wow bam
You've never been so nuts about a guy
You wanna laugh you wanna cry
You cross your heart and hope to die
'Til it's over and then
Shhh ,Shhh
It's nice and quiet
Shhh ,Shhh
But soon again
Shhh ,Shhh
Starts another big riot
You blow afuse ,zing boom
The devil cuts loose ,zing boom
So what's the use, wow bam
Of falling in love
It's , oh, so quiet
It's , oh, so still
You're all alone
And so peaceful until ...
You ring the bell , bim bam
You shout and you yell , hi ho ho
You broke the spell
Gee, this is swell you almost have a fit
This guy is " gorge " and I got hit
There's no mistake this is it
'Til it's over and then
It's nice and quiet
Shhh ,Shhh
But soon again
Shhh ,Shhh
Starts another big riot
You blow afuse
Zing boom
The devil cuts loose
Zing boom
What's the use
Wow bam
Of falling in love
The sky caves in
The devil cuts loose
You blow blow blow blow blow your fuse
When you've fallen in love
Ssshhhhhh ...


In Joi's posting today, he quips:

I remember thinking in the dream, "oh, I should blog this... "

Judging from the comments, some folks find this strange and funny. I don't find it either. I think it's perfectly natural. Whenever you become fluent in any language/medium or exposed to them a lot, it is perfectly normal for the mind to start using the frameworks of said language/medium in its thought process, dreams included.

Cases in point: I find myself very often, many times a day in fact, composing blog entries in my head. Usually in a moment of recline, when relaxing or napping, drifting off into a semi-conscious state. I'll think about something and immediately switch into "blog voice". Sadly 99% of them never get written. (Hence once of the many reasons for my strong desire for a direct brain interface to my Mac, but I digress...)

A few years ago, after a particularly frenzied all day HTML <table>-layout coding session, I found myself having an extremely emotional dream.. all in HTML.

Have you never had characters and scenarios from a movie just watched that evening appear in your dreams that night?

This is somewhat off-point from what Joi said, but it is related. The fact that he can consciously in his dream *think* "I should blog this" is very telling as well. I've heard many times that keeping a journal of ones dreams is a great way to gain control of them, by extension control of one's mind and further of one's life.

Trick number one: in your next dream, make a conscious effort to look at your hands.

Meanwhile in Tokyo ...

... it's been my birthday for about six hours. :)

And I'm sitting here working...

The Library of Am'zon

I was going to write something about this new Amazon feature which searches the contents of books now and not just ttitles, authors, etc... But Wired beat me to it. In fact, apparently they beat themselves to it, which is interesting in itself, but anyways.

Not withstanding all the politics and theories discussed in the Wired article and everywhere else, this feature is, or rather, will be, a boon for anyone with a book collection to which one often wishes to refer to.

This is just the beginning. Bezos has already shown an openness to open standards and has commuted that to Amazon itself. Witness TypePad's integration, and the ability for anyone to set up their own version using their API and some "simple" XML transformations.

I'll gladly give Amazon my credit card number if I can maintain a list of all the books I own, and be able to run a content search on them. Cross reference away, it's fine by me. As long as I can find the passage I'm thinking of and on which page it appears on. And if I can build my own interface to it, so much the better. It costs Amazon next to nothing, ups their mindshare and consequently will sell more books. Simple. Brilliant.

Knowledge Navigator

Jon Udell's Radio - Apple's Knowledge Navigator revisited

During my session at BloggerCon I referred to Apple's famous Knowledge Navigator concept video. I first saw that video in 1988.
Presence, attention management, and multimodal communication are woven into the piece in ways that we can clearly imagine if not yet achieve.

I met Jon at Joi's impromtu and unofficial BloggerCon dinner, and chatted with him briefly the next day, as well as attended part of his presentation. He's always writing interesting stuff. Actually his is one of the handfull of blogs I've been following since before I distinguised between "blogs" and "websites"... ;)

The Late Night Triad

Jason Salavon - The Late Night Triad

From February to August of 2003, I obsessively recorded the major US late night talk shows. This amounts to hundreds of hours of the David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Conan O'Brien programs. From this perspective, the collection can be seen not as a set of discrete jokes and bits and interviews, but as a generalized contour of structure and rhythm.

Focusing on the introduction and monologue, I selected 64 nights worth of material for each show. These have been aligned and averaged using basic transformations of my design, with no other manipulation. The result is a triptych of 3 video projections with soundtrack, presenting an amalgamation of late night monologues which reveal the ghosts of repetitious structure and nightly activity.

Amazing. Watch the "demo of the triptych". I can't watch these shows anymore and here is shown why: it's always the same crap. Over and over and over again. O'Brian especially. Fneh.

Me on BlogSpam

I wrote two things today about Blog Comment Spam.

One was sent to Dave Farber's "Interesting People" mailing list (which he published! Yay!):

Hello Mr. Farber,
/.../, the issue of Weblog Comment Spam is
one I have been following, and fighting, with aplomb lately.

First of all I'd like to recommend, as initial relief, for Movable Type
users, two excellent "MT-Plugins". Yes, they require installation, but for
folks who have actually installed MT themsleves, it is a snap and the
authors have outdone themselves in offering easy-to-use yet powerful

The Plugins are:
James Seng's "MT-Bayesian"
Jay Allen's "MT-Blacklist"

Both authors have spoken about published and distributed
blacklists/whitelists, which with the very organic nature of the blog
ecosystem, could be quite powerful. Imagine TypePad, Userland and Blogger
all performing Bayesian filtering and sharing, in real-time, their lists...

Also, as noted in this thread, spam is a reality we encounter in many forms
in our environment: "snail mail" spam, e-mail spam... Personally I regard
most all forms of advertising as spam, but I digress.

Point being, I observe all this as I observe any living ecosystem, and, as
opined, the vibrant and rapid evolution and growth of the "blogosphere"
allows for a terribly accute perception of the development of this entity
(spam, that is).

Introduce a new organism into a stable ecosystem and watch what happens. The
inhabitants of the ecosystem are forced to adapt, take action, or be preyed
upon and die.

In the email ecosystem, the confines and limitations of the environment are
such that spam seems to be winning. The blog environment has much more
flexibility and tools at it's (easy) disposal.

Just some thoughts. Thank you.

The second was a comment on Dav's weblog, where he introduced another take on the Turing test-style "read the characters in this randomly generated image and type them in to authenticate that you are a human being" spam-stemming techniques (a technique I myself had suggested here a few weeks back but which I now wholeheartedly reject.. thanks for setting me straight Karl!):

Hi Dav!
Yeah, essentially these kind of "Turing test" type deals are not the best way to go, eventhough they may seem so. As we all know it essentially closes the door on some people. To put it in a "high-level" way: we place the burden of the fight on folks who have nothing to do with it. Legit vsitors/commenters (which are the 99% majority) are neither the propagators (the spammers) or the victims (the blog "owners", us).

Since we cannot go to the source and fight the spammers themselves, it falls on us to deal with it.

Therefore, so far, and by far, the best solution is James Seng's Bayesian comment/ping filter. If we build this out in a distributed fashion and get the blog-makers to integrate it, it will be massively powerful and effective. Jay's Blacklist system is also good (both did magnificent jobs on their respective MT plugins, BTW), but is much more labor intensive, especially in the long run.

My 2 cents. ;)

(see, now if I were blind or drunk.. or blind drunk, I could not have posted this comment... ;)

Hehe. :D

The business of riding a board down a slope

In Lao Tsu Sun Tzu's "The Art of War", he speaks of force, momentum, inertia and control. While the book's context is warfare, it can, and has been read and applied to many different things, including business strategy. (Thinking about it, it can apply to any human activity, as action requires all four...)

Here is my attempt at applying these four concepts, through the metaphor of snowboarding, to the task of entrepreneurship. Bear with me: I have been a snowboarder for fifteen years and have negotiated all sorts of terrain, plowed through every condition, pulled every trick; I have yet to be an entrepreneur.

Mother of mercy!

Ka-Pow! The cup of Lavazzo Qualita Oro espresso I just brewed, stove-top stylee, is SO strong... "How strong is it Bopuc?!" Well let me tell you...

It's so strong it picked me up by my ankles and, dangling me upside down, smacked my ass till I coughed my first breaths of the cold harsh reality that is this dreary Tuesday afternoon.

It's 4:23pm. I want a cannoli. Mommy!

Aight, get a grip man. Back to work...



Sean Connery Suntory Whiskey ad!!!

An archive of japanese TV commercials starring American stars.
Funny, and absurd, on many levels. :)

For example, Brad Pitt riding a surf board down a set of stairs, falls off... says "ooww..." then gives the camera two thumbs up and says "Edwin!" (the brand of jeans beeing advertised). Or Ewan Mcgregor, after drinking a can of coffee, rips off his suit and all, changes into a bright red one, walks into a boardroom and announces "Let's get started!"

I'd take the money too, of course; it's the clueless advertisers.. or is it the clueless audience... that makes me wonder...

Thanks Lisa.

Random thoughts

Fall is for opera and classical music on CBC, stone-oven baked pizza and red wine on Laurier, the turning of leaves on Mont Royal, cashmere sweaters and closet-scented scarves. The warmth and glow to stave off the still unaccustomed cold.

There is a big difference between boot-cut jeans and bell-bottoms. C'mon people, the 70's were THAT-a-way! Fashion victims, I tell ya.

My good old friend Roland left for two weeks in Japan today. Amy and boyfriend booked their tickets yesterday. I burn with envy; and restraint.

My lot this autumn, is to tie up loose ends here. Finish work I have left trailing for months, deliver on promises and clean up some messes. Then, and only then, can I and will I decide on what is next.

A quick comment for Warren

Wilansky 2003: The Imperial Presidency

Ouch. First of all, speaking for myself, I ain't no "commie". ;)

That said, I am reading a very interesting book by one Sir Herbert Read, titled "To Hell with Culture". Amongst other things, he goes on about democracy (the driving idea being the role of culture in so-called democracy), and how a "real" democracy is "physically impossible". One thing I find very interesting in his writing is that he reminds us that Marx and Engels were fundamentally democratic. As always, the good things get corrupted by power, and culture is the tool used for greasing the ascent of the corrupt.

All the more reason why ideas like Ito-san's "Emergent Democracy" et al (like Jim Moore's "The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head"), and not to mention what's going on with the Dean Campaign, are so interesting and bear further thought and elaboration...

Again, these things are not the end-all, be-all solutions or anything; they are, however, the harbringers for some very interesting thinsg to come.

So far so good

Adjusting to newfound freedom is going well. Slowly disciplining myself to stay on track. Slowly changing my work environment to stay on track. Tacking care of loose ends to assure financial stability for the next few months. Dentist appointment. Garage appointment. Get it over with.

Time has pretty much ceased though. I'm even less aware now what day it is than I was before. The last few nights, I've gone out for a glass of wine with a book at 2:00 am, closed my eyes around 3:30 am, and seemingly a second later, opened them to find it is mid-morning again.

What now?

"Jusqu'ici, tout va bien... Jusqu'ici, tout va bien... Jusqu'ici, tout va bien..."

How do I hate banks? Let me count the ways.

- "So, once I have this US money in my US account, I can simply transfer it to my regular checking account and it will be converted into CND funds?"
- "Yes"
- "And of course I can do this online?"
- "No."
- "What? Why not?"
- "Uuummm... well the computers aren't programmed that way..."

Prolonged stare, effort not to laugh out loud.

- "So how do i do this?"
- "Well you have to visit a branch... or call our service line.. or you can make a request via the website but that takes longest..."
- "I see and when I do this, a person will manually make a transfer/conversion?"
- "Well, yes... on the computer..."

Blink blink.

- "Ok, whatever. US cheques are held for how long?"
- "Personal cheques, 21 days."
- "That is totally unacceptable..."
- "Sorry, but you know these banks are far away, it takes time..."
- "Excuse me? Far away? Time?"
- "Oh wait... you have an RRSP with us... and a line of credit... I can reduce the hold to ten days..."

Blink blink.

Time, my foot.

Hello PayPal.

Dyslexia for cure found

Read Regular, a typeface designed to ease reading for dyslexics.

Persoanlly, I think most of us have some form of dyslexia or another, albeit most probably a cultural form, stemming from "too much too fast".

In any event, the explanation fo the design process of this typeface is interesting. Good job Ms. Frensch

What is my life?

Is my life jet-setting between Tokyo, New York and Montreal? Is my life hacking GUI code? Is my life sipping lattés with hipsters? Having dinners with visionaries?

Is my life driving too fast? Is my life drinking too much? Is it reading too little? Is my life a good dancer, but a terrible lover? Is my life running up the mountain, or is it too lazy to get up in the morning? Is my life looking at the clothes people are wearing or the people wearing them? Is my life too arbitrary, or too calculated?

I think... my life is all of that and more. I think it is none of that and less. My life is unintelligibly more complex and infinitely simpler.

My life is here and now. My life is mine... as long as I let it go. My life is me, which fundamentally isn't much - but it's all I have so woe be they who try to wrest it from me. My life is me, which encompasses much - I'll happily give you a bit of it if you give me a bit of yours.

How about you? What is your life?


Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology : Scorpio Horoscope

Scorpio Horoscope for week of October 9, 2003

You are potentially a genius. Maybe not in the same way that Einstein and Beethoven were, but still: You possess some capacity or set of skills that is exquisitely unique. You are a work of art unlike any other that has ever lived. Furthermore, the precise instructions you need to ripen into that glorious state have always been with you, even from before you were born. In the words of psychologist James Hillman, you have a soul's code. You might also call it the master plan of your heart's deepest desire; the special mission that the Divine Wow sent you here to carry out; the blueprint that contains the secret of how to be perfectly, gracefully, unpredictably yourself. Now here's the really good news, Scorpio: You're at a turning point when you have extraordinary power to tune in to and activate untapped areas of your soul's code.

Your destiny is a gorgeous mystery, Scorpio. Your soul is awakening more every day. The secrets of life are ripening right in front of your eyes.

Cough cough... no comment... ;)

Welcome to 1996, scientific publishing industry!

Good friend Anders points out this Guardian Online article, "Publish and be praised".

"Good morning houseplants. Yeees, it's time to get up now."

No joke, the article reads like it's 6 years old.

This technological revolution, perhaps as significant as the invention of the printing press, has the potential to dramatically increase the impact of scientific discoveries.

Gee! Really?

Where to begin hacking this apart?

First of all, let's forget for a moment that the Internet allowed the emergence of collaborative development, the Open Source movement, etc, which have in turn allowed information technology research and development to progress at a rate never before seen in all of human history, in any human endeavor.

To wit, the problem lies not with the publishers, who, like any good cornered animal, of course will fight to the death. You'd think the scientific community would understand that resisting evolution is a good way to guarantee obsolescence and extinction. Adapt, or go away.

Yes, the problem lies with the seeming majority of members of the scientific community itself. They as a group, make up the scientific community and thus control it's ways and means. As stated in the article, the practice of scientific journal publication is over 350 years old and very lucrative business processes are built upon and rely on it. Publishers' and published researchers' lives and livelihood depend on this archaic structure. But it is in their power to change this, and for the better.

So this Mr. (Dr?) Michael Eisen co-founds the Public Library of Science, essentially a free, online scientific journal.

To attract the best papers, we hired the best staff, recruited the best academic editorial board of any journal in the world, and trumpeted the benefits of open access to the scientific community and the public.

And it has paid off. Prominent scientists from around the world have sent us their best work.

Great. No, really, this is great. However, he obviously didn't learn anything from the dot-com bust, if he'd even heard of it.

"Let's use the same socio & economic infrastructure we already have and just slap a website on top of it. It'll be great!"

That would have worked, for a year or two, back in 1998-1999.

DISCLAIMER: I must say now, before I go on, that no, I do not believe "Weblogs" and "Wikis" are the ultimate solution to all of the world's ills, but here is a perfect example where they, used judiciously, could REALLY be of great benefit..

The first thing that needs to change is the view that the validity of a researcher's work is judged by a few select members of academic editorial review boards and the reputation they have brought to journal X, Y or Z. The definition of "peer-review" needs to be stretched a bit.. nay.. ripped wide open. Ok, maybe not wide open, but it does need to give substantially.

Second, academics and researchers need to awaken to and understand the power of the persistent URI (web address). They need to see the ease and flexibility current self-web-publishing offers. Ok, granted, these tools are not quite user-friendly enough for prime time but we're getting there, so get ready!

Current tools could be easily customized for simple, decentralized, peer-group-reviewed publication of research papers, et al, while maintaining and preserving the author's rights, reputation and all important fragile egos.

Yes there are many issues, as with all things. Obstacles are meant to be overcome.


- "Dhammapadda - The Sayings of the Buddha"

Live in joy,
In love,
Even among those who hate.

Live in joy,
In health,
Even among the afflicted.

Live in joy,
In peace,
Even among the troubled.

Live in joy,
Without possessions
Like the shining ones.

The winner sows hatred
Because the loser suffers.
Let go of winning and losing
And find joy.

There is no fire like passion,
No crime like hatred,
No sorrow like separation,
No sickness like hunger,
And no joy like the joy of freedom.

Health, contentment and trust
Are your greatest possessions,
And freedom the greatest joy.

Look within.
Be still.
Free from fear and attachment,
Know the sweet joy of the way.

How joyful to look upon the awakened
And to keep company with the wise.

How long the road to the man
Who travels with a fool.
But whoever follows those who follow the way
Discovers his family, and is filled with joy.

Follow then the shining ones,
The wise, the awakened, the loving,
For they know how to work and forbear.

Follow them
As the moon follows the path of the stars.

Harvard grind


Being at Harvard Law School on a Sunday is odd. I walked around a little tiny bit of this campus which is in many ways one of the epicenters of western life. The laws and ways of much of our world are the products of people who've passed through here.

Only skaters will note the evidence of cultural subversion in the above image: that slab of granite has been soaped, waxed up for grinding.



The drive to Boston, where I am attending BloggerCon, was 4 1/2 hours of steady rain. Surprisingly not as exhausting as I'd feared. I arrived to find, to my great surprise, a hotel reservation for me at the Sheraton Commander. I am filled with gratitude. You know who you are.

From what I gather, The Commander Sheraton is so named due to the fact that right around here is where George Washington took command of... ? (Anyone can give me insight? a link? Correction?)

It's not me!

Yesterday afternoon I cought and deleted a strange piece of blogspam. It simply said "Boris rules" and linked to boris[dot]com. First thought was: yay, someone trying to be funny.

Ten minutes later, Joi asked me if I had posted "Boris rules" on his blog... "No of course not". "Hrmm" we both said, and deleted the entries.

"The trees are moving, Joi. The birds are agitated and flying high... something's up..."

I just saw on DayPop that Mr. Boris must have been busy because boris[dot]com and "Boris Rules" is, as of this moment, at #10, already declining.

So, for the record: It is NOT me.