January 2004 Archives

More camphone info

I'm somewhat frustrated in my search for a mobile phone that will satisfy me. I've narrowed it dow to the Nokia 6600, Sony Ercisson P900 and Handspring Treo 600.

Whichever one I end up getting (if!), I will have to compromise on one of the features that are key to me:
1- a good camera
2- Bluetooth
3- text input method

The P900 was my top choice. Somehow I prefer handwriting recognition over keypads. The Nokia 6600 is the worst in this category since it has only the numeric keypad. The Treo 600 has a full, albeit it tiny, QWERTY keyboard.

The P900 and the 6600 use Symbian 7 which is totally syncable with Mac OS X via Bluetooth. The Treo runs PalmOS and so far I've seen no indication of good support of Mac OS, nevermind Bluetooth (it don't have it).

Now I find out the killer. The P900 and the 6600's cameras actually take pictures at 320x240 then upsample them to 640x480. In the 6600's case this causes color distortion, artifacts and blur. In the P900's case it's worse! You get all that AND very noticeable hatching effects. Total crap.

The Treo takes beautiful pictures. But it is useless to me because of the lack of Bluetooth/Mac support... and Palm OS leaves me cold. At least Symbian does IM and IRC etc...

Sigh. So no Treo. 6600's input (numeric keypad) is a pain.. and the P900's horrid picture quality makes me shudder.

So I ask again: why can't these people get it right?


New York Post Online Edition: entertainment

Morgan Spurlock decided to become a gastronomical guinea pig.

His mission: To eat three meals a day for 30 days at McDonald's and document the impact on his health.

Orkut versus

Clay Johnson over at DFA just sent me these Alexa "traffic comparisons":

Truly amazing. In the space of 3-4 days, Orkut went from off the radar (ranked greater than 100,000 most visited site) to number 772!!!
(At the moment, Friendster is 218, Tribe is 4,493 and LinkedIn, off the radar, is 125,816.)
(Also at the moment, Orkut is down for "improvements"...)

On unfashionalble sources

I picked up a very large but seemingly very interesting book this afternoon at one of these liquidation bookstores. Five hundred plus pages about democracy; it's history and what "the trouble is" with it.

I sat down and started reading and already, only a few pages in, I am finding some really great stuff. Stuff I want to expand on, blog about.

I put the book aside and went online. Googled the author's name and... oh horror. He's a raging ultra right-wing conservative. His website, ripe with "essays" about how homosexuals don't deserve equal social rights, how abortion is murder, etc etc etc, turns me off immediately.

So I am perplexed. I wonder if I should bother reading any further into his book. Despite how he has started by questioning - as I am - the validity of what we now worship as "democracy", I wonder where he will go. A quick glance at the Table of Contents offers no hints, other than all that is offered is a statement of facts. They may be angled from his particular perspective, which is inevitable I suppose... but... How do I get this bad taste out of my mouth?

I guess I shall read on and see.

But just to whet:

Accordingly, much of this book will be devoted to showing how the language of democracy has actually been turned against democratic practice as it was originally understood, and how the people feel helpless. For they have no other language with which to resist.

(This is very much in-line with the idea of cultural fascism I shared with Jim Moore at the Oasis diner in Burlington, which had him jumping up and down... until we called John Perry who's immediate response was "we'll have to find another word for that..." Hehehehe. We laughed about it... and then Hemingway punched me in the mouth.)

Hey ya!

iTunes Music Store RSS Generator

So I grab the URL for the top 10 selling tracks. Guess what's number one currently (must have iTunes installed)?

Wither, Friendster

So, well, wow... the next big thing in "social networks" sites?

These guys basically rolled up Friendster, LinkedIn, Upcoming and probably a few more, into one. So far so good.

Still totally centralised and closed, but a step ahead no doubt. IMHO.

Dean's Garage Band

Dean Goes Nuts

Amazing. "Media Remix". Thousands of people - the above being a small sample - have taken to sampling Dean's Iowa Caucus Concession Speech and making remixes.

The power of public domain source materials and easy to use music software is starting to flex it's muscle. With advent of Apple's "Garage Band" I suspect we will see much more of this from now on, and not just in the political sphere.

Interestingly, The Deansters already tapped into the image-based parody/remix phenomenon with their Postcard generator.

Ohh, I have an idea...

It may not be funny

smack the pingu!!!

but damn it's fun.

5 million on terrorism list

Canuck: U.S. on the lookout for 'potential problem'

U.S. security agents have a master list of five million people worldwide
thought to be potential terrorists or criminals, officials say. "The U.S.
lookout index contains some five million names of known terrorists and
other persons representing a potential problem," Brian Davis, a senior
Canadian immigration official in Paris, said in a confidential document
obtained by the Sun.

Names on the list are compared against those applying for visas or on
flights travelling to the U.S.

Anyone whose name is on the list is questioned or banned from entering the
U.S. -- as passengers were on two British Airways flights to Los Angeles
two weeks ago.

The master list was revealed by U.S. embassy officials to a Canadian
standing immigration committee in April 2002. Its existence was revealed in
Davis' document, obtained by Montreal lawyer Richard Kurland through an
Access to Information request.

Davis said Canadian visa officers abroad do not keep an extensive list like
the U.S. because terrorists can use bogus documents and change their

"We examine each application according to profiles," he said. "(We) apply
experience and knowledge gained from a variety of sources. Canada's
approach to identifying persons who may pose a danger was as sound as

CSIS agents in Paris send a "brief" to Ottawa for cases that require more
in-depth investigation.

Federal matching funds vs. electability

For some strange reason, some people, who really should know better, are more concerned with some vague notion of "electabilty" rather than the cold hard economic facts of the trap known as "federal matching funds".

Now I think I have got this straight but correct me if I'm wrong. When a candidate accepts the "federal matching funds" package, they essentially accept a cap on how much money they can raise to fund their campaign. The number is around $40 million, if memory serves. Much of that money is spent campaigning in party primaries (read: fighting amongst themselves).

What this means, is assuming a candidate who has been capped this way actually gets the party "ticket", he/she is then left almost penniless to fight "the big one".

In this case, the opponent in "the big one" has around $200 million to spend on campaigning.

So, Clark and Edwards will essentially be broke, and utterly helpless, while W rains down on them $150 million worth of television advertising this summer and fall. The same thing happened to Gore four years ago.

Kerry didn't go for the presidential public financing system. But Kerry's money is all old style "big contributions". $1000 a seat dinner parties and the like. That's alot of dinner parties and handshaking he'll have to do, with the rich people, to even stay above water. Nationwide television advertising is a nasty, expensive proposition.

Dean also didn't take the package. Dean however has an enormous and very effective fund-raising mechanism, not to mention active "grassroots, face-to-face outreach programs, tapping right into the hearts, minds and smaller budgets of everyday Americans who feel they can finally do more than just go vote on election day... if even that. His people call it "The $100 revolution": 2 million Americans x $100 = George W. Bush out of office.

I am not american so I am not really supporting anyone. Just looking at the facts. And there are way more than I care to type up here now that support the idea that if anyone IS electable, it's Dean.

That said, i would like to note also that yes it is illegal for non-u.s. citizens to contribute to any U.S. political campaign... BUT there is no such law against supporting CULTURAL campaigns by anyone who so pleases and feels so compelled. MoveOn.org can do wonders with a few of your dollars, pounds, euros, rupees... They don't care who wins as long as it ain't the Bushies.

Also, a note to the Deansters:
The media and the opponents have distorted Dean's anger at the state of America into just general bad temper. Time to tone down that strategy. Time for the Doctor to start talking about WHAT he would do, HOW he would do it and, fer criminey's sake, what his VALUES are. The dems and the reps are on different playing fields: issues versus values... take the game to them! Issues fall on deaf ears. Values comfort.

Classnotes Wiki

Mike's "Harkness Table" classnotes wiki is taking off!

Way to go! It'll be fun to watch this develop... and spread...

Son of a gun

Reuters | Oddly Enough

You'll Never Guess Who's Still Alive
Tue January 20, 2004 08:55 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - British war leader Winston Churchill's foul-mouthed 104-year old parrot refused to surrender to newshounds Monday after a British newspaper tracked the bird down and discovered it was still alive.

"They've been trying to get him to talk all day, but he's not saying much," said Sylvia Martin, who manages Heathfield Nurseries where parrot Charlie has lived for the last 12 years.

Charlie, who kept Churchill company during World War II, was famous for occasionally squawking four-letter obscenities about Hitler. But Martin told Reuters the bird has mellowed.

"He doesn't say very much anymore -- usually just hello and goodbye. But he does get so excited about music and dances to it. He's very fit."

Charlie -- invariably referred to as "he" despite being female -- is now owned by Peter Oram, the garden center's owner, Martin said. Oram's father-in-law sold Churchill the bird and was asked to take it back after the prime minister died in 1965.

Steve Nichols, founder of Britain's National Parrot Sanctuary, said that although parrots did not often live longer than 40 in the wild, some had lived to up to 110.

"It's obviously had the best life possible," he said.

Gimme gimme gimme!

Data Glass2とは?

the Data Glass 2 from Shimadzu makes it seem as if you're you're looking at a 13-inch monitor floating in front of you.

Stevey says:

get 2 !!!
one for each eye
really fuck your head
have a work stream in one and a porn stream in the other
"boris -- why is one eye always twitching?"

Canadian RIAA gets its way

For no good reason, I visited the canadian apple online store today. I like to go in there sometime, poke around and drool. Go figure...

Anyways, so I click through to the iPod section and - what da heck, eh?! - find this, in bright orange letters:

Price includes CPCC's Blank Media Levy - $25

Google search CPCC.

The Canadian Private Copying Collective is the non-profit agency charged with collecting and distributing private copying royalties. Established in 1999, CPCC is an umbrella organization that represents songwriters, recording artists, music publishers and record companies. These are the groups on whose behalf the royalties are collected. CPCC is not an arm of government. Enforcement of the private copying tariff and advocacy, including representing copyright holders before the Copyright Board, which decides the tariff, are other important functions of CPCC. This site provides in-depth background on each of CPCC's key functions. To locate the information of interest to you, please see the site menu.

I must have been sleeping:

Under the decision, the following tariffs will hold in 2003-2004: 29 cents on audio cassette tapes of 40 minutes or longer; 21 cents on CD-Rs and CD-RWs; and 77 cents on CD-R Audio, CD-RW Audio and MiniDiscs.

The Board also set for the first time charges on non-removable memory permanently embedded in digital audio recorders: $2 for recorders with a memory capacity of more than 1GB; $15 for recorders with memory capacity of more than 1GB and up to 10GB; and $25 for each recorder with memory capacity of more than 10GB.

Sure enough:


FILE: Private Copying 2003-2004

Tariff of Levies to Be Collected by CPCC in 2003 and 2004 on the Sale, in Canada, of Blank Audio Recording Media

In accordance with subsection 83(10) of the Copyright Act, the Copyright Board has certified and hereby publishes the statement of levies to be collected by the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) effective on January 1, 2003, on the sale, in Canada, of blank audio recording media for the years 2003 and 2004.

Ottawa, December 13, 2003

Miserable bastards.

Why... I don't wear... the bow-tie

Why tech firms are out of tune

While the above article is tucked away in the BBC's technology section, it speaks directly of something very political: democracy in the digital age. Ugh, can't believe I just said that, but it's true.

DRM (digital rights management), a misnomer if there ever was one, is not about the rights that matter, ours. It's about protecting the money of folks who ostensibly need it the least. It reminds me of Bush's "tax reform". Give every middle-class american a $1000 tax break so that they don't notice the fact that corporations and the super rich can hold on to billions more.

There is absolutely nothing democratic or even just about either. Monopoly in politics is called something entirely other and much more nasty: fascism. (My current favorite word it seems... ;)

There are so many issues common to both situations, copyright abuse and the brandying about of something mislabeled as democracy, that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it all, much less write a blog entry to clarify my full thoughts and feelings on it. I can say this though: the tactics and methods currently being developed and deployed by the folks at the Dean Campaign to effectuate political change in America, can serve us well in fighting the whole copyright, DRM, entertainment industry debacle currently underway as well.

Time to mobilize.

Anti Virus

Submunition: heavy mojo

Japanese businessmen hold a service aimed at fending off viruses and glitches for their computers in a purification ceremony conducted by a Shinto priest


Edward Abbey:

One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am -- a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still there. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards.

Gonna be somewhat busy

Security alarm screen that reads: Ready to Arm DEAN FOR AMERICA

Yeah. I'll be in and out of town, two to three days at a time, for at least the next two weeks. Balancing this with my other obligations will be tricky but doable. The drive to Burlington is not so bad, especially at night.

Forgotten weblog entry

I had started to compose a really good entry in my head sometime today... or was it yesterday? Well actually, this happens about four or five times a day, everyday, SO, anyways, yeah... I forgot to actually type it up and now it is gone.

Here is a haiku to commemorate this.

crane flew overhead
lazy frog did not stir
no sound was heard

Live comment previews

Very cool bit of code: // hicksdesign :: Live Comment Previews.

Does what it says. Check it out. I think I may try this out if/when I get a minute again... like maybe some time next year... ;)

Thank you Mr. Hicks!

Brand memory


An attempt to evaluate the actual power of brands by making Austrian people draw a total of twelve logos (nine international, three typically European) from memory.

Things to note in this:

  • In most cases, if not all, some respondents drew older logos; the brands' previous logos. (Exposure length)
  • Complex "conceptual" shapes get simplified, distilled into simpler shapes and distorted (Mnemonic icons?
    e.g.: Toyota's concentric ellispese seems simple but is quite a complicated geometric image. As demonstrated, this causes distorion to the point where it is confused with Mitsubishi's diamond cluster and Mazda's... thing-a-ma-jig.
  • Simple "conceptual" and representative shapes/images work very well (easily remembered)
  • Logos with a left-right directional bias (text-based logos not withstanding) sometimes get "flipped" in memory.(a mirroring mechanism in memory?)
    e.g.: Lacoste croc, Apple's bite mark, Peugot's lion and the direction of the swirl of Eskimo's heart

Green Mountains

I'm off roadtripping till maybe Sunday. Burlington tonight and tomorrow and perhaps swing back up to Stevey's cottage Saturday and hit Jay Peak on Sunday for some snowboarding.

I need this bad. I am so looking forward to the conversations, the snowboarding... and some good hamburgers. Mad cow be damned.

Update: Arrived "where I was going". 9:45pm.