July 2006 Archives

Image editing for Flickr

"Preloadr" is really quite something. It uses the Flickr API to allow you to modify any of your images, via a web interface totally in sync with Flickr's style, as if you were in a "Photoshop-like" application. Awesome job.


Generosity is a gift, to be shared.

Location Portals

Michael finally went and got himself a "this is not personal!" weblog where he will talk about something that is central to everything he hopes and dreams about (in a non personal way! hehe).

If you're interested in location based, locative media, especially how it relates to community and all that (I'm drunk, bear with me), please visit, and subscribe to Location Portals. Having conversed with Michael over the years many times about all this, I assure you he has some terrific insights, not to mention in depth experience, and wishes to share that, and build on it.

Go go go!

Chu chu rockets


Just because I came across it in my video archives (dated April 2000). An old TV commercial for a Sega Dreamcast game. At the time it was one the first things that made me really think "whoa, what's going on over there in Japan?"


Noise in the background of my head

Here is a "signature of the music I listen to", analysis of my iTunes playlist, based on 60 most listened tracks.

Take a peek.

Generated by the sparse yet full operational "iTunes Signature Maker" by Jason Freeman. Nicely done.

Warning: The iTunes Signature Maker is a Java applet that you have to "trust". I don't know what else it may be doing so decide for yourself if you trust it or Jason Freeman. I'm thinking it's a safe bet but you never know. ;)

Temporary quitter

Standing at the check-in counter at Narita last month, the white haired Québecois gentleman behind me started chatting when he heard me say "yes I am traveling through to Montreal, thank you."

"You know hif you leave for more t'an 6 months, they revoke your 'ealt hinsurance hey?"

Yow! So this evening I went digging for that particular piece of worrisome truth. Sure enough, 183 days in a calendar year (January 1st to December 31st.)

Ok phew. I'm in no danger of that at this point, and the gentleman was saying it was 6 months out of three years and that had me worried.

But I kept reading to see, you know, what if I leave for a good long bit. Not so bad really. If I move away, and come back I just reapply for it.

But on this page, I found the sweet sweet deal for me:

Persons who remain covered
- Self-employed persons who are carrying out a contact outside Québec and whose usual place of work is in Québec
Period of coverage
- Duration of contract
Required documents (photocopies)
- Contract between self-employed person and client

Why temporary quitter? In french, one way to say "to leave" is "quitter"... and it's in the URL of the information mentioned above. There's more than one pun in that URL actually.

Of course all of this is moot if I leave for good, however I'm not so sure if change of citizenship is something I can ever be bothered with really. Ah well, time will tell.

Even more personal note: reading this english page with Québec written with the accent made it sound québecois in my head. As if Jean Chrétien were reading it to me... or that guy in the "I am not Canadien tabarnac" spoof.

Beach Borg

Beach Borg

"Everybody's Photos" on Flickr popped up this one. In it's "next" box was this one.
The juxtaposition seemed obvious (even if my execution is terrible... ;)

ooookay, back to work. :p

Video blog

So I've started playing with Vimeo since I got the email-over-WiFi from my mobile to work... ;)

You will notice the new thumbnails in the left side navbar on the homepage here.

So far, clips from the counter of a japanese restaurant in Montreal, in the middle of the Pine Exchange reconstruction and the inside of the BoLab.

Video quality is middling. Aw well.


(seen here, via Michal)


(from Steven)


I have no mouth and I must scream.

The irony.

I have not been able, yet, to "moblog" from my new Nokia N80.

I am able to browse websites and use a chat program, via both my mobile provider's GPRS and my WiFi networks at home and at the office.

I am able to send and receive SMS text-messages via the Messenger application.

I have been, as of yet, unable to successfully send or receive email via any of two GMail accounts and one account on my own server, be it via GPRS or WiFi. The failure process looks like this:

- Create email
- Address email, add subject and message.
- Send
- Select Access Point
-- Send fails silently
-- Email is moved to "OutBox" with "queued" status.
- Options -> Send ... repeat from Select Access Point

When trying to send via GPRS, the "GPRS connection is up" icon is presented. Checking on that connection in the connection manager indicates it is sending and receiving 15-30 bytes every few seconds. That looks more like just TCP/IP communication. It eventually stops and tears itself down, as it is supposed to.

When trying to send via WiFi, the WiFi connection indicator icon becomes "solid" (meaning it is connected)... for a few seconds. Then disconnects silently.

I tried LifeBlog. I gave it one shot. I gave it access to this blog, via the Atom API, with my API password. Told me there were no weblogs there. Indeed.

I have tried everything, double and triple checked settings and parameters. I am not a newbie of course. I do this for a living. I once worked for a WiFi AP maker. I am IBM Certified in Networking and Firewalls. I manage hosting for a half dozen clients. I *know* this shit.

So at this point I have a few choices:
- beg someone who knows Series60 v3.0 inside out to walk through it with me (or reveal a closely kept secret. even hearing "oh that model was nowhere near ready to go to market" would make me feel better.)
- Hard reset it back to factory and try all over again.
- Wind up, stretch up and with all my force whip it into the pavement at my feet in the parking lot, just for the cheer joy of the moment.

If it comes to the last one, I'll make sure to have someone video blog it. From a mobile of course.

Rage. I feel techno rage. I do not need this in my life. Forgive the whiney ranting tone. I am at wits end

Pine Exchange: still under construction

Pine Echange video

They tore down the last of the old overpasses and Parc is now a straight line through. Either side though are still pits where the fancifully graffitied underpasses once glowed.

See for yourself. (Mainly for the expats ;)

Yeah I'm a bit proud...

I stumbled onto Wikipedia's entry for Moblog and damn near fell over.

Moblog - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (20060719)

My name's not mentioned of course, but that is my design for Joi's moblog. I did that back in 2003. Custom solution, with a fancy Python-based email-to-xml-rpc script by Francis just for this, giving us square, scaled and cropped thumbnails, and category assignment based on wildcard email addresses. (All of Joi's and my moblogging still passes through Francis' server, directly posting to our weblogs and forwarding to external services like Flickr, Radar [not working!!] and Vox)

Here comes the gloating: in 2003, and very often still today, moblogs consisted of regular blog entries with a photo in them. I wanted Joi's moblog index and archives to have proper scaled cropped thumbnails. Also I wanted Joi's user experience to be as easy as possible, hence the category assignment based on different email addresses that could be stored in his address book. He and I still use that same system (though admittedly it needs some updating.)

That made my day. Forgive my little ego trip. :)

Update: not to be outdone, Karl gently reminded me of this. (Yes, yes I had forgotten that he had offered Joi long before to maintain the moblog mail scripts... ;)

Here, try this.

Give this a try, let me know what you get.

First, let's search Baidu, one of the major chinese search engines, for "chocolate".

Yum yum

Ok now let's try... "Tianamen massacre", written in western script.

Still works.

Ok now try this.

Woops! You'll likely get a web-browser generated error message saying something like "Connection interrupted" or some such.

Hit your browser's back button and reload that chocolate query. Doesn't work either does it?

Bravo. You've just been temporarily blacklisted by the Great Chinese Internet Censorship Program for searching for politically subversive terms ("Tianamen massacre" in chinese).

(Helping out Rebecca for her HRWi report. We also see this stuff daily in the OpenNet Initiative list.)


I've long been telling stories about how I seem to be quite aware of many of my thought processes, and often these stories take on computer jargon analogies. Stuff like "the scripts I have running in the background" to make sure I always leave the house with keys and wallet (scripts which needed major rewriting with the advent of a second very large set of keys for the new office), and the time I watched my brain start up the "eat banana" script when my phone rang (I watched the code load "raise banana to mouth and insert"... luckily I kill -9'ed it and chuckled.)

Last week I got a Nintendo DS Lite and started playing these "brain training games" which more than anything got me even more aware of the boundaries of my mind, its methods, and some deeply seated intellectual and emotional responses to challenges, puzzles and other such stimuli which, quite frankly now that I see them under the light, I feel I must rid myself of a load of bad mental habits.

While what I have undertaken today does not address these particular aforementioned habits, I have begun a journey, which so far seems like it will be quite a quick one, to learn not only how to touch type finally (I am making an effort right now and with just one hour of Mavis Beacon, I already have a much better idea of how what used to seem to me wildly complicated is really childishly easy to accomplish and... fun!), but also how to use T9 predictive text entry on a mobile phone keypad. (This too is not so bad. Once you *get* what it's doing, it just sorta goes.)

All of this seems to have one rather potentially dangerous side-effect: driving back from my mother's place I realized I was not tracking my environment--the other cars on the highway and streets--as effectively, thoroughly and predictively as I used to. I was actually surprised and scared at least twice. I will monitor this closely. It may be that I need glasses, or that I was overly tired this evening. Or both. Or, really, far more likely, I've just been very distracted and scattered lately. Focus dammit.

Couldn't help but noticing


Jan Chipchase draws a parallel between checking out of a Tokyo hospital and checking out of the U.S.

Amazing coincidence, the two photos share many many similarities as well:
- shades of green near center of image
- large area of "snow"
- angle of chopsticks and seat base on right
- rectangular surface at left
- grid backdrop
oh and of course the hand.

Nice job.


The big electronics chain in Canada is British Columbia based "FutureShop", now a division of (american electronics chain) "Best Buy".

The FutureShop website has a promo section up, announcing the arrival of the new Nintendo "Wii" system. Clicking on "order today" we are presented with this choice piece of english:

Check back this page after for updates on upcoming games, purchase date and stock availability.

Release date subject to change by manufacture without notice. Final product might look different than what is illustrated. Final specification is subject to change by manufacture without notice. Please check back for updated information and stay tune for a release date.

What is that? Aside from jarring? ;)

A Million Ways to surf the viral wave


million ways

Just a bit over a year ago I pointed to this homemade musicvideo by this band, "Ok go!", wherein they perform a quite complex choreographed dance routine in one take in a backyard. It went sort of viral at the time, probbaly picked up some steam through the summer and probably exploded on YouTube when that went supernova...

So what's a band to do in such a case? Easy: dance contest.

So far, 22 entries within 2 weeks. And they just get better.

(My favorite are the three asian kids featured above 'cause they had to adapt for being one short and they still pull it off amazingly well.)


This came in via email and SMS just now:

From: dav@
Subject: Baby Announcement!
Date: July 5, 2006 2:16:07 PM EDT (CA)

Dav and Mie are happy to announce the arrival of Tesla Rhea Yaginuma!
She was born at 0920a and weighs in at 7 pounds and 0 ounces.
Check kokochi.com for photos (coming soon).

Congratulations you two! And welcome to T.R.Y.!

(some contexts: first met Dav and Mie at 1IMC (shame on you all for letting the URL die!!!) in Tokyo -- 1IMC was organized by Adam Greenfield, who's new book I just picked up today, with help from Gen Kanai and a few others. Joi, Justin, Mimi, Scott, Pete, Jim, Adriaan were in attendance, as well as Karsten and Paul. Around that time, Mie was one of the best known mobloggers--thanks in part to code Dav whipped up for her-- and was even interviewed for CNN by Rebecca MacKinnon, whom I now work with on GVO. I've since seen Dav and Mie all over the place, including conferences in Austin and San Diego, hidden microbars in Tokyo and last summer Dav stayed with me during a visit to Montreal.
There is of course far more to it, but suffice it to say these two are tightly woven into the crazy web my web-life is.)

Other long tails I'd like to see

I would love to see stats on requested engravings on Apple iPods. Surely there are all kinds of "customizations" that are requested over and over and over...

I'd also like to see how unique a request of "Defective by design" engraving is, and how often it may have been spec'ed.

(This comes to mind as "Defective by design" is the oh so clever engraving Jer asked for on his free iPod that comes with the MacBook we ordered for him yesterday... which shipped from Shenzen this morning.)

I'll consider it when...

Foreword: I am a long time Apple user BUT ALSO have ALWAYS considered Apple to be far far more evil than Microsoft, and more recently Google combined. Apple's fascist streak has been showing ever stronger since the victorious return of the beloved leader. Their desire to control your experience knows NO bounds. Anyways, let's get to it...

Seriously, I've considered trying out Ubuntu a few times the last few months. Considered buying a ThinkPad or some such and trying it out for a bit, see how it feels, make an informed decision yada yada...

But you know... it doesn't bode well for the whole "PC" world when I can't even get through one of the major reseller's online store without giving up in frustration.

  • Exhibit A - Time yourself to find the machine with the widest screen, then try to configure it to the advertised max. It's a simple task. I couldn't do it. (Hint: Z Series, you want a 100Gig 7200RMP HD, 128 ATI video card, 4 Gig RAM) Once you find a machine to configure, wow, now you have to wade though 5-600 options many with almost identical labels! And garish colors! I can barely see the total estimated price. Blehhh ciao!
  • Exhibit B - Here I drop you already in the family or series I'd be into. Inspiron? New Inspiron? What's teh difference? Ok "New Inspiron 6400". Customize it. Ok Dell did their homework and sort of copied Apple Store. Still very "clunky cheap faux-metal plasticky" feel to the UI though. Oh well at least I could choose a machine here with a minimum of fuss. Despite THREE PAGES of optional crap they wanna sell me. Woops! Store crapped out at second step of checkout. Too bad. I'm not getting a Dell.
  • Exhibit C - Woops can't customise. Gotta go see a reseller. Yeah sure.

Only the Lenovo/IBM even offered 15,4" screens with resolution over 1440. The Dell was offering a crazy 256M ATI Card but nowhere could I find actual tech specs of it's performance (I found linked tech specs but they were not relevant/outdated go figure), so one could only assume...

Here's a little secret: I ordered a MacBook for someone today. It took 10 minutes from beginning to end, and that was with no real knowledge of what my options on this new machine were.

If they can't even make it easy for me to buy one of their machines, how can I trust that the quality of any of the experience after I've given them money will be any better?

To be fair, this has nothing to do with Ubuntu. Lord knows I've heard people swear upside down and backwards that it's sooooo close now to being perfect. Of course these people tend to be long time Linux users already, but I digress...

But I am willing to try! Someone wanna order a decent machine for me? ;)

Random 90's memory

As the Wikipedia entry says, Tom Cochran's song "Life is a Highway" was huuuuge back in '91. It's a good song, really. I'm glad for Mr. Cochrane as it's getting success again, even though the "country music boy band Rascal Flatts remake for the Disney/Pixar animated film Cars" of it is... pathetic.

Sigh... early nineties canadian rock.

Scenario of a Blogject

Poking around I came across a very nice scenario by Jan Chipchase, which sounded downright Blogject-y to me:

With vehicle mounted (weather) sensors and positioning tools its possible to collect highly localised weather information - trucks, cars, motorbikes and bicyles recording and sharing in real time as they drive around the city. As you are looking where to park you know not to leave it there in that exact position because despite appearances you know the statistical likelyhood of it geting wet.

I've moved so far from all this stuff in the last few months. I really hope to get back and dive in real deep soon. First step is rebuilding my lost RSS subscriptions list.

No guilt

It's a beautiful sunday afternoon in Montreal, and no goddammit I do not feel like going out and enjoying the sun and getting some exercise today.

I will NOT feel guilty for spending my afternoon on the computer in the back room at Laïka. I'm not here because I have to be. I am here because this is what I feel like doing. Nyah. Yes.

Damn it's hot in here... maybe I should go outside...

Odd thematic concurrence

From the Montreal Craigslist "Pets" listing:

- Pet caretaker for hire (Plateau)
- 2 cats for adoption - moving out of country, please help (montreal)
- BEWARE: A cat killer/torturer is loose in Montreal! (Montreal)
- Sweet cat about 2 year old needs a home (Montreal Downtown)


Emma's ad would have to read:
"Psychotic clawed feline with experience hurting people, looking for cat killer/torturer: bring it on!"