February 2007 Archives


Been wearing camo pants ($30 @ Uniqlo) for the last 3 weeks. I am suddenly comfortable with the idea of patterns on my legs.

Subtle, ton-sur-ton patterns. Hmmmm...

Aside, I was looking for "digital camo"... I didn't know where I had seen it or how I had gotten the idea of wanting some. Turns out it is used by the Chinese Armed Police. So, it's not so much "cool" as it is "a reality in our times". Lameness or coolness perhaps hinges on intent.

i.e.: say you go and get some digicamo piece of clothing. If your intent was purely to "look oh so cool", in other words, "trying to be cool", it would be lame. If the intent was "see this pattern, recognize this pattern, it is a pattern of oppression", then you could get away with it. Of course, how do you communicate your intent in such a situation? People who know me know that I would not in a million years consider the Chinese Armed Police anything remotely positive, but for the billions of other people out there, how would one get the get across?

I am starting to learn the languages of fashion*. It is fascinating. It is mass communication and one to one whispers, individualization and group identification, extremes of culture agglomeration and fractualization, all in one and moving in real time with us, always and everywhere.

# To give shape or form to; make.
# To train or influence into a particular state or character.
# To adapt, as to a purpose or an occasion; accommodate.

Jesus, Anders... this is South Korean Military training camo from the 70's-80's. Look familiar?

Hahaha this is NOT going on my back.

Ok apologies for the garish styling of this post. The nature of fashioning, in the early stages, is always messy. ;)

this is the time on sprockets vere ve ... pump yoo ahp

2st run, Jiyugaoka

After Jan called me a weakling in that heavy german accent that could only remind me of Hans und Franz ("you are litta giwly maan! we are gonna pump j00 up!"), because I said it was too cold to run for me, my lungs start to hurt yada yada... my pride took over, grabbed my inner geek and forced me to get this stupid Nike+iPod gadget to work.

So I stuck the sensor under my insoles and went out. The thing finally worked (it didn't when i first got it and yes I lugged it with me out here).

So above is my quick run. 1.07km in 7 minutes and 8 seconds.

My lungs are on fire and I think I need to lie down. Girly man in-deed. ;)

Oh, right, the reason I humiliate myself so here with this is: look at the graph above. It maps directly to my coming across intersections where I had to slow down, as well as the hilly terrain around here. Oh and I sprinted the last 100 meters. My legs were getting cold. :p

Oh and here's the XML data the iPod created for my run:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
		<distance unit="km">
			1.07 km
			6:36 min/km
			<title><![CDATA[(don't) give hate a chance (st]]></title> 
<![CDATA[(don't) give hate a chance CDM]]>
	<goal type="" value="" unit="">
	<snapShotList snapShotType="userClick">
		<snapShot event="pause">
		<snapShot event="resume">
		<snapShot event="onDemandVP">
		<snapShot event="stop">
	<snapShotList snapShotType="kmSplit">
		<extendedData dataType="distance" intervalType="time" intervalUnit="s" intervalValue="10">
			0.0, 0.0111, 0.0264, 0.0476, 0.0851, 0.1209, 0.1562, 0.1918, 0.2254, 0.2626, 0.2816, 0.2964, 0.3129, 0.3294, 0.3456, 0.3616, 0.3765, 0.393, 0.423, 0.4596, 0.4955, 0.5296, 0.5631, 0.596, 0.6101, 0.6277, 0.6424, 0.6582, 0.674, 0.6927, 0.7293, 0.7657, 0.7944, 0.8285, 0.8453, 0.8612, 0.8755, 0.8914, 0.9215, 0.9592, 0.9983, 1.0298, 1.0483


A dirt poor article written about the "top 11 subway systems n the world". Montreal is 8:

Highlights: Diverse, beautiful architecture and unique station art (each station is designed by a different architect). Pleasant riding experience (smooth rides: the trains run on a rubber surface to reduce the screech of train cars). Trains are frequent and fairly comfortable.

(I've been on 6 of them--London, Paris, Tokyo, NYC, Montreal and Hong Kong--not counting the ultra new, clean and expensive one in Delhi, and the disappointing BART in San Francisco. Worth mentioning that Singapore's and Hong Kong's could be twins.)

Also, the write-up of the Tokyo system is totally ridiculous. Instead of mentioning that the system is made up of both extensive underground lines and above ground lines, and that the entire system is not run by some transit authority but rather a handful of *totally separate* corporations... they mention the Ueno Zoo Monorail?! WTF?
(AND the second picture is of a Shinkansen bullet train, not a subway train. Baka.)

Bleh, why did I bother writing this? ;)

What the font?

I got an email this morning from "zazaaaaaaa" Azamit:

Hey u
Would u know anybody that can help me find the name of this font

Azamit - active?

Daah, I thought... I *hate* font searching.

Is it Helvetica? No, no, it's something rounded.

AG Book Rounded? No the "a" is wrong:
AG Book ROunded

DAAAAHH I hate this!

Hello... what's this? "What the font"??
I uploaded the PNG Azamit sent me and... wow. it broke it up letter by letter, asked me to verify it had guessed the right letters... and pow: VAG Rounded Bold:
vag rounded

I sent Aza the result and she replied in her fashion:

Je te déteste par passion
You fucking rock.....& I fucking mean it

hehehee. Love you too ;)



all actionable. and these are not related to my main client/project. e-mails from that are sorted into 5 other folders, all with lists similarly long.

Second World?

Sorry for the link to a machine translation but here's an article in "Web3D-fr" ("3D Web France") about an immersive 3D MMPORG community platform... launched in 1994.

Very interesting account of the business model, the politics behind the scenes (browser war anyone?), the content providers wanting standards, the money-backers wanting proprietary platforms... how they won, and consequently the whole thing died.

Of curse that's what I got scanning the machine translation...

Machine Tags

super quick little PHP function to parse machine tags into an array. Barely useful. What I'd really like to see is code for querying them in a database. Flickr should share that... ;)

What's that movie?!

Help me out here...

Mid 80's, I think the main actor was a WWF wrestler (first guess was Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, but IMDB doesn't list any movies for him). Something about aliens already here, controlling society on earth via subliminal messages in advertising that only this main actor guy can see thanks to special sunglasses.


AHA! Thanks Mike! It was Rowdy Roddy Piper, and the movie is "They Live"

"Nada, a down-on-his-luck construction worker, discovers a pair of special sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the world as it really is: people being bombarded by media and government with messages like "Stay Asleep", "No Imagination", "Submit to Authority". Even scarier is that he is able to see that some usually normal-looking people are in fact ugly aliens in charge of the massive campaign to keep humans subdued."

Why do I bring this up?

Because of this: "BBC News - Hiding messages in plain sight"

Japanese firm Fujitsu is pushing a technology that can encode data into a picture that is invisible to the human eye but can be decoded by a mobile phone with a camera.

The company believes the technology will have spin off implications for the publishing industry.

"The concept is to be able to link the printed page into the digital domain," said Mike Nelson, general manager for sales operations at Fujitsu Europe.

Aaron, get some yellow markers too!


How the colour of your website costs the earth

Changing the background colour of Google from white (ffffff) to black (000000) would save an estimated 750 Megawatt hours a year globally, thats about half the full output of a dual-nuclear reactor. This mainly applies to CRT, or tube, monitors as their power usage fluctates widely depending on the colours being shown on screen.


The second most dangerous man alive

I'm wondering:
- does my Nokia N80 have QR code reading capabilities?
- does the Nokia N95 allow Python to access the camera and the GPS "easily" (for hacking a quick prototype)
- what is the current trend, if any, in the mobile device industry, for GPS integration in devices?
- can J2ME/3rd party applications be loaded on KDDI's phones?
- do I know anyone in my 2nd/3rd degree social networks who could make J2ME apps that access camera and GPS on available devices?

Get your markers ready Aaron. ;)

Run for cover

or at least cover your ears.

Zipped out to Soft in Shibuya last night for Juliana vol.3. It was even better than last month's. Just completely mental.

Videos, of terrible quality, and excessive volume (my ears are still ringing), but hopefully give some idea of the heat.

"Synth Handclaps are the 'more cowbell' of today. More synthclaps!"

You should subscribe to Digiki's Polypunk podcast. It's bustin' it old school. Damn, these beats are so fresh... ssssnap!

Turned around at one point and saw this dude who looked familiar so I, and this is something I do far far too rarely, strike up a conversation of sorts. Asked him what he thought. "Man, it's a Sunday night. I feel like I'm having a religious experience!" Three questions later and it turns out he used to hang out at Blizzarts on friday nights for Brass Knuckles Krew, when he was studying at McGill. Small. World. Peter, dude who's name rhymes with "papaya" says hi.

Afterward, Carsten (Sony CSL) and Verena (PingMag) invited me to Combine. Really like this little place on Meguro-gawa in Naka Meguro. Despite being quite drunk, I used my mobile to poll for wifi: oh yes, Combine has a free open hotspot. Eeeexcellent. Really enjoyed the company. Danke vielmals!

Message to the girl with the bob hair, black tights and god-knows-what-that-shiny-black-material-your-shirt-was shirt, play-boxing dance stylee on stage right: I'm in love.

Only Jo

Jo - Thailand

Travel update from someone else.
Jo was a waiter at Laïka. For years. The others referred to him as "Uncle Jo".
Jo left for a long trip of discovery about two weeks before I headed out in mid december on my current expedition. He languished in Ireland through December and January.

He's in Thailand now and, well, in his own words:

Je suis supposé retourner en Europe le 10 Mars mais je crois que je ne partirai pas. Je suis trop bien ici et qui sais... je serai peut-être prof d'anglais bientôt.

("I'm supposed to go back to Europe on the 10th of March but I don't think I'll leave. I'm too well here and who knows... maybe I'll be an english teacher soon.")

This, of course, does not surprise me. Haha. :)

Cya around Jo. Be well.

Sing a tune

Half a bill.

Viacom executives are in London negotiating the purchase of LastFM, the London based "online social music network" (read: internet radio station), according to a music business source familiar with the negotiations. The purchase price is said to be $450 million dollars.

"I am in your tunEz, tracking uR listening HabiTz!"

I wonder if I delete my account now, will all my stats be deleted?
I could care less about the Last.fm "community". I want my own listening stats. Time for a hack.

The most dangerous man alive

will carry a black marker.

Laying tiles

Tiles of japan

Tiles + Contextual masks generated from shapefiles = beautiful.

"I should blog that"

I think it was sometime in 2002... I hadn't even started this weblog yet, in fact that stuff to me was still just personal websites. (that's all it still is to me, really)

On a lark one Sunday afternoon I remembered to search Google for the lyrics to a song I had heard too many times in my life without ever really getting what was said: "La grange" by ZZ-Top.

I found the lyrics (snore, it was a particularly lazy sunday), but also, I found the homepage of someone who later became my best friend. :)

(I can pinpoint the exact moment I realized, maybe two years later, that I cared about him too. Funny. And totally unique. I remember thinking "holyshit i hope he didn't go and do something stupid" as I ran out the door to try to find him.)

About a month ago, sitting at our favorite sakana-ya (fish place) in Shimokitazawa, he told me between bites of freshly steamed crab: "I'm stopping."

"Ah? Ok." Said I. The moment passed.

Wasn't till tonight that I stopped by his site only to see his farewell message. (Karl stopped blogging.)

Funny, I did the opposite. I stopped reading weblogs over a year ago. No joke. Once every few weeks I'll go poke around... but honestly i can't think of even 5 weblogs I really read with any kind of frequency. That includes Karl. And you, too. ;)

And that's why I don't miss Karl. Oh and the fact that he's my best friend and we talk everyday. :)

田中 - quarter half - 1/4 1/2 - ricefield center

When I saw this, I thought "quarter half".
In japanese, it reads ta-naka. It is a family name. (I actually have a friend who's family name is Tanaka.)

The kanji characters mean:
ç”° -> rice field
中 -> center, middle, or between

田中 ... to me it's 1/4 1/2

What is it to you?

Acht Jahre

Papi passed today 8 years ago. Depending on which metric I use, that's anywhere from 2 to 10 lifetimes ago for me. Sad you couldn't have watched me go through them.

Strange coincidence: the only thing I can remember from the day that preceded the night's events was that I had gone to the YMCA on Parc Avenue, corner St-Viateur up in the Mile End with a friend of mine whom a few years later ended up the client that helped sustain my freelancer work life for a looong stretch.

That guy arrived in Tokyo... today.


Amazon taps into otaku culture. Or what's left of it anyways.

from Metropolis (no permanent URI--"permalink". get a clue people!)

Now that otaku are the new trendsetters, you’ll be sure to find what’s hot in Japanese subculture wherever they congregate. The country’s largest online retailer, Amazon Japan (www.amazon.co.jp), has created a dedicated spot for these self-proclaimed nerds to go gaga over the latest video games, DVDs, figurines, graphic novels, magazines, cosplay gear and so much more.

The Otaku Store is organized by its own editors, ranked by popularity and reviewed by peers, making it the go-to place for all coveted items on the otaku radar. One way to browse it is by popular anime character names, among which Evangelion, Suzumiya Haruhi and Nodame Cantabile are the most widely searched. Otaku living overseas can also partake in the shopping, since the majority of these items (excluding video games) can be shipped internationally. With some 30,000 products currently listed, this new resource brings the chaos of Akihabara right onto your computer screen, in a more organized way.

Anyways, the term otaku much more broadly means anyone who's a geek for any interest, not just japanese anime, computers and robots and videogames... but whatever.

Stamen hiring

Stamen Design's most recent "Hiring designer" posting is almost as insane (but right on) as any "hiring!" post I've ever written in my head (yeah, I've done that, a few times).

We want to see that you are comfortable making connections between visual presentation, information organization, and enabling technologies. You'll need to know and be willing and very able to learn a wide variety of web-related applications and languages, and find joy in moving seamlessly between them: css, actionscript, photoshop, illustrator, flash, etc. The word "etc." is a key part of our work. Digital material is our clay; it's important to us how it flows.

We're less concerned with how long you've worked than with how good you are. You will need to have been paid to do good work; the skill that comes from delivering work for money can't be learned in any other way. At Stamen, you'll be asked to provide everything from initial sketches to finished product, and lots of it.

Stamen works with flows of real data: online user interest, GPS positions of taxis, shipping container traffic flows, 50,000 people nationwide gathered online to express their political views. We've often found it easier to build something than to comp it in Photoshop (YES! YES!). Our design challenges are less about font choice (Helvetica is the font choice) and more about clarity, movement, and slickness. We seek to delight with our work.

Love it. Did Eric write this? It sounds like him. :)

p.s.: Mike arrived safe and sound and is downstairs sleeping the deep sleep of 17 timezone jetlag.

Mémoire courte

Je ne me souviens plus de ce que je croyais.
Tant mieux.
Beliefs are memories twisted out of shape by desires.

White Day


White Day is a festival that was created by a concentrated marketing effort in Japan. White Day is celebrated in Japan and Korea on March 14, one month after Valentine's Day. On Valentine's Day, women give gifts to men; on White Day, men who received chocolate on Valentine's Day return the favour and give gifts to women. This holiday is starting to gain popularity in Hong Kong, where Japanese influence is strong.

First off, out here, on Valentine's Day, it's the women who give the men gifts, etc.

Second, any woman I love will know I love her every day, and not need a commercially sanctioned day for me to give her flowers or chocolates so that a whole caste of spoiled brats can live off of trust funds.

Third, sadly it seems that most people rather just get the flowers and chocolates than really be loved.

The line between freedom and captivity in love is very very thin. One may be able to see it but still waver back and forth over it wildly. Stabilize man, dammit.



Yahoo! Pipes is like a web-based Max/MSP visual multimedia sampler/remixer/filter for web content.

It's a beast. It slices, it dices, it joins and concatenates... it'll even machine translate, extract geo:data, filter by whatever, allow you to input parameters at request time.

And, everything you "remix" is available to you via RSS or JSON feeds.

Terrible, simple example: 20 results for a picture search on Flickr for "Africa", combined with the GVO Sub-Saharan Africa feed, machine translated to Simplified Chinese, ordered by Publication date.

I could have written code to do this, but this environment lets me assemble it by dragging around little widgets and hooking them up.

Here's a neat one: analyse the New York Times feed for keywords, then search Flickr against them, and show me what ya get.

Possibilities are vast.


Being indecisive gets you nothing.
You may not always know what you want, and you may not always be sure you can handle it. But it's a safe bet that it's better to find out than to always wonder and regret.

Haha: "Choose life!"

Hrmm, from the same site:
# It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live. [Roman Emperor Marcus Aelius Aurelius (121-180 AD)]

# If you love someone, tell them. For hearts are often broken by words left unspoken.

# A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.

# Try a thing you haven't done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not. [Virgil Thomson]

Oh dotster...

An old client of mine is finally taking hold of their domain and transferring their registration to another registrar.

I just got the following email from my registrar:

If you are unhappy with Dotster's service please let us know your feelings. We'd like a second chance to get you to stay. If this is not a mistake and you are unhappy withDotster's prices or services please let us know your feelings

No, listen, it's not like that. I still have about a dozen domains with you. This is just a...

We'd like to encourage you to stay by offering you reduced account pricing. If you choose to take advantage of this offer and cancel your transfer, we will permanently reduce your registration, renewal, and transfer pricing. Your new pricing will include $8.95 registrations and renewals along with $7.75 transfer pricing.

... but... ah.. wow, that's 50% of your regular prices... Permanently you say?

/me scratches chin wondering just who the fuck they think they are, ripping off their clients with 100% marked up services when here they are literally begging me to stay... sigh...

Tell you what dotster. I can't cancel this transfer as it's not my domain. But what I WILL do is go set up an account somewhere else, initiate a transfer and see if you send me this offer again so that I can cancel it and get the better rate. I'll make sure to pick an even cheaper competitor, see if your offer is competitor-pricing-aware... ;)

Perhaps you should check your mark's account to see if they are transferring out their entire portfolio or, as in my case, just one old client's reg.


flickr twitter down

Well shit I guess I'll just have to go outside then. :p

A bit of humor please

or "Aristotle's lost second book of Poetics: Comedy"

Alot of people have been crowing about how Flickr's Machine Tags are pseudo Semantic Web and how they could have been RDF.

Well, piddle, and tough luck. I'm quite excited by it all and here's why.

Machine Tags are essentially just words: strings of characters. They make no attempt at assigning meaning or giving Semantics, e.g.: they are words that you and I can use and interpret. Differently if we want to, together if we decide to agree to.

Just like we do when we speak or write to each other.

Ambiguity: the devil's volleyball. I spend my life wrastling ambiguity. It's a good thing.

What makes them slightly different from regular tags is that they allow one to add just a touch of context and thus a touch of disambiguation. Just enough to make them transportable (out of the Flickr domain) with slightly more ease and value* than single dimension tags.

flickr/tag/apple is local to flickr
flickr/tag/fruits:name=apple is still local flickr but:
fruits:name=apple is far more useful out in the enormity of the world wide web then just

Flickr does not want to be "L'Academie Française", or the Encyclopedia Britannica. It's up to you (er us) all to be Wikipedia.

Back to my point though: Meaning is contextual.

Machine Tags are no more Semantic Web than English is Funny. They both *can be*...
(A major mechanism of humor is meaning derived from context, and not the words themselves. The delivery, the story/situation surrounding them, etc.)

Now before the SemWeb'ers and RDF'ers jump on me.: yes, SemWeb accounts for providing context via complexe namespacing URI schema mumbo jumbo voodooh la, but hell: no one *got* it. "dear users, please just get used to angle brackets" is a pipe dream. So calm down and watch what happens next. ;)

All Flickr has done here is given us an example of usage (with a leapfrog over the ramping up part of an adoption rate curve), a place to store them and a means to query for them.

What you do with it from there is your business. Make RDF with it if you want, but I am betting most hackers will simply follow suit and implement their own systems for storage and retrieval of namespace:predicate=value tags. And a bunch of other stuff they will have learnt to want to do when they tried to do anything with RDF (cause RDF IS awesome, it's just a P.I.T.A.). They already are. Some already have been for a while.

None of this means RDF is bad or dead. It's sort of like "do we use C++ or PHP for our web project? Hrmmm, depends!"

Flickr is already a, if not the, Golden Child of the so-called "Web 2.0", but in launching Machine Tags, they have fired the starting gun on what I'd hate to see named "Web 3.0": the lovechild produced when the dumbass naive teenager that is Web 2.0 grows up a bit and meets a Semantic Web that's learnt to relax and slip into something sexy...

Make. Whoopie. It's fun and healthy.

* ease and value: what happens when you lower the barrier to entry and increase the value of what's behind that barrier? The crowds come running. Identify what the masses might find valuable (or take a flying guess) and make it easy for them to get. Then install a toll booth. Profit.