Technology Category Archive

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!

Claire de lune

Clair de lune from musanim on Vimeo

Gorgeous. More pieces here. From the Music Animation Machine, which isn't a machine at all. ;)

This fits perfectly with a thought I had last week about time: how the past is memory, the future, conjecture, and the present a separatrix, a non existing line, between the two, but how music seems to allow you to hang on to bits of now after the note has been struck, and anticipate what comes next...


IBM's Deep Blue beat Kasparov 10 years ago. I remember it clearly.

Apparently, today the average PC has more processing power than DB had, which is simultaneously surprising and not. I mean, we're used to hearing stuff like "the Americans sent a man to the moon with the computing power of a pocket calculator", but this is somehow "closer". Then again, ten years is a long time ago... or so it seems.

Anyways, best part of this interview with one of the developers of Deep Blue, Murray Campbell comes after being asked how's human intellect doing in the supercomputer-versus-humans battle (with a grain of salt: chess can be reduced to math is all any of this has proven but anyways):

WN: So we can live in harmony? Campbell: Absolutely. Very nicely.

Check mate, Dave. ;)


I just sent an empty text message ("SMS") to someone.

It happened because I was thinking the message as I went though the process of creating new message, adding contact...

and send. woops.

désolé Izo.


Sometime while I was away this winter, IleSansFil, the Montreal free community wifi service, crippled all their hotspots, by disallowing any and all traffic without login. (Or so it seems, I've only tried at 4 or 5)

The ISF service requires web/browser based authentication before they let any traffic through from your *device* to --or from-- the network.

Previously, they allowed email to pass through without authentication. This is no longer the case. I have gotten no clear reason for this, or any clear indication of at what level this was done. I've heard wishywashy mealy-mouthed eyes averted mumblings about "precluding the sending of spam email".

For me personally, this renders the ISF service totally useless, as I relied on it to be able to do data transactions on my mobile device. Authenticating via a web browser in this context is a non-realistic and non-surmountable barrier to use.

Their argument might be "well our whole purpose for creating the ISF network was not to blanket the city in WiFi but rather to provide community web portals." That's all fine and dandy, and when I am sitting with my laptop, that's great, really. But ISF just silenced my mobile capacity to express myself and stay in touch with my FTIC. And it hurts. Badly. Especially with the extortionate cellular data rates in this country.

Isn't ISF's tagline "free | wireless | internet"?

In any case, I'd like a clear statement as to what happened and why. And who I can talk to figure out a better solution than treating every Montrealer as a criminal.

A place or a feeling?

Bruno throwing snowballs at me and Ty
Originally uploaded by Shawna Nelles.

Last night at Laïka, I had a brief conversation with Michael, founder of Ile Sans Fil and good friend, about various things, including how places are not just geographic coordinates or a point on a map or an intersection of two streets or a corner of a neighborhood: they are communities, shared experiences, stories (as Matt Jones said somewhere sometime somehow I don't remember).

One example of this is how the Flickr isflaika tag, which get aggregated into Laïka's ISF portal login screen slowly morphed from showing cups of coffee and glasses of beer, to people hanging out, to pictures of the staff... then increasingly to pictures related to the community of Laïka (former staff member on the beach in Thailand, me in Shinjuku, one of the regular DJs, Vincent Lemieux, playing in Tokyo, etc...)

This picture is of Bruno, the big boss, caught in his afternoon fun today of throwing snowballs at neighborhood regulars as they came by. The photo was snapped by Shawna, whom I met one evening at Laïka and who is now one of The Officemates.

I know where that corner is: it's in me heart.

What is code?

A picture is worth a thousand words...

The premise of the linked article is to show how one can create a web browser in "one line of code" using a bunch of stuff that more or less comes with Mac OS X. "One line of code" is meant to infer extreme easiness...

It is far from easy. It is a very complex set of procedures, tying together a whole bunch of "code" that has been written for you and presented in a visual environment. Sort of like Yahoo! Pipes, and Max/MSP.

So out of shape

nike ipod run 2
(sorry about posting these... having fun ;)
And the course I ran, mapped on GMap Pedometer.

run 2 pedometer map
(Funny how mapping a jog like that brings the enormity of Tokyo down to a personal, human scale. If my lungs held out, I could easily run to Shibuya, Shimokitazawa, Naka Meguro, Shirokanedai...)


 Brainloop Images Brainloop 01

Brainloop is an interactive performance platform that utilizes a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) system which allows a subject to operate devices merely by imagining specific motor commands. These mentally visualized commands may be seen as the rehearsal of a motor act without the overt motor output; a neural synapse occurs but the actual movement is blocked at the corticospinal level. Motor imagery such as "move left hand", "move right hand" or "move feet" become non-muscular communication and control signals that convey messages and commands to the external world. In Brainloop, the subject, Markus Rapp, is able - without physically moving - to investigate urban areas and rural landscapes as he globe-trots around virtual Google Earth.

Needless to say, I want one. Now.

Running man?

Part of the premise of the movie "Running Man" is how the main character gets framed as a murdering police officer by manipulating video evidence.

Now, Photoshopping images and AfterEffects-ing video is already possible but it's still a huge pain to do things convincingly. High priced gear and pros territory.

Poisson image editing is some complex mathematics that will make this kind of stuff easier. For better or worse... ;)

poisson image editing

Poisson 2

Two papers:
Poisson Image Editing [pdf]
Patrick Pérez Michel Gangnet Andrew Blake
Microsoft Research UK

Drag-and-Drop Pasting. [pdf]
Jiaya Jia, Jian Sun, Chi-Keung Tang, and Heung-Yeung Shum, SIGGRAPH 2006.


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.


oh while we're on about mobile

Funambol Open Source mobile application platform.

Funambol is open source mobile application server software that provides push email, address book and calendar (PIM) data synchronization, application provisioning, and device management for wireless devices and PCs, leveraging standard protocols. For users, this means BlackBerry-like capabilities on commodity handsets.

Java, but hawt. C'mon people, crank something out. ;)

"push" email, my Nokia N80 and a japanese SIM chip

It just works. Un.Believe.Able.

Joi went out of his way on a busy day and got me keitai on his carrier's "friends and family" plan. Domo domo domo arrigato gozaimasta, Joi-sama! ;)

It's a nice piece to be sure; sort of Panasonic's version of the RAZR. Thin, light, slick.

Whatever. It ain't got T9 or my full address book and I don't feel like fumbling through the UI for a week to get used to it.

So, I yanked out the SIM card and put it in my N80. I have connection. Great. I can call, be called, I can send emails, I can... oh right...

Over here, they don't do "SMS". They do real email. In fact, they do "push email". (yeah you know that quasi mythical super magic that everyone thinks only RIM Blackberry can do?)

As I started poking around to see if I could set myself up with something like this (hell how many servers do I have?), on a whim I asked Francis to set up a quick IMAP mailbox on

Entered the account info and... well, my friends. My dear dear friends. The Messenger client on this here N80, which supports IMAP, also seems to support some variant of Push IMAP or IMAP IDLE.

When you configure an IMAP mailbox in the Symbian60 v.3 Messenger, you are given two choices: "Check mail" and "Connect".

I selected Connect. I sent an email to the new account. My phone vibrated. Pure joy.

Caveat: You must keep the Messenger app open. If you quit it, you have to reconnect. Thankfully Jace in Bangalore showed me how to access the "Dock" so I can actually have multiple apps open. And I imagine there might be a way to configure a hotkey or something to open the connection or something like that.

By the way, Dreamhost has IMAP-IDLE ON BY DEFAULT as well. Yes that means that you too can have always-on email pushed to your mobile device.

This is a happy happy day and all it took was a bit of trial. No hack, nothing super exciting actually, just a very happy surprise that, for once, everything just worked. :D


Every time I come to Japan, the biggest frustration is getting a mobile phone. This time it's not a phone I need (I have two I could use) as much as just a connection. It seems that will be just as hard, if not harder to pull off.

Besides my keitai from 6 months ago, I also have my Nokia N80 which works on the 3G network here. In fact, I've got signal right now, but it's on roaming via my provider back home. Hello $3 a minute. And remember I disabled data/GPRS. SMS doesn't really exist here. Or rather, you don't really exist here if you can't email from your mobile.

So not only do I not exist here yet to all the people I know (and who are not necessarily IM or PC email contacts), but also all those people have ceased to exist for me... because the Address Book in my keitai was wiped. (The address book is the heart of your social network)

I'm going bat5h17 stir-crazy here. I need a mobile connection. ;)

The big question mark here is: are SIM cards in japanese keitai software-locked to the device they are in? I popped someone's SoftBank SIM into my N80 and it jumped on the network, but stupidly we didn't try to DO anything with it, like place or receive a call. I'm betting setting the device up for email in such a scenario is a P.I.T.A too.

The carriers, and in fact the law, here make it so hard to even just get an account, that no-one has tried this yet, or rather, it is so rare and specialized knowledge, it just isn't available.

So yeah... crazyyyyy...

I just had lunch with Mika who graciously allowed me to try her SIM card in the N80. After asking for her unlock code, the phone immediately jumped on the network. We successfully made a phone call AND, most importantly, I was able to send an email via the 3G. (i.e.: the network's data access point was autodiscovered and added to my available Access Points.)

This means that one solution is to find someone to get me a cheap phone+plan, and pull the SIM card out. ;)

Cheaper behavior

Calling my mobile carrier just now to modify my services brought to the forefront some interesting considerations.

My main purpose was to disable call messaging (voice mail): I haven't checked my voice mailbox, I am not exaggerating, in a year. Further more, hearing my phone ring and then hearing the SMS notification that someone has left me a voicemail message is the single most annoying thing in my life at the moment.

So I put aside procrastination and called in to cancel that service outright. Feels good to finally scratch an itch. ;)

Anyway, I ask to have my services listed. Voice Mail and Caller ID at $9/mth and Internet at $20/mth.

Internet? Are you kidding me? On your shitty slow GPRS? I've got WiFi on this thing!

Five minutes later I am left with the carrier's most basic voice service package and Caller ID (am I the call screener from hell, an under-appreciated trait acquired from an ex-gf).

Moral of the story:
As the variety and usefulness of access to various communication interfaces (cell frequencies & protocols [such as GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G W-CDMA, 4G etc], "computer networking" frequencies and protocols [WiFi, WiMax, etc], personal area networking frequencies & protocols [BlueTooth, UWB]) my mobile device can handle increases, my need for a "POTS" "cellphone service provider" dwindles.

Duh. Lots of people have been talking about this for a while now... but until you actually experience it...

Also, cheaper is misleading: the handset cost a small fortune. ;)

A consciousness

(get past the melodrama and the fact that it's an anime / "oh it's cheesy scifi" ;)


Just as there are many parts needed to make a human a human
there's a remarkable number of things needed to make an individual what they are.

A face to distinguish yourself from others.
A voice you aren't aware of yourself.
The hand you see when you awaken.
The memories of childhood, the feelings for the future

That's not all.

There's the expanse of the data net my cyber-brain can access...*

All of that goes into making me what I am.
Giving rise to a consciousness that I call "me."

And simultaneously confining "me" within set limits.

* Drop this phrase for a moment, and consider "what am I? What constitutes "me"?". Then consider that your knowledge and memories are all products of your experience, as transmitted to your mind via your 5 senses. Then imagine that you have a new sense, which feeds knowledge directly into your mind (regardless of I/O: be it visual/audio, direct neural stimulation, whatever).

What is "real" then, and what makes you, you?
And when everyone you interact with is at that same level, where knowledge and experince sync happens, what differentiates you from me? (this is explored in the later TV series, where 9 AI robots develop personalities even though they are continuously synchronizing their minds.)

We are still far from accessible "augmented reality" systems, let alone sync'ing capabilites, but we do have their early forbearers now: weblogs, social network aware software (still crap), aggregators, moblog photo sharing. All these things contribute to peripheral awareness enhancements of select people and data sources around us. Most of those who have been exposed to all this have stymied the "data overload" by retreating a little bit, hitting our aggregators a little less often, etc, but we have tasted the fruit and we do seek to stay connected.

I'd like to start building better tools and UIs for this peripheral awareness, this external, tele proprioception.

Vicious Interface

vi Cheat sheet

the above is a cheat sheet for the vi terminal-based text editor. it is evil in it's powerful complexity. amongst geek ideology wars, vi is often pitted again emacs. the emacs camp backronyms vi to mean "vicious interface"

my intention in posting this is to communicate the idea that this cheat sheet is, in effect, the GUI of vi, and that that is indeed vicious.

editing crontab in vi is a pita.

Ok that wasn't so hard... ;)

Find teh kittens!

From a list of undergraduate projects available at the Center for Intelligent machines at McGill, "Content-Based Image Retrieval":

2. Finding Animals in Internet Imagery Using Learning Methods

This project, based on a recently published paper, involves finding images on the Internet that contain animals. Recently Viola et al. have introduced a rapid object detection scheme based on a boosted cascade of simple feature classifiers. In a more current paper, two extensions to their approach were introduced: Firstly, a novel set of rotated Haar-like features was proposed. These features significantly enrich the original simple features and can also be calculated efficiently. Secondly, based on a thorough analysis of different boosting algorithms (namely, Discrete, Real and Gentle Adaboost), it was found that the Gentle Adaboost learning method was the superior training approach. The complete object detection training and detection system is available in the Open Computer Vision Library Therefore, the primary objective of this project is to use this software to implement the search for animals.

Far less funny are numbers 1 ("Keeping Track of Humans and Objects in Videos for Surveillance Applications") and 3 ("Detecting Moving Objects on the Street Using a Color Video Surveillance Camera"), which are basically top-down surveillance research. Shame on you Mr. Levine.

In any case, I am a little surprised to realize this stuff is going on here. I'm especially intrigued by the "Shared Reality Environment" Lab. Where do these people hang out and socialize? ;)


setfacl gets soooo much more useful after you realise you can also getfacl.


getfacl --access --tabular -R -P ... ah that's why you can't do anything on that server, Jer...

IRC logging, revisited

This afternoon I set up a "logger bot" which monitors and logs the GlobalVoices IRC channel.
About an hour ago, Karl showed me the log he tweaked for the Semantic Web Interest Group IRC channel and mentioned how he structured some of the data.

Now, let's think of IRC for a moment not as a place to chat with people, but rather as text entry point.. for whatever.

Ok not whatever, let's think of it as a task logger for small groups.

The IRC bot logs in chronological order everything entered intot he channel, timestamps it and records who "said it".

Say you have a team of people working on a project who wish to keep a log of the tasks they accomplish. Just type it!

"Fixed bug #234"
"changed the color of the links"

This is already doable, out of the box. I just need to set it up and let the team in.

But I want more.

Say our project has several departments: "design", "technology", "editorial", "management". Say also our project is really a bunch of smaller projects: "main site", "wiki", "intranet", "conference in Delhi". Or just you want to be able to tag things: "PITA", "fixed", "researched"... or, like in, you want "send" something to someone's attention: "for:mike", "for:karl", "for:francis".

The syntax should be stupid; in the IRC text input, for example:
# tech, aggregator | caching system is 98% done. I just added OPML flatfiles to the output

or send a task to someone:
# design, mainsite, pita, for:jer, todo | please install that gizmo plugin

I imagine it can't be hard to add the code to handle this functionality to this Perl logger bot... or any good solid Python one.

Did I say more?
I want it to pipe everything in realtime and timestamped, via whatever XML-RPC/Atom/FooAPI, preserving authors and tags, to WordPress. Why? Because WP is easy to theme and will output RSS feeds of any context you want: overall, per tag/category, per author...

I will put up the dev environment, help test and throw in... $50. Who wants to code this with me?

This setup could also be used for quick "tumblelogs" or "mumblelogs".

Ideally I'd want a Jabber bot instead but eh... if anyone's game... all the code is available, we just need to pack it up... another $50 for the Jabber version =)

Everything part II

continuation of previous post

They say there is opportunity in chaos. The chaos they speak of exists generally outside, and on the fringes of, "The System". Humanity, for better or worse, seeks always to order, structure, the chaos and benefit form it somehow, bringing it into "The System". This is how we, as a society ("The System"), move forward.

Intrinsic to this ordering, is contextualizing. It is what it is all about. Contexts are signifiers, icons, containers... parts of a system.

Find the context that you are interested in, even passionate about. Learn as much of it as you can, and never stop learning about it.

Then, go out to fringes and look at what's new in the chaos. What new elements and attributes are relevant to your contexts. Identify them and think of how they can be made useful, valuable to yourself and all around you.

The chaos is the environment. The world in it's myriad evolutions and revolutions. What new elements and bits has a shift in technology, medium, politics, economy, etc... created.

Then, just do it. But do it because it's what you must do, need to do, want to do. Everything else will come.

Well stated

Lucas Gonze puts into words what most iPod/iTunes users haven't quite become aware of yet:

why you need more music

from Wired -- The Day the Music Died:

I thought at first I had misheard him.

"... library of 90,000 songs, and iTunes can't handle it." [...] I had
no idea people were amassing collections of this size.

My own paltry iTunes library runs just shy of 500 songs -- a little
over a day and a half of music -- and that includes every selection
from Pipes of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Now, I spend a lot of
time listening to music, but like most people I tend to play my
favorites a lot.

Research I have seen supports that writer's number. 500 songs is about the average.

I remember times in my life where I had a strictly limited music collection, and I kept things fresh by listening at finer and finer levels of detail. Those days should be over for most of us, though. It's important for individuals to grow their collections past the "enough" marker, whether that's 50,000 songs or even just 500, because at that point you stop listening in the old way.

The new way is to treat music more like a newspaper than a book, so
that a continuous stream of fresh content is intrinsic to the media.
If you hear a good hook somewhere, the next day you should find that
hook remixed into another song. You should never again, post 20th
century, post the era when music and manufactured goods were
synonomous, think of music as something so static that 500 songs could
encompass it.

The idea that a 500 song collection makes sense is based on a
misunderstanding of the medium. Maybe you'll only have 500 songs on
hand at any one time -- that makes sense. But which songs those are
should be a constantly rotating subset of a gigantic collection which
lives out in the cloud.

Yep. I was thinking about another facet of all this just last night as I was reminded how I haven't had time in a long time to a) get new music, b) maintain my playlists and c) update my iPod. There are now enough services which could theoretically stream me new tunes constantly, but so far they all require some acrobatics, which is annoying.'s player comes closest to what I want, but there's no way to take anything with me if I want it.

(Podcasting and radio streams have too much blah blah. Shut up already. If the price for not triggering my language centers with inane claptrap is my having to take the time to manage my own music, then I guess I may have to go that way. Just saying. ;)

In any case, it isn't a terribly high priority for me at all, hence the cost/benefit barrier not being overcome. Back to 80Gig library.

Oh and nevermind the insanity of attempting to manage so much media. Between file and metadata management, it all becomes a pile very quickly. ;)

MIT Center for Collective Intelligence


Our basic research question is: How can people and computers be connected so that—collectively—they act more intelligently than any individuals, groups, or computers have ever done before?

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

Use Case Scenarios

It is SO hard for me to write these scenarios without diving into "how I would build this." I keep going over and back over and having to edit out whispered pre-suppositions of "how."
This is where "technological determinism" is bred, in use cases written with the engineering cap on. ;)

Must deactivate the tech-brain. Tell a story dammit.

"UK and US companies sold mobile phone tapping equipment to Vietnam"

Reporters sans frontières - Vietnam:

Reporters Without Borders has learned that a British company, Silver Bullet, and a US company, Verint Systems (a subsidiary of Comverse Technology), sold equipment for intercepting mobile phone calls to the Vietnamese intelligence services. The source of this information, the UK-based Jane’s Defence Weekly, said a subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industries acted as intermediary in some of the sales.

“We are appalled to learn that our phone calls with Vietnamese cyber-dissidents have been monitored with equipment provided by European and US companies,” the press freedom organisation said. “Coming a year after it emerged that Yahoo! cooperates with the Chinese police, this new case reinforces our conviction that telecommunications companies must be forced to respect certain rules of ethical conduct. In particular, they should be banned from selling surveillance equipment to repressive governments.”

The sales were revealed by Robert Karniol in an article headlined “Vietnamese army enhances mobile phone monitoring” in the 31 October 2005 issue of Jane’s Defence Weekly (JDW). He said the London-based Silver Bullet had recently sold two P-GSM stations (portable mobile phone listening devices - see image) to Vietnam for $250,000 each. Elta (a subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industries) and Aikap Group, another Israeli company, acted as intermediaries in this transaction.

The JDW article said the equipment sold by Silver Bullet complemented similar equipment provided to Vietnam in 2002 by the US-based company Verint Systems. Verint is a subsidiary of Comserve Technology, a telecommunications company quoted on the Nasdaq exchange whose former boss, Kobi Alexander, is wanted by the FBI for securities fraud and is a fugitive from justice.

Reporters Without Borders tried to contact Silver Bullet and Verint Systems yesterday, but nobody in either company was available to comment on the JDW article. The organisation found information about the P-GSM interception system on the Silver Bullet site yesterday, but the site was down this morning.

The JDW article was picked up yesterday in the newsletter published by an organisation that defends the rights of Vietnam’s Montagnard people.

Mobile Media Conference 2007 call for papers

My mobile, wireless, nomadic, policy, geo wonk friends... check it out.

Various forms of mobile media have been imagined for sometime, and are now a reality: mobile Internet, new forms of mobile text, mobile music, mobile film and video, mobile games, mobile learning, mobile media for the workplace, videotelephony, and mobile television. This relatively short history of mobile telephony is concurrently marked by the shift of the role of users from consumers to active producers – and mobile media is being heralded as a new site for consumption, democratic expression, individualism, citizenship, and creativity.

In this international conference we aim to comprehensively analyse and debate mobile media – exploring its emerging structures, features, practices, value chains, producers and audiences, delving into its social, cultural, aesthetic and commercial implications, and debating its futures.

The conference will feature leading scholars including Genevieve Bell (Intel), Stuart Cunningham (Queensland University of Technology), Shin Dong Kim (Hallym University), Leopoldina Fortunati (University of Undine), Leslie Haddon (London School of Economics), Angel Lin (Chinese University of Hong Kong), Dong Hoo Lee (Incheon University), Rich Ling (Telenor), Shin Mizukoshi (University of Tokyo), Raul Pertierra (Ateneo de Manila and University of Philippines), Misa Matsuda (Chuo University) and Judy Wajcman (Australian National University).

We also invite papers on all aspects of mobile media, including, but certainly not restricted to:

* what does it mean to talk about mobiles as media?
* how do we map and theorise the transformations underway with mobile platforms, applications, and networks?
* mobile art
* mobiles and photography
* emerging cultural and narrative forms for mobiles (such as mobile films and videos)
* intersections between mobiles and Internet technologies
* wireless technologies and cultures
* mobile television, radio, and other kinds of broadcasting
* video calling and communications
* sexuality, intimacy, and mobile media
* mobile media and national or regional cultures
* subcultures, minority cultures, majoritarian cultures, and mobile media
* how do issues such as gender, sexuality, disability, socio-economics, cultural and linguistic contexts continue to inflect differing practices in the far-from-even-and-even terrain of mobiles?
* mobile media and political economy
* mobile gaming
* what are the implications of mobile media for our concepts of culture, communication, and media
* mobiles, community, and public sphere
* mobile media, place and space
* ramifications of mobile media for creative, cultural and media industries
* challenges of mobile media for policy, regulation, and legislation.

Abstracts of 300 words are due by 31st August 2006 (please send copy of abstract to both organizers).

Open Data Movement talk in Helsinki

For the last two weeks I have been dying for an excuse, any excuse, to be in Helsinki right now. The announcement of Matt Biddulph's Aula talk today comes a full 48 hours too late for me to do up and go. Flights went from $1,200 to $6,000 (cause I'd want to go tomorrow morning and not stay a week.)

My personal tragedies aside, I am very pleased and intrigued by the fact that the Aula folks, and entourage, are peeking into Open Data. Though, from the write up it sounds more like Open Content they are talking about...

Around here, Michael and a bunch of a bunch of folks have been organizing Civic Access:

Citizens for Open Access to Civic Information and Data (CivicAccess) is a group of citizens which believes all levels of government should make civic information and data accessible at no cost in open formats to their citizens. We believe this is necessary to allow citizens to fully participate in the democractic process of an "information society."


  1. To encourage all levels of governments (county, municipal, provincial, federal) to make civic data and information available to citizens without restrictions, at no cost, and in useable open formats.

  2. To encourage the development of citizen projects using civic data and information

Making civic data and information freely available to citizens is important because:

  • Citizen participation in decision-making is fundamental to democracy

  • Good decisions are made by informed citizens

  • Quality civic data and information are fundamental to keeping citizens informed in an "information society"

  • Taxes have already paid for civic data and information; therefore these should be made available at no cost to citizens

  • Citizen projects using civic data will generate innovative solutions to social, economic and environmental problems

  • Citizen projects using civic data will allow citizens to creatively plan their communities

  • This is what a democracy looks like!

In this context, Open Data refers to such information as government activities (like "TheyWorkForYou" and "OpenSecrets"), geographical data (hello all you geo wonks, salivating at Google Maps. Can you imagine what geographical resources your government, which you pay for, has access to?), and in combination with Open Content--cultural objects, like BBC archives, all the way to local event listings...

Sorry, distracted by work.. but you get the picture right?

I spot WiFi from the corner of my eye

I've toted around for years various WiFi detectors and sniffers, to find Wireless Internet access as I roam around. They ugly, clunky, totally utilitarian dedicated devices that resulted in my actually getting a connection only a small percentage of the time. Plus, the were only useful, when they worked, when I really need to pull out the portable computer for whatever reason on the spot and that was really really rare.

However, I've now had this WiFi enable mobile device for a bit over two or three weeks and I find myself constantly wondering if I have WiFi access at this moment. So I can upload this photo, or video, or audio, or send this email, you know?

So I spent part of my evening searching the web for WiFi detecting jewelry. Granted I didn't search very hard, but I found nothing. It seems much of the pieces to make something neat and discreet still comes in too bulky a size and with to great a power draw to make it worthwhile: WiFi antennas and logic-boards are still quite big and polling for signal is a battery killer. Add to that wiring, capacitors and LEDs and it's no longer something you want on your wrist or around you neck.

So my dream is of a light-ish, rubbery wristband (à la "Livestrong", only wider, more substantial, which it would probably have to be anyways to accommodate all the tech embedded in it, or perhaps more akin to the Stark-Fossil watches), red (for protected, WEP etc, detected WiFi) and green (for unprotected, i.e."open" detected WiFi) EL wire, whose intensity would increase with signal strength. Multiple frequencies detected of either open or closed Access Points could be rolled into just a single stimulus for the EL, but having both closed and open WiFi in one's surroundings would result in a yellow glow from the wristband.

That would be cute.

What would be most practical however is if this were a feature of the mobile device itself, which already has the WiFi antenna, the battery and the supporting software platform. I would love for the back of my next Nokia to glow pale blue when I walk into an open WiFi hotspot's radio signal.

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!

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


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.

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? ;)

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.


Quick! Someone make a t-shirt for these people.

It should say:

"Non-conformity is the new conformity"
"zealotry is sexy again!"

("I'm with stupid"'s already been done.)

Pride is such a terribly dangerous thing. And too often people confuse pride in their work (what they have produced, with love and attention and skill and experience and and), and pride in their tools. (Or worse, instead of pride in one's society's culture/contribution to humanity, pride in one's rivers and lakes, cities and towns, laws and forms of government, ideologies and religions, color of eyes, hair and skin... etc etc...)

Pride yourself on (the quantifiable) doing good, not (the terribly subjective) being good.

/rant off. ;)

Musical Nokia

I'm poking around Nokia trying to decide between an N70 or N80, but that's not the point.

I called up the Nokia main portal page, then moved my attention over to something else for a moment, and in so doing inadvertently moved my mouse... over the "Business Solutions" button... twice.

Two notes rang out. "ding" "dong"


Further ludic exploration reveals that the two green "Business Solutions" and "Culture of Mobility" buttons have the playful characteristic whereby sequential notes of a melody are played on individual mouse-overs.

Neat. I played with it for a while. I suspect I know who inspired this.

10 years on

I just came across this interview with Joi done in 1995.
Reading it I am struck by a few things:
- 10 years ago Joi was roughly my age.
- He saw very very clearly what was going on, on many different levels and across many sectors, and thus it was very very easy for him to predict certain things (most of which came to pass) and bank on them successfully.
- Having that vision comes from being open, attentive, curious and having access to a lot of people and information.

Note to self.

Cellular automata talk


Should be interesting.

No phone

For anyone trying to call me: no phone.
I left my charger in San Francisco (!) and Aaron's apparently been busy.
Perhaps now's a good time to get a new one...

Still no phone, and to make matters worse, my home internet connection has gotten super flakey in the last 24 hours, intermittently dropping out completely every 45 seconds or so. I feel like I have some sort of Parkins-Heimers' where my motor skills are hit and miss and my memory spotty. :\

Marvin! Robots!

Picture 2

My friend Marvin, whom I met at the Global Voices conference in London last december, sent me an email the other day. Amongst other things he shared this:

I wanted to tell you of my success in being accepted as a Fellow in the Digital Vision Program at Stanford. For 9 months, starting in September, I will research and develop my project, Robotics Stimul-I, and then return to Jamaica to implement it.

Robotics Stimul-I builds on the work I started with the innercity kids in Jones Town, and aims to show that learning robotics can increase literacy and numeracy for a group of at-risk youth. This activity will take place at a the community's own Robotics Learning Center that will be built as a part of the project. The idea of such a facility has it's roots in MIT's Computer Clubhouse concept and is also inspired by Lego Mindstorms Centers.

Once this is completed, it will Jamaica's first Robotics Learning Centre and the first community resource of this nature, built right in the heart of the innercity.

Please recommend any person(s)/organization(s) that you think might support this project.

I am really happy to see Marvin's momentum with this. I'm definitely going to try to hook him up with anyone I know who might have any kind of interest in this stuff, from robotics to community projects.

The screencap above was us trying to troubleshoot iChat AV between him and his sister.

Gentle brush past my shoulder

This is so close to me it's not even funny.

Nokia and Yahoo! add Flickr support in Nokia Nseries Multimedia Computers

You can upload your full size photos to Flickr directly from the camera or image Gallery application on your Nokia Nseries device. Another supported feature is the ability to add comments to the photos that are uploaded from the Nokia Nseries device.

You know who you are. All 5 or 6 of you. (or do you?)
Big smile. I am just happy to be in the room. Even just as a whispering ghost.

Now if only one of these phones fulfilled *my* I/O needs. (ahem... pen entry, dictation input, cerebral interface... :p


Some days, I tell ya.

Here's an example of how sometimes, try as I might to do something smartly, I end up in a stupid situation.

On my way back to the lab early this morning, I decide to turn right and not left, and go to Akihabara to hunt for a new 2.5" hard drive and external enclosure. This task has almost become tradition for me since every time I come to Tokyo, 2.5" hard drive capacities increase. (I was hoping to find one of the new Fujitsu 12mm thick 200Gig drives but dammit I couldn't find the nifty deli-style hard drive shop anywhere... nor did I find any enclosures that would fit it if I had.)

This adventure started poorly when I realized I had hopped OFF the Yamanote Line at Ebisu to grab the Hibya line metro up to Akiba... when I simply could have just gotten on the Yamanote in the opposite direction, which would take me there much much quicker and above ground.

At that point I should have taken instead the outbound Hibya to Naka-Meguro, then on home to the lab... had I known... but I didn't, and already I was not thinking straight. Where's my head?

So I arrive in Akihabara seemingly a lifetime later. Hibya is slow as molasses and I had to pee badly.

Electric Town does not open till 10ish. It's 9:30. I duck into a Dutour coffee shop, dutifully order a latté and realize only chain smoking salary men hangout in Dutours. Ack. By the time I have finished the coffee and the Dutour employee has finished cleaning the washroom before letting me in, it's past 10. (Buddy was not happy to see a goddamn gaijin jump into the washroom he just made sparkling for his fellow nihonjin. Tough luck pal. He was waiting for me to get out to redo the job. "I just peed bro... and washed my hands..." Whatever.)

Akihabara has *always* confused the hell out of me. The streets all seem familiar... but then they all look the same too. Like I said, I couldn't find the shop I wanted. I did find one that I did recognize from previous flailing visits and a quick run though their chart of "which hard drives we have fresh today" revealed that the 12mm 200Gig drives were not available yet and if they were they'd be a pretty penny... Fine. The 120Gig 5400rpm Seagate is fine by me. Lemme go look around a bit more.

By noon I am no closer to anything. Inside an Ishimaru (big box electronics store, 3rd floor), I decide to pick up a Buffalo 2.5 120Gig 5200rpm 2.5 disk+enclosure deal for pretty much what it would have cost me to buy the parts separately and assemble it.

Except I already spent three hours of my time on this. I bill high lately so that's not peanuts. In fact it'd have been more cost effective to send someone to get it for me, dammit. :p

Anyways. Whining.

So I buy this thing. The cashier does his best to explain that "the software is japanese only"... whatever pal, I don't need whatever software this thing comes with.

Or do I...

Time to head back. I decide to take the Hibya line again since, even though it is damn slow, it takes me straight to Naka-Meguro where I just quickly transfer to the Toyoko track which goes to Jiyugaoka.

As a bonus, Hibya also stops at Tsukiji. I'll be damned if I am not going to have sashimi lunch in the fish market mecca of the world.

I'm gonna spare you the details. Sure the fish was good but whatever. The fish is good everywhere here. Let's just say I had 2 half lunches in two different places, mainly because the guy behind the counter at the first place was... not having a good day.

$35 later, I'm wandering the backstreet markets. Now THAT was awesome. If I bought my groceries here everyday I'd die happy. For 200 yen (roughly $2) I got one heck of a fish steak which I'll grill up tonight.

Don't ask me what kinda fish. It looks like salmon but darker. And the guy wanted to sell me 6 slabs for 1000 yen. Crazy.

Anyways... an hour later, I'm at the lab. It's 2pm, I have 100 emails that came in overnight...

and dammit this hard drive won't mount.

Crack the case open, remove the interface, swap it with my old trusty FW one. Mounts no problem. I format the thing, name it "Hoppy", then transfer it back to it's original enclosure.

Still no mount.

I peruse the packaging and the instruction leaflet--all in japanese--and realize there is some sort of security software built into the firmware on the board. Since I can't read the directions, I don't know what I need to do to get around it. Worse, I have a bad hunch that by formatting the drive via another interface, i may have screwed up their silly little protection mechanism.

This means I have to go buy an enclosure. Decent ones go for about $30-40. And another 3 hours of my time. :p

David Suzuki

I've been meaning to write about David Suzuki for a long time, and haven't yet mainly because I have not done what I told myself I'd do first: actually get acquainted with "his stuff", knowing it would affect my life pretty profoundly, beyond the effect of watching "The Nature of Things" growing up.

Go on, go on, read up.

Anyways, I have yet to dive in, but I came across this article in the Harvard Gazette: Suzuki's passionate plea for change, talking about his acceptance speech for an award he just won:

The human footprint on the Earth is very different from what might have been surmised when modern humans first emerged on the African savanna 150,000 years ago, Suzuki suggested, as not-very-impressive creatures who walked upright and didn't have much hair.

"If any human being in those early days had said, 'Ha! Piece of cake, we're going to take over this whole savanna, we're going to take over this planet,' we would have laughed him into a cave and said, 'Don't listen to him, he's nuts.'" (this is classic Suzuki stuff! I can *hear* him saying it, grinning on CBC on Sunday evening.)


For more than two decades, Suzuki noted, scientists have been warning about impending global environmental crisis. In 1992, a group of leading scientists of the world, including half the world's living Nobel laureates, issued a warning to humanity: "'Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about,'" he quoted from their statement. "No more than one or a few decades remain ... . A great change in our stewardship of the Earth and of life upon it is required."

"The media response was terrifying," Suzuki said, pausing for effect: "There was none."


In addition to the news media, Suzuki also blasted conventional economics as "not a science but a set of values posing as a science," which tends to dismiss concerns like the ozone layer and underground aquifers as mere "externalities."

But, he emphasized, "There is no environment out there. We are the Earth."


"the Earth is our mother; not poetically, not metaphorically, but literally."

So with that, my friends, I tell you this: I've been working with a lot of human rights and freedom of speech people lately and it's time I also dive into the sustainable development and environmentalist camps.

Get me my hippie spray. ;p

"America's Online Censors"

Rebecca does an absolutely great job of summing up many of the issues and thoughts and results of the U.S. Congressional hearings held last week concerning U.S. technology companies and their roles in Internet censorship regimes around the world.

We must not allow American companies to deprive Zhao and his generation of their right to shape their country's political future. But we must do it in a way that shows we respect the rights of the Chinese people--and the rights of every human being on the planet--as much as we respect our own.

Best IM status message ever.


Awesome. Merci Francis. ;)

On the success of weblogs et al

The success of all these things such as weblogs, websyndication, etc, is directly attributable, I think, to one basic fact: weblogs are basic, rudimentary Content Management Systems. At risk of over-simplifying, I say that human intellect, human intelligence itself, in vasty varying levels of sophistication, is also a Content Management System.

And while over the course of human development we have evolved methods to bridge all our individual Content Management Systems, by using such technologies as speech, writing, printing and their myriad extensions, in keeping with the acceleration afforded to it by "electric communication", it is in the past 10 years that we have built the infrastructure for what we have over the last 3, seen emerge.

It is still early. We have not yet transposed semantics into what we have built recently yet. That will come. Soon.

I gleefully repeat to anyone who will listen, that we are "building out telepathy", echoing McLuhan's "we are extending our central nervous systems"... though we have overshot that already! The nerves are laid out in fiber optic, cable, wireless and POTS world-wide, the basic methods of sending data standardized in protocols layered in the TCP/IP stack (HTTP is a layer in that; the Application layer).

We began relaying messages at first. Now we have begun structuring the messages. This will continue.

All our technology is externalization of ourselves. As such it is fundamentally organic and follows easily predictable paths; if you have the patience and know how to tend a bonsai tree...

Upon reading the back cover of "Diamond Age"

"The Diamond Age : Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" (Neal Stephenson)

I thought:

Nanotech will bridge cyberspace and "realspace". Why? Because if indeed in cyberspace anything is possible, it is so because anything can be created from scratch and manipulated at any level. Advanced nanotech, in theory, will allow this as well.

"Create" is the key word here. If men are gods in cyberspace...

This thought is probably nothing new. Just wanted to share what just shot though my head.

The Mac OS Binder

Not Finder, Binder.

Simple app, basic UI on top of a database and a few APIs.

Allow me to manage all my tags, local and remote. Remote tags could be stored locally for apps like ecto, 1001, Cocoalicious; local tags for things like MailTags, Quicksilver's File Tagging Plugin, etc.

Allow me to manage "Project" labels, or Bundles. Give me a basic hierarchical system to use if I want to. Just like the directory system I am already used to. (Whatever happened to the rumored "Piles" and "File Cabinets" functionality in the Finder? [please no hemorrhoids jokes])

Use open standards and document your interfaces sufficiently so that other developers can easily communicate with you.

Bind my data so I can Find what I am working with at any given moment: *This* email is part of *this* project which uses *these files* in *this folder*, with *this To Do and Task list*, on *this schedule* in *this Calendar*, with *this outline of notes*...

So... very... close...

While it is a closed, commercial application, Omni Group's "OmniOutliner" allows storing Aliases to files and folders from within outlines. VERY useful. More useful would be if I could bind my MailTags projects to one Outline file each. Just thinking out loud.


Justin's made his backchannel experiments an official project at the USC IMD, where he is studying.

Having experienced several types of backchannel setups myself, though never of the intensely focused and tweaked 14 screens of the ZML, I can say it is definitely not for everybody. You have to not only be of the kind of mind that can assimilate multiple input streams at once[1] and need to prepare yourself beforehand: being aware is key.

[1] This reminds me of the warrior's gaze, as explained in Miyamoto Musashi's "Book of Five Rings":

In regards to the Gaze of someone, he notes that a person must be able to perceive that which is all around him, without moving their eyeballs noticeably, which is said to be a skill which takes an enormous amount of practice to perfect. He notes that this is again one of the most important parts of strategy, as well as being able to see things which are close to you, such as the technique of an enemy, or far away, such as arriving troops, or enemies, as that is the precursor of battle, in that your actions go off what you see.


ConstellationW3 had a setup like this as well apparently at their last big thing at the S.A.T. (I missed the event and the site seems down so nyah...)

Tim Berners-Lee's weblog

TBL created the web. Now Tim Berners-Lee has a weblog. Good first post too!

(I'd quote here but you really need to read the whole thing... to give you a little history lesson. ;)

Expression Under Repression

Rebecca and Ethan and a few other of the Global Voices Online team were WSIS in Tunisia this week and today gave a workshop presentation on "Expression Under Repression", despite technically having been canceled "by the authorities".

Very exciting, awesome job gang, bravo!
Ethan and Rebecca (and John and many others I'm sure) have some interesting reports from WSIS.

Look! Up in the sky!

FlightAware. Wow.
(ugly but ... hell there's alot of data, and it is blazing fast.)

How live is FlightAware's tracking and status data?
The data displayed on FlightAware is typically six minutes delayed from real time.
How often does the data update or fresh?
For operational efficiency, the data is being read unceasingly and being processed in spurts. Generally, FlightAware does not receive position more often than per minute. Pages will automatically refresh as appropriate.
Where is this data from?
FlightAware compiles, aggregates, and processes data from a variety of sources including FlightAware's proprietary algorithms providing updated arrival time estimates to offer the most up-to-date and reliable flight tracking data on the Internet with useful and intuitive supporting information.

I tried to register on their public forums to suggest having an archive scheme accessible via dated space URIs. You know, like bogs? So you can point at something persistent reliably. "I was on this flight." (They have a dated activity log, which means they have the data... I don't mind registering for a permalink!)

via Julian Bleeker's flickr stream.

Human hands

In the process of clearing up a misunderstanding, Ethan points to a great article by one Justin Mason about cellphone repair stalls in the streets of India. Amongst other things, it speaks to how most people in a consumerist culture regard the articles they consume as "black box" products (buy, seek help to repair and/or discard; "black box" refers to anything which you know more or less how to use and what it's function is but have absolutely no idea how it does what it does, nor how to fix it if it stops doing what it does. For most of us, our cellphone is a "black box".)

More specifically, it points out how consumers of black box products somehow assume that if they don't know how a thing works, surely no one but the manufacturer could possibly know. This is of course total crap.

Let me put it this way:

What human hands can build, human hands can take apart.
What a human mind can conceive, another human's mind can deduce.
Who does which is a question depending on distribution of value (time, money, sentimental attachment, depth of consumerist streak, etc) and occurrence of need.

Even if I knew how to resole my shoes and could afford the time to do so, I probably wouldn't. If I had a cobbler down the street who could do it for n% less than the cost of a brand new pair, I'd consider it...

See what i am getting at?


Keyword Hierarchies

(This screen cap is from a demonstration of Keyword Hierarchies - a.k.a Tag Bundles, label pools, etc - and how you can apply selected keywords to multiple images at once. It also shows a surfer in a meta-hoola-skirt, surfing a bank of photos...)

This is really interesting. I firmly believe that with each media-application Apple puts out, it is learning more and more about how large quantities of data can and need to be stored and retrievable.

The latest is Aperture. A software package "made for professional photographers." I ain't no professional photographer but I'm *this* close to running out and getting a new quad G5 PowerMac just so i can run this application!

But I digress. The data object navigation features that have me applauding can be seen demonstrated on the Aperture Quicktours screen, by clicking on the "Professional Project Management" selection.

They nail multi-facetted navigation full-on. Datestamp navigation, taxonomies, implicit labels (most system generated metadata) as well as explicit labels ("keywords" and "keyword hierarchies!!!").

The only thing missing, it seems, is relationships/triplets. But I bet that Apple will release SOME new media application in the next year that will finally include relationship definitions as well.

You say hello, I say goodbye...

Well, it's happened.

The American-based internet giant, AOL, wholly-owned by Time-Warner, has formed a working partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to permit unlimited surveillance of the millions of AOL online members, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“AOL works ‘closely with the DHS’ to supply information on any AOL customer and allows agents from these entities ‘free and unfettered’ access to AOL Hq at Dulles, VA for the purpose of ‘watching over and keeping surveillance ’ on the millions of AOL customers,’ according to the report.

So that's it. As soon as I can set up a reliable Jabber server on one of my machines I am ditching all commercial IM services: AIM, ICQ, MSN, GTalk.

Bye bye.

(p.s.: rumors are flying of a Google takeover of AOL Time Warner. ”The Matrix“ indeed.)

Cross-platform collaborative text editor

Just found this which will make a few people very happy:

Gobby is a free collaborative editor based on libobby, a library which provides synced document buffers. It supports multiple documents in one session and a multi-user chat. It runs on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and other Unix-like platforms.

(Yes Michael, that means SubEthaEdit for the rest of you. ;)

I was worried but now I am relieved

This will sound like ass-kissing but I assure you it's not. Joi finally posted a really great entry after a long quiet period. (I know I know, research. Daijobu.)

More than that, it runs parallel to my suspicions regarding "what's next" and it is very exciting to me because what's next is what I have been dreaming of for as long as I can remember. And now, very soon, it will be possible.


Yup, I definitely need to hang out in California this winter.

nano cry babies

What a bunch of total hyper-obsessive morons.

1- Cotton does not scratch hard polycarbonate. Besides which do you really think for one second after 3+ years experience producing iPods, Apple would suddenly use "softer" plastic? Which, contrary to reports from these dingbats, does not get scratched by fingernails.

2- the nano is *small*, which means you are putting it in places where you may not have put previous iPods, or, in places where it now has more movement play due to reduced size. e.g.: your pocket with a single coin or *shudder* a key. The iPod, due to it's size wouldn't move around much in that situation and you'd be a bit luckier. The nano... oh yes that will scratch. (And if you're not happy with it, may I suggest another place you can stick it? Hrmm? ;)

3- things get used in this thing we call reality, they get worn out. It's a fact of life. Look, you too are getting ragged. Deal with it.

4- I have a 3 year old second generation iPod whose screen is hazy from wear. I can still see the information behind it perfectly. You're trying to tell me you put your nano in your shirt pocket a few times and now "seeing album covers and photos is impossible"? Please.

Baka. Get a grip on reality.

Biiig difference between cracked screens due to faulty manufacturing, and perceived "too much scratches" (which has always been a gripe with anal retentives and their iPods).

What we need is more McLuhan

I've been meaning to send some link love (daaah, cannot believe I used that phrase) to Mark Federman's new weblog. Mark's the Chief Strategist at the McLuhan Center at the University of Toronto. He used to write at their official weblog but understandably a situation arose where Mark's voice was being confused with the Center's "official" voice. It's been a few months actually. Sorry Mark for not mentioning it earlier.

So, free to use his own voice, Mark's been writing some really kick ass stuff.
If Corporations are Obsolete, What is Their (Reversal) Successor?
The Obsolescence of Mass-Media Journalism
Trusted Computing (a hot topic around here lately ;)
and Fascism Anyone? (I love this one, mainly since I have been saying this for over 10 years to anyone who will listen... without credentials or references mind you, just on gut instinct...)

Of course I am biased; as anyone who's had a deeper conversation with me will attest to, I always end up talking about McLuhan... or buddhism... or both combined.

Anyways, good stuff. Check it out, and Mark, keep it up. :)

Google swallows the internet whole, and you with it

First, it was about "indexing" all of the web. Then, it bought a small chunk of that web (Blogger). Then Google said "hey, there's more than the web out there!" and Google Mail was pushed out. Quickly followed by Google Talk.

There was some murmuring recently about something initially called "Ajax Office", wherein you could do all your word processing and spreadsheet work in a web browser and the files would be stored on a remote server. Google was mentioned as "a good place to do it".

I'm not sure what the deal is here but check this out... Google Wifi. Here's the salient part of this:

Why would I want to download and install Google Secure Access?

Google Secure Access allows you to establish a more secure connection while using Google WiFi. By using Google Secure Access, your internet traffic will be encrypted, preventing others from viewing the information you transmit.

Does Google Secure Access connect to a VPN server?

Yes, Google Secure Access connects to Google's VPN ("Virtual Private Network") server provided for this service.

As with everything Google does, yes this is a very good and very much needed service. But what this means is that everything you do on the network goes through Google's servers.

What sort of information does Google have access to?

If you choose to use Google Secure Access, your internet traffic will be encrypted and sent through Google's servers to the Internet. The data that is received will then be encrypted and sent back through our servers to your computer. Your privacy is important to us, we strongly encourage you to read our Privacy Policy to be fully informed about how your privacy is protected.

Oh please. Policy? A few words to soothe my worries? "Policy" is as weak as the paper it is written on, not to mention the laws of the country they are used in. (For example, it is the policy of Yahoo! China to share the contents of their database with chinese police.)
Encryption? You're joking me right? We're talking about the single largest networked computer in the world. Not to mention they are the ones encrypting the tunnel for you. You don' think they can decrypt it?

Is there a fee for using Google Secure Access?

No, Google Secure Access is free.

Of course. You are supplying them with their main invaluable natural resource: content. For free. Who's getting the real bargain here?

Nothing is free, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. ;)

Trust is something that must be fluid and reflexive. Faith is very very dangerous.

That was quick!

"Apple supports video podcasting"

Seems they "turned it on" without telling anyone.

Told. you. so. :D


Slowly, they are learning. See, look! TagHop:

Taghop allows you to relate categories on the web. If your "Technology" category is related to someone elses "Software" category, then link the two. Someone else may relate their category to the same "Software" category, allowing you to discover a new source of information that may be important. The more people similar to you collaborate, the more new valuable sources of information you will find.

Yay! The funny thing is it took us huge multi-user systems like public folksonomies to "get" that we need ontologies and relationships. Now, let's get to work doing this on our desktops.

For Mac users, we have everything we need: Spotlight, plugin "bundles", open source software. I want a personal ontology management tool which will unify my web-tags (already found in ecto etc), my mail tags (MailTags), my Address Book groups, etc etc.


Modernity | Hold -> Musak -> Static

As mentioned, I spent a "good" amount of time on the phone with various customer support lines over the last 2-3 weeks. This means alot of time on hold.

In the evolution of phone-based services, "hold" was of course an entirely necessary development. As despicable as it is, it's just a reality. To assuage the wait time, the brilliant idea of piping in muzak was introduced, and thus created an entire sub-industry for musicians. (In interview, Sting was once asked "at which moment in your career did you realize you had 'made it'?", to which he answered-paraphrased-"the day I stepped into an elevator and heard 'Roxanne' in soft tones.")

Now, a development behind-the-scenes, on the technology level, has truly dropped the experience to lower-wrung of hell conditions. Yes, IP-based telephony is now used in all but the most backwards call-centers (and really, do you want to deal with a company that can't afford to save money?), which has created two new realities: scratch-breakbeat-electronic-soft-jazz for the adult-contemporary-urban listener on hold, and IP static.

Brccccchhh dooot dooo dooo dooooo brrrchchhhhhhh doot doot brchhhhhhhh

"Your call is important to us. All our representatives are busy with other callers. Please remain on the line. Did you know you can access all our self-help support features at double you double you double you dot we love widgets dot com?"

Brccchhhhhhhh ...

I wonder how long the modern urbanite could go on without having to call Customer Care.

Doing right

Well, Dell, I must say: wow. Wow.

So I ordered this 2005FPW 20" TFT monitor from you over three weeks ago. I complained a bit about the fact that the website was essentially useless for tracking the status of my order, but when I called I was told all was well and that unfortunately there was a back order. Fair enough.

After that, the monitor showed up at my door yesterday morning, a full week earlier than I was told it would. Wonderful!

However, unfortunately, the one I got had a defective DVI port. I spent the better part of my afternoon figuring that out, a process which included a very helpful and knowledgeable support call to you and a trip downtown to a friend's office where he had just unpacked his (he ordered it the same day as me after I sent him the URL to the special you were running) to see if it was the DVI on my Powerbook or a faulty cable. Turns out IS the DVI port on the monitor itself.

I then spent the rest of the afternoon in the maddening maze that is your customer support phone experience. I believe I placed a half dozen phone calls, at one point, being so close to service only to be told your systems were oddly enough down. Roar. Considering I was playing phone tag with two other customer support departments (web hosting.. don't ask), my day was pretty much scrapped.

So I called one last time yesterday evening. The call took all of 4 minutes and it was settled. A replacement would be dispatched within 5 to 7 business days and we'll deal with the return of the defective unit after that. I barely believed my ears then.

I barely believed my ears when I received a call from you just 10 minutes ago. The monitor had shipped, Purolator Express, I should get it latest 2 days from now. Oh and it is a brand new one and not a refurbished one (I had be warned about that by one of the support folks N calls ago...;)

"What about the defective unit?"

"Oh just call us once you've set the new one up. We'll send Fed Ex around then."

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Oh and by the way; the monitor is awesome. I am using it with a VGA adapter at the moment and although that makes the image fuzzy, the brightness and clarity is awesome and I am so loving the rotation feature.


Safe travels gaucho

So, Steven's probably sitting on the tarmac at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport right now, beginning a 2 month trip to Cuba and, I suspect, to the core of himself.

No, he's not going to go sit on the beach. He's brought with him his bicycle, his Powerbook, his dSLR... and all his knowledge and experience in IT, networking, web communication. Not to mention a desire to do some good.

Over dimsum yesterday, I asked Steven exactly what his plan is. At least, where is going to start, what's he going to do.

Well, first he's meeting with a leading cuban paediatrician in hopes to have cuban participation in, an international research networking project Steven undertook for the Pasteur Institute.

He's also going to go visit the Linux user group at the Universidad de La Habana. They have an Ubuntu-based Linux distro, which apparently comes bundled with pre-configured Jabber client and RSS aggregator. I have a feeling he'll be dropping some of his ace WiFi-fu on them, having established his own community WiFi network in his hometown.

And then he's off to cycle all over the island, staying with families in their homes along the way. Apparently Cuba is extremely well suited to such cycling trips, with excellent roads and government subsidized rooming houses all over.

I made him promise to blog and photolog as much as he possibly can.

Bonne route mon ami. Be safe.

Dude, yer waiting on a Dell!

Monitor update.
So, they are out of stock and estimating another 5 days before they get them in. Then, if they do, it's a few more days to get it shipped to me.

To make matters worse, this info is not available to me via my online account chez Dell; an elaborate and sophisticated e-commerce platform designed exclusively, it seems, to allow me to login, set payment options and find the customer support phone number...

To add insult to injury, yesterday at Staples/Bureau-En-Gros I saw the Viewsonic VP2000s 20" TFT, with more resolution (1600x1200 as opposed to the Dell's 1680x1050), rebated to $699. My Dell order totals $689.00 taxes and shipping in, so the VS would be over a hundred dollars more... but I'd have it here, now. That's worth a hundred bucks.

Good thing I am not at all up to snuff on my TFT technology (though a comparison of listed tech specs, Dell/Viewsonic, leads me to think the Dell is higher quality), nor have the time to be, cause otherwise I may just have bought it. :p

Break it down, build it up

(just a quick note.)

Existant data-object storage and retrieval systems:
- Hard hierarchialization ("taxonomies", "categories with parent/child relationships")
- Analytico-synthetic ("Faceted categorization", "Semantic Web")
- Unstructured labelization ("Tags", "Labels")
- Statistical extrapolation ("Keywords")
- Unstructured data ("Full text search") [Disclaimer: not taking into account grammar and vocabulary within, i.e. a paragraph of intelligible english text. See the nightmare that is natural language processing.]

Find a UI metaphor that incorporates all in an intuitive, easy to use way.

(Title refers to a natural cycle that all things go though. Birth and death. Development and decay. Information is no exception.)

some pig

OMG... well.. videocasting is here and the predictable severely rapid decline of "culture" * may begin.

You should check out the Internet TV channel "some pig".
If you don't have DTV, you can get it here:
And then subscribe to this channel:

So yeah, click on "some pig" and then look for "Rezelscheft"... and marvel at what technology has done for us.

"some pig" videos are directly available here. Do check out Magnifitrick. It is genius.

* I am currently reading "Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy" by Dave Hickey ("Winner of the 'Genius' Award!", "Macarthur Fellow 2001-2005"!), and so far it is a fun ride with incredibly well written insights and is as terribly entertaining as it is smart, in an off-the-cuff way, apparently out of the norm for Mr. Genius. My favorite line so far is "(Define culture!)", which he casts as a sideways shouted taunt at his fellow academics at a University in Las Vegas where he seem to have holed up. I almost yelped an "amen!" out loud...
In any case, Hickey seems to be all up for participatory culture so I would love to hear what he thinks of this. I wonder if I can get my mitts on him...



We envision a country where Cambodians can learn and use computers in their own language, a country that does not have to change to a new language in order to use computers!

Bravo. They're translating and localizing stuff like Firefox—renamed Mekhala— and OpenOffice and an email client, as well as providing Khmer Unicode software for people's computers. Fantastic.

Steven's also been telling me about the Cuban Linux distro, based on Ubuntu, which comes bundled and pre-configured with a Jabber IM client AND account, as well as an RSS aggregator.

Judge a book by it's thumbprint

A few months ago I enabled a feature on Joi Ito's weblog which I called his "blog thumbprint". What it is, is a weighted list of the most frequently used words in the entirety of Joi's blog, with the text size adjusted to represent the frequency of use. The bigger the word, the more Joi uses it. It's useful to see what's on his mind, long term.

It looks like a tag cloud, but it isn't. It's just a word count, mashed into a list of keywords. I'd like to point out that this display method is very useful for things other than just tags, thank you very much.

Amazon calls it "concordance" and it's a feature that seems to be on for some of the books in their database, along with text stats. (Here are some other definitions for that word.)

Check it out. Very cool. And clicking on any term in the thumbprint gives you it's actual "concordance", i.e., shows it to you in the context of the line it is in, in the book.

Oh how I dream of a Sony Librié type device with a 80Gig 1.5" HD, with an open OS so that we the book geeks of the world could hack out awesome software, like this and who knows what other fantastic heuristics, for traversing our personal libraries.

"I read somewhere ... gimme a sec..."

Tags in MT admin interface


It took a few hours but I've gone and done it. I hacked out the "suggested tags" UI goodies from and grafted it into the Movable Type admin's "Edit Entry" template.

Now for my purposes, the "suggested tags" are a set of set slugs; terms another component of this behemoth of a project seeks out via a nice SQL LIKE statement and then republishes elsewhere. However, the core code allows me to use it to, say, feed in all my aggregated tags, suggested tags, popular tags, etc...

Movable Type's new "AltTemplatePath" config directive (3.16 up) makes hacking the UI much easier and less worrisome when upgrading time comes around.

And no, I didn't even open Hacking Movable Type yet. I swear.

Getting the job done

CTIN511 - Larry Gertz, originally uploaded by JulianBleeckr.

Super impressive backchannel setup at the USC IMD.
While a visiting lecturer speaks, the class takes notes and group-edits a single document (using SubEthaEdit), one person acts as "Google jockey", searching for stuff and pasting relevant bits into the document and the group AIM chat which is also going on... all of it projected on giant screens. I wish I had school like that when I was a kid. ;)

Better late than never.

Free Montreal WiFi Google mapped

Michael barked at me that "it's in WifiDOG CVS now!" the other night and I guess it's cause I haven't sparked my aggregator in a week that I missed it but...

Here's a standalone GoogleMap of all Ile Sans Fil free community WiFi hotspots in Montreal. Very cool. Even cooler is that "it's in CVS", which means any of the other community wireless projects around the world who have started using ISF's "WiFiDOG" software, can have this feature too. :)

Bit Torrent Opera

Yahoo/AP reports:

The upcoming Opera 8.0.2, now available in a test version, will try to make BitTorrent downloads seamless, just like any other download using HTTP or FTP for transfers. The exception is the appearance of a warning that users will be sharing content they receive.

Krogh said Opera isn't trying to encourage piracy but considers the tool, BitTorrent, more efficient for transferring large, legitimate files such as Linux, and now Opera, software.

This is very interesting indeed and I hope Mozilla takes note and follows suit.

In fact, I'd like to see development of this also branch out into another endeavor: browser cache sharing via a Bit Torrent-like architecture.

Over dinner some weeks ago, Karl and I riffed about how to seamlessly allow chinese Internet users to bypass the Great Firewall of China. The idea we came up with was a plugin for webrowsers (Firefox perhaps) that would act as a caching proxy and request manager. Everything would go over http, encrypted and content would be shuffled around and distributed Bit Torrent style. There would be no way to filter such requests since they are not bound to any domains or IP addresses, and text strings could not be filtered for either as it would all be encrypted.

Of course, lots of issues arise, (control of what cache items are shared, privacy, etc) but the core idea may just be feasible. I am seriously thinking of making it one of HelpPush's first OSS (Open Source Software) projects.

[thx for the link Oblivia!]

Remote backup script...

I've got an idea for a shell script/program that would be very useful to me, and probably countless others. In fact I bet countless others have already coded something like it up...

I don't care what programming language it's written in as long as I can run it more or less easily from the terminal or cron. Keep in mind it's gonna be doing a lot of network and system level stuff. Shell(?), Perl or Python are probably the top contenders.


  1. Take as input a list of server addresses, username and passwords and paths to directories to be processed, as well as local destination paths. May be multiple paths for individual servers. List can be within the first part of the script or in a separate config file.
  2. SSH to each server, cd to the directory above the one we want to backup, tar-gz it using a dated naming convention (something like SERVERNAME-DIRNAME-YYYY-MM-DD-HH-MI.tgz).
  3. Download the archive to the specified local path.
  4. Delete the archive from the server.
  5. rinse, repeat, exit.

Ideally, I'd also like to do remote SQL database backups this way... SSH in, take a (MySQL) dump, targz the file, pull it down, clean up, exit.

Who is game to hack this up for me, and for how much? Perhaps we could set up a pool on fundable for it.

Maybe I should Learn Perl the Hard Way myself... ;)

Can hate be good?

"Hate something, change something."

That's what was on the mind of Honda engineers when they supposedly made a better diesel engine. Interesting. I think it is an all-out race to not only find any and all alternatives for fossil fuels, but also try to clean up as much as possible the existing processes of them.

via Stevey

Holy map!

Mobile GMaps is a free piece of software that displays Google Maps and Keyhole satellite imagery on Java J2ME-enabled mobile phones or other devices.

Apparently it is super slow, and I imagine it sucks up alot of limited expensive bandwidth... but... drooooooool...

Apple Podcasts

I wonder if the next OS X "Security Update" will include an updated spellchecker which will recognize the word "Podcast", seeing how Apple now pretty much 0wnZ it... ;)

Hrm... lemme spark up GarageBand here and...

You don't need $ to make a hot video as long as you have the right moves

A few reasons why this is one hell of a music video:

  1. Decent tune. It's in the current not-totally-mainstreamed-to-death-yet bracket. Barely.
  2. DIY. Cheap home camera, on a tripod or picnic table. Looks like iMovie for post prod, what post prod there was...
  3. Real. no set, no effects, no cliché scenario. Just four guys dancing.
  4. Coordination. What these guys saved on video expenses, they put into choreography and practice time.
  5. Four words: SINGLE TAKE. Holy crap.

via Ken, whom a year ago I told, in essence: "Ditch the goddamn $60k-videos-on-a-$20k budget. You have a digital video camera and a G4. Your expenses are covered. Go make some goddamn films!" (No I won't stop bringing that up. ;)

Public WiFi snoops

You can always tell the person running the network sniffer at public WiFi hotspots; the maniacal grin as he scans the room observing all the surfers one by one wondering "who was looking at *this*?"...

"I read your email"...

Day of tech failures...

I awoke to find that my main email server was not responding. It still isn't, 15 hours later. Best guestimate is that Bell Nexxia will fix the line "sometime in the next 24 to 72 hours." Wonderful.

As if that weren't enough, after weathering three hairy days of a SNAFU'ed PHP upgrade, my client hosting server is choking on something. Best guess by customer support is "your hard drive is full". Yeah right. "File a support ticket.. and admin will see it first thing in the morning."

Callign support, my cellphone started acting up too.

I don't even know if this entry will get posted. Guess there's nothing left for me to do but go to bed. Good thing I don't have a pacemaker...

Now they've done it adds filetype tags automatically to media files.

I could go into boring things like implicit metadata, the coupling of a flat tag pool with a flat:hierarchical:organization... but really, there are more fun things that come out of this.

Like, for example, discovering a spoof of the ending of the movie Se7en involving The Shat brilliantly playing himself in three roles, a stunning demo video from inside Sony's computer sciences lab of some futuristic UI (especially cool is the "hyper dragging" in the closing seconds), and Triumph the Insult Dog unleashed (hehe) at the Michael Jackson trial.

Who needs TV?
Who needs radio?

Go, make your own channels...

Parking meter hack challenge

Steven launches a challenge to local hackers and their friends: Hack the new Linux-running, GPRS-networked parking meters.

1- Show that it can be done
2- Perhaps help improve the system
3- Perhaps send a message up: "hey, we KNOW you're screwing us"
4- because it's there... ;)

Michael, wanna help plug this? Put it out there see what happens...

Two very useful things I'd like to see come of this:
1- a java-based mobile app that would allow me to see which spots still "have time".
2- a web-based app that could remotely tell me the same (so I can be sitting in a meeting and check if my meter is up yet...)

WSIS, censorship & RSF

Michael is in Winnipeg participating in a UNESCO sponsored conference in preparation for it's presence at the WSIS summit in Tunisia in the fall.

This is serious, big boys stuff. ;)

He just reported something VERY disturbing:

The Tunisian ambassador to Canada has been here the whole conference (and some other guy from the Tunisian gov.) and he was a member of the welcoming commitee. The thing is - the internet in Tunisia is censored, so that Tunisians can't even visit the websites of the groups that will be at the conference. There's this human rights guy from tunisia and he keeps on bringing it up, and then the Minister get's all huffy and has to go and clear his government from blame.

This strikes me as not just ironic, but plainly idiotic.

Reporters Without Borders puts it thusly:

"President Ben Ali believes that the fact the UN agreed to hold a summit on the Internet in his country means the international community approves of his policy in this field," the organisation said. "We believe that, on the contrary, the Internet model advocated by Tunisia, combining censorship and crackdown, should be condemned by countries that care about freedom of expression".

No kidding.
/me is holding tongue... biting it even...

Poking around the Reporters Without Borders webiste I notice they have nominated a couple of weblog journailsts I know (even one who's site I built) for "freedom of expression blog" awards:
Dan Gillmor (Americas), Ethan Zuckermann (International), Rebecca McKinnon's "NKZone" (Asia), Hossein Derakhshan (Iran).

Great, congrats. Now, can we do something about the WSIS telling a president that it's ok to crackdown and censor access to information?

From WSIS's Declaration of Principles:

1. We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled in Geneva from 10-12 December 2003 for the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, declare our common desire and commitment to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

4. We reaffirm, as an essential foundation of the Information Society, and as outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation of all social organization. It is central to the Information Society. Everyone, everywhere should have the opportunity to participate and no one should be excluded from the benefits the Information Society offers.

Gott es wullen, das gibt's ja doch neht! So ein verdamtes Bloedzihn.

Rapid pen based text entry

This looks very interesting.
 Alphatap Path

Some 250 words account for over 50% of English usage. These words are mapped onto the AlphaTap layout so that you can type them with just one or two pen strokes. To become productive, you only need to learn the subset of these words which you commonly use.

Learning this vocabulary of pen strokes is easy. Your brain readily maps the gestures of short pen paths to words and syllables. The first few times you type a word, you trace over it slowly, pausing on each key, as AlphaTap highlights the next letters for vocabulary words from the key you are on. Each word has a specific path on the layout which you can stroke rapidly once you know the path. The practice of normal use is enough to cement the words in your memory after a short time.

The above refers to shorthand methods for common words already in the system and mapped to the "keys", so you can just draw paths over them to compose the words. Make sense. Otherwise you tap the letters you want, which in my experience using the software keyboard on my P910, works very very well itself.

Semantic File System and the U.S. Patent office

This is very very very bad.

A data model represents semantic information associated with objects stored in a file system. The data model includes a first object identifier, a second object identifier and a relation identifier. The first object identifier identifies a first object stored in the file system. The second object identifier identifies a second object stored in the file system, wherein the second object is related to the first object. The relation identifier identifies a relationship between the first object and the second object.

Not the fact that someone is working on a Semantic File System - that is very very very good. Issuing a patent, to HP, or anyone, for this, is terrible.

The keitais are coming!

Slowly over the past year I've noticed a subtle transition in the mobile phone handsets that have been available here in my home market. But today it really struck me as apparent: the keitais are coming.

Not in features or cultural influence so much mind you; merely in form factor, but this in itself is indicative.

Accessing the "available handsets" sections of the three mobile service providers here in Montreal, a year ago you'd find mostly the small Nokia-style handsets. Today, Fido (5 clam vs 8 puck), Rogers (11 clam vs 7 puck) and Bell (10 clam vs 5 puck) all exhibit predominantly* clamshell models.

* After actually counting, Fido still has more "pucks" than clamshells, the funny thing being that it was while visiting Fido that the increased number of clamshells available struck me.

I find this very odd since that form factor is closely tied to the handset's usage, which is hard to explain to someone who's never seen it "in action". Think of it literally as your own little network access device, which you hold up as if checking your makeup in you pocket mirror - heh - and thumbing your way through the UI using a scroller, and typing kanji using the keypad. We don't have immersive information services, nor do we have a text-based mobile communication culture, so we don't use the like that.

I wonder why *this* shift. Why the skin and not the guts?

Also funny to notice them now finally hawking "we have cameraphones!". A year ago it was still "we have faceplates and ringtones!" ;)

Graphical Command Line, precursory

I've been composing a post about "Graphical Command Line" interfaces, which what alot of "AJAX" enabled features on websites are, and what Quicksilver, a Mac application, is... but it's getting so long and involved and I just don't have the time that I will give you a résumé of my thoughts on all this which I posted on Quicksilver's message board:

Quicksilver is a Graphical Command Line. It combines the ability to manipulate files and applications, executing application commands on files, like a CLI, while using the strong visual cues of a GUI, blurring the line between recall (CLI: gotta remember the right commands and where everything is) and recognition (GUI: navigate to where my files and apps are)...

When you use QS, you are constructing a command to execute, only you are not doing it alone in your mind (like in a CLI/Terminal/C Prompt) trying to remember everything, because as you type, QS *shows* you possible matches of what you may want or may do. The power of the CLI with the diminished need to learn "arcane commands"...

Other examples of GCL, meaning, where a predominantly text-input based User Interface guides you along with visual cues (even if they are text-based), are (in order of appearance in the ecosystem):
- Google Suggest / "LiveSearch"
- ecto & 1001's tagging mechanism
- Jonas's "tags4WP" WordPress tagging plugin

SMS training

I just received an SMS text message from my wireless service provider, Fido, asking me if I wanted to participate in a game-slash-contest. It provided the URL for more information:

In a nutshell, they've constructed a whole story whereby "K" sends me 2 questions a day via text-message, and somehow "right answers" move you ahead in the game, and closer to prizes. Or something like that.

I imagine they are NOT charging the usual 0.10$/msg for participating. (At least I hope not!) So why do this?

Well, I suspect they want to drum up SMS usage - and revenues - by getting subscribers accustomed to SMSing. Why else would the contest microsite put so much emphasis and effort into the "Learn how to Text Message" section?

The sad thing is, of course, users would text message if carriers lowered or outright dropped charges for doing so. Lower the barrier to entry, find the tipping point, reduce the friction; the value of text messaging is VERY apparent but the costs demanded are obviously too high for users. Every single person I ask to SMS me answers the same thing: "but that costs me ten cents a pop!"

The customers already WANT to use text messaging. It's all about finding that point where the value of the tool matches it's price. I think Rogers/Fido need to hire some expensive consulting firm to give them a fancy report that would state "reduce your SMS rate by a factor of 10 and you will see a 500 fold increase in usage." Hellooooooo!?

Oh, and if I get billed for SMSing this bot I am gonna give them a piece of my mind...

Situating a Google Map picture

I was just flying around over Montreal with Google Map's fun new satellite pictures. My actual neighborhood as well as the one I grew up in are sadly in more blurry sections. However I found this dreary patch of my life's story:


That my friends is the "technoparc" I spent 3 years in. I spent a year and a half in the first building (top, with the oval "walk") and then another year and half in the second one when the company moved offices.

The neat thing is I can date this photo. And I can place myself in it...

Techoparc Zoom

We moved into this second building almost immediately after it was finished construction, in January 2002. By the time I left the company in September 2003, building had been completed. In this photo, the ground hasn't even been broken for building number three, so this puts us in summer 2002. Why summer? Cause the trees are thick with foliage. Trust me, I stared at that forest every day for three years. (Oooo, lemme find the pics I took...)

Furthermore, I know that this is early afternoon. Why? The shadow of the forest; it would creep up to the side of the building by 3 in mid-summer. I know because I used to go out there, take off my shirt and read in the sun around 2. (Shhhh)

Oh, and yeah, that is 90% for sure my car. Judging from the amount of cars in the parking lot (and now knowing the period this pic was taken), this was when there were only 2-3 tenant companies in the building, and I ALWAYS parked in that spot. I could even point, through the roof, the exact location of my "ultra sweet desk complexe" (ohh I had a good thing going there with my desk... at least that...), but eh.

Steven, who toiled alongside me in these buildings, has a feature request for Google Maps: "the ability to cast down lightning". Hehee

Ten times more storage

Hitachi announced a breakthrough of sorts and expects to have 1 terabyte 3.5" hard drives on the market within 2 years, as well as 20 gigabye 1" "Microdrives".

Mark Federman alludes to, without going into details mind you, the disruptions this kind of data storage capacity increase can cause. He also points to the rather painful Flash animation Hitachi had made to, um, explain the tech. ;)

what daaa?

Jean Snow reports on something funny, yet inevitable, happening in one of his english classrooms:
What's a Cassette?

there was one kid (about 7 or 8 years old) who took the cassette box and put it up to his ear. He had no idea what it was. We opened the box for him, and he just stared blankly at the cassette inside.


Steven dreams out loud about where he'd like to be someday:

I managed to hitch a ride on the floating city 'GCS New Mosul' by agreeing to give my presentation 'Safeguarding your cyberprivacy - without slowing down your interface' at the S. Hussein Center for Social Justice, coordinates 7B (just next to the Cuisine Bangkok Thai restaurant). Holomsg me if you happen to be in town on board!

As I sit here in the helicab on the way to the port, I think back and can't believe that just 10 years ago, only the business elite and technorati were able to travel anywhere in the world on a whim. How did they go on about things like how the world was getting smaller or the "Global Village" when you actually had to have money to take advantage of it?

A fun, tongue in cheek, but not entirely impossible "blog post from the future". :)

Mark my words

(pun title intended)

Tags* are Frameworks for Describing Resources...
It's gonna happen, oh it's SO gonna happen.

Actually, it's happening now.

It's not the big software companies, it's not the big media companies. It probably won't follow any current specifications, but I hope it will at least not blindly ignore them.

Baby steps, baby steps.
We begin with the primordial flat tag soup. Then out of the soup will crawl the soft hierarchies of community maintained folksonomies: loosely arranged molecule clusters of communities of usage. When the APIs mature, blood flow can commence, feeding a new organism. Small pieces loosely joined, indeed...

*or rather the systems we build that utilise tags. ;)

Sound familiar?

"Attention Deficit Trait" caused by the technologies of constant interruption:

Clive Thompson via Techdirt has a fascinating post on Attention Deficit Trait, a related sydrome to Attention Deficit Disorder, according to Dr. Edward Hallowell.
"It has basically the symptoms as ADD -- such as an inability to concentrate on one task at at time -- except it's context dependent.

ADT is caused by the technologies of constant interruption in the modern workplace and the modern home, such as email, instant messaging, SMSes, mobile phones, and endless meetings (or endless preplanned children's sports).

The thing that makes the two conditions different, he says, is that ADD seems to be hardwired, while ADT goes away when you're on vacation or in a relaxing, non-hyper-stimulated place."

I guess "trait" is better than "disorder", but I am weary of it being so labeled. This behavior is definitely environmental - as our tools are part of our environment - and contextual. Also, referring to them as "technologies of constant interruption" smacks of luddite old-folk speak; it just sounds negative, when it not necessarily is.

Or maybe it is. Maybe we can't get used to - and function efficiently with - constant formatted data input. I don't see why not though. I mean, we process constant raw data input (5 senses, +?). Language processing, be it aural or visual, is a hack* of our mind and thus requires more resources, but we should be able to adapt no?

I guess that's what we are doing. Well... some of us anyways... ;)

*Looking at a page of text and reading are very different. Hearing a person speak and listening are very different. I have always considered communication to be an intrusion of sorts; an insertion. Words carrying ideas inserted into my mind like hot needles... as opposed to individual experience and deduction of environment seeping in and steeping. ;)


Jim: Do you know what the best RSS reader for Windows is?
Me : ...
Me : i haven't even SEEN Windows in... gees... YEARS...
Jim: me either
Me : hehehehe
Jim: never used XP
Me : what's that?
Jim: hehe

Design today

If you cannot communicate at first (or at most second) glance how I am to use this and what value I may get from doing so, then ... Ooooo look cows!

VoIP FUD advertising

Ed Bilodeau found this new ad campaign by Bell Canada:

Bell has launched an ad campaign to make people believe that VoIP telephone services over cable are not reliable.

"It's a food-chain ecosystem," says I, "introduce a new species and it either eats everyone else, or tries to fuck 'em..."

Anyways, corner an animal and it'll fight to the death. Show it you have some food and you are willing to share and hey you're best friends. "Lets work together."

I just remembered something. The irony here is that Bell has been offering VoIP corporate services for at least 2 years now. Also, they spent the later part of the 90's laying fiber optic all over the greater Montreal downtown area (Plateau included), and are just sitting on it. They need a better marketing plan...


The screen is really messing with my head. I don't mean just the screens of my computer.. I mean "the screen", as the interface to the network and my expanded mind...

(Here he goes again...)

Two examples.

Last night, moblogging this picture of my drink; spending a few moments absorbed into the screen of my P910, when the task was done and I looked back up, the switch in realities was staggering and eminently palpable. I viscerally FELT the shift in... modality, in mindframe, in realities.

Just now, I was going though my photolog, stopped for a moment on this photo of Emma, just when she, from the couch, which is located behind my desk, just a bit beyond my screen, meowed. The disjunction and recombination of the inputs from the two worlds was jarring. Again, viscerally affecting me.

Ten years ago, DdeK's "The Skin of Culture: Investigating the New Electronic Reality" pulled the lid back on my mind. Now his "The Architecture of Intelligence (The Information Technology Revolution in Architecture)" (Excerpts) is pulling it right out of my head... To counter this effect, a simultaneous reading of "Mind Hacks" and "Turning the Mind into an Ally" (Sakyong Mipham, Pema Chodron), to push it back in, trying to keep it within itself.

Half the time I don't know if I'm dreaming.

Area bagel

or "What do Amazon, A9 Search, Yellow Pages, 90210, and the Mile End of Montreal have in common?"

Trying to see if I had a connection, I hit my A9 bookmark. It worked. Once there I noticed a prominent link to Yellow Pages (with a link under it saying "here's how we did it." That made me curious...)

First of all, it linked me to Yellow Pages listing for my last stored search on A9. Now it was asking me for a U.S. Postal Code or City/State. 90210 is the only US Postal Code I know. Pop that in, and replace the aforementioned search term with "bagel".

Impressive result. A listing of bagel shops in Beverly Hills, CA., complete with hotlinked map. And at the top of the list is "St-Viateur Street Bagels". Back in Montreal, St-Viateur Bagels is one of two most renowned bagel shops. It is located on St-Viateur Street, the same street where Open Da Nite is/was/will be (Fire!).


Not finished yet. Click through on that listing. You are presented with a strip of pictures ostensibly of the shop's storefront. Seems to be the wrong picture but FRET NOT... you can "WALK DOWN THE STREET" and find the right picture and TELL Amazon "this is the right picture of this business' storefront" (Best picture?).

Amazon is sucking reality into it's databases (somewhat warping it in the process...)


Tokyo > Montreal in under a second

I'm sitting in the Good Day Café, just off Aoyma Itchome/Omotesando (search me how the street names work in this place...) in Harajuku, Tokyo.

I spark my NewsReader, go to my folder of Montreal RSS subscriptions... and I am 100% back in Montreal. I read about an impromptu YULBlog (Montreal bloggers) night out on the town, I am transported back 2 weeks as slowly other locals blog about the Open Da Nite fire.

I break my reading, look up, and am shocked by my environment: a café packed with japanese ladies chit chatting. “Ahhh so so so so so... Hontoni? Sugoi da neeeehhh!”

Now if only I could do the same and “inject myself” into a quiet and comfortable work space... :p

Canadian public geo-data copyrighted and sold by the government

Some cool folks, working on a cool project, are looking for some reliable geo-data for Canada. Place names and GPS coordinates, mostly. So I turn to Natural Resources Canada of course, the governmental body that has this stuff.

The first shocker is that they want $100 for the text file "product" we could use. Ok, I figure, theoretically my taxes cover their activities in this field but hey, $100 is not so bad for the level of apparent quality of the data.

But oh my... the terms of sale are outrageous:

1. The End-User acknowledges that the Data is protected under the Copyright Act of Canada.
Why? This should really be public domain. We paid for it already, and it is meant to serve us.
2. The Data is licensed, not sold, to the End-User for use subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement. The End-User owns the disk(s) or tape(s) on which the Data is recorded, but Canada retains all ownership interests in the Data.
Same as above. Why is it "theirs"? Isn't the Canadian government, essentially, "us"?
3. The End-User shall use the Data only on a single computer. The End-User must obtain a supplementary licence from Canada before using the Data in connection with systems, multiple central processing units, computer networks, or emulations on a mainframe or minicomputer.
Uh, hello 1973? The age of the standalone computer is looong gone.
4. The End-User may make one (1) copy of the Data for the purpose of backup only, which copy may not be used except in the event that the primary copy is damaged, destroyed or lost. The End-User shall reproduce on the backup copy the copyright notice appearing on the disk(s) or tape(s) on which the Data is recorded.
Gee, thanks for caring.
5. Except as provided in Article 4 above, the End-User shall not duplicate or reproduce the Data, in whole or in part, in any form or format whatsoever without the prior written consent of Canada.
Yeah right. Copy, paste. Try to stop us.
6. The End-User shall not sell, loan, lease, distribute, transfer or sublicense the Data or otherwise assign any rights under this Agreement to any third party without the prior written consent of Canada.
The fact that they are charging for this stuff makes this understandable... but that self same fact is itself not. In other words, I don't see why, or how, they can charge for this data AND hold us to these terms. Is National Resources Canada a business? If it is, why is it a governmental agency? What am I missing here?
7. If the End-User wishes to make any other copies of the Data for internal use, written authorization for such copies must be obtained from Canada prior to any copies being made and a royalty fee will be charged for each additional copy of the Data made by the End-User.
Yes big brother...
8. The Data is provided on an "as is" basis and Canada makes no guarantees, representations or warranties respecting the Data, either expressed or implied, arising by law or otherwise, including but not limited to, effectiveness, completeness, accuracy or fitness for a particular purpose.
Hah. After all that, and a hundred bucks, you don't take any responsibility for the quality of the data. C'mon get serious.

I dunno. Smacks me as wrong.


Amazon: 'Do Android Crows Fly Over the Skies of an Electronic Tokyo?: The Interactive Urban Landscape of Japan (Architecture Landscape Urbanism)' (Akira Suzuki)

Do Android Crows Fly Over the Skies
of an Electronic Tokyo?

The Interactive Urban Landscape of Japan
(Architecture Landscape Urbanism) 2001
- Akira Suzuki

Picked this little gem up at the CCA bookstore the day I attended the Devices of Design symposium. I bought it purely for the cover and intriguing title. Glad I did!

A book about Tokyo architecture and urbanism, Suzuki starts off with "The number of mobile phone subscribers in Japan already exceeds 60 million". Hooked me from the start. ;)

A short, oddly bound tome (each recto/verso page is one sheet folded in half and bound... a terrible waste of paper and feels very strange in the hand), one quickly goes through the 72 pages of texts, pictures and illustrations. We are led through a quick historical tour of such things as the traditional "yojōhan" 4 1/2 tatami mat room and its social role as the cha no ma - living room - to the splitting of the nuclear family, the advent of the one-room mansions and capsule mansions, the spread and ubiquity of the conbini - convenience stores ("twenty thousand stores in Greater Tokyo alone, or one for every one thousand five hundred residents"!), the cultural forces that brought about these developments, and of course the cultural changes these developments brought about.

Once we've understood that, things get... cyber. Starting with the mass adoption of televisions at the time of the 1964 Tōkyō Olympics, which shifted the seating arrangement in the cha no ma from one where family members faced each other around the central table to the corner where the television set sat. "The television replaced the father" and thus began eroding the fabric of the traditional japanese family unit. At the extreme opposite end we are shown the Gifu Kitagata Apartment Building project, in which one part, designed by Kazuyo Sejima, places the wash basin facing the large south facing window. This was done, the author surmises, for the daughter, and to highlight the role in social and urban change that the modern japanese high-school girl plays... or rather, that they all, collectively play.

This is where we dive into, you guessed it, cellphones!! Shibuya epiphany, sugoooiii!

(I'm digressing, but let me add that Mimi Ito's research of mobile phone usage in Japan speaks volumes on the communication, coordination and cooperation going on every second, in the virtual world that is the mobile, individualized data space.)

So, we have a shift to single/individual person dwelling needs, and infrastructure of conbinis - anything you need, anytime - and an overarching system of communications facilities - keitai, i-mode, internet, television. The result is "Tokyo is vanishing into invisible communities and communications", where the true goings-on - interactions, work, play, group activities - of it's inhabitants happen in an information-based "space". The physical environment is secondary and merely serves the basic needs of the citizens, and even that is seen to be collapsing into neglect.

Examples of how networked information spaces can affect physical space, and vice versa, are given as such:
- "Seijinshiki" coming of age celebrations, where thousands of 20 year old girls all initiate cellphone calls to their friends and asshii-kun - young men chauffeurs - in one area at once, crippling the network.
- The Pokemon "disaster", where almost 200 children suffered epileptic seizures due to rapidly flashing animation scenes, broadcast via television. Not only was the event precipitated by a network, but for the millions of others who only knew of it because of news reports, the apprehension of the reality of the event came via the network.
- The Tamagotchi Phenomenon. At first, large numbers of teenaged girls shared "tamagotchi breeding tips" via their cellphones. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, even larger numbers of salary men got in on the game, causing catastrophic tamagotchi shortages, networked-rumor spurred runs on stores... hilarity ensues...

The title of the book, which is only made crystal clear in the final paragraph, speaks of flocks of individuals, navigating an information-based world, by simple communications, through a marginally relevant physical environment.

"The real city is loosely absorbed into a number of network levels and it is in them that we see the phantom city we know as 'Tokyo'. The actual city of Tokyo has already become little more than a dummy through which we discern the happenings taking place among these invisible networks."

Notice the crow feather in the upper left corner on the cover's picture. Nice touch.


I want all my data to relate.
I want to connect Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor to Cornelius' Wataridori (because played back-to-back they are a force of nature, IMHO).
I want to relate that relation to a friend's contact info, to remind me to mention it to them and possibly share the files with them.
I want the relations to be date stamped.
I want the network of relations to be discoverable and exposable, hideable and transparent. Like a tree... with branches and roots.

Matt on Etech et al

Matt posted a rant about the upcoming ETech:

It's just that the topics on offer: y'know - the copyfight, social software, bloody blogs, web services etc. might still be worthy topics for discussion, but I feel like I've been around those blocks quite a few times now, and I want some genuine outbreaks of the future.

We chatted briefly about it and I totally agree. In fact, and not to be too jaded about it, my one foray to ETech (and two to SxSW, self funded those were), though loads of fun and at times very interesting, were mostly just schmoozefests, a chance to meet many like-minded new friends. But by no means was I overwhelmed by genuine outbreaks of the future.

Put another way, what Matt, and I, agree upon is that while it is definitely necessary, important and interesting to consider "today", some of us who are already quite knowledgeable and comfortable with what is already going on really want to think more about what WILL be going on.

Geo-politcal/economic factors aside (we should all have signed up for mandarin chinese classes by now), I really want to explore the developments in, again as Matt suggests, things like bioinformatics, neuroscience, cognitive sciences - i want us to look at trends in art and culture, the weathervanes[1] of change - the development of architectures for interfaces as we emigrate our minds from our heads to our screens... The needs and effects of being, simultaneously, in ourselves, in the world and in cyberspace.

Did I mention I am lacking sleep thanks to reading too much Derrick De Kerckhove again? ;)

Perhaps a smaller event, perhaps similar to Design Engaged in structure, a symposium type-o-deal... presentation / conversation. Oye, I feel a rant coming on...

In any case, the only way I get to ETech this year is if someone gives me a good reason (flight, hotel, entrance fee being perfectly good reasons... ;) , and SxSW depends on how much work I take on between now and New Years. But show me an event which is truly about emerging, forward looking thoughts and technology, and I'll seriously consider getting excited and pulling out the (overused) plastic.

It's not that hard to get me excited, by the way.

[1] Q: What does the wind look like?
      A: The wind looks like what ever it moves...

As I was saying...

I finally got down to doing some work I've been putting off for weeks.
I haven't received an e-mail or IM request in about two hours. Perfect.

I decided to quit Mail, then iChat, then Proteus.
Ok, I can DO this.

Then I quit NetNewsWire.

All of a sudden, I felt very, VERY alone. Anxious even.
"But... but... what if..."

I'll just start iChat back up... just in case, you know...


New environments inflict considerable pain on the perceiver

The biologist Otto Lowenstein, is his book on The Senses (Penguin Books,Ltd.), has some most helpful observations on the problems that arise upon any change in sensory mode, such as a result from a technological creation of a new environment:

... patients, blind from childhood, on whom normal vision has been bestowed by an operation. Previous to this "opening of the eyes," they had been living in a world of tactile experience, of sound and scent, full of objects familiar to them in terms of their restricted range of sensory experience. How they shrink at first from the welter of additional stimulation, longing at times to return to the relative seclusion of their former world!

- Marshall McLuhan - War and Peace in the Global Village

In a postpostmodern state of mind.

In order to avoid ambiguity, over- or false- interpretation, it is crucial that one properly contextualize every element, in relation to every other element in it's environment.
Meaning can only be found in the relationship of each object with each other object in it's environment.
Each relationship, symbiotically influences the being of each object, connecting each into the whole.
This applies to everything: concepts, objects, individuals... humans.

Without you, I am less me. Or, conversely, with you, I am more me.

By easing communication, we enhance, strengthen the relationships, binding all elements tighter to the one.
By externalizing, reaching out, we draw in, collectively. Osmosis.

It is fascinating to me how many instances of evidence of these concepts are to be found in our cultures.

What is Apple doing with all that money?

fine italian pro...

Obviously not fixing their SpellChecker...

Mobile Internet Radio

This afternoon an acquaintance sic'ed a local journalist on me for my opinion on digital/satellite radio. She also mentioned Internet radio and how I currently use it.

My first thought went to those silly "Internet stations" listen in iTunes and other desktop MP3 players. "Hrm, never use those."

Oh wait! I DO use though. And recently I have been listing to their Profile radio streams ALOT. It's great cause the selection is basically made based on what I listen to and what people like me listen to. I also can listen to individual friends' "playlist radio broadcasts" (called "Personal Radio" on The real value-add here is that the selection is contextualized: "This is what you friend so-and-so is listening to", or "this is what people who seem to share your tastes are listening to".

Anyways, the journalist's focus was really on "would you buy one of these XM radio boxes so you can listen to satellite radio in your car?" To which I essentially answered "hell no! why would I? To listen more of the same commercial crap programmed by some unknown DJ somewhere who is more than likely on the record company payroll?!"

Or, more to the point, "No, why would I? I can use my mobile device here to listen to my friend's radio streams via the Internet!"

Wishful thinking. While the Opera browser happily downloaded the M3U stream file, my P900 had no idea what to do with it. I.e.: I have no music player on my Symbian phone that can play M3U.

So, there are a few opportunities here:

  1. 3rd party software developer builds in M3U (streaming MP3) support into a Symbian (or other mobile platform) application.
  2. whips up such a client, which would be great cause they could also build a whole API and the client could also interact with their network, not just play the songs.
  3. Somone like Nokia comes in and does both, and markets it as "built in mobile internet radio" (hint hint)

I have some ideas tangential to this to further contextualize/editorialize the selections. But that is for select ears only...

Process through adaption

Continuing on my current theme of "data management", let me share with you an example from my own experience.

I mentioned a few weeks back how overwhelmed I was by the size of my MP3 collection.

McLuhanists, and others surely, will often cite how disruptive any new medium can be in our lives, viscerally even, until we learn to "deal with it". (What constitutes a "medium" is ascertainable by applying the McLuhan Tetrads, something I very much want to explain in english sometime.) Also, it seems we are in a situation where we are creating mediums faster and faster and with greater and greater disruptive effects, at a pace we are essentially unable to cope with. But I digress. But it is relevant! Anyways...

So, my MP3 collection.

I can identify three distinct phases in my archival methods for MP3s, each corresponding roughly with changes in available technology. I say roughly because while yes new technologies had evident impact, later on there was not only more MP3s around but also more technologies (apps, protocols, methods) and each had different absorption rates in my digestion of them. Heeee!

Phase 1 - Discovery (or Willy Nilly)
Oh my god. This is SO cool.
Going back to my old archive CDs I see that starting late 1998, I start having a folder called "mp3" into which I literally would just dump mp3 files. The files would be named with the track and artist name. ID2-3 tags were barely present and if so, hardly used really. Each of my archival CDs from that period was named after a character from whatever book I was reading and I figured that was plenty of a mnemonic device to remember that "Archive CD Jacopo Belbo" had a copy of "The Dukes of Hazard" theme song. We're talking maybe a dozen or two mp3s per archive CD. That worked for about a year.

Phase 2 - Hunter Gatherer (I start building a home)
Whoah, I need to put this stuff somewhere I can find it.
Napster hits like a hurricane. We all spend hours and days hunting for individual tracks, making little piles, renaming files and scrubbing ID3 tags. Every now and then a friend drops by with a full album ripped directly from a CD. Blessed be thy name. Alphabetized folders containing /artist_name/album_name/tracks*.mp3. I haven't added to that archive in over a year and it sits at about 17Gig. (The previously mentioned blog entry was about my malaise of trying to figure out how to incorporate all my new stuff into my old scheme.)

Phase 3 - We're all in this together (The Village)
Hey, do you have X? I can send you Y... it's sorta like Z.
This is where I am right now. All the mp3s I've amassed over the last year (36Gig - notice the increase in volume) sit in an a hierachy which begins with a folder named for *where I got it from*.
Notice I still keep trying to keep everything neat in artist/album folders. Thing is, my work is greatly reduced now, because I either get them already like that, or the ID3 tag information, which was entered in a distributed fashion by all the other mp3 sharers in my social network, is correct and I can easily rename stuff programmatically if I need to.

So again, my malaise from a few weeks back was because I was trying to shoehorn my new reality into my old system. Realizing the ground has shifted allows me to just accept that I need to stick with this new system. For now.

So what's next?
Well, it hasn't started yet, but I imagine something like figures. Information like "who" recommended a track and "why" and "how" will supplement the "where from".

More freeform and shared taginess is something I'm also very interested in seeing applied here... if 200 listeners "categorise" track X or artist Y as "indie electro laptop rap rock", who am I to argue? And why would I? I'll have a way of finding it easily.

Sidenote: I am one of those iTunes users who has selected to disable that software's "Keep Music Folder organized" feature, because I like doing organization on the filesystem level. Again, the malaise comes from being in a situation where that is becoming less and less feasible. I will have to give up eventually I suspect, but not until the management applications catch up to the shifted ground themselves. In this case, iTunes would need to be tied into my (future, networked) AddressBook... ;)

Without you, am I nothing

Out of over 200 Gigs of data (not counting OS and application files), I would be hard pressed to find a single file that is not in one way or another associated to someone other than me.
(Someone may represent a person, a group, a company, my company, me, a webservice, a bot... any entity with at least one interface I can communicate with.)

Not a SINGLE one.

Current filesystems were designed in the computing age. Whether mainframe or standalone, the idea was you create a file and store it. Filename, date created, date modified.

In the communication age, things have to change. I've heard alot of talk of next-generation filesystems which are coming up but not nearly fast enough. I, and many people I know, are literally drowning in data. Drowning because we do not have the tools to efficiently manage it. The malaise and disorientation are evident. Subdued, subtle, yet evident. (Yes I am referring to YOU. And me. We've been acting "strange" these past few years haven't we?)

Before computer networking, the computer was an extension of two things: memory and processing. Fifteen or so years ago we gave computers eyes, ears and mouths. Over the last 10 years we've been learning how to use those eyes, ears and mouths. But without context (metadata!), we merely swim in an ocean of information we are hard pressed to do anything with. (Mostly because through these extra eyes ears and mouths, we are exposed to and generate far more data than with just our own set, in the "real world".)

We have these external memory & processing devices which we can now use to communicate, but we do not yet use them to help us manage that communication.

A simile.
A newborn child discovers he has this sense that perceives light. It spends a few weeks learning how to use this organ of sight; learns how to focus, move that focus around, etc. Great! Lotsa neat globs of color! But then something better happens. Context. That familiar smell, that familiar sound... the scent, heartbeat, voice of someone... oh! those are near when this particular set of color blobs are near! They must be connected!

The memory and processing has kicked in and created an association. (The single strongest association in all of our minds; the bedrock of our perception of reality: the parent. But I digress.)

We have learnt to use our externalized eyes and ears and mouths, and we've tried to manage the data they perceive by trying to store and process as much of it in our internal minds. But it is too much. And it will get "worse". We NEED to have the external systems that are our computers, help us process some of it. With context and associations. Some requiring our intervention, some done programatically. A balance of logic and fancy.

To those who say "but we are externalizing too much!" I say: Sure. We've been doing it since we invented written languages. We then proceeded to create technologies to manage the effects of written language, which handle some of the information overflow for us. Hello, bookshelf and library index cards.

Now we have extended our senses, so we need to extend our processing of their perceptions.


I want tags on everything. I want everything to be a tag. Or I could say, I want everything to be tag-able and want everything to be able to BE a tag.

Any document, picture, file, bit of data... I want to be able to associate it to any other other document, picture, file, bit of data.

This picture is associated with this contact. This document is associated to this client. This mp3 was sent to me by so-and-so, so I associate it to him/her.

I dunno... ctrl-dragging anything onto anything else immediately associates the dragged to the dragged-to.

I want to set up the ability to attach tags automatically as well. Some things CAN be taken for granted. For example, an mp3 sent via iChat from Anders IS FROM ANDERS. Remember that you stupid goddamn computer! Why do I need to create taxonomies and directory structures to keep this meta-data, meta-data that is not systematically *attached* to that data.


email UI

email has been much on my mind again lately. The fact that no email reader (client, MUA, etc) does things the way I'd like is frustrating, and many powerusers I have spoken to agree...

This evening I hooked up with Karl again, and over some green tea and a sticky thai rice desert with mango, we discussed, amongst other things, email UI. For the nth time. Semantic Web ideas were fresh in our minds as Karl had given a presentation on it and RDF earlier this morning.

Now in researching for this post I remembered and retrieved two email projects which actually DO much of what I want. However one was merely an IBM research project (they do SO MUCH awesome stuff at Big Blue!) and the other is, well, temperamental. I will mention them again later after I have described what I have in mind.

So, imagine this:
You don't manage your email anymore into folders/hierarchies. Your email client just stores everything into a dated space - like weblog archives, "/2004/10/21/21.14.49.mbox" - just to keep things nice and structured, in small parcels so as not to choke the OS and the Indexing mechanisms, and to have unique IDs for and URIs to every email.


The email client gives you a few configurable view options:

  1. Smartlists (Entourage has always had this, and it is coming in Apple 2.0)
    Smartlists would filter based on rules you derive from data already part of every email your client archives. Date sent, Date recieved, status, presence or absence of attachment, junk-mail headers, etc...
    "show me all unanswered email from the last 3 days"
    "show me all emails with attachments" (this becomes a pseudo filesystem - Cory would love this)
    SmartLists are basically saved searches for known/established meta-data and character strings.

  2. AddressBook/LDAP integration/contact-based aggregation + analysis
    i.e. a list of all contacts, whom you have email to/from, sorted by most recent/frequency/volume + Bayesian(/Bloom?) filtering/learning/weighing (don't show me this contact, drop priority on this sender)

  3. Unlimited and customizable TAGS (à la the current sweethearts)
    You assign tags to emails by maintianing a list of them and dropping emails onto the tags you want to associate them to or using the existing filtering tools - instead of sending it to a "folder" assign it a tag or two or three. (Filters could also influence weight...)
    Filter: incoming From: karl -> montreal, quebec, canada, french, friend, +10
    Filter: incoming From: joi -> tokyo, japan, english, friend, client, +10
    Filter: incoming From: mom -> family, guilt, -5

    The killer feature of this is you can have emails in multiple "categories", whereas previously with folders, you had to come up with a taxonomy - which needed revision every few weeks as your situation/sotial network/needs evolved - and place your email within it. Each email could only be in one folder...

  4. Thread arcs and thread highlighting
    I think most recent email clients do the thread highlighting, but only one I know of (!) implements "thread arcs". With all the above display possibilities, the odds that all or even some emails which are part of a thread are displayed in the same list are slim, making thread highlighting marginally useful, if not outright useless.
    A thread arc (IBM Technical Research Paper PDF), on the other hand, appears in the individual email's display, and shows you that a) this email is part of a detected thread, b) where it is positioned in that thread AND c) allows you to click through the thread history.

Sounds good, no? I think so.

Ok, so I mentioned a few existing developments which have some or much of these features, as well as some of the plumbing.

IBM "Remail"
Remail does much of what I described above and more (calendars, IM...). Instead of tags, it does "collections". Similar concept. As far as I can tell, it is purely an internal research tool. Someone should learn from what IBM has learnt and DO IT.

Zoe is interesting for a number of reasons, but equally uninteresting... The good and the bad are as follows:
a) flat hierarchy
b) indexed / fully searchable (Lucene)
c) Contact sourcing
d) Plays nice with various outside stuff,, Entourage, FTP, Blogger, RSS, etc...
a) Web-based app (u'd think this was good but eh...)
b) in neverending and sporadic development
c) a PITA to install and use properly
d) the developer is a bit of a character I've heard...

Funny thing is that zoe was trumpeted all over as "Google your email" over a year ago. Then Google unleashed GMail. And GMail does tagging...

Other worthy mentions:
Ludovic hasn't updated the main news page recently but the changelog for the "nightly builds" for the most recent one shows he's still working on his very nice MUA which runs on Linux, OpenBSD, FreeBSD and Mac OS X.
Awesome research project for visualizing "email landscape" and "email social network". Not only stunning but useful for the above mentioned Contact listing/visualizing.

p.s.: Yes I've mentioned much of this in the past. Goes to show how important email is to me. ;)

Olympus iPod competition


I don't particularly care but thought I'd scoop this little item I found on a french gadget website out of Tokyo:

Akihabara News : toutes les nouveautés High-Tech du pays des Sushis:
Alors là, ils m'ont entendu ... la VACHE Olympus nous sort des produits de fou avec un design de feu, commen√ßons par le :
Qui n'est pas moins qu'un APN/iPOD/PMP de 20 Go avec un écran VGA de 3.7" et un APN de 1.2Mpix ... La b√™te sera compatible Mp3/WMA et Mpeg4 (Vidéo). Avec pour taille 109√ó21√ó73mm et 210g.
Passons au MR-100 qui lui est un iPOD like avec un HDD" de 1.8 5Go, bien sûr compatible Mp3 et WMA.
52√ó14.9√ó90mm pour 100g

(Pour les fran√ßais: pour comprendre pourquoi il dit "la VACHE Olympus", faut lire la tirade que nous a fait l'auteur dans son entrée précédente. ;)

So, what are you looking at exactly? This thing is a 1.2 Megapixel camera, 20Gig "Personal Media Player" supporting MP3, WMA and MPEG4... yes, video.

I'll wait for the rumored 60Gig color iPod myself, thank you very much... Though, hey another camera !!!

Some of my favorite geeks

... have been mightily busy!

Aaron finally fixed his "I-roll-my-own-thank-you-very-much" weblog and immediately posted about some of the wikkedly neat stuff he's been toying with over the summer. widgets, SVG maps, RDF, let's-see-what-happens-when-I-hook-this-up-to-this data combinatorial wackiness.

Dav hacked up a J2ME bluetooth gps mo-pho-weblogging doodad so he can track Mie... hehehehehe ;)
(Speaking of J2ME... Aaron mentioned something about a J2ME-Atom implementation... hmmmm.)

Francis and I just "got the keys" to our new very own super duper 1U rackserver running Whitebox Linux. w007! I have some plans for that baby that I have yet to nag him with, which I am sure is fine cause he's got some of his own. Aside from becoming an email ninja, setting up and installing the email system for some University in Ohio over the summer, and doing various contract programming jobs, the chicgeek also created Spamity, an online webtool for checking stats on your server-installed anti-email-spam systems (such as SpamAssasin, AMaViS, RBL, RHSBL).

Ado is working so hard that I can't spark up ecto to post a blog entry here without having to download an update. Annoying? Sure. Appreciated? definitely! (As Ado himself... hehehehee) He's also been working on APIs for some folks, but I'm not sure I can mention that here...

Michael and his group at Ile Sans Fil cranked out "Wifi Dog", a "complete and embeddable captive portal solution for wireless community groups or individuals who wish to open a free HotSpot" which, combined with location-specific and community-wide media servers is finally making sense to me as a truly awesome idea. Making locally created (CC-licensed?) content easily available on WiFi hotspots makes alot of sense. Mike's also turned me on to TikiWiki (try the demo) (hate to nutshell it as such, but think Drupal + wiki + steroids), and is gearing up to provide implementation services to academia. (Hats off to you my friend.)

Guys, big "thumbs up" to all of you! :)


This looks very interesting.

1. What is LionShare?

LionShare P2P is an innovative technology that will facilitate legitimate file-sharing among institutions around the world through the use of authenticated Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networking. LionShare technology (which is currently under development) will provide tools for the exchange of academic, personal and work-related materials on an officially sanctioned and secure P2P network among participating groups and institutions around the world.

Additionally, an authentication/trust model between institutions is being developed that will allow an authenticated P2P network user at one institution to search and access resources at other participating institutions. This will extend LionShare's capabilities to a global scale by creating collaborative networks that will enable individuals from a diverse range of institutions to connect to the same secure P2P system.

Re-read that stripping out the focus on academia and institutional uses. Mix in community access services/portals (Michael, listening?), "legal" file sharing applications (Creative Commons?)... some "Sharing Economy" pixie dust (hehehe)...


Nevermind what pirates might do with it.

Creative Commons Activists and Activism

I'm thinking that one of the things the folks at Creative Commons haven't done yet (perhaps it is in planning or discussion?), is provide a way for people who are so inclined, and so disposed, to "spread the word".

Activists, evangelists, et al. The so-called grass-roots.

While the Creative Commons website provides loads of information about CC (animations, cartoons, explanations of licenses etc ... all VERY well done!), I can't seem to find a resources center and a community support network for people to get really involved beyond choosing a license and applying it to their work - provided they get it and they actually produce stuff.

There are loads of people who don't read weblogs, or WIRED magazine, who not only don't know that they as creatives have options, but also don't fully realize the cultural lock-down they are living in. Ignorance of rights and responsibilities is the death knell for freedom, choice, democracy...

So, an example: the previously mentioned POP Montreal Festival starting this week. A music festival promoting mostly independent musicians trying to get exposure and "make it". They get more established acts to come and play and hook them up with smaller bands as openers to give them exposure. That's the basic idea, as I understand it.

Now, say I wanted to promote Creative Commons at these events. I am not a musician, but I know some people involved in the POP Montreal organization who would probably be interested in all this stuff. Where do I get materials I can show them? Materials I can print up and distribute, or a clear, concise statement of purpose, for this context, I can yell in someone's ear over a rock song as they stand in front of me and I hand them a flyer/sticker/whatever? A package I can hand to each of the bands performing at the festival, to get them thinking about all this?

I am looking at the Dean techy diaspora, busy at work creating community building tools such as CivicSpace. Take a look at this: "SpreadFirefox". A grass roots, organized effort to Spread the Word about Firefox (the popular-but-not-popular-enough-yet Mozilla based web browser).

This effort needs to be waged on many fronts, right? Not just the artists themselves, not just politicians (who don't act so quick as when they have a fire under their ass), not just the all-to-rare leaders of industry who get it... but the people, hitherto known as the consumers, as well.

I think this needs to be talked about...

More thoughts on Björk, Medúlla and the music biz


  1. Previous Björk entry: Björk's Pirate Flag
  2. Bjö Medúlla Interview
  3. This Blog Sits at the: Björk: Shapes, not patterns
  4. - Le chant des possibles (fr)

First of all, Med√∫lla is still standing at the gates of my ear, ringing the bell hoping to get into my head. Melodic, yes; beautiful, yes; easy to digest, no. ;)

Second, as far as being "Avant Garde" or "fresh and new" or "on the cutting edge", lest it be noted that many have done technically the same thing (produced music from "found sounds"), not least of all Björk collaborators Matmos, before and for years now. (Recent discovery - for me - Matthew Herbert produces amazing stuff entirely 100% based on samples and live sound recordings. Check out "The Mechanics of Destruction" for a really conceptual opus.) Of course she may be the first "mainstream" (or ultrapeer) "recording artist" to do this, and she did a sweet job of it too.

The leading edge of culture is like an expanding bubble. Depending how near or far from the perimeter you are, the more or less "new" the artifact seems.

This is not my reason for posting this, mind you. It is just a lead in. ;)

So, we have this person who goes on a family camping trip for her grand parents' diamond anniversary. For fun, around the fire one presumes, they start singing songs; folks songs, pop songs, what have you. "Hmm" she thinks, and she proceeds to get family members to "sing" various instrumental parts of pop songs. Musta been a riot.

Back at the studio, she composes a few songs, pulls out a few she's had lying around, asks various friends to visit and sing little parts and stuff. Thank you! Lock the doors and edit it all together in ProTools (Apple's Sountrack at $199 could do the trick too) for a few weeks...

Now, the only reason Medúlla is sitting on store shelves, in Amazon's database, at the iTunes Music Store, is because it's Björk and that means two things:
a) she has major distribution deals via record companies
b) she has authority as an ultrapeer (established identity, voice, recognized output quality, etc... she's a celebrity)

I am NOT talking down to this. Credit is due and deserved! Totally.

What follows is not influenced by any purple kool-aid I may or may not be drinking at the behest of my current professional environment. It's just a thought. :)

In the above "context" list linked french article, Björk is quoted as saying essentially that she slightly regrets not fully exploring the potential of the process she employed.

Well... "Get back in there girl!" I say.

Take a break from contract requirements. Put some stuff together and start a new project, to further play with all this. While doing that, keep a journal, live on the web (cough weblog cough), have friends contribute to it as well. Keep a photo journal too.

When done, put it online. Seed Torrents, drop into NewsGroups, share it on Kazaa & Gnutella... Slap a CC license on it and let folks download it for free. Put up a PayPal "donate" link, and a few bucks may come back too.

"Why the hell would Björk want to do this?" one might ask. "Why the hell would she not?" I'd answer. Legal issues aside (the only fly in this ointment), it would be an awesome experiment. An extreme test of emerging music industry business models. While hundreds of struggling musicians are trying to use current tools to GET a voice, what happens when someone who HAS a voice uses them? Is it not the point here to get as many people a copy of one's work?

It would be Björk actually waving her pirate flag.

"Surroundings Defend System"


The weapon against boring and weary surroundings

With seamless vision diminishers, adjustable safetybelt, 40 Watt stereo speaker installation and standard compliant 3.5 mmm jack-plug for fully compatible audio-experience, you can totally shut yourself off from the surrounding world and it's annoying inhabitants!

Yes, well, clever but... most people walk around completely oblivious to their environment as it is. No surrounding is "boring and weary" when your senses are fully engaged and you are actually processing the data they are feeding you.

Someone wearing this must be quite boring and weary themselves... not to mention obtusely jaded and cynical. ;)

(via near near future)


Has cell phone blogging found its place? | CNET

This article makes no sense to me. It seems to be a jumble of keywords like "weblogs", "moblogs", and "Social Networks"...

LoMoSo, "Location-based mobile social networks".

Then they go on to say our own Bell Mobility has implemented LoMoSo stuff, providing a maps-and-directions service... Hunh?! What does that have to do with weblogging, moblogging or social networking?

Nevermind the cost. These people just don't seem to get that the way to make money in wireless is to charge LESS.

(found via

3.2 Megapixel cameraphone

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea

Samsung 3mp camera phone: Digital Photography Review

Essentially, it seems they took a Pentax Optio S (the model of digicam I currently own) and built a phone around it.

Current cellphone networks won't even let you send such high res pictures anyways (too slow/too much bandwidth), but at least 1- you have two devices in one and 2- the image quality is quite good...


A couple of weeks ago, Mie blogged about some "new office members" at 6A. "Neato" I thought, "cheap basic robotics hitting the market..."

A couple of nights later, I walked into my usual hangout, Blizzarts, only to find 7 of these little robots dancing on the dance floor, and three patrons happily toting around their boxed up raffle prizes (3 more Robosapiens). Turns out the girlfriend of one of DJs works for the company and they had a little promo event.

"Hunh?" I thought, "Works for the company? Here?"

I shelved the whole thing in my mind, labeled "too investigate".

Karl just IMed me a link to Loïc Le Meur's blog entry about his Robosapien which he picked up in California.

Google Robosapien. Company called Wow Wee. Whois ?

Wow Wee Group Inc. (WOWWEE5-DOM)
4480 Cote De Liesse #320
Montreal, Quebec H4N 2R1

/me swells with Montreal pride, again... ;)

Cory on DRM at MSFT

Cory Doctorow gave a presentation on DRM (Digital Rights Management) at Microsoft and shares the text with us.

Beautifully explained in an accessible way... and of course in Cory's inimitable style. :)

Doctor's appointment

Taking a computer in for repair, especially a PERSONAL computer, should be like going to your GP, family doctor, dentist or vet.

Why can I not call up my local mac shop, tell em what's wrong, make an appointment, show up and be in the room while the tech fixes the problem, or at least diagnoses it? I mean really?! Usually it is some tiny little thing i could fix myself anyways if I had the special tiny screwdriver of it didn't void the warranty.

Case in point. The screen on this here PowerBook was poorly reassembled after they replaced the LCD for the "whitespots" problem. I could fix this, myself, right here, right now. I do not have Apple's special microscopic hex screwdriver, and besides, a technician screwed it up, a technician should fix it.

Point is, my computer is a part of me. An extension of me I cannot be without for a day, nevermind a few days! I don't mean this in a purely "freaky cyborg/emotional attachment/addiction" way. It is my livelihood, my main means of communication, a major component of my brain... an extension of me!

So I eschewed going to the big apple retailer in town, BMac, because I know how their service department works. Drop it off, we'll look at it, for $50, sometime in the next 48 hours and we'll call you. Yeah right. Dropped by INSO, to inquire. Make an appointment for thursday. Drop it off as early as possible and keep my fingers crossed it gets done by the end of the day. Not optimal, but will do.

I maintain though that as we "rely" on our personal computers more and more, technical service departments will have to change their methodologies to accommodate the more pressing, medical-esque nature of quick hardware/system fixes.

Complexity visualization

Ben Fry doing awesome work on visualization technology for complex and evolving data sets.

This stuff is getting more and more important.

Brits Going at It Tooth and Nail

Wired News: Brits Going at It Tooth and Nail

"toothing," where strangers on trains and buses and at bars and concerts hook up for clandestine sex by text messaging each other with their Bluetooth-enabled cell phones or PDAs.

Busy busy

Virtual Desktop

I use the excellent Codetek VirtualDesktop Pro. Without it I think I'd have gone totally insane ages ago.

Some days, however, I think it contributes to my encroaching insanity. Nobody should have this many apps and windows open at one time.

(To clarify: each "desktop" I use for a different task/project. What invariably happens, since much of my work is "real time", I end up waiting for feedback, or I get interrupted from one task to work on another et voila! Ten workspaces open at once... Tasks include actual work, blog entry writing, email & IM, research & reading, etc... )

It is seven PM and I need to "close" each one of these open tasks tonight. Whoohooo! Someone come and take me away, heeheehoohoohaahaaaa...

Phillip Torrone goes Cyborg jogging

I was gonna write an entry today about how bored i am but Phillip Torrone has given me something to be excited about again. That's twice now... I think I'm gonna owe him!

the portable geek gym...
i was told that i should "get outside" by a coworker since i live in a great area and jog, as opposed to jog on my treadmill. good point i thought, but i still want to be able to view my email, irc, rss feeds. so i started a new project--i have a lightweight pair of glasses with a small lcd screen, connected to a pocket pc (with video out) which is also connected to my phone via bluetooth. i'm adding a bluetooth gps this weekend, so as i jog near certain areas it will play content, for example my application will play a short video with audio about the space needle as i get close to it. obviously i don't think joggers will use this, but there are tons and tons of applications. more photos soon of the entire set up.

portable geek gym, more details, photos and video!
here is the portable geek gym. tiny bluetooth gps velcro'd to my shirt, it talks to a pocket pc, which has a video feed to my sunglasses with lcd screen. also attached, a heart rate monitor, a pedometer, all fed to a health watch via rf, and also a spot watch- to check up on the news and instant messages. optional- my phone, which is used to check email via bluetooth and fed to the glasses which is usually playing the gps feed (maps) or a video. based on my location. it's all really light too- so jogging is still fine.
click here for the video (quicktime version).

i can see what the aibo (robot dog can see)...
i'm playing around with using the sony aibo ers-7 as my eyes for limited periods of time- it's pretty interesting to be downstairs and being able to see what the aibo is seeing. while it is no mars explorer, it's quite a bit of fun.

What's exciting about this is that it demonstrates that the goal of discreet wearable mobile connected computing is getting closer every day. Also it is great to see that others than just Steve Mann and his students are actively pursuing these goals, outside of military and corporate research programs.

The aibo thing is just computer-mediated reality/consciousness throwing fun. ;)

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?

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.


We have relationships with every person we meet/know.
We have relationship networks which connect all these people to us and to each other.
We manage relationships by being nodes and establishing identities (identity facets).

So if we think of ourseleves as a node in a network... Liken the node to an atom. The atom has neutrons and protons... The node has facets...

We can be multinodes in multiple neworks, each node with multiple facets.

Interesting idea came up tonight in conversation with a friend. Do networks have a tendency to draw unto themselves? Sorta like maybe surface tension? Pulling everything to the center? Or how magnetic fields between .. Err... (forgive my lackadasical knowledge of basic physics.. Sheesh!) protons/neutrons.. Or planets... If so, do identity facets have a natural tendency, or "desire", to collapse?

Relinquish the Ego on The Way...

I'm just wondering.. Is there any evidence of this concept in any existing human belief system? The Buddhist "letting go of self and other/multiplicity" for example?

Just thinking out loud... What do you all think?

Talking to myself

Continuing on the cyborg theme, I thought to myself:

I've been here on the sofa all afternoon, fumbling with my awkward iBook, and yet it is here, with this sub-par setup, that my thoughts flow most freely into the computer, and not at my desktop. It must be the relaxing recline of the sofa, for the larger screen and use of a mouse, instead of the restrictive 12" inch screen, clumsy trackpad and awkward keyboard navigation, are far more conducive to my interaction with the machine.. but not with my thoughts.

So, mobility wise, what do you want?

Well, let's see. For starters, a heads up/goggle-type display with an enormous "Desktop" (no need to go architecting 3D UI OS's), voice navigation and voice dictation. Added to that a pair of gestural data input gloves. With this, an application which presents everything I say (commands excluded or in a meta window) as text which, via the gloves, I can "copy paste" wherever I need it: chat with Joi, comment reply to Aaron, email to ... whoever, blog entry, etc...

To continue on the concept that conceivably the brain can "learn" to use new virtual artificial extensions to my "self", my two hands could merely be triggers or "training wheels" to new, multi-tentacled, again, virtual interfaces (read: fingers). Think of the special robotic multi-fingered hand prosthetics in "Ghost in the Shell". Why lob off one's hands and replace them with robotics when their existence could be fully virtual, yet controlled by the brain? It IS feasible, I have SEEN it.

I posit that with less effort than to learn sign language, our brains could learn to use virtual extensions like these.

It's like riding a bicycle! Right Marshall? ;)

This is also a basic theory of "good design". You know "how" to use a tea kettle just by looking at it. By making it intuitive, as opposed to a language learning process, you make it more useable.

It all comes down to wasted CPU cycles in the brain. The less I must process "how", the more I can process "what"... and where, who, when...

Lawnmower Man meets the Puppet Master

Part of an e-mail exchange with Aaron:

> I WANT what Kevin Warwick is working on! Hrm... Garr... :\

Ah come on, Boris. I know Kevin's all about thinking inside the body but try thinking outside the blog. You want to implant a chip with a copy of MT, the moz-gesture stuff and an 802.11b connection on it. Then you can stand around waving your arms like one of those airport dudes posting stuff to your weblog.

... you could surely get Canada Council money if you recast the idea as a modern dance project.

What happens when you start getting hammered by trackback pings and comment spam is a whole other story.

You *are* fuct in the head but who loves ya' anyway? ;-)

I almost fell off the sofa reading this. :D

"Here's to the crazy ones"

The Guts of a New Machine

the publication of a pessimistic installment of The Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Street column pointing out that Apple's famous online music store generates little profit. The more interesting point, noted in the back half of the column, is that Apple doesn't expect it to generate much profit -- it's a ''Trojan horse'' whose real function is to help sell more iPods. Given that the store was widely seen as a pivotal moment in the tortuous process of creating a legitimate digital music source that at least some paying consumers are willing to use, this is an amazing notion: Apple, in a sense, was willing to try and reinvent the entire music business in order to move iPods.


Kate over at Montreal City Weblog points to some film footage Thomas Edison took in Montreal in 1901.

Watching it I thought to myself: "Could this genius, in his wildest dreams, for one second, conceive that here I would be, a mere century later, watching this footage, probably filmed a mere mile or two from where I now sit, using a handful of technologies that he himself discovered, sparked or improved?"

Looking around me, pretty much everything I see has been touched by Thomas Edison.

Thank you sir!


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.

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"... ;)

Move over, Rover

QRIO - Sony Robot

Sony's new QRIO humanoid robot.

I never wanted the Aibo. I do want QRIO though. He's just too cool. I don't read kanji but I can make out that he seems to be able to shoot video, play MP3's, probably remotely interface with all of Sony's other new toys, check mail, etc...

Oh and he walks erect, on TWO legs (watch the Flash). Hello!
I wonder if he has jet rockets in the soles of his feet?

Wherefore art thou, cameraphone?

Japan Media Review -- Camera phones changing the definition of picture-worthy

... "camera phones capture the more fleeting and unexpected moments of surprise, beauty and adoration in the everyday" ... "they invite sharing that is more immediate, ad hoc and ongoing" ...

Turn your tongue one hundred times before speaking.

Smart Mobs - Cell Phone Recording May Breach Privacy

Folks are going ape about cellphones with call-recording features. Privacy this and privacy that.

On the above linked entry I commented:

Very simple: never say anything that you will regret. What's the big deal? The issue here is not privacy, it is discretion. The person recording your conversation is the person you are having the conversation with in the first place. When I have conversation with you via email, we both have records of it. Same for IM, or weblog commenting/trackbacks.

I wish I had recordings, and transcripts, of every phone call I ever was involved in. Not for legal issues, or blackmail, but for a record of memories and ideas and people.

and then further added:
if you cannot say things you won't regret, don't regret the things you say.

Internet radio frequency patterns

Eigenradio - The top 20 singular values all day, every day!

Eigenradio makes its optimal music by analyzing in real time dozens of radio stations at once. When our bank of computers has heard enough music, it will go to work on making more just like it. Since we listen to so much music all the time, Eigenradio is always on and always live. What you hear on Eigenradio is the best of the New Music, distilled and de-correlated. One song on Eigenradio is worth at least twenty songs on old radio.

M3U stream

PLS Stream

Imagine doing this with all the telephone calls in, say, North America, in real time.

Glenn Gould comes to mind as I listen to this cacophony...

To want or not?

Ok... I *think* I *may* want one of these SCOTTeVEST things. I hate carrying a bag around and since nobody has made an acceptable cellphone/PDA/digicam/MP3Player yet, I find myself lugging all this crap around or worse: leaving it at home.

This may just fit the bill. Too bad it's butt ugly. Hmmm. I know about a dozen local fashion designers. I bet someone could make something as functional that actually has some style...

Stats - beautiful, scaleable - stats


history flow

visualizing dynamic, evolving documents and the interactions of multiple collaborating authors

Aside from being quite beautiful, I find these rather fascinating. Context derived from patterns are central to how I think. Perhaps how we think? Hmm. More food for thought.


I also recently read a paper about "Digital Artifacts for Remembering and Storytelling" (Original PDF - Google HTML rendering) which reveals that essentially data patterns jog memories of social interactions and give one a whole fantastically deep wealth of context.

Pattern learning. Pattern thinking. Pattern recognition. Frequencies. Stimuli.

BBC Creative Archive

Taped at the BBC
Can the Beeb put its entire archive on the Web?
By Paul Boutin

For those of us still debating whether to shell out the 40-odd bucks for Fawlty Towers: The Complete Collection on DVD, BBC Director-General Greg Dyke may have settled the matter this weekend. At the end of his speech to an annual TV industry conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dyke announced that the Beeb plans to put its enormous TV and radio archives online and to allow anyone to download them --free-- for non-commercial use. "Under a simple licensing system, we will allow users to adapt BBC content for their own use," Dyke said. "We are calling this the BBC Creative Archive."

This is brilliant. Oh joy!
CBC, do the same! PBS, you too!

GPS Address

After 2 weeks in Japan (and many many minutes spent lost), I'm back home (more on all that later) and have been thinking about GPS, which seems to be pretty advanced, useage-wise, in Japan.

Now, the question is this: why would I need your address if I had your frontdoor's doorknob's precise GPS coordinates? Or to be more realistic, the GPS coordinates of your block, and the street address.

In most of the world, this is a moot point since addresses actually make sense... but in Tokyo... forget it!

So gimme that keitai with GPS and some app which allows me to plug in your coordinates... and hold my hand as I find you.


This also plays on my idea of a suite of 3D software products for game consoles (and PCs) which allow travelers to virtually drive/walk/fly through places they are going to visit. Question of building the mental map before getting there.

Intel "messup"

Wired News: Why Centrino and VPNs Don't Mix

Amazing. They are either total idiots or they did this on purpose. Somehow I don't think they are total idiots...

Power suit

Wired News: Shocking New Jacket Hits Street

Sociological implications aside, what interests me here is the nod to the animal kingdom...

To prevent accidental discharges, the wearer must arm the jacket before it can deliver a shock. A lock on the sleeve must first be opened with a key, and then the charge is built up by holding down a button inside one of the sleeves.

The idea is to charge it only in threatening situations or when the wearer feels vulnerable, Whiton said. A woman might arm it when she's walking to her car at night, for instance.

When charged, the jacket crackles audibly. A pair of slits in the outer lining shows the electric arcs that course across the entire middle layer. It's an impressive display of the jacket's power.

Sweet! Like electric eels!

Seriously though, imagine. Like a scene out of X-Men, no? Crackle crackle crackle...

Adam Whiton, one of the jacket's inventors, said the "really evil crackling sound" makes him flinch involuntarily: The shocks he received testing the jacket conditioned him to associate the sound with pain.


ps -ax

For years I've been playing with the idea that man created the computer in his own image. Memory, I/O, software, hardware, etc. Most of my friends have heard about the "scripts" I've "written" and "run as background processes" in my mind to, for example, make sure I never lose my keys or leave the house without my wallet. We all program our brains, and sometimes have them programmed for us. I could go on, but tonight I'm interested in exploring the subconscious, and to do that I'll look at the CLI, or Shell, or Terminal, or whatever your operating system calls it. For the purposes of this article I'll call it the terminal, because I'm a Mac OS X kind of guy.

Think of the Terminal as the window into the subconscious of your computer. Now, let's turn that around and see if we have a Terminal of our own; a window into our own subconscious. Keep in mind that the Terminal not only allows us to peer in, but also to effectuate commands... and run scripts...

Teenaged cyborgs, moblogging and Emergence.

Link found on Smart Mobs, and quotes below lifted from the Miami Herald article it linked to.

''[Cellphones] extend the spatial and temporal boundaries of a physical encounter,'' she said, explaining that cellphones are providing a way for young people to stay in touch when they are apart.
It is far more than a mere "way to stay in touch when they are apart". That what we've been using telephones for since the start. The interesting part is how cellphones, with integrated, easy instant messaging "extend the spacial and temporal boundaries". Extend? It erases them, and not merely for "physical encounter": for direct communication. Take this:
Linked by cellphones and possessing the ability to exchange silent messages anytime, anywhere, these young people respond to each other quickly, creating the feeling of always being connected.
"Always being connected" + "always being able to communicate" = social network, and more. Read on.


Wired News: Brain Music: Not Much to Dance To

Wired article about the DECONism events i also attended last weekend in Toronto.

Update (2006-11-12):
Mark Federman posted pictures (I was also at the Stellarc thing, featurd in the previos entry at that link), and the Internet archive has audio files.

More pics:
i'm in this pic, mostly hidden, back of the room, second from right, i'm holding somehting up and looking at it. Oh wait there I am!

Sigh, good times.

Cheap quick videocams

Here is why a videocamphone could potentially be a TON of fun.

My friend Louis recently bought a $150 "webcam" with integrated Flash memory, which means he can run around with it.

Here is his document of a trip to toronto (QT Mov. ~8.6Meg).

Yes it's not hi-res. So what; It's damn cool. ;)

Toc toc toc drrrrr

This is a couple of years old but well worth seeing/listening:
Symphony for Dot Matrix Printers - [The User]

I saw a performance of this about three years ago. It was really quite something. A lineup of old dot-matrix printers ratcheting away in a totally controlled way. Each printer had a camera trained on it and part of th eperformance was also the rythmic switching of camera views on large overhead projections.

Grab the MP3s. Well worth it.

Videocam Cellphone

Gizmodo : Japanese videophone

This is one heck of an awesome gizmo. Anything that allows us to record and document and annotate our lives now digitally is wicked cool. IMHO.

WiFi nation

11-Boris-Austin-2.jpgIt is 7:15 pm, it is dark, the sky is menacing rain. Karl, another hard core geek and I are sitting on the sidewalk outside the closed Schlotzky's Deli on Congress St. In Downtown Austin. We are stealing bandwidth.

Ah WiFi!

Best part? The wireless network is managed by a Colubris CN3000. ;)

Free software & copyright

I attended the first presentation at SxSW. It was by Richard Stallman: the founder of the GNU (free) software, erm, movement. I left after about 45 minutes because I grew tired of his longwinded and really quite silly (with no chance to retort, or expand) examples and simpleminded illustrations. They say he's a genius; I guess he felt he needed to dumb it down for the audience. Dumbed it a tad too much, I'd say.

There's a song in my head

This is somehow hugely interesting to me and I do think I'm gonna head down the 401 for this one.

Knowledge, language and cultural erosion

Steph forwarded me an email from the mailing list.

It raises concerns regarding the degradation of global culture due to the alarming rate of extinction of many of the world's languages...

Telepathic cybernetics

(requires Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth "wetware" antennas and the whole inexistent smogashbord of hardware-to-brain, software-to-mind technologies... let us dream...)

Lying in bed.
Close your eyes... and think:

# access mind/dream engine/luciddreaming/gui-interface
# access local wireless network
# open IPSec VPN tunnel
# access "My Mac"
--- mount hard drive
--- open remote admin
# compose new email:
--- to: Anders
--- subject: The Streets
--- message: Thanks for those tunes. They are really amazing.
--- message: taking a nap now, call ya later.
# send email

Hmm... Speaking of those tunes, gonna clean up their ID3 tags and store them in my music library...

# access /Volume/Music/fromAnders
# open in iTunes
--- select all, set "Artist" to "The Streets"... (etc etc etc)
# close iTunes
# move directory to /Volumes/Music/Cleaned/The Streets

Later that day, walking down the street, bump into Anders. "Hey, I've got some tunes I want to give you.. hold on they ar at home."

Close eyes... and think:

# access mind/dream engine/luciddreaming/gui-interface
# access Bluetooth
# access cellphone
# access VPN to "Bopuc home network"
# access "My mac/Volumes/Music/Cleaned/StereoTotal
# access Bluetooth
# access Ander's iPod
# copy ...
# tear down all connections

Way-out thinking

Thinking about future technologies, and how they could be made real today, i find it's important to follow a "way-out" process and then scale it back to the realm of the near-term possible and the presently possible.

For example: a device which would interface with all others one has and which could be used as an input/output, or remote control/monitor, for each device.

Way-out solution: a microchip in my skull. ;) Directly recieves input and transmits thought-based outputs etc. Useful for computer interface, TV/PVR remote control... grocery list maintenance (hehehe had to throw that in).

Near-term solution: tablet type "computer" device. Bluetooth as the transport between it and computers, TVs, PVRs, game consoles, cellphones, etc. Heck why not the cellphone? Once it does voice recognition and the interfaces to all the external devices are standardised, etc. technically possible. Politically tricky because cellphones aren't open-source, or easily hackable for that matter.

Present solution (assuming all your devices have the necessary transport support, i.e. Bluetooth.): Apple iBook (with touchscreen and Inkwell handwriting recognition) is a perfect candidate to develop the beginings of such a networked environment.

It is possble right now for me to sit in my living room, type a letter and have it automatically archived on my main computer, upstreamed to a blog and emailed to a friend. However, and again this depends on the other devices having the capability, so it is also a political thing, the iBook could also be aware of the TV. I could turn it on and change channels and otherwise control it. meanwhile the PVR is broadcasting it's existence and it's set of control possiblities. Accessing it I get on my iBook the control console check local listings and set it up to record or download a movie later. Incomign phone call automatically announces it self and allows me to see who is calling. With GPRS data optionally I avaliable I could tell where the callis coming from too.

Let's look at what is required and what exists to fulfill those requirements:
Hardware layer: Bluetooth for I/O, 802.11x for data transfer. (Built into iBook.)
Transport layer: TCP/IP (ubiquitous)
Application layer: HTTP, zeroconf, SOAP et al.
Data layer: XML, RDF, SVG. MPEG-4. AAC. videogame data formats...

I realise it is very possible that Sony, or Apple for that matter, are already playing with this stuff.

Wish I was in on it. Hmmm.

Index vs. Categorisation

The Fishbowl: Filesystem sacrilege

This of course would be the extreme opposite of where we are now with filesystem management. I believe the best solution, as always, lies in-between.
(merci Karl, pour le lien)

Ok, here's the deal:

I am going to write... something... a book or an attempt of some such thing, entirely online. I've set up a Wiki system and anybody will be allowed to comment, annotate, spell-check (hehehe) the texts.

I'm aiming mid-january to begin, seeing as I am quite busy right now with another project. Also, I have a stack of books I need to read as research.
The books include:

  • "Small pieces loosely joined" by David Weinberger
  • "The Cluetrain Manifesto"
  • "Internet Dreams" by Mark Stefik
  • "Smart Mobs" by Howard Rheingold
  • "The triumph of the narrative" by Robert Fulford
  • "Cyborg" by Steve Mann
  • "Skin of Culture" by Derrick DeKerckhove (if I manage to get my copy back...)
  • "Art, the arts and the great ideas" by Mortimer J. Adler

    Oh and if anyone can direct me to a good book wherein Glenn Gould's ideas and process for his radio production pieces (like "The Idea of North") are discussed (preferably by himself!), please let me know.