Friday, November 30, 2007

I like Jeff

Warning: Geek post ahead

Jeff Bezos is probably one of the most underrated guys on the planet. Once upon a time during the Internet 1.0 boom, everybody gave out stuff for free or under cost and lost money and nobody could figure out how they'd ever make money. Jeff's was one of those companies. After the boom, analysts were laughing at them as a failed relic of the Internet Bubble. Then Amazon started making money hand over fist and they stop laughing.

These days, Jeff is quietly selling cloud storage, cloud computing, group manual processing, virtualized servers and basic banking as a service. This stuff is called Amazon S3, EC3, Flexible Payments, Mechanical Turk and a bunch of other geek names.

What it means to the small business is that now any small business can have unlimited storage, unlimited severs on demand, unlimited people tasks and Amazon grade funds transfer service available to their own apps.

This is some brilliant stuff that's going to change the business world that we know and also change the Internet that we know. This stuff is Internet 3.0 and I'm pretty excited about it. We're doing a bunch of dev stuff right now on this at my office and it's pretty cool.

You can create a virtual server, boot it up, load software and run it and then destroy the machine - all using web service calls and all hosted on Amazon servers.

Brilliant, great work Jeff.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Processing Trentmoeller

I like Trentmoeller and I think that the Processing platform is pretty cool so it was really a pleasant surprise to see both combined together in this rendering called Magnetosphere by Robert Rodgin.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Not so Fast Al

In 1984 there was a movement from the US religious right that demanded that record companies re-evaluate contracts of musical artists that released material that they found offensive. They put together a list of fifteen songs and artists that they consider offensive (the filthy fifteen) and they singled out a number of other artists and songs.

Among the songs that they found offensive were "Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver because the word 'high' was in the title, "We're not going to take it" by Twisted Sister for violence and "Dress you up" by Madonna. This wasn't in 1954, it was 1984.

Here's the scary part, the charge was led by none other than Saint Al Gore's wife Tipper. It was Tipper that gathered a motley crew [sic] of Senate wives to bring the issue in front of the Senate Commerce Committee to "review" offensive lyrics and performances. Guess who was on the committee? None other than everybody's favorite saint - Al Gore. Did Al cry out in outrage against the McCarthy-esque squelching of free speech and persecution of the musical trinity of Denver/Snyder/Zappa? No, rather he tried in vain to validate his wife's pathetic campaign of McCarthy-esque persecution and censorship.

So why did he do it?

a) He didn't want to piss of his wife and get cut off from nookie.
b) He thought it would move his political career forward
c) He thought it was a good idea with a reasonable approach

My answer is all of the above and it's the first two that make me really nervous. Anybody looking to appease somebody else or move their career forward has enough motive to filter the facts to their advantage.

Buyer beware, double check Saint Al's numbers before you believe him. He's got (and keeps getting) tens of millions of dollars by peddling his product. Personally, I believe about 30% of what he has claimed.

Update: Read this (coming from the left no less) and remember that Gore and Clinton took $6M from the dirty oil companies that Al is railing against these days..

Finally, Saint Gore if you are reading this thanks once again for creating the Internet.

"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet"

Saint Al Gore
CNN Late Edition
March 9, 1999

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Saturday

Today I got sucked into accounting. I don't know how it happened. I had nothing to do but some paperwork so I went to the office, screwed around on Fark and FB for half an hour, had a coffee and decided I'd do some accounting. That was nine hours ago and I'm nearly finished cross referencing and reconciling 9 months of transactions across three companies and three currencies. I have a headache and I need a beer several beers tequila.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Genetic Ambiguity

I was reading this article about James Thomson who pioneered stem cell research and has now developed a technique for using viruses to introduce genes into skin cells to turn them back into stem cells. This is some profound stuff and he brings up some some really confounding scenarios. So what happens if you inject human stem cells into a rats brain and the brain develops human tissue? Is this creature subject to the same religious and constitutional rights as us? How about if it's just one gene like if a pig is cultivated with a human ant-diabetic gene? What is the threshold at which these creatures acquire human rights? How about the other way around, if you grow body parts in vitro, at what point do these parts be qualified as human?

And what about those plants with animal genes? Very tasty stuff.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Montreal's Place in Early Century Black Mobilization

Did you know that in 1920 Marcus Garvey organized a UNIA convention in Montreal and that's where Malcolm X's parents met and married?

Well neither did I. Marcus is considered a great prophet by the Rastafari and Malcolm X was one of the founders of the Nation of Islam.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Heat is on

GOOG gets smacked by senators. AAPL gets slapped by end users. AAPL gets slapped again in Germany by the courts with a brand spanking new restraining order.

Cuban, OReilley and Fark

Well two of my favorite blogs collided in this post (Fark and BlogMaverick).

Nuclear Greenpeace

Sounds a little weird I know but Patrick Moore who was the co-founder of Greenpeace is now a vocal advocate of nuclear energy. Read more here. Much like John Coleman, the founder of the Weather Channel who says that global warming is the greatest scam in history, it's worth your while at least giving smart guys a listen.

Here's the part at the end that really got me interested:

"WN: Outside your relationship with Greenpeace, are there
environmental groups or thinkers out there that you support?

Moore: People like Stuart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, long-time
environmentalist and thinker. He's solidly in favor of nuclear now. Going back
to James Lovelock (founder of the Gaia theory), he was the first iconic environmental guy who said nuclear has got to be part of the solution. Jared
. He's in favor of nuclear energy too. "

Monday, November 19, 2007

On Fast Failure

Obiter dictum; I had yet another conversation on Saturday night over too many pints and agave juice about growing a company. I met somebody with a small business that was surviving but stuck in a holding pattern. My advice these days has been pretty much a canned answer; set your goals high - high enough to scare you and go for it. What I realized is that a lot of people can do some of this easily but then fail to execute. I guess I'm the same but I fight to get over that feeling that whatever I do has to be perfect so I'm not going to start it until I'm fully prepared and once I've started it I'm not going to release it until it's perfect. Well that principal fucked me over for a long time. Perfection is a pretty good excuse for procrastination and procrastination is a pretty good plan killer. I think that it was Tom Peters who said "Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast". This is a powerful statement because if you can't get stuff out fast, fix it and move on then you will be stuck in a pattern of never doing anything outside of your comfort zone because you're not perfect at it and you can't let it go. Learn rapid iteration and things will move quicker.

Listen to Tom, fail fast and fix faster.

CAVEAT EMPTOR: Of course if you're a heart surgeon or airline pilot please disregard this post.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This is funny

More from the Right

HDNet (Mark Cuban's company) put out a new Brian Depalma film called Redacted. It seems like the right wing establishment doesn't like this film because they consider it unpatriotic as it might be viewed as critical of the war. The cheerleader for this chorus is Bill OReilley who is quite an unsavoury character. So for the past few weeks OReilley has been attacking Cuban on his Fox TV show (a Rupert Murdoch property). Now some bumpkin rednecks are calling in bomb threats and death threats to everybody involved with Cuban and HDNet. Sounds familiar? This is pretty much the same thing that happened to the Dixie Chicks.

Here's the funny part (if any of this can be considered funny). Cuban being the billionaire that he is, bought ad space in OReilleys show and is now advertising his film from within the FOX network and on the OReilley show. Shows what a whore OReilley is and just goes to show you how intolerance isn't very pretty. Read more here.

On that subject, I have seen many people viciously criticize John Coleman, the founder of the Weather Channel who says that global warming is the greatest scam in history. If you find yourself thinking (gasp) "what blasphemy", you probably suffer from the same disease as OReilley. When you can't look at evidence from both sides and make up your own mind then you've painted yourself into a corner of religious narrow minded dogma. Even if you believe strongly in something, it's always worth your while to view the evidence from the other side.

As for global warming, I'm not yet sold on it but I haven't seen a balanced dialog. My belief is the big rush for "green" status by everyone and their dogs is simply another ploy to squeeze more money out of consumers in the form of taxes, LEED bureaucracy and hysterical hippies peddling idiotic products to pacify the guilt of oxygen deprived suburbanites. Yes we know you think that SUVs are horrible even though most of them have the same consumption as mid sized cars and (gasp) minivans. Why is it fashionable to dis a Hummer H2 (17MPG) and not a Kia Sedona (15MPG)? Where is the pragmatism?

If we can't get China and India to clean up their acts, we're fucked anyways regardless of how much tofu and lentils we pick out of our beards.

One last thing, even though I'm not convinced that global warming is grounded in truth, I still don't own a car, I walk to work, compost and recycle. The worst thing that could happen if I was wrong is that I got a bit healthier and saved some money right? Now that's pragmatic.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thoughts on Zune 2

The new Zune software is out now and it's pretty cool. I have a first gen zune and it's updated for free with the new firmware.

Here are my thoughts:

- Gorgeous UI on the device, more glowing stuff, smoother fades and wipes and nicer alpha channel/translucent effects. Very slick indeed, more chic than the now dated iPodesque glass buttons

- Girly/swirly UI on the software but it can be skinned to a muted minimal look/feel. It's really minimalistic in a Stark/Bang Olufson kind of way but at the same time organic like your moms velvet wallpaper. They definitely didn't copy iTunes and it shows.

- The software is very easy to use but it lacks some of the depth it used to have. I guess they rewrote it from scratch because a lot of the metadata and playlist features are gone. So are the heirarchical views of artist/genres/albums. We're left with minimalistic lists that can be sorted but you can't re-order the columns. Very nice for kids and noobs but a little lame for the rest of us. I would expect this to be built back up over time.

- There are lots of new social networking features and wireless features that I haven't tested yet.

Final thoughts: I think M$ will steadily chip away at A$ by honing into the facebook/mobile/xbox/pvr/tivo features that A$ will never have. M$ makes money by letting partners have a piece of the pie, A$ makes money by keeping partners out.

2 steps forward, 1 step back. 8.5/10.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Reason

Featuring everybodys fave mulletted lesbian Sara Quin from the twin lesbian duo Sara & Tegan.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

January 9th, 2009

Seems so far away but it's only 14 months away. This is a big day my friends because this is the day that GWB relinquishes authority to the next elected president of the United States. That is if he doesn't dissolve parliament, jail the senate and declare a state of emergency under martial law. This of course is highly unlikely but dictatorships often start as democracies. Case in point Pakistan, Venezuela and Russia.

I'm bringing this up because I just saw the Dixie Chicks "Shut up and Sing" documentary and it raised the hairs on my neck. It is scary how easily the media conglomerates can be manipulated by a marginal special interest group. It's scarier still how somebody like Rupert Murdoch can do it legally worldwide. I guess Billy Bragg was right all along.

In my ears

These days, I've been listening to a pretty diverse palette of tunes. Avenged Sevenfold have a new album out, I just got a huge stock of 60's reggae and northern soul and I'm really hooked on Booka Shade.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The GOOPLE Conspiracy

Are Apple and Google competing in the mobile space? Yes and no. With cross pollination between their boards of directors and seeing that they've been such bum buddies it's hard to believe that they are going to fight it out like two adversaries.

My prediction? GOOPLE will collectivley target MS-Office with a web based suite of tools with lots of applishious iphonish features. And GOOPLE will buy Adobe thereby controlling Flash & AIR. GOOPLE will get a head start by buying Glide.

Let's come back here in a year and see what happens.


Frankly I think Guiness tastes like fermented bong water but their new advert is simply brilliant.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Not a Second Too Soon

Google's smackdown begins. And will continue.

GOOG market cap 216B and rising
MSFT market cap 325B and holding

When GOOG share price hits 1000, Google will be the same market cap as MSFT. Coming soon to a portfolio near you.


Going to Alaska sometime soon? You might want to know in advance that it's illegal to wake up a bear to take a picture, no problem shooting it while it's sleeping though. Oh yeah, it's also illegal to throw a live moose out of a plane.

And those boneheads in Oregon won't let you pump your own gas, just ask Ricky B.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Do no Evil

Do no evil my ass! This is Googles mantra yet they keep peering deeper and deeper into my gmail account to deliver target ads. I have a thread with a friend running over a year and it started with "Hey Dred". I'm still getting Bob Marley CD compilation ads to this day. WTF??? Why is it that everybody freaks out about Microsoft and Facebook but Google and Apple get away with murder??

Here's why:

Microsoft is the new IBM.
Google and Apple are the new Microsoft.
Keep loving them while you can fanboys, nobody's fooling me.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I love bugs

Well actually I really love Bug Labs who happen to be my favorite company in the world. These doods make open source modular hardware to build and program your own mobile net connected gadgets. Yep, you gotta be a geek to really appreciate this one. Here's how it works, get a base module, throw on a wireless receiver, touch panel, GPS and camera module and whip up some java code and you can have this thing document and geotag your travels through space and time while recording the weather at the same time.

Once again, this project is for geeks only but fuck is it ever cool.

iPod touch versus Zune

I've got one of each, so what's better? If you have the time to sit in front of an iPod touch and have it as the center of your attention for extended periods of time then it's a clear winner with a better and prettier interface and form factor. However, if you listen to music while walking/jogging/cycling/motoring then the iPod sucks. Why? While it's in your pocket you cant control the mute, vol up/down, skip fwd/back and all that other stuff. You have to take it out, unlock it and then fumble through the landscape/portrait detector until it figures out that you want it right side up and then it lets you control it. Even then, you can't seek without tapping once on the screen and getting to an exact spot is impossible unless you have a 3 millimeter diameter finger. What else pisses me off is that it doesn't remember where you are in a playlist or long format audio and there is no way to create a playlist on the fly. It's great for flights and airports, shit for pocket operation. That's why Rick loves it and I hate it.

Google Opensocial

Somebody posted yesterday about Googles new social networking platform. It's hard to say what the impact is going to be but at this point it is just a bunch of developer stuff that doesn't have any impact until it shows up as applications on web sites.

So what exactly is the deal with this? In a nutshell, it would let me put in a funwall or superpoke right on my blog or web site. That in itself is no big deal but like digg, it ties together a bunch of unrelated people and sites like hidden glue.

The big news is that MySpace has signed on. To me this means that MySpace will become Googles pawn in its war against Facebook. So in effect, OpenSocial is really the MySpace application layer that lets developers enable Myspace users to poke each other and to poke people on the LinkedIn network (maybe?).

What an enormous waste of time, but some people are making huge money from this stuff. Looks to me like News corp will likely sell Myspace to Google within the year since there are no real synergies and MySpace needs some serious CPR to make it "cool" again.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Free PIcasso, Monet & Renoir!

How cool is this? The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has waived admission fees until Jan 27th. That's right, it's free to get in until then and there are lots of exhibits rolling through.

1380 Sherbrooke Street West,

Tuesday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.