Monday, November 17, 2008

Something cool on Surface

Microsoft seems to have a lot of inertia with Surface apps and I think that we've seen a lot of great things out of their newer user interfaces. They kidnapped abducted recruited some great people from Adobe, Apple and Frogdesign and it's really starting to show. The new Zune software is brilliant and so is the Virtual Earth interface.

What they need is some equal talent on the hardware side. To date most Wintel laptops, media players and mobile devices have form factors that basicly suck ass. HTC seems to be changing that on the mobile side but there aren't too many more companies pushing those boundaries. PC hardware is mostly the equivalent of GM cars from the 90's - fugly, cheap and flakey. Luckily there seems to be a wave of much cooler stuff coming out. Here's my wish list;

- PCs that look like they were made by Bang and Olufson
- Media players that look like they were made by Prada
- Laptops that look like they were made by BMW

Having said that, the questions that those suppliers would ask is would I be willing to to pay a premium for that? I'd say yes, by probably about 10% and not 35% like Apple demands.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Tethering a Blackberry Bold with Rogers

So I have this 6GB package with Rogers that I barely use but is still less expensive than the 500Mb package for reasons only known to Steve Jobs and the marketing fools @ Rogers.

I always thought that there was an extra charge for using the wireless data package with my laptop but as it turns out there isn't. So.... I gave it a try and it works well. 350Kbps up and down and essentially free because it's paid for. One more thing, I upgraded my firmware to .168 and it's rock solid and the battery life is great - highly recommended. Now it never crashes and works flawlessly.

Here's how to tether taken from Howard Forums;

Task 0: Connect your BB to your laptop using a USB cable or bluetooth* (* haven't tried yet)

Task 1: Install Blackberry desktop software on your computer.

Task 2:

Set up Internet APN.
1. Go to Start>Settings>Control Panel.
2. Double-click Phone and Modem Options.
3. In the Phone and Modem Options window, click the Modems tab.
4. Select Standard Modem and click Properties.
5. In the Standard Modem Properties window, click the Advanced tab.
6. In the Extra initialization commands field, type the following:

1. Click OK.
2. In the Phone and Modem Options window, click OK.

Task 3:

1. Go to Start>Settings>Network Connections.
2. Double-click New Connection Wizard. The New Connection Wizard opens.
3. Click Next.
4. Select the Connect to the Internet option. Click Next.
5. Select Setup my connection manually. Click Next.
6. Select Connect using a dial-up modem. Click Next.
7. If the Select a Device screen appears, select the Modem - Standard Modem check box. Click Next.
8. In the ISP Name field, type a name for your connection. Click Next.
9. In the Phone number field, type*99#. Click Next.
10. Indicate which users will have access to the connection. Click Next.
11. Enter the user name and password provided by your service provider. Click Next.
12. Click Finish.
13. In the Connect window, click Properties.
14. In the Properties window, verify that Modem - Standard Modem appears beneath the Connect using heading, and then click Configure.
15. In the Modem Configuration window, clear the Enable hardware flow control check box and make sure none of the other check boxes are selected. Click OK. In the Properties window, click OK.

Task 4:
Connect the BlackBerry device to the computer and verify that BlackBerry Desktop Manager displays Connected. The BlackBerry device must be identified by BlackBerry Desktop Manager in order for the modem to establish a connection

Task 5:
Connect to the Internet using dial-up networking.
Note: During this procedure, do not operate the BlackBerry Browser or any third-party applications on the BlackBerry device. An active data session may interfere with the modem connection. Also, make sure an ethernet connection is not active at the same time.

1. Connect the BlackBerry device to the computer.
2. Open BlackBerry Desktop Manager.
3. Click Start>Settings>Network Connections>.
4. Enter the user name and password provided by your service provider. (BLANK for Rogers)
5. Click Dial.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations to the USA

Congratulations for doing something incredibly brave. For the first time in decades I admire the USA.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

More Thoughts on Obama

Southern Fried Liberals
I was in the Bahamas last week and there was a bunch of fat pink mustached southern sounding Americans swilling beer around the pool. Looked like a bunch of rednecks to me and I didn't think much of it until I saw that two of them had Obama t-shirts on. I must say that I was a bit shocked.

On the Web
Since I got back, I've been reading the news websites and reader comments go on about how great Obama is, either that or a bunch of obscure foil hat inuendos like how he's not an American, french kisses Castro and square dances with terrorists. There aren't many people praising John M, just shooting down Obama and about the same number calling Palin a dumbass whacko.

Running the Stand
Both candidates would make reasonable leaders but I'm terrified of Sarah Palin and for that reason above all others I think that McCain lacks judgement and isn't fit to run a hot dog stand. From a Canadian perspective, it's probably better that McCain wins but I can't think of a single Canadian that I know that isn't hoping for an Obama landslide.

Good luck my American friends and please don't fuck it up again.

My Prediction

Given the huge voting lines and massive early vote turnout I'm venturing to say that Obama will win by a big margin. People don't go to that much trouble unless they're really passionate and I think people are really passionate about change this time around. The lineups from what I can see seem to be civil and actually pleasant so I'm guessing they aren't filled with people scared to let a black man win.

Lets revisit this tomorrow, my gut feeling is that people are very anxious and excited about a new beginning.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

How Prolific Was 2Pac?

When he said way back in 1995:

"I see no changes all I see is racist faces
misplaced hate makes disgrace to races
We under I wonder what it takes to make this
one better place, let's erase the wasted
Take the evil out the people they'll be acting right
'cause both black and white is smokin' crack tonight
and only time we chill is when we kill each other
it takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven sent
We ain't ready, to see a black President, uhh"

We're on the eve of change, are we really ready?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dear Steve

Dear Steve, You don't look so hot, we're worried about you. What gives?
Your Amigo, Sanj

P.S. I think I'm finally going to buy one of your lapto

How sad would it be to lose a great innovator like SJ. As much as I can't stand Apple's smug marketing and arrogant posturing, the products are pretty ground breaking and the world will be a much worse place without Steve's hand. Anyways all that to say that Steve isn't looking so hot these days and today he looked like a corpse.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tilt shift

How cool is this tilt shift lens effect?

Shrink this train from Stefan Gilgen on Vimeo.

Beached from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Bathtub III from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Using Spore to Guide the Economy

Many people know about the Sims game and recently Spore where you build a world and it evolves based on how you tweak the 'DNA' and genetic pool of your simulation. Why can't you apply methodology the same to economic simulations? Here's my idea, the government and private sector combined should set up a massive simulation of people, economies and stimulus programs that run in much faster than real time and allow the general public to try out simulations of different economic programs. Google/Microsoft/Oracle/Amazon/Apple/IBM/OSF should chip in resources to build/connect to this cloud simulation and it should be open to supercomputers as well to plug in simulation results. Additionally, people can volunteer their free CPU cycles to try random parameters like the folding protein and SETI screensavers do.

It should be run like a contest and every couple of weeks, the top 1% of simulation results should be analyzed by a pool of really smart people. As the economy is a moving target, this should be an ongoing effort with base assumptions adjusted based on the changing reality.

There's almost no chance that this can be done in time to change what's going on now but there's no reason why a few spreadsheets can't be thrown out there with tweakable parameters to let pundits work on. I am pretty convinced that the crowd can figure out economic algorithms to ease or solve many of the economic pressures at hand.

Just a thought, much better than handing out free money and buying deadbeat mortgages with my tax dollars IMHO.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I figured it out

I finally figured out who Sarah Palin`s debate coach was.

Must have taken years to learn how to use so many words without saying anything. Obviously Palin`s got this act wired but she could use some medication for all that eye twitching.

Monday, October 06, 2008

McCain/Palin are kidding right?

First off let me tell you that as much as I dislike GWB, it's not because he's a republican -it's because he's an idiot. Second, I don't think that Obama has much of a platform other than not being GWB. Having said that, McPalin scares the shit out of me.

McPalin reminds me of those wind up chattering teeth that just keep knocking out robotic nonsense like a drunken Monty Python skit. I can't understand how this guy who's voted vastly in favor of GWB policies can consider himself the voice of change. How the fuck is this old fossil a maverick? Why doesn't he call himself a speed skater or a bowler because that's just about as relevant and maybe a little less humorous. He's kidding right? And meanwhile Rome is burning and Sarah is busy giving shout outs to third graders and throwing aw-shucks winks like she's selling corn and kisses at a state fair hot dog stand. WHAT THE FUCK, DO THEY REALLY THINK AMERICANS ARE THAT STUPID??? On second thought that's a good question, after all they did vote GWB in twice right? You guys are gonna vote in an executive to fix your global problems right? Did that somebody on the world stage just recently get their first passport? Didn't you learn the first time what happens when you put provincial imbeciles in charge of global affairs?

I'm afraid that Obama can't handle the crisis either but I'm infinitely more petrified of having a weaker/older GWB-esque relic in charge with a backwoods soccer mom running wing. In either case, we're fucked for a while and Chindia have a great chance to trample all over us with middle eastern sovereign funds bankrolling them.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mark to Market, the big shaft

Lets say you had a bar of gold that's worth a thousand dollars today but all of a sudden nobody was trading gold for a few months. Is your gold worth zero? Not really, it's worth something close to a thousand dollars when people are buying again.

Here's the rub with banks and mortgage companies. Nobody these days wants to buy any mortgage, good or bad so they are forced to value the whole lot of them at zero even if only a few percentage are defaulting. The problem is that by valuing the mortgages that they are already holding at zero even though they will mostly be paid, the banks have 10 times less money to loan because of the way they're structured with leverage.

So 500 billion dollars of mostly good mortgages are marked down to zero even though most of them are worth most of their full value and thus 5 trillion dollars of bank liquidity is gone instantly. Thus explains why overnight so many banks collapsed.

How stupid is it that such a simple rule fucked up the entire dynamics of the economy and how stupid of the people who could do something about it a year ago didn't start until this week.

It's called Mark to Market regulations and you'll be hearing about it for a long time.

Greed and the American Public

I've seen a lot of comments from viewers on CNBC, CNN & FOX about how they reject the notion of a wholesale bank bailout. When you look at the reasoning behind why the bailout was defeated on Monday, it seems to stem from the perception that it's simply bailing out the greed and excess on Wall street. What most people seem to forget is that consumers share a great deal of the blame as well and they (we) should recognize that. What do I mean by that? Well, how many people in North America bought huge houses when interest rates were microscopic? How many people took 3 vacations a year on their credit cards? How many people leased multiple massive cars because they seemed so cheap? How many people ran up their credit cards? It goes on, the government lowered interest rates and both political parties encouraged people to buy houses with nothing down. Deregulation allowed banks to offer interest only 40 year mortgages to people who could barely afford it even in good times. The greedy system provided greedy people with unlimited nearly free toys and when the party ended the greedy people blamed the greedy system for victimizing them.

We're all going to eat shit for a while because credit has dried up even for responsible people and companies and without credit the whole economy goes into slow motion and sometimes seizes. I've heard many people talk about the 'old fashion' way of doing business without credit. That's a load of shit because without responsible credit this society wouldn't exist and without irresponsible credit, it wouldn't have grown as fast as it did. If your supplier doesn't give you 30 days credit and you don't give your clients 30 day credit, your business is going to suffer. If the concept of car lease/purchase financing is gone, we're all driving 8 year old rust buckets and a few million people will be out of work and UPS ceases to exist. Oh yeah, without credit your municipality can never fix anything major that breaks until you all go drop off a bags of cash at city hall.

I'm all for responsible credit and tighter regulations and I think that Warren Buffet and Mark Cuban are both right in their thinking that if you let investors buy in alongside the government into the credit pool that's currently seized up, almost everybody will come out better for it.

Until it un-seizes, we're all in big shit. Conserve your cash because you'll need it to survive or you'll find some great buying opportunities soon if things go well.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A really smart guy

This guy Vinod Khosla is one smart fella, read what he has to say about renewable energy. This dude is the type of guy that should be advising the governments on sustainable energy policies. Did I mention that he was the co-founder of Sun Microsystems and general partner at Kliener Perkins?

Monday, September 22, 2008

AOL Revisited

Once upon a time AOL had this huge following of non-technical people who used their cartoony software to send messages to each other and read the news. It was a walled garden for old people and kids who didn't understand the Internet. It was really cute, had pretty colors and nice icons and animations. Eventually AOL let their users onto a little bit of the Internet with some weird ass browser that didn't work with any site other than AOL. Eventually people got wise and realized that they really didn't want to pay triple what other people were paying for a playschool version of the Internet and AOL took a hit and had to dismantle their walled garden and let people free using Netscape and Internet Explorer. Today AOL is some third rate destination site and nobody really cares about them.

Apple is the new AOL, they give you pretty colors and shield you from the machine but at the same time don't let you do too much because they're afraid that you'll hurt yourself. They won't let developers write killer apps, they don't have the most killer hardware and they actually don't even have the most usable software.

RIM, Google and HTC show a glimmer of hope on how that can one day change. RIM's got a killer with the Bold with more to come around the corner, the HTC Touch HD is sick and finally tomorrow Google's launching the HTC with Android.

Oh yeah, did I mention that PCs/Laptops are becoming rapidly irrelevant? And Microsoft, well they're still around there in the background providing infrastructure and platforms but they are to some degree just enablers of the stuff to come while HTC/Google are the real drivers.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hey Americans!

Your government just gave away $170 billion of your money to 'stimulate the economy', bought $200 billion in crappy mortgage companies, bought bad debts of $85 billion from a near dead bank and now is going to buy another $700 billion of bad debts from the banks.

That's after arguably spending a few hundred billion on a random war in the wrong place.

Your debt will be 11.3 trillion dollars after all is said and done.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My favorite video

Anybody that knows me knows that The Knife are one of my favorite acts, so it's no surprise that this Royksopp track with Karin from The Knife on vocals is my fave vid. I usually don't like Royksopp because they're too wimpy but this is pretty cool. BTW: Karin is the one eating the apple and not the one floating.

Royksopp - What Else Is There?

Biofuel is mostly dumb

In the long run, biofuel is really a pretty dumb idea. We already have a massive problem with fertilizer runoff, drinking water and deforestation so it just seems really stupid to trade air pollution for water/ground pollution. Brazil seems to have a good handle on sugar beets but they started in the 70s. Today we know a lot more about what happens when you trade forests for fields and it's clear that that's no good. The same goes for bio-plastics, we trade one kind of pollution for another and because it has some kind of first level benefit, most people ignore the net benefit/loss.

It's just plain dumb and that's what happens when you treat this kind of stuff emotionally and not pragmatically. We need to look at all of these things like an accountant would with objective eye towards cost/benefit. Push down pollution on one side and where does it pop out on the other?

There are a lot of dollars going into much better solutions but they just aren't as glamorous. My prediction is that capitalism will work it's magic and smart solutions will come but in the meantime some idiots will keep pushing stupid ideas to stupid people with emotional judgments. Think hard about this stuff next time somebody feeds you some more enviro-bullshit and embrace the stuff that really makes sense. Personally, I trust the capitalists to have a far more tangible impact than the rabid environmentalists;

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On bolds and zunes

I've had my blackberry bold for a month now and I have to say that I'm loving it for the most part. The email + web is great, videos are decent and the screen & keyboard are awesome. The only thing about it that sucks is how much the thing crashes. Sometimes its a couple of times a day and sometimes it's every few days. Clearly this thing isn't quite perfect. On top of that, I'll have to be really careful with this one because my old phones took tons of abuse and lasted me years, the bold looks kind of fragile and reboots when it takes a big bump. I dread the day when I drop it on concrete.

Regarding the Zune, I have to say that the Zune Software V3 blows iTunes right out of the water and the Zune itself is still my preference over the iPods. I really don't like the touch and before you get your panties in a bunch, I do actually have one and use them both side by side. I don't use an iPhone but I get the general idea and understand why some people like them. I also noticed that the new iPod touch finally has a physical volume button but I still wouldn't get one if I had a choice. I am however using my 1st gen touch to play spore when I'm bored. Which brings me to another gripe - I bought spore on the iTunes store for 6 bucks and only after I downloaded it did I realize that it didn't work on my touch - fucking store and itunes didn't even warn me. I didn't read the fine print. I had to then buy the 10 buck touch version with no chance of a refund for my mistake.

At the end of the day, I still think that iFans are a closed minded group that don't really realize to what degree they've been been short-changed and won't figure it out until Apple becomes un-trendy. After all, Apple aren't really the underdog anymore and it's hard to be an individualist when everybody in your subway car has the exact same gear as you right? Are you really a counter culture individualist who uses the same gadgets as George Bush? Does listening to JJohnson & Feist somehow make up for it?

Apple used to run an advert about 1984 and big brother, these days I think that they're the second biggest brother on the planet with the first being Google.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Two weeks with a blackberry bold

Week 1 went great, roaming around the east coast of Canada. No problems whatsoever switching between 3G/Edge/GSM. However when I got into NY state last friday, it started crashing regularly. Spent 4 days in NY/NJ upstate, midstate and bottom including coastal NJ and it crashed every 6 hrs. Zipped over to Boston for the past couple of days and now its rock solid. Seems like there are still some roaming issues with ATT USA and that's probably what's causing the launch delay.

My advice to RIM is to hold on until its rock solid because clearly it's going to be a disaster if released in the US in this state. In Canada however, rock solid and a joy to use. I get lots of Americans down here eyeing my device and asking me about it so clearly it's lustworth.

Oddly enough, at a software conference it seems like most of the programmer types use iPhones and the founder/owner types use crackberries.

It's been a while

I'm sitting here at the Seaport in Boston for the Business of Software conference and I have come to realize how great it is to get so much insight from people who have been through a lot more than I have. I've met loads of people who came from all over the world and spent some fairly significant money to be here. Since Boston isn't too far from me it wasn't such a big commitment but after being here this year I think I'll follow this conference wherever it goes next year even if that means going to the UK or wherever it is next.

I also realized that I have a lot of knowledge to share with others as I have been through 3 bootstrap companies, 2 IPOs, 2 mergers and 3 fiascos. That's a lot of startups! A fellow with a show on the BBC will be interviewing me about my experiences with VCs, that should be interesting.

So all that to say that I'll be contributing to this blog regularly again soon but probably more with a slant of what I've learnt over the years and what's driving me.

Adios from Boston!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Smug bastards

Every time I see a smug Apple advert it makes me want to puke. How about this, recently the biggest and most dangerous hacking hole since 1997 had been discovered, patched and closed by all of the major vendors together in a cooperative effort with no BS. This includes Microsoft, Cisco, CERT and all of the Linux/GPL community.

Everybody pitched in, coordinated and fixed their systems but the smuggest bastard of the lot (Apple) were not only late with a patch, failed to tell their customers about it but they also fucked up their patch and now Macs and OSX servers everywhere are vulnerable. Notice how the press hasn't jumped on their heads like they would for any other company? Good thing there's so few of them out there that nobody really gives a shit.

Test your connection here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Rotten Apple

It's no secret that I don't care too much for Apple and their products so take this post with a pinch of salt. Here's how the summer went with Apple;

1) Released a pretty phone with crappy reception
2) Came out first in the IBM most vulnerable software list
3) Filled my computer with junk and keeps asking me to download 70mb of new junk every month
4) Released a crappy mobile web email app that doesn't work too well
5) Launched a mobile app store that keeps going out of service

All of that isn't a big deal if they weren't so fucking smug. Lets face it, if you pretend to be flawless you'd better be ready for a shitstorm when you show some warts.

Funny thing is that the shitstorm hasn't started yet despite all of the problems. I'm curious to see how long Google & Apple will keep being immune to public scorn for crappy products and elitist attitudes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The answer to the secret

There's this book and video called 'The Secret' that purports to let anybody in on the secret of success. I hate the book and think that it's a load of crap and actually destructive in a sense. It lets losers justify their lethargic underachieving lives so that they can continue to sit on the couch watching their bellybuttons waiting for gold to pop out if they believe it enough because some mystical force is going to deliver it to them. I think you have a better chance of U2 playing live in your rectum than being successful just by wishing it to be.

And so...

There's a follow up book by one of the contributors - a Canadian named John Assaraf that's actually pretty interesting. This book ('The Answer') is about taking action and getting your fat lazy ass off your filthy couch. Although it still refers back to the Chopra-esque inter connectivity of all things and quantum power wells, it does so just to tell you to get off your lard bags and start taking action. I'm not finished reading it but it seems to be quite accurate and rational and so far I'd say that it's a pretty good asset for those starting or running their own gigs.

Here it is on Amazon.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson seems to have the golden touch these days, here's his new it girls video - Candie Payne/I Wish.

Here's All I need to hear from CP, no video unfortunately;

And if you like that smokey soul sound, here's another one from Saint Etienne;

Thanks to Fred Perry/Subculture for getting me back on this stuff.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I was reading an interview with Siouxsie from this past winter in which she goes on in detail about what a good time she had vacationing in Sri Lanka, scuba diving and hanging out with monkeys. I found that really striking because she was always portrayed as such a severe and serious character sometimes like a spinning ball of razorblades if you crossed her line. While I couldn't imagine her drinking mojitos and dancing to Andre 3000 around the Hilton pool, I understand where she was coming from and for the most part I'd much rather be hanging out with monkeys and manta rays than the urban monkeys I'm forced to hang out with most of the time.

Speaking of manta rays, I was in Costa Rica recently and saw a ray that was much larger than our 20 foot panga (boat), looked like a huge cloud passing underneath. It really gave me shivers and at the same time was breathtaking. I've never seen such a huge creature up close.

Oh yeah, by coincidence, Siouxsie's newest album was called Manta Ray, here's "Into a Swan" (2007):

And here's a really awesome live clip with Suede from 1993;

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ubuntu 8 thumbs up

I just installed Ubuntu 8 on a laptop headed for Costa Rica. I'm figuring that if I put Windows on there I'd be asking for it because out in Mal Pais the bandwidth is crap so it wouldn't be updated and XP would be hacked in minutes without updates.

I didn't want a Mac because it's too pricey so I got an old hand me down Dell laptop and threw on Ubuntu 8.04.

All I can say is WOW is it ever cool, very fast, functional and so far in the past couple of hours it's been totally headache free.

If somebody can put an AOL-esque shell on it, it would save hundreds of millions of old computers from the trash. I think I'm in love, sweet.

Download it, run it from CD to try it out and then put it on some old hardware - you won't be sorry.

Find it here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


On my way out of a dental appointment yesterday I saw the first new BMW X6 on the back of the delivery truck being unloaded at the BMW dealer. Very sweet wheels. Looks like a 6 series with 19 inch wheels.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Off for a couple of weeks

I'm off to Costa Rica for a couple of weeks on a working vacation and then back in time for 10 more roadtrips in the next 3 months. Such is the price for that that I asked.

I haven't been updating this blog much probably because I haven't had a hell of a lot of inspiration outside of my work (which in itself has been hair-raising and exciting). I'm not sure if I'll continue this blog or just let it wither as it does from time to time.

I'm actually thinking about starting a cutting edge technical group blog related to my profession with a few other posters, lets see how that goes.

Maybe I'll just drink some tequila and go fishing for the next couple of weeks and say fuck it.

CNN T-Shirts

CNN have this strange but cool feature where you can order any one of their headlines as a T-Shirt. How cool is this?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

One pint of piss and three shots of peroxide

I was having a couple of brews with some friends on Sat nite and one fellow who works in a health food store told me about some secret cure for almost every ailment known to mankind. He tells me that gargling, inhaling and drinking hydrogen peroxide will kill most germs and viruses in your mouth, lungs and gut and it's a proven fact that your immune system uses peroxide to kill bacteria and viruses.

Hold on a sec, last time I checked there was a poison label on peroxide bottles and it says clearly on the side "not for internal use".

So I called him a nutbag more or less and forgot about this story until yesterday. You see yesterday I had to go in for some dental surgery so I googled peroxide mouthwash and did some research on ozonated water and found something startling. First off, peroxide is regularly used as a mouthwash and can be found in all the off the shelf mouthwashes with opaque bottles including Crest super white. Just check the ingredients (I did). Second, the FDA approves the peroxide up to 3% (10 vol) as a mouthwash (not ingested). Third, the Time magazine product of the year for 2006 was the Lotus sanitizer which uses something similar in the form of ozonated water. And finally, the EPA approves peroxide as a sanitizer.

Here's what got me really curious, I found hidden in a report on the Tersano (lotus mfg) site that shows that 3% peroxide is seriously more effective than ozone-water or even Lysol!

So finally I go to see my dental surgeon and ask him what he thinks about peroxide mouthwash. He says its excellent and he recommends it for his periodontal patients but it's overkill for most people.

Seems like a pretty good treatment for throat, mouth and sinus infections when gargled but deadly when ingested in a concentrated form (i.e. over 10%). I've tried gargling it and it tastes and feels horrible but seems to work because my mouth is pretty fresh and my teeth are extra clean. I'm not going to use it regularly but I'll probably start buying the Crest mouthwash with peroxide.

Here's a relatively accurate article from

As for the piss, some other people drink it for medicinal purposes. Personally, I'd probably be dying before I'd consider drinking pee.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Introducing Earl

This is my new roommate Earl the bearded dragon.

The Nigerian Mergers and Acquisitions Scam

Let me tell y'all about the Nigerian M&A scam. Here's how it goes, a small company (Smallco) gets an offer to be acquired by a large company (Bigco) and all the founders are thrilled because they're about to become multi-millionaires. Bigco feeds on Smallco's greed to rub out Smallco. Here's how the burn works;
  • Smallco spends hundreds of thousands in legal fees during due diligence
  • Bigco ties Smallco down in a 'no-shop' agreement that means Smallco can't go get re-financed
  • Bigco stresses everybody out at Smallco and Smallco's business suffers because everybody is working hard on retiring
  • Smallco employees and founders are shopping for yachts, watching Bigco stock prices and ignoring their business
  • Bigco examines all of Smallco's customers, technology, share structure and decides that there's patent/intellectual property/scalability etc. issues and drops the offer by half at the last minute
  • Bigco now decides that the offer is all stock and the shares are restricted and are in escrow (i.e. very hard to sell for a long long time)
  • Smallco is out of money and accepts the offer
  • Smallco founders get stuck with shares in Bigco that they can't sell for years and watch the stock drop to pennies
  • Smallco founders likely owe significant taxes based on the capital gain at the time the acquisition took place and not at the time the founders can sell their paper

All in all, the Smallco founders are fucked and lost a crazy amount of real money (vs make believe stock money) and are probably broke and demoralized. Variations of this story happened a thousand times over in the dot com days and will keep happening in more subtle variations over time. This is just like a corporate version of the Nigerian scam.

Things to learn from this scam:

  • Find a lawyer/firm who'll spot these problems and let you know about them on day 1 of your deal
  • Don't confuse shares for cash
  • Escrow sucks, get at least 2 X cash value of the Company in cash and enough cash to cover taxes & legal fees
  • Restricted stock sucks
  • Cap gains taxes suck, get good tax advice
  • Get a deposit from Bigco
  • Find 2 Bigcos and let them bid against each other

As for me, I've been burned by escrow, legal fees and no-shops. Luckily I never sold my company for Bigco stock, it would mostly be good for toilet paper today. As my NDA's have expired, I can tell you that my Bigco's were Intervu, Akamai, Yahoo and Microsoft. Intervu sucked us dry and luckily I told them to keep their paper which is why my I no longer have any business partners. We never got very far with the others so I can't say if they would have tried all of the dirty tricks but from what I've heard Cisco made the playbook.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My New Friend Earl

My GF and I adopted a bearded dragon this weekend named Earl. Pics to come. Who knew that a lizard could have a personality?

Monday, March 10, 2008

My Startup Rules

Here my first crack at a list of startup tips:
  1. Love what you're doing passionately enough to not sweat the short term pain of things going wrong and not having much cash.
  2. Learn how to explain what you're offering to non-industry people in under 10 plain English words and make that your whole company's mantra.
  3. Love your customer and provide something of incredible value to them. If you would be a passionate buyer of your product/service then you're probably on the right track.
  4. Hand pick a team that really believes in what they're doing and confront them with kid gloves regularly if they seem distracted or disinterested. Discard bad apples QUICKLY!
  5. Build a cult around what you're doing. If you, your team and your customers believe strongly in what your doing then nothing can stop you (See point #1).
  6. Read as many books as you can about your field and people that have succeeded, learn from others successes and mistakes.
  7. Buy cheap stuff and have an ugly office if you never have customers come over. You can buy tables for $100, chairs for $250 and computers for $1000. Get furniture at office refurb/recyclers cheap if you need a pretty office. Get as much software as you can for free/cheap from Microsoft/Oracle/Whoever dev programs.
  8. Get to cash flow positive as quickly as you possibly can unless you are ready to hand over some of your company to investors.
  9. Don't give everybody a phone extension until they are talking to paying customers regularly.
  10. Forget about hype and tons of tiny customers and find yourself a really nice big reference account that loves what you're doing and will fund your new projects. This is of course assuming you're not starting a dollar store or micro commerce business.
  11. You don't need a full time accountant but you'd better have tight control over your pennies because they'll evaporate quickly.
  12. Try to do the rounds and talk to everybody in your office at least twice a week to see how they're doing.
  13. Pair people up in teams that depend on each other so people don't slack off on their own moods as much.
  14. Experiment with variations of what you're doing if it isn't working well.
  15. Don't work crazy hours + weekends non-stop all the time unless you want to miss out on life and be a bitter rich asshole, there's a time to walk and a time to sprint. Choose them wisely. Same goes for your team, don't burn them out unless its worth it for everyone. At the same time, don't let opportunities pass you by because you don't want to work nights and weekends.
  16. Ignore trends, listen to your customers pain (needs) instead.

Startup rules

Two really smart guys have posted their tips for starting up a new business. Read what Jason Calacanis and Mark Cuban have to say on this subject. Personally, I been part of about 5 or 6 startups including 2 that went public so I've got my own opinions. On the whole I agree with about half of either of those guys observations.

Jason is a guy who starts blogging companies for a living so buying Macs and a $5000 espresso machine might work for him but I think its just plain dumb for most business models. Mark starts and invests in varied technology businesses that he scales out rapidly in a hurry (or at least hopes to) so he's got a different spin that's a little closer to mine.

Myself, I tend (recently) to start 'old fashioned' profitable, private software start ups and I don't tend to sell them in any hurry.

I haven't thought of my rules yet but I will post them soon when I compile them. A lot will overlap with what Jason & Mark say.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Across the universe

I never had an astronomy class when I went through school but I can imagine that it would be pretty dry. It takes a leap of faith to visualize a night sky in three dimensions, especially when the scale of what's out there is so incredibly enormous. In fact I don't even know if the human mind is capable of imagining how huge the universe really is.

All that to say that this Microsoft World Wide Telescope project is pretty staggering. Essentially they've composited pictures from the best telescopes that mankind has and put them together in some software that lets you navigate the universe in 3d. I guess over time as the imaging gets richer, so will the visualizations.

It's hard to look up at a nighttime sky and see a swirling mass of millions of stars when all you see is a little white dot. This software lets you zoom into the swirling masses and read up on what's there. Check it out;

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Another Zune

It's no secret that I really like my Zune 30 better than my iPod touch and so did my GF and we were timesharing the thing to the point that it became really irritating and finally broke down and bought her a new red 8GB Zune of her own.

She would have killed me if I bought an iPod and I understand why because she's used to the Zune and gave away the free iPod that she won because frankly it sucked for what she used it for. Most Apple people are equally or probably even more religious about their products and I guess it's easy to see why when you look at how nice the industrial design and form factors are and how easy they are to operate. Unfortunately, it seems they're also a little out of date with certain features for active users and the iTunes UI is really out of date.

That brings us to the new Zune and what's cool about it:
- Same zippity/fadey/glowy UI as the Zune 30 - super easy to use and great for sports/etc
- Squirt songs, albums & playlists wirelessly between devices but with a 3 play limit
- Wireless sync (GREAT!!)
- Flick through big lists with a feather touch flick vs. multiple clicks or click&hold

What's bad
- Software is maybe a bit too simple
- Firmware didn't update right away, I had to switch to a second USB port after a few cryptic errors
- Harder to get add ons

So in short, if you're an of the Church of the Fruit then don't bother because you've already got a great way of working but if you're starting from scratch it seems to me like a much more functional and modern alternative but not quite as pretty as the fruit. Then again looks are deceiving.

Where the hell am I?

I'm not sure if anybody even noticed but I've been out of sight for a while. You see, I've been busy - real busy. For the last couple of weeks I've been on the west coast in Victoria and then in Silicon Valley. Victoria was a straight up business trip, customer signoff and training. California on the other hand was some pretty exciting stuff. We've been working on a project with a major broadcaster on the Bejing Olympics. I can't say much about it but it's pretty cool stuff and I'm pretty stoked to have the contract. Now I'm back in my office and hopefully will get back in gear with blog updates soon.

I got my SO one of the new tiny Zunes and it's been a pretty cool addition to the toy department, deets soon...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

More Winehouse

I feel a little guilty for dropping that Winehouse video where she mauls through it so here's a little redemption. Winehouse and Ronson. Sorry, Columbia don't want no embedding.

Oh the Hypocracy

Here in Quebec/Canada, we have a bunch of pissed off French politicians trying to get elected by singling out immigrants and anglophones for all of the historical linguistic woes of the past, present and future.

This is particularly repugnant because they've singled out immigrants as the cause of decline of the French language and hence are gaining popularity by fanning the flames of intolerance against cultural and religious values that are different from their own.

This is very similar to what the National Front (UK/FR) has been trying to do in Europe for the past few decades.

It's particularly frightening when the leader of a major federal political party can say this in public:

"I say to all the Uncle Toms from Quebec that are in Ottawa who say to us, 'If you want to enforce French, do it in Quebec,' that the federal Labour Code is a federal jurisdiction. It's for them to act ... if they are serious about
recognizing Quebec as a nation."

Gilles Duceppe - Bloc Quebecois

BTW an "Uncle Tom" is an extremely offensive racial pejorative also known as a "house n****", in this case referring to French people who cooperate with the rest of the country. So that's what it's come to in Quebec, politicians are working overtime in Quebec to unite the masses against the threat of immigrants while the local economy slides down the toilet and the Chinese methodically chip away at our manufacturing and processing industries.

Another Nero keeps fiddling while our Rome burns.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mongoose Mouth

There's something really fascinating about a trainwreck, you cringe and squirm but you can't look away. This one is my fave. It just never fails to crack me up.

The Synthetic Genome - This is Staggering

These scientists have gotten yeast cells to build arbitrary DNA. This is pretty scary because any DNA pattern can be created.

The yeast can build any DNA from a database such as the Human Genome project. From any DNA pattern on file, the DNA created by the yeast can then be dropped into a DNA-less cell and set in motion to start reproducing.

This means that your DNA (and mine) can be stored in a computer and sent somewhere else to be booted up into a cell that might one day become another person. Staggering. This will have major implications for pretty much everything having to do with genetics and molecular biology.

Yikes! Read more here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New skin

I reskinned to add a twitter panel. I'm not crazy about this new skin but then again the old one was kind of clunky too.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Amory Lovins

I never heard of him either. As it turns out he's one of the smartest guys on the planet and he's funded by the Pentagon (of all places) in his quest to end the oil endgame. He's an extremely pragmatic dude and makes a ton of sense without flinging tofu at anybody.

Here's a video and here's the website.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Job hunting hints

I put an ad on Craigslist last week for some part time marketing help and then asked the applicants to write me a pitch in under 100 words.

Here's what I got:

  • 52 applicants in 4 days
  • only 9 bothered sending their pitch, 5 had bad grammar (IE: worse than mine)
  • about 15 sent a CV with nothing else in their email
  • about 20 couldn't spell or compose a sentence
  • 1 was an aggressive Internet marketing guy who started blasting me about commissions (WTF??)
  • 1 applicant told me (unsolicited) how confusing my website was and how horrible the color was and proceeded to send me a pitch targeted at geriatric people interested in surfing (double WTF???)

Only one was really enthusiastic, followed my instructions, was professional and wrote a decent pitch. The bar was pretty low but she did a great job and will probably get my business.

So here's some tips for any of you trying to get business from somebody else, this includes you guys/gals who are looking for jobs, selling companies, cars, services, websites, bandwidth, tomatoes or whatever;

PC = Potential Customer

  • Read every word of what was asked and reply with exactly what the PC asked for
  • Even if you have a form letter, add a personalized note that shows you actually understand what your PC wants
  • Be professional, enthusiastic and positive
  • Check your grammar and use your spell checker
  • Throwing a compliment helps but don't blow too much smoke up your PCs ass
  • Criticizing your PC really doesn't help even if you think it was constructive unless they specifically asked for it and even then you should be very careful with your words not to ruffle feathers
  • Stand out without being a clown

Sounds simple right? Then why did only 4 out of 52 MARKETING applicants follow this? I could understand if the job was VP of Cleaning Earwax out of Phones but for fucks sakes why can't a marketing person market themself?

If they aren't professional with me, how are they going to be with my customers?

Monday, January 14, 2008

On Design

I've always thought that Frog Design, SGI, Bang and Olufsen and Porche had the best industrial designs. I never really liked the Apple design vocabulary even though Frog concocted some of it, and I really don't understand why everybody thinks they're so amazing. The thing that I like best about OS/X is the fluidity of motion within the UI but overall I really don't think the ecosystem is as intuitive as most people think it is. The thing I like most about the iPod is that I don't have to use one.

Then again, I've grown up with computers and mainframes from a deep chips & boards and soldering iron perspective so the dummied down metaphors like throwing a drive in the garbage to eject it doesn't make much sense to me. Honestly, I think that glass buttons are like faux hawks, mullets and moustaches. Maybe they were cool in high school once upon a Camaro but they're embarrassing now much like a 50 year old with a pierced ear and a tribal barbed wire armband tattoo.

Having said that, I am really glad that Microsoft mostly ignored Apple when it designed the XBox 360 and Zune and that Nintendo ignored everybody when they designed the Wii. These products are great on their own and despite a rough start, will have a pretty big influence on industrial design going forward.

Another company that I totally forgot about was Braun. As it turns out Apple has been as deeply influenced by Braun as it had been by Xerox back in the day. Check out this article.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Supply and Demand

Market theory states that prices will go up when supply contracts and reverse when the opposite is true. I'm happy to say that I've rented out my villa for 8 weeks at mostly full rate and I've removed my standard discounted ratecard from my website so that I can charge the agents a few percent more to absorb their commissions.

So far I have some upscale clientele who think that the rates are really cheap, a few friends of friends who think that it's fair but pricey and total strangers who want to pay less per person than what a backpacker pays at a campground. My tactic has been to stick to referrals only and even at that, upscale only. I figure that I'll get less business but more upscale repeat business and my team can spend more time making fewer people more happy.

Lets see how this goes - Hilton strategy versus HoJo.

Speaking of market forces, read this.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Three bucks and ten minutes bought me this video at

Battling the beard

About a month ago I bought an electric razor to leave at my country place so I don't look like grizzly Adams on weekends. Unfortunately I haven't had time to go there for a while so I started using the razor in town. It turned out to be pretty useful because I can shave in the shower and after a couple of days, my skin got used to it and I was getting clean and smooth shaves.

Here's the cool thing, I guess my hair started growing straight out instead of at an angle so I just noticed recently that my beard is a lot less like a Fred Flintstone sub-cutaneous grey shadow both right after a shave and at the end of the day. Go figure, by 5:00 my face feels like a pot scrubber but still doesn't look like I've got a dirt-beard. I'm sold on it full time now even though I used to hate these things. Takes a little longer to shave but I'm doubling timing with my zombie in the shower ceremony routine so I'm actually saving time overall.