Heritage security

September 28, 2006 at 11:58 pm | In social_critique | 2 Comments


Many weeks, months, years behind the times, I only now learned (via an article in the local paper) about the t-shirt (for sale at Cafepress) bearing a photo of Apache chief Geronimo and three other chiefs, posing armed, during their struggle against the US and Mexican armies. The caption says, “Homeland security — Fighting Terrorism since 1492″… Brilliant!

Meandering in space

September 26, 2006 at 8:13 pm | In web | 5 Comments

Lost? I just logged on to my writely account, and found that the vast majority of my documents are gone… Very disappointing. It seems the service had some kind of massive consolidation / switch-over with email addresses, and in the process managed to lose lots of data. At least that’s what it looks like from here… [update: I was able to retrieve the missing documents by logging on (almost by fluke) to my old account and manually transferring them to my new account. I sent a message to writely that I consider the lack of guidance a flaw in usability interface, and had a message back from the service as well. Look, it’s a great service, and it’s free; but one does need good UI, otherwise people get …anxious.]
Luckily I do have most of it backed up in some other way, but probably not safely — most of it is backed up in some digital, web-based way. And if writely can lose all my stuff, who’s to say that gmail won’t do the same?

Jeepers, does this mean going back to the horrifyingly dull 1.0 method of backing documents up to CDs? How disappointing… [update: good grief, I installed Word on the machine. But I’m still using writely…]
I’m too busy to mess with stuff like that…


Really busy.

But with time enough to say that I recently came across the most amazing blog, We Make Money Not Art. Brilliant, thought-provoking stuff, as well as fun stuff. For example, this entry describes a recently developed umbrella (by Pileus) that takes photos (camera mounted on top of umbrella) and immediately uploads these pics to Flickr (“with some context tags,” it says — perhaps geotags?). There is a control in the handle’s grip that allows for browsing, and judging from the picture, it seems the photos are projected onto the inside of the umbrella…? Whoa, just be careful stepping off the curb…

Our drought continues as expected, but by November our rainy time will (I hope) be going full drizzle, and thinking of those short winter days with rain made this umbrella look very attractive…

Today, We Make Money Not Art pointed to a YouTube link for Hungarian commercials from the 80s. WTF, you say? Well, that was my reaction, too — but I haven’t actually had time to view any of them. So, this link is for Maria at alembic, who also is far too busy to waste time on Hungarian commercials from the 80s, but who might, if she does venture to click through on one, be able to tell me what it’s trying to sell us!

And from Swen’s Weblog (also found very much by chance), I learned that there’s a spyware free Real Player version available from the BBC, and that Swen has figured out how to download Real Audio Streams and convert Real Audio files to MP3 format.

When I have some time, I plan to follow his directions and learn how to do this, too. And then I might even find the time to listen to one or two…

Lines for crossing, points of discussion

September 16, 2006 at 2:31 am | In wiki_victoria | Comments Off on Lines for crossing, points of discussion

My wiki finally benefitted from a modicum of attention, albeit administered in such sporadic bursts as to go almost unnoticed. As I haphazardly noted on September 9, I added an entry called Addendum to Victoria History in a Nutshell: Victoria’s Future?, which was a response to a prior essay (Victoria History in a nutshell, by one of my extremely rare, and therefore highly valued, co-contributors). In this “response” I attempt to flesh out some thoughts on how Victoria could benefit from web-based economies, but I also reiterate that if you don’t have the people, the man- (and woman-) power, the sheer density to grow the necessary networks and webs, …well, then everything is much trickier. Right now, Victoria has one of Canada’s lowest unemployment rates, and every sector (whether construction, retail, or high tech) is affected by how thinly talent is spread. It disappoints me a bit that this essay has generated no feedback whatsoever, but then again, it is terribly out of character for what most people around here think about, focussed as they are on resource exploitation and tourism (the latest resource being, of course, the tourists themselves: get ’em into town, get ’em to spend their money pronto!)…

While it seemingly has little to do with Victoria, I also posted an entry called Caracas, which was triggered by a photo of that city, as seen on one of the webpages for the 10th Architecture Biennale in Venice, currently underway. This picture fascinated me because it shows a sprawling lowrise slum sliced surgically “free” of the upward reach of “capitalist” skyscrapers. Talk about metaphor and social form being cast in actual built form…. In addition, I was surprised to see who/what is representing Canada at this Biennale. Read the Caracas piece (it’s blissfully brief) for more information.

I also decided that my Langham Court Theatre History article needed to go on the wiki — this is a piece I wrote months ago for my neighbourhood association’s newsletter, but which actually missed publication in the newsletter and instead ended up as the May feature article in another local magazine, The Moss Rock Review. I felt that putting the article on the wiki might give greater exposure to one of Victoria’s early artistic entrepreneurs, the Countess Laura de Gozdawa Turczynowicz, who was born Laura Blackwell in St. Catharines, Ontario, in or around 1877, and who was quite a character. Furthermore, I appreciated the comments this piece generated, since it got me thinking about some other aspects of this particular neighbourhood.

Somewhat prior to all this, I started a page that has more or less fizzled, unfortunately: Overheard in Victoria, which was inspired by Overheard in New York. I thought it would be fun if we could have an “overheard in Victoria” page, but you know what? I never seem to be hanging around anywhere long enough actually to overhear anything resembling more than a syllable or so… It disturbed me quite a bit to notice this, let me tell you — and I found it equally disturbing to discover that I don’t have enough friends who hang out and overhear stuff and would be willing to tell me so that I could post it on the wiki page…. To overhear people actually having a conversation means you have to be standing or sitting still somewhere long enough to do so: a cafe, a library even!, a bus or train, or a bookstore. If, however, your outside time consists of travelling (in my case pulling or being pulled by my dog), eavesdropping isn’t much of an option. I also noticed that I spend way more time looking at people than listening to what they’re saying, but obviously “Overseen in Victoria” somehow doesn’t have the same “ring,” pun intended. Currently, there are three entries on Overheard in Victoria — perhaps eventually there’ll be more.

What else? Well, I finally put the Letters to the editor(s) page up properly. It used to be called “Letter(s) to the editor,” and consisted of just one letter, written July 15 and published July 28. But now that letter is a subpage on the main Letters page, along with eleven other letters (some published, some not) that I wrote between Jan.27-Sept.11, 2006. The last one (Sept.11) is unpublished, and I rather hope it will remain so. It might seem paradoxical (or hypocritical) to say so, given that I’ve published it myself on my wiki and am pointing to it here. But it’s simply a fact that whatever I publish on this blog or on my wiki, while totally and absolutely accessible and transparent to one and all, is seen by very few people because I’m not popular/ well known/ widely read online/ an A-lister in any circle. But if this letter gets published by the local magazine I sent it to (namely Focus Magazine), many local people will see it, and they will undoubtedly conclude that I am irredeemably out of line. I verbally assault not just one but two Victoria architectural sacred cows, in particular lobbing an offensive at the Victoria Conference Centre which insults my aesthetic standards every single time I walk past it. It’s a total waste of space, but it seems to be well-liked by the local cognescenti. Go figure.

In a way, I suppose I’m trying to figure out whether I care if people think I’m out of line or whether I don’t. I suspect that I don’t. And anyway, lines are for blurring or jumping over, unless, that is, they’re lines in art or architecture, in which case they’re points of discussion.

Wiki post added

September 6, 2006 at 8:54 pm | In wiki_victoria | Comments Off on Wiki post added

I just added a subpage on my wiki that spins out my thoughts on the economic possibilities for Victoria — if only we had more people…

Still haven’t done some of the other “housekeeping,” though! My bad…

Remember “Epic”?

September 2, 2006 at 2:04 am | In media, social_networking | 2 Comments

Some years ago, Dean Landsman sent an email to Entropy Gradient Reversal subscribers (a list I was actually deleted from a while back — I’ll have you know this takes some doing…), the gist of which had been to point us to an amazing flash movie called Epic 2014 by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson, with music by Aaron McLeran. (If you are one of the terminally unhip people who haven’t seen this masterpiece, hie thee to the above link and click on through to watch the movie!) (Note: there’s an updated Epic 2015 version available on the above page, too.)

Well, as I said, a couple of years have gone by the by since then, but in the past week, several MIT Technology Review articles refocussed the “googlezon” vision in real time. Consider, for example, this story, Googling Your TV (published 8/24/06):

Google probably already knows what search terms you use, what Web pages you’re viewing, and what you write about in your e-mail — after all, that’s how it serves up the text ads targeted to the Web content on your screen.

Pretty soon, Google may also know what TV programs you watch — and could use that information to send you more advertising, leavened with information pertinent to a show.

A system recently outlined by researchers at Google amounts to personalized TV without the fancy set-top equipment required by previous (and failed) attempts at interactive television. Their prototype software, detailed in a conference presentation in Europe last June, uses a computer’s built-in microphone to listen to the sounds in a room. It then filters each five-second snippet of sound to pick out audio from a TV, reduces the snippet to a digital “fingerprint,” searches an Internet server for a matching fingerprint from a pre-recorded show, and, if it finds a match, displays ads, chat rooms, or other information related to that snippet on the user’s computer.

Next we learn that google is partnering with eBay to “crack the services market,” as this article, Need a nanny? Local plumber? Google, eBay try to crack services market with new deal elaborates. What is so bizzare is that the involvement of giants such as google and eBay might actually “help” locally owned small businesses, which begs the question, What’s not to like? And that, dear friends, was exactly the sly point of Epic 2014‘s allusive Orwellianism…

The deal could make it easier for local merchants to compete against ”category killers” such as Home Depot Inc., Lowe’s Cos. and other dominant retailers. Eventually, eBay users could rank local merchants as part of its popular feedback system.

”It may turn out that the small companies are more responsive than the big companies. They get great reviews and rise to the top,” said Roger L. Kay, president of research firm Endpoint Technologies Associates Inc. ”For consumers and merchants, it’s unmitigated good.”

Well, you just have to watch Epic 2014 to get a real and all-encompassing sense of what this sort of unreal yet all-encompassing technology could mean.

Meanwhile, “Kill your TV” takes on a whole added meaning…

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