Monthly Archives: March 2008

The great Stafford Beer puts his ideas on Designing Freedom into practice in Allende’s Chile

There is a fascinating article on how Chile Tried to Find the Right Software for Socialism in the New York Times. Quote:

“When military forces loyal to Gen. Augusto Pinochet staged a coup here in September 1973, they made a surprising discovery. Salvador Allende’s Socialist government had quietly embarked on a novel experiment to manage Chile’s economy using a clunky mainframe computer and a network of telex machines.  The project, called Cybersyn, was the brainchild of A. Stafford Beer, a visionary Briton who employed his “cybernetic” concepts to help Mr. Allende find an alternative to the planned economies of Cuba and the Soviet Union. After the coup it became the subject of intense military scrutiny.”

I have always been a big fan of Beer since I read his great book Designing Freedom: Stafford Beer (
which was part of the Massey Lectures. It’s a very small book, based on the lectures he gave, but it is packed with thought provoking ideas that may just be coming into play with Web 2.0 and social networking technology. Perhaps we need to go back and look at his work again.

See the article at the Then get his book from Indigo…for under $5, no less! (And try the other books in the Massey Lectures series…there is alot of brilliance in a number of small books.)

(Photo: Joao Pina for The New York Times)


Why I love my iPod touch: wireless!

I am a big fan of iPods. I have four: the original Shuffle, the new Shuffle, a Nano, and the Touch. I love them all, but I especially love the new Touch. While it has alot of great features, what has surprised me is how useful the wireless feature is. I expected only to be able to use this at home, but I have found that there is free wireless almost everywhere, if you go looking for it. And the Touch makes it easy to find. As a result, I am able to surf the web via Safari, watch YouTube videos, and check my email from many places. It’s great, especially since in Canada, you cannot officially get an iPhone. I am wondering if I need it! 🙂

Find out more about this here: Apple – iPod touch – Features – Wireless

Dining for a Dollar (ok…99 cents)

The has a great article on how it is possible to create great meals from low cost ingredients. It’s a great story, and there is a slide show with links to rhe recipe and the article.

The slide show is here: Dining on a Dime fromThe New York Times in the Dining & Wine section

The article is here: How to Survive in New York on 99 Cents

And here’s the recipe for what is pictured above, namely Almond Nougat Parfait With Orange Coulis

(Photo: Evan Sung for The New York Times)

When is food seasonal in Ontario? See this chart

Over at Food Down the Road is a great Seasonal Food Chart that highlights when certain foods are seasonal in Ontario. I was surprised at how many foods are local and seasonal for longer periods of time than I thought.

If you are interested in the 100 Mile Diet or things like that, you will want to see this chart.

(image of Ontario Apples from

“Traffic Shaping” comes to Canada

This activity, which has raised an interesting debate in the U.S. — do a web search on “Comcast” — now appears to be in Canada, too, according to the CBC. The CBC itself has an article on it, ISPs limit access to CBC download, users say in which they say:

“One user received a notice that it could take 2½ hours to download, while another was quoted 11 hours. The bottleneck is occurring because ISPs such as Rogers and Bell limit the amount of bandwidth allocated for file-swapping on BitTorrent. The controversial practice, called traffic shaping, is meant to stop illegal downloading through BitTorrent. But it also slows the times on legal downloads such as Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister.”

I expect this to be a much discussed topic all over the world.

25 Ways to Simplify Your Life with Kids from Zen Habits

The very wise Zen Habits has a great list for anyone who is a parent and who finds life stressful sometimes (or most of the time). Try even some of the things on the list, and based on my experience, you will naturally find yourself become a better parent. For the whole list, and lots of great advice, see 25 Ways to Simplify Your Life with Kids | Zen Habits

You can buy alot of books and magazines on parenting, or you can start with this list. I would go with the list first. 🙂

Great photographs at

One of the great things about blogging is coming into contact with great people you would never get to meet ordinarily.

I wrote about a piece in the and I credited Andrew M Daddio. He wrote me a nice email back asking if I could include his web address. I will do that, but I would also like to highlight his web site. He has great photographs over there you really should see. So go to and check them out.

China 2.0

The old expression “be careful what you wish for” appears to be coming true for China. It wanted to Olympics and is getting everything that comes with it.

For example at the is this article on how a Protest disrupts Olympic flame-lighting ceremony:

“Two men carrying the flag of a free-press group ran onto the field of the stadium in Ancient Olympia during Monday’s flame-lighting ceremony for the Beijing Olympics, evading massive security aimed at preventing such disruptions in the wake of China’s crackdown in Tibet.”

This may be just the start.

Top 5 reasons why “The customer is Always Right” is wrong

Alexander Kjerulf has a great blog with lots of great insights and thought provoking postings on how to work. I think this one is long overdue: Top 5 reasons why “The customer is Always Right” is wrong

You can find lots more like this over at his Chief Happiness Officer web site.

Healthy Bacon! Woo Hoo!

Don’t believe me? See this article: Bacon with benefits

“…Prairie Orchard Farms, a small research and marketing firm in rural Manitoba, has won two prestigious awards for doing just that.”

And people say there is no such thing as progress! 🙂

The amazing “Get Your Head Around It” by the Headlights

This song is incredibly catchy, but wonderfully smart, too. I have listened to it many times all ready.

You can get it here: Get Your Head Around It (Cd): MP3 Downloads: Headlights

Thanks to!

This is a brilliant advertisement

Really. You have to see it. (Thanks to Seth Godin)

Even Steve Jobs has problems with demos

As someone who from time to time gives demonstrations of technology, I dread something going wrong in front of an audience. So it is nice to see it happens to even the best of us, namely Mr. Jobs. Don’t believe me? Watch this.

All you want to know about tiny houses

If you love tiny houses, then the Tiny House Blog has lots of great information on them.

Why email is better than you think

I have had several discussions with the co-workers on the problems of email. In many cases there is a strong dislike of email. Whenever I think of the problems of email, I think back to before email. I thought this again when I read this article on the The author of this article, The Office Phone Call Was Music to the Ears in the New York Times says:

“The waning of the office phone call is one of those cultural declines that few people are likely to lament.”

After which, she proceeds to lament it. 🙂 When I thought of it, I was glad it was gone. I have been using email since the 1983, and for along time I used both. (Now I rarely use my phone.) Communicating via telephone was slow and time wasting. If there was important information, you had to write it down. Until answering machines came along, you often couldn’t even leave a message for someone. Some people were masters of missing your phone call.

Email is much better than this. You can send a message to one or a million people if you want. You can send it any time of the day, and the person will get it immediately. You don’t have to worry if they are there. If you have their email address, they will get it, regardless of how important they are. And since you typed it in, you can track it and manage it.

Now email has it’s own faults, but it is a much better business tool than the phone ever was. If anything, it is the victim of it’s own success.

Other things will come along that are better than email. But email has its merits.

IKEA is putting down Denmark?

While there is much of interest in this article, War Booty in the New York Times there was an interesting aside about how:

“On Valentine’s Day, a Danish newspaper went so far as to run a front-page headline accusing Ikea, the furniture giant founded by a Swede, which Danes have long loved to hate, of “bullying Denmark” by giving comfy sofas and shiny tables Swedish and Norwegian place names while assigning Danish names to doormats and rugs.”

As is mostly the case with, the whole article is worth a look.

The beautiful and sultry Corinne Bailey Rae has trouble sleeping

Great song, great singer. See

Thinking about giving in and getting Vista?

Then perhaps you should read this article.

They Criticized Vista. And They Should Know

And who are the critics of Vista? Well they are Mike, Jon and Steven. Not any ole Vista users, though. Nope, they are:

“Mike Nash, a Microsoft vice president who oversees Windows product management. And Jon, who is dismayed to learn that the drivers he needs don’t exist? That’s Jon A. Shirley, a Microsoft board member and former president and chief operating officer. And Steven, who reports that missing drivers are anything but exceptional, is in a good position to know: he’s Steven Sinofsky, the company’s senior vice president responsible for Windows.”

Kids and parents and the new technology

I think the does a great job covering technology. Much better than many technology publication, in many ways: the writing is insightful, balanced, and well…usually better written and edited.

The latest article that I think is worthwhile is this one: Text Generation Gap: U R 2 Old (JK)

I like it perhaps because I have a 12 year old daughter and it speaks to me. But even technophobes should read it and see how the latest generation uses and approaches technology.

My main criticism of any article that lines up generations with technologies is that these are usually crude generalizations. It gets more interesting once you start looking at each generation and trying to understand the use of technology within a generation. That said, this article is a good one.

(The image is by Andrew M Daddio ( and accompanies the article.)

How we think about time

With the clocks spring forward this weekend, it is a good time to think about time, how we think about it, and how our thinking about it affects us. A good place to start your thinking is with this article, Time Out of Mind at  the New York Times

The Earth and Moon as Seen from Mars

There is something beautiful about this image.

Thanks to HiRISE  for displaying it

(thanks to for the tip)

The future of television is bittorrent

Over at boingboing is a good story about how a Norwegian broadcaster puts popular show online as no-DRM torrent.


“NRK, the Norwegian state broadcaster, just made one of their most popular TV shows available for free through bittorrent. Without any DRM or restrictions. Free for the planet to watch. Because this is a completely legal download people seems to seed it happily. Making the bittorrent technology work exceptionally well, giving the audience very high download speeds. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation will keep on with experiments like these and try to make more content available through this technology in addition to the more traditional channels of streaming, podcasts and DVD sales.”

This makes great sense. It may be the beginning of how broadcasters eventually distribute their television shows. Not just after it has been show the traditional way, but using bittorrent as THE way of broadcasting.

Another thought would be to release it in such a way so that people could mash it up with other media. There are all kinds of possibilities once you think “outside the box”. 🙂

(image from on

Wal-Mart and the Music Companies

It is interesting that there has been much discussion about conflict between Apple and the music companies. Well, Wal-Mart is only going to make life more difficult for them. According to this article, Wal-Mart stirs CD pricing pot with multi-tiered plan – Yahoo! News/Reuters

“The major music companies have been resistant to lowering their price on CDs, but now they may be dragged to that point: Wal-Mart, the largest retailer of music with an estimated 22 percent market share, has proposed a five-tiered pricing scheme that would allow the discounter to sell albums at even lower prices and require the labels to bear more of the costs.According to sources, the Wal-Mart proposal would allow for a promotional program that could comprise the top 15 to 20 hottest titles, each at $10. The rest of the pricing structure, according to several music executives who spoke with Billboard, would have hits and current titles retailing for $12, top catalog at $9, midline catalog at $7 and budget product at $5. The move would also shift the store’s pricing from its $9.88 and $13.88 model to rounder sales prices”

The music companies are caught between a rock (Wal-mart) and a hard place (Apple). This could be an opportunity to see them respond in a better manner than continuing to sue people for downloading free music. Let’s see if they can. Otherwise the future of recorded music will be decided by someone other than themselves.

Jott in Canada

I am a big fan of Jott. But until recently, they had limited coverage in Canada. But it has improved alot, as this email that I received from them shows. Take a look:
Hi everyone,

We are happy to announce that Canadian local numbers are finally here!

As most of you know, we have had a Toronto Jott number (647-724-5814) for some time and have been working on acquiring more local numbers across Canada.

Still confused as to why we are not releasing a toll free number? Jott requires caller ID to know who is sending a Jott to what contact information. In an effort to protect your privacy, most Canadian mobile providers have blocked caller ID information from being passed to toll free numbers. This leaves the alternative of using local access numbers across the country, so that everyone can send Jott messages without having to pay long distance fees.

Below is the list of available Jott numbers in Canada. Find the number in your area code and program it to your speed dial today!

AURORA : +12898020110
CALGARY : +14037751288
EDMONTON : +17806287799
HALIFAX : +19024828120
HAMILTON : +19054819060
KITCHENER : +15199572711
LONDON : +15194898968
MARKHAM : +12898000110
MONTREAL : +15146670329
OTTAWA : +16136861502
QUEBEC CITY : +14189072209
SAINT JOHNS : +17097570047
SHERBROOKE : +18193401636
TORONTO : +16477245365
TORONTO : +14168001067
VANCOUVER : +17787868229
VANCOUVER : +16044841347
VICTORIA : +12509847093
WINDSOR : +15198000031
WINNIPEG : +12042728154
Brought to you by – 1-866-JOTT-123
300 East Pike Street, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98122

Tuneage has great…tunes.

I came across Tuneage since I am a big fan of Bill Israel’s work, and he contributes to this music based tumblelog. There’s lots of food for your ears and your brain here.

I enjoyed The Jesus and Mary ChainHappy When It Rains (page 3) and The HeadlightsGet Your Head Around It (page 5).

If your music sucks, they’re here to help.

How to find the latitude and longitude of a location using Google Maps

I found this tip at Very handy. You can also use it to find other useful information. As the forum said:

1. I open Google Maps to the vicinity of where I would like coordinates.
2. I use my right click mouse button and select “center map here” from the drop down button.
3. I past this javascript code that I keep saved somewhere convenient on my computer into my browser’s URL address window.

Here’s the code: javascript:void(prompt(”,gApplication.getMap().getCenter()));

4. I click the “go to the address in the location bar” button usually to the right of the address.
5. A popup appears showing the coordinates of the center of the map like this: (43.60336, -110.7362)
6. I right click on the coordinates the copy and click either “OK” or “Cancel”
7. I then paste the coordinates into google’s “search maps” text box, remove the parenthesis and click “Search Maps”
8. A popup appears with a marker for the centered spot. The popup has the coordinates in both Decimal Degrees and Degrees, Minutes, Seconds.
9. I refine as and if necessary and I have my way point for inserting into my GPS. I hope some of you find this useful. I know I do.

For more information, see: How to get GPS coordinates from a location in Google Maps – GPS Review Forums

How does the media research the news? With the same tool everyone else uses! Google!

There is a good story about the press and Prince Harry over here at the A Soldier Prince and the Secret Kept by Fleet Street – New York Times

What I thought was interesting was that:

‘Every morning for 10 weeks, Bob Satchwell typed the words “Prince Harry” and “Afghanistan” into Google, and every morning, the top result was the same: “Prince Harry Is Forbidden To Fight Alongside Soldiers In Afghanistan.”

Mr. Satchwell was relieved; as the executive director of the Society of Editors in Britain, he had brokered a top-secret agreement to keep the prince’s presence in Afghanistan out of the cutthroat British papers and off the airwaves to reduce the chances that the prince or his fellow soldiers would become special targets of enemy fighters.’

Essentially the head of a press society in Britain relies on Google just like the rest of us. And why not? He likely has many means at his disposal to find out such information, but he chooses to go with the best one.

(Image from wikipedia)