Monthly Archives: January 2009

Nigerian Spam 2.0!

I am delighted to report that there is a new version of the Nigerian spam you may have been used to getting. Over the last few years I have been getting more or less the same email promising riches somehow associated with Nigeria. It was getting stale. However, it looks like a new version is out, and I am including it here, in case you haven’t seen it already. (No doubt you eventually will).

I think there are so many good touches. I mean, how many times do you get an email with the word august in it? And I think the name David Fidelity is a rather good one. But rather than reveal all the good parts, here it is in its entirety:

I write this august letter in confidence, believing that it will reach you in high spirit and I believe you will maintain the level of confidence and trust matters of this nature requires. Though, I know that this proposal may make you apprehensive and worried, but I assure you that all will be well at the end.

Before proceeding, I wish to introduce myself I am David Fidelity, a solicitor at law. I got your contact from a
business text book from reliable fellow working with the Nigerian Chamber Of Commerce and Industries.Opportunity comes in life only when nature wishes that the wind will blow towards you but that does not mean you are the only person on earth. I want to believe you have been praying for sometime now, for divine blessing so that you can take good care of your family, but how would you know when one comes your way?

Now i put it to you that the opportunity you have been seeking for has come your way but the question you must answer now is” ARE YOU READY TO GRAB THE OPPORTUNITY”? It is an opportunity that does not mean you will not work to grab it. You are born as an adventurer and pathfinder to success, therefore you are subjected by the Supreme powers of nature to find your way either to success or failure but i must tell you in confidence that if you will hold fast to what you are about to hear
from me, then we shall reap from the land of milk and honey and all your difficult days will be over.

Before i proceed in details, i demand that you in confidence assure me that you will comply to the rules and regulation of this business. The rules are as follows: Promise to be faithful. Promise to be sincere, Promise to be your brother’s Keeper, Promise that you will assist morally, spiritually and financially to your own ability.If you are in compliance to this conditions, then i have no option than to tell you the full details of the business. The story and the business in full.

I am the personal attorney / sole executor to the late Mr Norbert , hereinafter referred to as ‘my client’ who worked as an independent oil magnate in my country. and who died in a car crash with his immediate family on the 4th of oct,2005. Since the death of my client in oct,2005, I have written several letters to the embassy with an intent to locate any of his extended relatives whom shall be claimants/beneficiaries of his abandoned personal estate and all such efforts have been to no avail.

Moreso,I have received official letters in the last few weeks suggesting a likely proceeding for confiscation of his abandoned personal assets in line with existing laws by the bank in which my client deposited the sum of 15 million USD On this note i decided to search for a credible person and finding that you bear a similar last name, I decided to contact you, that I may,with your consent, present you to the “trustee” bank as my late client’s surviving family member so as to enable you put up a claim to the bank in that capacity as a next of kin of my client.

I find this possible for the fuller reasons that you bear a similar last name with my client making it a lot easier for you to put up a claim in that capacity.I propose that 45% of the net sum will accrue to you at the conclusion of this deal in so far as I do not incur further expenses. Therefore, to facilitate the immediate transfer of this fund, you need, first to contact me via signifying your interest and as soon as I obtain your confidence,I will immediately appraise you with the complete details as well as fax you the documents, with which you are to proceed and i shall direct on how to put up an application to the bank.

HOWEVER, you will have to assent to an express agreement which I will forward to you in order to bind us in this transaction. Upon the reciept of your reply,I will send you by fax or E-mail the next step to take.I will not fail to bring to your notice that this proposal is hitch-free and that you should not entertain any fears as the required arrangements have been made for the completion of this transfer. Like I have implied, I require only a solemn confidentiality on this.

For us to proceed, if you are truly moved by the spirit, then forward the following information:

1) Your full name
2) Postal Address
3) Receiving bank Information
4) Private cell number / telephone / fax and company name if any:

The required information shall be use in the procurement of all documents relating to this transfer and it shall be in your name as the beneficiary and administrator.

Your ability to keep this transaction absolutely confidential will be much appreciated. Please, confirm your willingness by promising that you will keep to the rules and regulation and your effort will never be divided both financially and otherwise.

Thank you in anticipation.

I look forward to receiving your compliance and we swing into action. Call me on +234 80-36599857 for moral and important discussion .

Yours truly,

David Fidelity

Needless to say, when you do get this email, add it to your spam list.

When Facebook apps go bad…

Did you know Starbucks is all about dating? Neither did I. 🙂

See, I use Facebook. And I go to Starbucks often. Awhile ago I signed up for a Facebook app related to Starbucks. The other day I was informed of the following:

Thanks for using My Starbucks. We are excited to announce that, as of next week, My Starbucks’s name and functionality will be changed to SpeedDate. Data entered into the original app won’t be used anymore. Soon you’ll be able to try SpeedDate, the fastest way to meet new people, so stay tuned!

My Starbucks

It’s for reasons like this that I have trimmed down the use of Facebook applications to 0

Nobody expects….Free Monty Python Videos on Youtube leading to 23,000% DVD Sale Increase

…and yet…well, read the charges! I mean, read this article: Free Monty Python Videos on Youtube Lead to 23,000% DVD Sale Increase | /Film

And for people who may — or may not — understand my references, there is THIS!

Thanks to Tim O’Reilly — via twitter, no less — for the pointer.

According to, ALL, and I mean ALL Canadians are Liberals

According to this article, The 25 Most Influential Liberals In The U.S. Media –

“Broadly, a “liberal’ subscribes to some or all of the following: progressive income taxation; universal health care of some kind; opposition to the war in Iraq, and a certain queasiness about the war on terror; an instinctive preference for international diplomacy; the right to gay marriage; a woman’s right to an abortion; environmentalism in some Kyoto Protocol-friendly form; and a rejection of the McCain-Palin ticket.”

I think you would be hard pressed to find one Canadian who did not possess these qualities.

This will not go down well with the Tories. 🙂

Ty Toys shamelessly cash in on the Obama girls….

…by coming out with two new dolls named after them. Sad. Apparently Michelle Obama is not happy about it. I wouldn’t blame her. I think it’s inappropriate and I would avoid buying toys from Ty unless I hear it’s been resolved.

Developments in ubiquitous computing

As mobile phones combined with Internet services gain more and more capability, the era of ubiquitous computing will begin, whereby everyone in the world will be able to digitally interconnect. One more step along that path is occurring with the announcement of Google’s SMS Search in Ghana and Nigeria (as reported on the great blog, White African).

The device most of the world will connect to the Internet with will not be a Mac or an PC: it will be a low cost mobile phone/handheld device. Companies like Google will supply everything else. And it will happen very soon.

Just how bad was John Thain?

Over at TPMMuckraker, part of Talking Points Memo, they have John Thain’s Top Ten Greatest Moments. And by great, they mean just the opposite. There’s outrageous expenses, trashing of furniture, and those are the minor items. At best, you’ll be shaking your head. More likely you’ll be thinking: this guy ought to go to jail.

Obama and Tumblr

I am a fan of And I admire how Barack Obama and his team capitalize on good technologies for their benefit. So it comes as no surprise that his team used tumblr as a blog — actually, tumble log — for the The Inauguration.

As is typical of the Obama tech team, they have taken tumblr, which is really good technology, and made it look even better! Click on the link above and see.

Former French President Chirac hospitalised after mauling by his clinically depressed poodle

Only in France, I think. Then again, this was reported in an English daily, so perhaps they tweak the story a little. 🙂 For the details, see here.

Merrill Paid Billions In Bonuses on an Early Schedule, As New Owner Sought More Bailout Dollars

This is something the new Obama administration should look into right away. While American taxpayers were shelling out billions in bailout money to firms like Merrill Lynch, the head of Merrill was paying billions in bonus to employees in bonuses. Ahead of time

It’s bad enough that the bonuses were given out. But that they were given out early and at the time they were given out really stinks.

Bank of America now owns Merrill Lynch. They should go after that money. And if won’t, the Treasury Department should. Or simply consider John Thain, the former head of Merrill Lynch, a thief and prosecute him. It’s good he was fired. But that’s not enough.

Sarah Harmer: I am aglow

This video by Sarah Harmer reminds me of music from the 1930s (and/or from the soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou” 🙂 ). It is a beautiful song, wonderfully performed by Sarah Harmer and her band. It is a lovely video, too. But don’t take my word for it. Watch: – before and after Obama

I took a snapshot of before Obama was sworn in and just after it was changed.

You can see the differences here:

Needless to say, there are big differences.

Obama is going to bring alot of changes to the White House. As an IT person, it is pleasing to think that one of the first ones is an IT change. 🙂

If you want to know what is going down in the Canadian Media with regards to layoffs….

…follow CanMediaLayoffs on twitter.  It can make for some grim reading. Perhaps there is good news in the publishing industry somewhere in Canada. If so, it is a silver lining in what looks like a very big raincloud.

Obama and RFK or Two Trains, then and now

Andrew Sullivan has a great post comparing the train that is taking Obama to Washington with the funeral train of RFK.  One was a train about endings, while another is a train about beginnings.

Paul Simon has a line that goes: “Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance”, for it conjures up positive thoughts and emotions. Like Hope. Everybody loves the sound of the train that Obama is on, both real and symbolic.

Go see “The Hope They Saw On That Train”.

Who makes better bottled water than Fiji? NYC, of course!

I think this is brilliant. While people can argue over the taste of the source of water, the quality of it is something else. And everything I read about purified NYC water is that it is high quality indeed. Check out Tap’dNY – Purified New York City tap water.

Not to pick on Fiji (too much), but there is even a taste test that shows it is better.

Not only do they have great water, but they have a great web site too (and a tumblelog, no less.)

How to be happy

Hint: it’s all about perspective.

One way to be happy is to check out the work of dazeychic over at Etsy. Better yet, buy some, and you will make yourself and others happy, too. Simple, yes?

(Thanks to the blog oliveloaf design for the pointer.)

You don’t have to be a Rockefeller

There is an amazing story of two people who were limited only by finances, but not vision. Indeed, their vision of great art was not limited at all, it seems. Go see you don’t have to be a rockefeller at the wonderful blog, oliveloaf design to get the details.

It reminds me, again, that money is not the limit we often make it out to be.

(I love their apartment: it sees no different than millions of other apartments, save a world class art collection).

Need motivation for your new year’s resolutions? Why not register for a marathon in Toronto?

Sure, it is in October, but 10 months may be just what you need. And even if you don’t, check out the web site for
The GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon.

I’ve run the race a few times. It’s well organized and it is a nice route. Bonus: you can use it as a Boston qualifier.

Why not check it out.

An amazing search tool for flickr…

…is this: Multicolr Search Lab – Idée Inc.

It allows you to search for flickr photos by colour!

It’s quite amazing.

A great idea indeed.

Blog Spam

For some reason, I have been getting a fair amount of blog spam getting through lately, typically to one post I made along time ago. The spam always starts something like this:

“Hello everyone, I have just registered with your forums recently. I always look around here for valuable information, this forum is my source of information. Everyone here is nice and has quick replys to other threads so here I am posting my own for this good site. I have this site to help all my needs.”

It is nice that they think everyone here is nice, since everyone is mostly me 🙂

Apparently some on the Right are still worried about the Commies

It’s hard to tell if Caleb Crain is mocking the book “Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature” or agreeing with it in his Essay – Children of the Left, Unite! in the (The more I read it, the more mocking it seems). He starts:

“As Julia L. Mickenberg and Philip Nel document in Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature (New York University, $32.95), Marxist principles have been dripping steadily into the minds of American youth for more than a century”

Actually, Mickenberg and Nel are wrong. Since children have been taught from the Bible, they have been learning about sharing, caring for the sick and the downtrodden of society, not to mention how the rich man will have a hard time getting into heaven. So perhaps these stories have been teaching Christian principles to young children, not Marxist principles.

Not since the Right went after the Teletubbies have I seen such silliness on their behalf.

AT&T Spams its customers

This seems to me to be a classic case of what not to do if you are a service provider: spam your customers. It’s even worse if you are a high tech company: you should know better. 

Whatever benefit AT&T hoped to gain from this, I think they lost much more. But you can judge for yourself:

A Text Arrives. Oh, It’s Just an ‘Idol’ Ad. –

Blogs/Tweeps I like: The Foush

Rahaf Harfoush is an “independent Innovation and New Media Strategist based in Toronto” who has a great blog. She is also great to follow on twitter (for those of you, like me, who are often time starved). Either way, you can learn alot by reading what she has to say.

So check her blog out here or you can follow here on twitter here.

What I am reading in January (and what have I just finished)

What I am reading right now? I have a number of things on the go.

A History of the Middle East by Peter Mansfield
Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels
The Book of J by Harold Bloom and David Rosenberg
The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier
A Shortened History of England by G.M. Trevelyan
Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky

I just finished:

H+ A New Religion? by Edward de Bono. I like deBono alot, but this book is more a Powerpoint presentation and less of a book. That would be fine if what was there was profound, but I don’t think it was. I think the idea that drove the book is worthwhile, but I think it could have been alot more thought out.
Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers (Hardcover) by John Alderman (Author), Dag Spicer (Foreword), Mark Richards (Photographer). It is more of a coffee table book, but for techies like myself, it is fantastic. It has a great selection of photographs of ancient computers, from large to small. While the photographs are great, the writing is also worthwhile. Highly recommended, especially as a gift for people who love computers.

BurgerKing and Facebook

Burger King has come up with an innovative way to attract people to their Facebook app. Now, it remains to be seen how this is going to play out, but there is not doubt it is going to attract alot of attention (because gets alot of traffic).

For more on this, see: WHOPPER® SACRIFICE – Sacrifice 10 friends from Facebook for a free WHOPPER®

The perfect napkin for all your designers, architects, and geeks generally….

…can be found at UP TO YOU. I mean, if your best ideas are going to dreamed up and put down on a napkin, why not make it to scale? 🙂 Up to You is in Toronto, but they also have a great online s

The perfect napkin for all your designers, architects, and geeks generally….

…can be found at UP TO YOU. I mean, if your best ideas are going to dreamed up and put down on a napkin, why not make it to scale? 🙂 Up to You is in Toronto, but they also have a great online s

The New York Times: is it a newspaper or a application platform for software developers?

In fact, it’s both. The Times, via the Times Developer Network, is providing software developers APIs to access a variety of information, from movies to politics. It’s pretty smart.

The movie reviews api, for example, provides output in JSON, XML and serialized PHP formats. And they have examples of how to invoke them.

I hope we see more and more companies providing this type of service soon. As it does, mashups will really take off.

New Year’s Resolution: to eat and cook better

If you want to eat better this year, and by better I mean not only in terms of quality, but in terms of simplifying your cooking and doing more with less, than you owe it to yourself to read this column by Mark Bittman: The Minimalist – The Latest Must-Haves for the Pantry –

It’s packed like a good pantry with lots of great advice. I highly recommend that you print it and start making meal plans and grocery lists with it.

Going over it, I thought of some other ideas that could suppliment his, such as:

Fresh garlic: another thing you should get. It’s much better than the bottled kind.

Fresh herbs: great idea, but if you are like me, you end up throwing them out at the end of the week, which seems like a waste. The trick to that is what he suggests: make pesto. You can make pesto with more than basil and pinenuts and parmesan. There are other pesto recipes out there that use parsely and walnuts and cilantro and lots more. Drizzle the pesto on soups, roasted vegetables and roast meats (great on a grilled chop), and of course you can combine it with cream and use as a sauce for fresh pasta.

Stock: if you are following Mark Bittman’s advice, try throwing in some of those fresh herbs you have around as well. It will add that much more flavour.

Oils: get a small bottle and toss some of your extra fresh herbs in it and then cover them in olive oil. You can then use this for making your own pesto, or use it for cooking. (This is handy if you want to add flavour to your cooking but are dealing with children who consider even a fleck of green to be a major turnoff.) A small bottle is better to prevent the herbs and oil for hanging around too long.

Croutons: another trick for making your own croutons is fry up some bite sized pieces of bacon in a pan with cubes/small chunks of bread. Then toss both the bread and the bacon in your salad. For more flavour, add a shallot or two. You can even toss some vinegar in the pan (get a recipe for this) and make a warm vinaigrette.

Bread crumbs: think out of the box here. Don’t just use white bread. Rye bread can make great bread crumbs, especially if it has carraway seeds. (Fantastic for coating pork). Or try pumpernickel. Really any good savoury bread with good flavour will make for interesting bread crumbs.

Look up some Italian recipes that use bread crumbs sauteed in olive oil and tossed on pasta. Simple and tasty.

Grains: although orzo and couscous are pastas and not grains, they can be good substitutes for grains in terms of variety.

Prosciutto: another great use of prosciutto is to wrap it around a sweet slice of fruit. It makes a great snack!


(Delicious looking photo of good olive oil, balsamic vinegar and wonderful bread from Neeta Lind’s photostream on

Sure basil and tarragon are great, but what about marjoram?

I was in my local grocery store some time ago, and two of the produce staffers were talking about herbs. One of them commented that while tarragon did well and basil sold out, marjoram did not do so well and they might not stock it anymore.

I thought about this and did some random research. I found that while some of my older recipes had it as an ingredient, I don’t see it featured as much any more. (Same goes for paprika, which used to be used alot it seems, though seldom now, save in Martha Stewart’s recipes). Now it seems there is more focus on newer herbs and spices or “sweeter” herbs like basil.

It’s a shame, since marjoram is a very versatile herb. It’s less ‘sweet’ than basil or tarragon, but that makes it great in such things as an omelet. So now, several times a month, I’ll make an omelet with sauteed shallots, grated emmental cheese and some marjoram sprinkled in. Delicious.

(great photo of marjoram from Jade Craven’s photostream at

Amy Winehouse sings “Hey Little Rich Girl” at Glastonbury

It still has that nice ska quality to it — naturally, since it belongs to The Specials — but Amy makes it her own. Here it is:

What are the best blogs to read? Read this and find out

I was going to joke, “this one”, but really, some of the best blogs out there can be found on this list: – misc – 30 Most Notable Blogs of 2008.

As for me, I am a big fan of #30, #20, #16, #13, #11, #8, #4, #3 and #2. Even then, there are plenty of new ones to get acquainted with.


How to make the most of running outdoors in winter

It may seem hard for you to believe, but running outdoors in the cold winter can be enjoyable and worthwhile. But you have to be prepared for it.

You can find lots of good tips for running online, such as this article: Winter Running Tips from (which is where I also got the photo), this one from the Chicago Examiner, and has alot of good articles on winter running, including this one on how to dress for winter running.

As I went through these articles, I jotted down some other things you might want to consider, based on my many years of winter running:

  • If you are not running everyday of the week, check out the long range forecast and try to plan your runs for the days of better weather. There are going to be some days that are downright dangerous and should be avoided. But there will be other days when it will be milder and those are those are good ones to aim for. If Wednesday is -10C and Thursday is -2C, why not shift your Wednesday run over to Thursday?
  • When it comes to black ice, always expect it. Be especially careful on days when the temperature rises a few degrees above freezing and then drops below freezing: the warmer temperatures can cause runoff that then freezes up into black ice. And since it is new black ice, it is more likely that it won’t be salted yet.
  • Also on black ice, be careful of light dustings of snow. The snow can cover up the ice and make it that much more slippery.
  • Finally, try to stay low and keep your feet on the ground. If you do something like jump over a pile of snow, you may land on black ice. That will be a very unpleasant experience, based on what I have seen.
  • Dressing for 15-20 degrees (F) above the current temperature is very good advice. But it can be hard to get motivated for those 5-15 minutes when your body is producing enough heat to feel warm enough. To get around this, one option is to have a sweatshirt or jacket that you can either carry or toss somewhere and retrieve at the end of your run. For example, if you start your run at your house, run up and down the street (or around the block) until you start to feel too warm, then toss a layer indoors and keep running.
  • Try not to stop if you can: you will cool off very quickly.
  • If the weather is bad outside, drivers will have a hard time seeing you. Worse, they could be rushing to get somewhere as a result of the delay of the bad weather. And then people skid and slide in their cars during winter. Given all that, be extremely defensive around cars in the winter. Stop, make sure they can stop, then proceed. Don’t assume they will be able to stop for you.
  • Related to that, avoid running on the road in the winter. It can be very tempting when the roads are clear and the sidewalks are not. You might even think that the roads are safer than the sidewalks in terms of slipping. However, if you have to get off the road in a hurry, you might not be able to due to snowbanks and other obstacles. Or you might slip and fall while you do that. What I tend to do is run on the sidewalks of busy streets. Those sidewalks tend to be the best cleared and salted. I save the sidestreets for when the snow is all gone.
  • While it is important to hydrate on long runs, you should also consider where you will be able to go to the bathroom during these times. Lots of water plus cold weather equals many trips to the loo. Be prepared.
  • Dressing warmly is important. However, if you are new to winter running, you might think: I can’t afford to buy all that winter running gear! If you are a winter runner on a budget, you can run in cotton or lower cost material and acquire the better running gear over time (buy it at the end of the winter running season: you’ll get good deals then and the stuff lasts along time and doesn’t really go out of style).
    If you are new to winter running, try and at least get a good primary layer: you want to wick as much water as you can away from your body. If you have cotton as your primary layer, you will likely get cold quickly. Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to winter running gear, so try to layer as best as you can with what you have, preferably on some shorter runs. Use these shorter runs to help you best determine what works for you in terms of clothes. Ideally, keep a log with weather conditions, clothes you wore, and how you felt and ran. (It doesn’t have to be a fancy log book either: a few sheets of paper is fine).
  • When considering temperature, make sure you factor in the wind chill. Also consider the humidity. Days with lots of humidity and wind will feel alot colder than dry winter days without wind.

Now after reading all these tips, you might think: why would anyone want to run outside in the winter? Well, there are lots of reasons, including:

  • It’s still a relatively low cost way to keep fit.
  • You can do it whenever you have time.
  • If you race, you will be able to maintain or even improve your running if you run right through the winter months. And lots of race start in as early as March: if you are going to put in a good showing for these, you need to be running in January and February.
  • Running in winter allows you to shake up your running routine. You have to run differently in the winter than at other times of the year. You may have to run slower. You may have to run in the dark. You may have to run through snow. All of these things and more can give you a new perspective on running and make it fresh for you.
  • It can be beautiful running outside in the winter. While everyone else is tucked away inside, you can have the outdoors all to yourself.
  • You can take pride in being able to run outside during these times.
  • Running in the winter helps combat the feeling of being cooped up inside. There are lots of great wintertime activities you can do to make the best of the season: why not add running to the list?