Monthly Archives: August 2010

How to replace your office PC with an iPad (Hint: the Cloud helps)

This good article at has a run down of someone who is describing how to replace your office PC with an iPad.

Their conclusion is this:

It’s clear the iPad is not a perfect replacement for a laptop (or desktop PC). The connectivity issues create hassles that will slow workplace adoption, and the constrained data exchange and poor cloud-apps compatibility will restrict iPad business usage to basic office productivity work and, via thin clients or where specialty iOS apps exists, to niche field-force usage such as for hospital staff, construction foremen, and the like.

In my opinions, just like netbooks, the feasibility of this all depends on your use of the PC. I believe that if you use a device for accessing the Web and are good with using Cloud based apps like Google docs or Zoho, then you can go along way with an iPad as your main PC. The more you depend on installed software, the less likely this becomes as an option. For now.

Yoga for people who think they can’t do yoga

If you think you can’t do yoga, then check out this video. Even the most inflexible of you might find you are able to become more flexible after this:

YouTube – Yoga for People Who Hate Stretching

American isolationalism and the Kochs: from the John Birch society to the Tea Partiers

It’s interesting to see in this piece by Dave Weigel (Weigel : Sharia Today, Sharia Tomorrow, Sharia Forever) that a large percent of people believe President Obama wants to impose Sharia law on Americans. This got me thinking to how this is not all that different than some of the fears older Americans had with communists and the U.N. and the imposition of outside laws on Americans. Americans are proud of their laws and their Consistution, but right wing Americans have always had a fear of outsiders taking that away. Indeed, if you think of organizations like the John Birch society that “is against “one world government“, and has an immigration reduction view on immigration reform. It opposes the United Nations, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), and other free trade agreements. The society argues that there is a devaluing of the U.S. Constitution in favor of political and economic globalization, and that this trend is not an accident. It cites the existence of the Security and Prosperity Partnership as evidence of a push towards a North American Union.[8]” (taken from Wikipedia’s description of the J.B.S.). For some on the American right, the enemy keeps shifting, much like in “1984”, but the idea is the same: keep America free and isolated.

What is interesting is that Fred Koch, founder of Koch Industries, was a founding member of the John Birch society many years ago. Now according to this article in the New Yorker, two of the Koch brothers who own the current Koch Industries conglomeration, are waging war against Obama and funding opponents of climate change and the Tea Partiers, among other right wing groups. In seeing this, it also appears that the enemy keeps shifting, but the supporters of it also remain the same.

I am a Muslim! and I am a Canadian!

Interesting. This video, YouTube – I AM A MUSLIM!,

is an awful lot like this video in format: YouTube – I Am Canadian

My Faith My Voice – Muslims in America

To me this video should not even have to be made, but given that some people have poor, preconceived notions about Muslims, I hope this video can go some way to dispel fear and prejudice.

Via YouTube – My Faith My Voice PSA

Smell-o-rama: or how Katy Perry could save the American Music and Manufacturing Industry

That sounds like a stretch, but as I watched this video on the packaging of her new CD, I was struck by a number of things:

  • Her new CD has Smell-o-rama! Seriously, when you open it, it will smell like cotton candy. It’s always been a joke that with advances in technology, you would be able to smell movies as well as see and hear them. With her new CD’s packaging, you are getting at least an inkling of that. Whether or not this will develop into something more sophisticated remains to be seen. But it is intereesting that smell is being used to promote music.
  • Smell – or scent – could also help sell more CDs. Unlike digital downloads, the only way to get this novel experience is to buy the CD. It’s clever marketing, and while it may not have much of a future, it may show the way that better packaging may help sell more CDs and make more profit for the music companies and the artists.
  • Novel packaging might also help American manufacturing. I was surprised that these CDs were NOT made in China somewhere. But who knows: with the right product, it may make more sense for things to be made in places other than China.

Who knew Katy Perry could be such an innovator? I am already looking forward to a re-release of that classic Spinal Tap epic: Smell The Glove.

Because I can never have enough of her singing this…

YouTube – Anna Netrebko – O mio babbino caro

How panhandlers use free credit cards

I was not surprised. You might be. See How panhandlers use free credit cards –

60 Things to Better Appreciate in Life

The actual title of the blog post that I am commenting on is 60 Things to Be Grateful For In Life at the site  However, the word “grateful” implies you are grateful towards someone or something. I prefer the word “appreciate”, not only because it does away with that relationship, but it has connotations of “growth” and “value”. Appreciating your sense of sight implies not only do you value your ability to see the beauty in the world, but also you are growing your ability to see the beauty in the world. I like that better.

Regardless of whether you are grateful, appreciative, or both, check out the list. It’s a good one.

Usain Bolt has style

The Guardian has an interview with the great Usain Bolt.

Unlike alot of sports interviews, in this one Bolt talks openly and casually about himself, his competition, and his goals. Barring injury, Bolt will be one of the greatest runners of all time. He has great style, too, as can be seen from the way he races AND from the way he dresses here.

Check out the article: it’s worthwhile.

Günter Grass on writing

Spiegel has a good interview with Günter Grass on his upcoming book – which sounds great – and gets his thoughts on a number of other topics. This one, for example, on writing:

Grass: I would like to put a stop to this movement toward reading on computers, but it seems that nobody can do this. Nevertheless, the drawbacks of the electronic process are already apparent during the writing of the manuscript. Most young authors write directly on their computers, and then edit and work in their files. In my case, on the other hand, there are many preliminary steps: a handwritten version, two that I’ve typed myself on my Olivetti typewriter and, finally, several copies of versions that my secretary has input into the computer and printed out, and into which I’ve incorporated many handwritten corrections. These steps are lost when you write directly on the computer.

SPIEGEL: Don’t you feel old-fashioned with your Olivetti?

Grass: No. On the computer, a text always looks somehow finished, even if it’s far from it. That’s tempting. I usually write the first, handwritten version all at once, and when there’s something I don’t like I leave a blank space. I fill these gaps in the Olivetti version, and because of that thoroughness, the text also acquires a certain long-windedness. In the ensuing versions, I try to combine the originality of the first version with the accuracy of the second one. With this slow approach, there’s less of a risk of slickness and arbitrariness creeping in.

The interview is worth a read and can be found here: SPIEGEL Interview with Günter Grass: ‘The Nobel Prize Doesn’t Inhibit Me in My Writing’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

The incredible Audiotool

I came across the audiotool web site serendipitously today. I’m delighted I did, for it’s an incredible web site. What Audiotool does is allow you to virtually play with a number of classic electronic devices like 909s and 303s from to make your own electronic music, well, like this: August 27 by blm849 – Audiotool. In a very short time, I learned how to wire up the configuration below to make this piece of music. It looks complicated, but it was actually pretty simple. And alot of fun. With practice and inspiration, I think anyone could make some really interesting music with this site. What’s even better, the music can be downloaded by anyone as an MP3 file, so you can take it and play it on your favourite portable music device.

Once you would have had to make a big investment in equipment to do this. Now you just need a browser. Incredible.

Kodachrome in the silent movie era

Kodak ended it’s famous Kodachrome film in 2009, after making it for 74 years. Here’s a video of some of the earliest uses of it, from 1922:

To give you some perspective, here is a List of American films of 1922 from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. As you can see, at that time the main actors were Valentino, Buster Keaton, and Mary Pickford. We’re talking the very early days of film: black and white and silent. That makes this video all the more remarkable.

(Found at

Worry isn’t work….Work is the manifestation of value

So says Dan Pallotta at Harvard Business Review online. And he’s right. Too many people I know stress about things at work, instead of producing value. If you are providing me with a service, I don’t know if you provided it while singing a happy tune or were miserable the whole time, worried I wouldn’t like it. I would prefer you were happy about doing it, but what I am mainly concerned about is that you provide good service. Most people are that way, including the people you work for. So do good work, but being miserable about it is optional and in fact likely results in worse work, which we all do care about.

Penguin is now (RED)

Great news. Penguin has joined up with the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa by participating in the (RED) program. They have a smart selection of classics such as “Sense and Sensibility” and “Dracula” and 50% of the profits from each book goes to (RED). The books look great, and no doubt will be up to Penguins’ high standard of printing. I think if you wanted to get someone younger interested in these books, this would be a great way to do it. Not to mention these would look great on your bookshelf. What are you waiting for? 🙂 See Penguin Classics RED editions – Penguin RED Classics  for more information

Back to the future with the CBC Radio iPhone App

I was excited last night to try out the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation – The Canadian version of the BBC) Radio iPhone App last night for a few reasons: it is free, it has a nice user interface, and it provides access to a wide radio of programs on CBC. I especially like the jazz and classical music on Radio 2, not to mention the indie pop on radio 3. It was all excellent. But the other thing I liked about it, the back to the future part, was that I was able to lie in bed and listen to the “radio”, just like I did when I was a kid. Now it is a iPod instead of a transitor radio that I had turned low so my parents couldn’t hear, but the joy of listening to late night music is still the same.

For more on this great app — and it is not just limited to Canadians — you can go here: – CBC Mobile Services – iPhone. And if you like other forms of music, or very intelligent talk radio, I highly recommend this.

Great white wines under $10: Fuzion Alta Torrontés/Pinot Grigio, Argentina

The site Wine of the Weekend has a great description of a delicious wine that is also great value (which is not surprising given it is part of the Fuzion line of wines). It is a superb summer wine, great for sipping by itself or paired with many dishes found in fusion cooking. Pinot Grigio fans should note, however, that is has alot of flavour, including “opulent peach, pear and citrus flavours on the palate”/ I love it, but fans of very subtle wines might find it too much.

See Wine of the Weekend for more information.

Oh, and the price: $8.95 at the LCBO in Ontario.

What does free speech mean?

There’s some confusion that people have about free speech that Linda Holmes at NPR clears up nicely in one sentence

Because the “free” … means “free from government interference,” not “free from consequences.”

The rest of the article is worth a read. Meanwhile, the next time you hear someone complain about their right to free speech being trampled upon, ask who is portrayed as doing the trampling.


Beautifully depicted in this video:

YouTube – Radiolab and NPR Present Words

What is the Hijab? Everything you wanted to know about this garment

This page at Wikipedia, Hijab by country, will tell you not only what the rules are for wearing this garment in many countries around the world, but it explains the difference between various form of Islamic dress. As you can see, the rules and the beliefs about this garment vary widely from country to country, not just in predominantly Christian countries, but in predominantly Muslim countries too. It is – pardon the pun – a very revelling page.


Now THIS could be good!(I love the brains in the cup.)

Eat Brains Love on Laughing Squid.

The new Music Hall and the unstoppable force of social media on music

Do you recognize this guitarist? In this video she does a cover of i’m yours” by Jason Mraz. It’s a good cover for sure, and it has almost 6 million views. Six million.

Here’snother version of that song.

It has less views, just under 250,000. However this musician has lots of videos and they all have that much. She has a version of “Hey ya!” that has over 500,000 views. Do you know this musician? I have never heard of her, but lots of people have watched her perform.

Speaking of that song, here’s the incredibly good cover of Hey Ya by Mat Weddle of Obadiah Parker.

It has over six million views as well. Almost as many as Outkast has themselves.

Now these people aren’t famous in the way Jason Mraz is or Outkast or the Beatles or whomever else they are covering. Yet they are able to attract large audiences with little more than a camera and an instrument. They don’t have promoters or  producers or other talent helping with their songs. They are just simply singing for us, and getting alot of us to listen.

It likely helps that they are singing songs that are very popular. If they were singing an obscure song, it’s not as likely people would find them via YouTube as easily.  I think one of the reasons they do get an audience is that people want to hear people singing songs they like. Stiill, I think that  they would surface even without singing popular songs, either through tagging or other sharing mechanisms. YouTube is a platform that allows people to do that, much like radio was a way for bands to reach audiences that they could never reach simply by playing only in music halls. What people find interesting will rise to the top most of the time.

These artists might not get fortune this way. but it has never been easier in some ways to get a slice of fame. It reminds me of punk rock or the beginning of rock n roll, in that young people were just going out and performing and there was a willing audience to watch them. I think it is exciting and encouraging to anyone who wants to perform for an audience. You just need a camera, a good song, a good voice, and possibly one other instrument. The Hall, so to speak, is packed with millions of people, waiting for you to start.

BTW, I brought up the unstoppable force of social media on music because the music industry has been fighting for so many years to prevent people from taking over the music industry and making it their own. First there was file shariing, where you had listeners cutting out distribution of music. Now you have social music, where by the listeners cut out the promotion of music. There will still be that traditional way of making music of course, but that territory is going to shrink more and more as time goes by and the unstoppable force of social media on music keeps rolling on.

The greatness of “Wichita Lineman”

One indicaton of a great song is how well it can be remade by differenc artists, each time being something different and great in its own way. I think “Wichita Lineman” is one of those songs.

Now you may think: “that old Glen Campbell song?! Are you nuts?!” Hey, it’s a great song. It is wonderfully melodic, with evocative lyrics that flow from one verse to another.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out this version by REM

This reggae like version from Dennis Brown

This lush version by Cassandra Wilson

And finally here’s Glen Campbell, in 2008, no less, rocking it out

The visual saturation of M.I.A

I like the contradiction in some of the videos of M.I.A. like XXXO, Boyz, and to some extent, Galang. All three deploy a hyper visual style and are highly produced. But they do that using visual elements that are simple or kitchy. You feel like you are seeing something unlike what you would see in any other video. Not all her videos are that way. Paper Planes and Sunshowers are much more straightforward videos and not unlike what you would see for alot of big music groups. But those three videos are meant to visually overwhelm you, much the way her clothes do. It’s not for everyone, but I like it.

Here’s the ultra-kitsch of XXXO

Here’s the low-tech graphics of Boyz

And here’s the graffiti animation of Galang

For those of you who love neatness

You must check out Things Organized Neatly.

It’s….neat! 🙂

Via SwissMiss

On polls, Elvis Presley, and the Elvis Presley Margin

Back in 2002, when CBS ran this story, 7% of Americans still believed Elvis was alive, despite his death 25 years earlier. (“The King’s” Popularity Constant – CBS News).

This has led me to conclude that for any poll, there will be a margin of people — the Elvis Presley margin — who will agree with anything (or disagree with anything) that the pollster asks.

I thought of this because of 18% of Americans believe President Obama is a Muslim, despite everything that says he is a Christian. 18% is well above the Elvis Presley margin, which leads me to believe that there are people who should know better that still think this. Interesting.

Fact checks on mosques in New York City

Yahoo/AP has a good run down on some of the statements that have been made about the Park 51 Community Center (“the Ground Zero Mosque”). Well worth a read, whatever you position is on the topic. See FACT CHECK: Islam already part of WTC neighborhood – Yahoo! News

What does the First Amendment to the United States Constitution say?

According to Wikipedia, it says this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.[1]

I can’t understand how people can say that the Constitution is of supreme importance, but there should be restrictions on where mosques are built. I can understand people who don’t respect the Constitution saying that, but not those that do.

Maybe the CEO of Google is just stupid

I am going to start to track this. A number of statements Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, has said recently that are just dumb. For example, this one: Google CEO Suggests You Change Your Name to Escape His Permanent Record. Yes folks, Google shouldn’t have to change anything. The onus is on YOU to change your name to make a break from your past. I don’t even feel like arguing this, it is such a dumb idea.

Here’s my prediction: Eric Schmidt will be out of a job in three years, and Google will be on the decline. But in the meantime, if you feel like talking his ideas seriously, by all means go to this article.

I think Schmidt should focus on other things, like why Google, which apparently has all these smart people with lots of spare time to come up with new ideas, keep coming out with such duds instead.

So how many mosques are there currently in Manhattan, New York City?

Quite a few, based on this: Mosques near Manhattan, NY – Google Maps. If you  click on the link, you can get more detail on them, as well as where there are located.

Google puts it at 11, but I suspect there may be more, based on some other maps I have seen.

Night-clubbing in Harlem in the 30s

This is an amazing map outlining the night life of Harlem in the 1930s, with some legendary names and locations. It’s a fascinating view into the social circuit at the time, filled with little details (e.g. whom to ask for when you get to a certain club). For more on it, see:
476 – “Go late!”: A Night-Club Map of Harlem | Strange Maps | Big Think

What does the area around Ground Zero in NYC look like?

The blog History Eraser Button has a run down of the area where the Park 51 Community Center (the so-called Ground Zero Mosque) is going. If you have an opinion of this, one way or another, and you don’t know what that section of Manhattan looks like, take a look at “Hallowed Ground” | History Eraser Button. You may not change your mind, but if you think that section of New York is some form of holy place, well, take a look.

I’ve been to New York many times, and to me, it looks like alot of working New York. Nothing wrong with that. If anything, it has that rough charm I love about the city, just like I love the people who live there. New York is a great city: to me, it’s the capital city of the world. Any city so great should be open to everyone, as New York has been these many many years. It’s one of the reasons, among many, why it is so great.

Long live New York City.

Pixar, Dreamworks and the rise of the family film

The family film is ascendent. Pixar and Dreamworks Animation are very successful in creating works to appeal to all ages. And a synopsis of this rise can be seen in this article: Is a multiplex full of family films the future of moviegoing? | 24 Frames | Los Angeles Times.

To me, it is something I had been expecting for over a decade. I remember taking my daughter to see Madeline (1998) and thinking: there should be more movies to take my kid to, but there wasn’t. After all, every kid film brings in at least two people, and there will likely be snacks, too. And then there are the DVD rentals, the toys, etc. Lots of ways to make money in a way you can’t with other types of film. Indeed, now we have 3D movies (that charge more) that will drive sales of 3D entertainment centers all home. All that show business driven by kids movies.

It looks like Hollywood finally figured it out. Now there are LOTS of fims for families and kids, as the article shows. And for now, it looks like this will continue to increase. Will it increase until most films are family films? Will parents stop taking their kids to movies? It will depend how greedy the movie business gets. It’s still an affordable form of activity to participate in with your kids, but if that were to change, parents might forgo going to the cinema for some other form of cheaper entertainment.

Time has not been good for the movie business. It’s lasted alot longer than vaudeville, but if vaudeville is any lesson to the movies (or radio or even TV), it’s that nothing is guaranteed to last forever. Sad for me to say, not even the cinema.

(Link to the lamp icon comes from the Pixar Corporate Overview page. )

Awake after my own “Inception” moment last night

In last night’s dream, I was traveling from city T to city G with a
stopover in city H. While in H, I suddenly had to rush to the airport to
make my flight to G. When in G I realized that I had left everything I was
travelling with in my hotel in H, and now I was in a jam. How could I get
back to T without my passport? I was thinking about the various ways to get
it back without coming up with any ideas. It was a stressful dream, and the
next thing I knew I was back in T and “awake”. I was thinking about the
travel dream when suddenly I thought: hey, that must have been a dream,
because if I didn’t have my passport, I couldn’t get on the flight to G! I
was happy!

The next thing I know, I was truly awake.
Sent from my BlackBerry Handheld.

The brilliant animation of RSA animate on the secret power of time

THIS is a brilliant video. First off, the animation itself is remarkable. Secondly the talk itself,  by Philip Zimbardo is fascinating. He explores how people think about time affects the way they live and how well they do in life. He generalizes that people tend to be past, present or future oriented, and that makes a big difference in terms of your behavoir and outlook on life.

But don’t read me: watch (and read) the video

And check out more videos from  RSA Animate on Youtube

Summary of payments – my thoughts on the new spam

You should be aware that a new type of spam is coming out. It will look something like the email below. You will see a number of elements in common:
1) it is written in a bland, business-like way. No aggressive huckstering for …well, crap. Instead, it is more like an FYI
2) an attached file. That’s the problem right there. Chances are there is either some form of advertisement, or worse, some form of virus.

I suspect this is the latest trend because it is hard for anti-virus filters to detect and stop this spam.

Needless to say, mark it as spam and delete it as soon as possible.

—– Forwarded by Bernie Michalik/xxx/yyy on 08/13/2010 10:53 AM —–

"Lucile Dorsey" <>

08/13/2010 09:35 AM

Summary of payments


Attached are two files showing the amounts paid this past year.
The files are in Lotus 1-2-3 but I think you can open these in Excel or the Open office spread sheet.
This is working very nicely.

Lucile Dorsey

Stop procrastination on the internet with help from Firefox, Greasemonkey and the Super Kiwi cloak script

This combination of Firefox, Greasemonkey and the Super Kiwi cloak script is a great way for me to avoid those sites that eat into my productive time while at work. If you are comfortable installing a tool like GreaseMonkey in your Firefox browser, I recommend you do so and get the Super Kiwi cloak script.  I think Super Kiwi works a bit better than the Invisibility Cloak script, at least for me.

For more info, see Stop procrastination on the internet – Konrad Voelkel’s Blog  r Geek to Live: Ban time-wasting web sites. Or comment here and I will see how I can help.

Comparing the Obama tax cuts vs the Bush Tax Cuts

Now there are many ways to think about this. For example, this could be drawn in terms of percentages, but even then, the dramatic difference in the higher income range would likely not go away.

Do something green and get rewarded with a free Starbucks coffee

How? by doing this: Pledge to do some GREEN for your community with STARBUCKS and EVERGREEN

It’s easy. And it is likely something you are doing or would want to do. Why not treat yourself (or a friend) to a free coffee.

Thanks to Starbucks and Evergreen for supporting this.

Woody Allen and the secret of success

The secret of success, I think, is well summed up by Woody Allen in this quote taken from an interview of Woody Allen on Stardust Memories:

I make so many films, that I don’t care about individual successes and failures. I made Interiors and I made Stardust Memories, and before they came out I was working on something else. The film could be a big hit like Manhattan or Hannah, to me it doesn’t matter. I’ve tried very hard to make my films into a non-event. I just want to work, that’s all. Just put the film out for people to see, just keep grinding them out. I hope I’ll have a long and healthy life, that I can keep working all the time, and that I can look back in old age and say, ‘I made fifty movies and some of them were excellent and some of them were not so good and some were funny…’ I just don’t want to get into that situation that so many of my contemporaries are in, where they make one film every few years and it’s a Big Event. That’s why I’ve always admired Bergman. He’d be working quietly on the island and would make a little tiny film and put it out, and then he’d be working on the next one. You know, the work was important. Not the eventual success or failure, the money or the critical reception. What’s important is that your work is part of your daily life and you can lice decently. You can , as in my case, do the other things I want to do at the same time. I like to play music, I like to see my children, I like to go to restaurants, I like to take walks and watch sports and things. When you’re working at the same time, you have a nice, integrated life.

This nicely incorporates a number of guidelines to success that I’ve heard in the past, such as:

  • make the journey (in this case, “work”) and not just the destination equal the reward
  • if you create alot, you will have more successes overall, and your failure won’t matter as much
  • success is ultimately about have a rich life, not achieving one particular thing

Thanks to the blog Letter to Jane for this.