Monthly Archives: July 2012

Monday Night Music: slow jam with Janet Jackson, Q-Tip and Joni Mitchell

This video is packed with beauty: the song is rich and complex and dreamy, the imagery is gorgeous, and Ms Jackson is looking her finest. Here’s Janet Jackson – Got ’till It’s Gone

P.S. I tried to come up with something intelligent regarding cultural appropriation in this video (visually for Africans, and aurally for Canadians), but I couldn’t. I think she does a great job of taking the work of that Canadian icon Joni Mitchell and making a beautiful new song from it. As a Canadian, I have no issue with talented Americans like Janet doing that. I leave it to Africans (South(ern) Africans?) to comment on the use of African imagery.


The new blog from xkcd ( is great

It’s just starting, but is already great. I would argue that the post about SAT Guessing is mathematics and not physics. Then again, I think part of the fun of this new blog is the debate that these What Ifs will bring on. (Although the arguments will be at a smarter level then mine.)


Wednesday Night Music is jammed packed with summer goodness (Azealia Banks, M.I.A. and Frank Ocean, thanks to @lettertojane)

M.I.A.’s “Baby” is here.

Frank Ocean’s “Thinking ‘Bout You” is here

And Ms Banks and her “Neptune” is here

Thanks to Tim at Letter To Jane for compiling such a wonderful playlist. All three artists have superb songs to listen to…perfect for summer….enjoy!

Solving SSh communications problems between Amazon EC2 AMIs especially pertaining to GIT (rough technical notes)

Let’s say you have your own GIT repository on one AMI. You want to communicate with it from another AMI. In this example, you want to clone the repository. Also, for this example, you are able to login to both AMIs and have public and private keys for both. The repository is located in /var/git/clientXYZ.git. Your public key file is named myPKfile.pem.

The GIT AMI has an elastic IP address associated with it (e.g. and it is running Ubuntu. If it wasn’t an AMI, you could enter a commend like this:

git clone ssh://username@ to get the information.

This git clone command will not work on the AMI. Instead, you should  create the following file: ~.ssh/config and add the following lines

Host gitserver


User ubuntu

IdentityFile ~/.ssh/myPKfile.pem

 The assumption is the the myPKfile.pem file is already in the .ssh directory. Also, instead of gitserver, you can use any nickname you’d like.

 Once you have this set up, you can then enter this to clone the directory:

git clone ssh://gitserver/var/git/clientXYZ.git

Bonus: you can also ssh gitserver to get to the other AMI

For more good details, see Custom identity file ( with git client / Dev-Articles / DracoBlue.

How to build a cheaper air conditioner for $20 (and what you should note)

The Toronto Star has a good video here on how you can do this: Beating the Heat for $20 – The video is straightforward, and the DIY skills you need are minimal. If you are dying of the heat, and fans are no longer doing it for you, try this

Some things to note:

  • this will be cheaper in terms of power usage, I think. A fan uses less power than A/C
  • if it is really hot, expect the ice to melt quickly. Not too quickly: the styrofoam container should help keep the cool in. But still, you can expect to change the ice for fresh ice sooner than you think.
  • You will need to keep making ice. Consider buying a few extra ice cube trays when you get this stuff, and devote a section of your freezer just to ice.
  • this is not going to change the temperature in your whole house. But if your house is terribly hot, it can give you an oasis of cool without having to leave and go to some place that does have A/C
  • be careful with the size of the hole for the fan. You don’t want to have the fan fall in the wet ice. If it did, grab the cord and unplug it first before you reach in and pull it out to reduce the risk of getting electrocuted!
  • try to get a fan strong enough to blow air such that it will leave the box, but not too heavy that the box won’t support it

Saturday night music with Chairlift

Here’s two live recordings of Brooklyn based Chairlift.

Here’s a more serious rendition they did for a Black Cab Session

And here’s a fun but well done cover of Beyonce’s “Party” (skip to the 1:00 mark or so to get to the song)



Why I am going to start unfollowing food professionals, or the strength of Google+ over Twitter

I like food. I like eating it, making it, talking about it, and using social media to talk about it (e.g. Bernie Michalik’s posterous site).

However, to be frank, I am an amateur when it comes to food. No matter how much I do in this area, it will never be in the same league as people who are cooks and writers in this area.

I also love Twitter. I like how it is an open forum, and that people who are from very different backgrounds can come together and follow each other and share comments and links. You can ask people questions, give them feedback, share what they said with others, and more.

However, I think that openness is part of the problem. I think for alot of people, they like the Twitter platform, but what they really want is the ability to be exclusive. I noticed this in a number of exchanges with food professionals, where I got the impression that while they were tweeting generally, their comments were really directed at a specific audience that they had in mind. (I am sure this happens with other professionals as well, and I am sure there are some I.T. people, for example, who must think some of the comments from people who think the Mac is the pinnacle of computing technology are asinine.) The more I thought about it, the more I thought it must be ridiculous to get comments on food from someone who has limited ideas on it compared to a professional.

Now, part of the problem is me. 🙂  Not only do I love food, but when I see tweets from people talking about food, well, I want to tweet back to them! But the more I think about it, the more I think that that is the problem with Twitter. It encourages that give and take, regardless of whether or not tweeps really want it.

This is where Google+ comes in. The circle concept makes sense for alot of people. They could have circles where they just have professionals in it, and they could direct comments to them specifically. And likewise it is ease to follow people without really following them. You can just put them in a circle, call it “Fans” or “Audience” or “Amateurs” and from time to time you can share things with them without having to see everything they share in real time.

True, you can do this with Twitter lists, and I have done this to some degree with political folks and writers and IT people (not to mention famous people and funny people and now food professionals). They are all people I don’t want to forget about, but not really someone I want to follow closely, nor do I expect to engage much with them. The problem with lists however, is that Twitter makes it very hard to create them and update them. In comparison, Google+ circles are a snap to set up.

Sadly, I hate the way Google+ works. Not as bad as Facebook, but almost as much. Whatever else I saw about Twitter, it is fun to use and very concise. Google+ is about as fun to use as Google itself, and it is the opposite of concise. That’s a shame. If it it were more concise, I could see me doing alot more with it. If I could “skin” it and limit the amount of information it provided, I would be using it alot.

I think if Google+ could become more like Twitter, or Twitter could become more like Google+, we’d have a winner. We would end up being less social, but that might not be a bad idea. Maybe the technology needs to become less social and less inclusive: perhaps that would result in better communication over more. I know there are lots of times when I think about tweeting something technical, but I think: who wants to hear about IBM pSeries servers on HACMP or IT architecture patterns? Very few people. If Twitter had circles, I could tweet those comments to IT people. Also, because there are no limits, there tends to be oversharing on Twitter. While with Circles, you are more likely to choose with whom you want to share information, rather than broadcasting it to everyone.

Independent musicians – get clearance on songs you want to cover by…

Using this: Mechanical License Clearance by Limelight. It may not work for every song you want to cover, but it is worth investigating if you are producing something that does cover previous work.

Thanks to for pointing this out.