Monthly Archives: November 2012

Friday Night Music: Sarah Vaughn, “The Nearness of You”

This version is particularly wonderful. Sarah Vaughn was so young and lovely at the time when this was filmed. And no one can do this classic better than her. Here’s Sarah Vaughn, The Nearness of You (YouTube)

Email grows up. Or the U.S. Senate starts to catch up.

How? By moving this way: Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Overhaul of Electronic Communications Privacy Act – NYTimes.com. As the Times says:

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would strengthen privacy protection for e-mails by requiring law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant from a judge in most cases before gaining access to messages in individual accounts stored electronically.

Someone on Twitter said that we should thank General Petraeus for this, and they may be correct. His recent situation likely has lead to bipartisan support for updating the law and giving more protection to email (which is more or less the only mail people send or receive these days)

I believe laws for email and other IT need to be updated more frequently (this law was on the books in 1986). Not as often as tech does, but it should be regularly reviewed for relvance.

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Digital City: using payphones to make the city (New York City) into a computer

It’s good to see New York city taking advantage of existing infrastructure (pay phone pods) to make their city more digital: First of 250 internet-connected touchscreens replace pay phones in New York City | The Verge. It is not as novel as this use of the pay phone pods (How New York Pay Phones Became Guerrilla Libraries – Arts & Lifestyle – The Atlantic Cities) but it will be more useful.A great example of the city becoming a computer.

It is good to see New York leading in efforts to make theirs a digital city. See also this article, More NY Subway Stations Will Get Wi-Fi, Cell Service – Personal-tech – Wireless Technology – BYTE. Digital cities need user interfaces (like the touchscreens), but they also need infrastructure (the wireless network). Now they need more APIs and other components and subsystems if they are going to truly become something users can use and programmers can program. But it’s getting there.

While lots of cities will be pursuing such ideas, I think New York making progress like this will help propel alot of other cities to become more digital.

(Standard disclaimer: this post expresses my own thoughts and opinions and not those of my employer.)

Is it possible to live forever? It seems so…

..if you are this jellyfish

The NYTimes has an excellent article on the Immortal Jellyfish, here: Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality? – NYTimes.com.

Well worth a read. Maybe only Taxes are the only thing certain anymore.

In defense of Black Friday: or 6 reasons why it is a good thing

It seems a universal thing to slam Black Friday. And the excessive of it is a bad thing, for certain. However, here’s six reasons why it is a good things.

  1. It helps you get your Christmas shopping out of the way.
  2. It helps you save on your Christmas shopping.
  3. It gives you a chance to get away from your family on American Thanksgiving 🙂
  4. It helps retailers plan their year. Retail is a tough business. This helps make it less difficult.
  5. It’s forces retailers to compete for your business by offering you good deals.
  6. It’s voluntary. No one is making you go and shop. Don’t like Black Friday? Don’t go.

It is very likely that Black Friday is eventually going to blow up. In Canada, Boxing Day sales (which used to happen on December 26th and are just as bad if not worse than Black Friday) have become diluted over time. Now it’s Boxing Week sales, and sales before Christmas, etc. in Canada. I expect the same thing will happen with Black Friday. In the meantime, those keen to shop and save should get out there. The rest should enjoy the season and relax and unwind.

 

The new vernacular for the workplace

While lots of office space still conforms to cubicleland, more and more of it are looking like this: The new Google HQ in Toronto is better than your office. It’s a good article, and you should check it out to see what the new HQ looks like. (Yes, it has the ubiquitous foosball table, but it has a nice Toronto mural on the wall).

I think this is going to be the way it is or should be for offices of the future. For example, if you go and look up jobs at Medium (e.g., this one,Infrastructure Engineer — Work at Medium — Medium), you will see that they are promoting their stylish workplace at the same time they are looking for skilled people to work for them. And why not? Better work environments give companies competitive advantages when it comes to attracting talent. Even mobile work spaces like the ING DIRECT Canada Downtown Café in Toronto has a similar style to it.

If you want people to work for you now and in the future, you need to provide a similar if not better work environment. This is the new vernacular for the workplace.

The upcoming robot / drone infestation problem

It may sound ridiculous, “The upcoming robot infestation problem”, so consider this:

  1. Build your own drones: iStrike Shuttle | Dream Cheeky
  2. Wifi everywhere: More NY Subway Stations Will Get Wi-Fi, Cell Service – Personal-tech – Wireless Technology – BYTE

Mobile technology is going to be going in a new direction. It will no longer need to be held by you. It will be very cheap and very mobile. You can release it into the physical world and it can go places for you and monitor or deliver things for you, as #1 shows. Instead of stalking your ex on Facebook, you can stalk them by releasing a drone to circle their yard. Want to see if someone is doing something they shouldn’t? Send a drone (or 10).

The newer drones won’t continue to be as primitive as #1: they’ll be small and sophisticated. Just as handheld devices have become more and more sophisticated, so too will the new personal drones. And what will the drones use to communicate back and forth? Why the new wifi that will be built out in our cities. (See #2).  People will be able to release drones onto the ground, into the air, and they will send information back via metro wifi and determine future information based on feedback from their base.

Already there are primitive drone type devices for sale in electronic stores. About the only thing that will prevent drones from having more of a future will be cost or capability. But if the cost goes down, expect to see alot more drones in use and walking or flying in a neighborhood near you. What will people do with them? If they are general purpose enough, you will see all sorts of uses for personal and professional drones and robots.

Finally, there is no guarantee they will be harmless drones, either. More likely they could be like this:

Christmas is coming. You’ll need wine and gifts. So go see Natalie MacLean’s web site

Why? Two reasons at least. One, she has lots of great books on wine you can pick up as gifts, including ‘Unquenchable’ and ‘Red, White and Drunk All Over’. Her latest just came out in paperback.

Two, she can help you save money and get great wine if you go here: Wine Reviews and Food Pairings.

There’s lots of other good reasons to visit her site but those are two great ones to get you started.

Cheers!

P.S. Mobile phone users, check out her mobile app as well.

I continue to be amazed at how Facebook continues to abuse their user community. The latest is…

This: Facebook ‘Security’ Phone Number Being Sold To Advertisers – Business Insider

Yep. The phone number they said was security purposes is now being used to target you more effectively for advertisements

You should just assume that any information that you provide Facebook will be used against you. No wonder they are rapidly becoming the next version of MySpace.

The myth that there is one villian in the demise of Hostess

Can be wiped away by reading this, Who’s to Blame for the Hostess Bankruptcy: Wall Street, Unions, or Carbs? – Jordan Weissmann – The Atlantic. As anyone with intelligence would suspect, it is not a simple matter of blaming the unions or the executives, though all have made bad decisions that have cost the company. It also sounds like the company is dysfunctional from top to bottom. Finally, as much as people are sentimental about the loss of the company, I think there is more sentiment than demand for the product.

There will be lots more to come from Hostess, or whomever ends up taking over the products they produce. But to use the situation as one to make political points means you miss the real problems there.

Nate Silver: why you should read this interview

It could be tempting to see Nate Silver as someone trendy that will come and go, especially after the way people went gaga over him during the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election. But Silver is in the vanguard of how journalism is changing over the next decade. Alot of work with regards to data and news and journalism has been ongoing for a few years, but now it is going to accelerate. If you follow only one person to keep tabs on the changes, you should follow Nate.

To get a taste of what I mean, check out this interview of him: Nate Silver on the Election, Pundits, and His Drunk Alter Ego – C Notes – November 2012.

Even if you don’t agree with me, read the interview: he’s an interesting guy and they did a good job. Well worth a few minutes (but you will be thinking about it long afterwards).

 

Two stories that tell one story about the strains in China

The first is this one, China congress ends with new leader, and fractured leadership – The Globe and Mail.

The second is this one, How Online Sleuths Are Transforming Chinese Officialdom | Tea Leaf Nation.

Read one, then the other. They are really two sides of the same story, and they lead to the idea that China is going to be undergoing some dramatic shifts in the next decade. I am not hopeful for positive change in China, but no one knows this, not even the Chinese themselves, I suspect.

Blogging: still a good idea in 2012

With all the social media available now, blogging no longer gets the same love it did just a few years ago. That said, blogging is still a great medium with lots of flexiblity. If you have something to share (who doesn’t) and need to log it some where, blogging is still a great way to go.

One thing you want to know if you are blogging is where should I blog. This fairly up to date post, Choosing a Free Blog Host – Comparing WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr and Posterous, has a great rundown of four of the most popular places to blog.

As for me, here’s my post on What blogs I have and what I host them on

It’s a few years old, but still holds true. I have cut back on my blogging and now have limited to posterous and WordPress.com. But tumblr is really good, and it has a social aspect that cannot be beat. And blogger.com has been revamped not too long ago and it is much better. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them. You just need to find the one best for you.

For pure ease of use, I still think posterous is best, although they have all taken ideas from each other and they are all easy to use.

This is not to take away from other social media. From Pinterest to Twitter to Facebook, it’s all good in its own way.

Sunday night dance: Louise Lecavalier in La La La Human Steps ‘Human Sex’

It’s old, but still impresses me. Louise Lecavalier is a whirlwind.

La La La Human Steps ‘Human Sex’ 1985 UPGRADE – YouTube