Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mike Miner, producer of TVO's "The Agenda", asked about the impact of the digital age on literacy. Here's my answer.

What impact has the digital age had on literacy? Improved? Made worse? Changed it? Caused it to evolve?
I sense that this question was asked on behalf of those bemoaning the rise in popularity of text messaging, Twitter and even LOLcat-speak. To them I say this:

Language is a moving target. If William Shakespeare could invent words why can't the rest of us? The undeniable truth is that digital communication has engaged more people with the written word than ever before. How can that be a bad thing?

And just as ZOMG and K THX BYE arguably have no place in an undergraduate essay, the perfect passive participle probably isn't suitable for your typical Facebook profile.

The best part is that English -- and other languages too, I'm sure -- are more dynamic and interesting than I can ever remember.

So all you haters can suck it, K THX BYE.

P.S. To Mr. Miner, if you'd like to have me as a panelist on The Agenda to debate this or other digital issues, I'm very TV-friendly:

Just putting it out there... 8-)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Video walk-through of new Ubuntu Netbook Remix (nice) and Moblin Remix (still don't get it).

This OS by Intel is focused on social media and arranging content by Zones rather then program tabs.

Whatever -- I still think it's ugly as sin and not at all intuitive.

I'll do a more in-depth test once there's better WiFi support...

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Can't find a likeable enough Linux? Roll your own distro with SUSE Studio.

Think you can make a better fast-booting, Chrome-focused OS than Google? Want to craft a custom Linux system that boots from a USB stick? SUSE Studio gives you 15 GB to do exactly that, and you do it all online.

You'll have better WiFi support with Ubuntu, though -- just sayin'...

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Here's four pages of Nokia N900 goodness, courtesy of

Multiple questions posted on the forums about how the N900 compares to existing Symbian OS phones can only get one answer: they just DON'T compare, the N900 is a wholly different league.

Thanks to Brandon for the heads-up...

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Monday, September 28, 2009

If Sugar is too weird for you but you're totally ok with a bright-green, rabbit-eared notebook then you'll want to read this.

On-Disk’s solution is called Xtra Ordinary. For $41.09 you get a 4GB SD card with a Debian Linux-based operating system that uses the LXDE desktop environment. It feels more like a typical desktop operating system than Sugar OS, and uses a layout with desktop shortcuts, and a Windows-like taskbar and start menu.

As you already know, I think quite highly of Sugar, and especially its innovative UI.

I suppose this solution could turn an OLPC into the world's cheapest ruggedized notebook -- then again, who would bring an OLPC to somewhere like a construction site and expect to be taken seriously?

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

So Android is not open source after all, it would seem...

The problem is, Google doesn’t like it when their closed source applications are redistributed. These are popular built-in applications such as:

  • GMail
  • Application Market
  • Google Maps
  • YouTube

So the next time someone shows you their Android phone and extols the virtues of the open source OS on it you can tell them: "Nuh-uh..."

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

No moar Monday Moanin'... WTF?!1!

It's true, we're going to try Sundays for a bit and see if we can get some more people to join in.

I actually recorded this yesterday, but didn't tell anyone in advance. My bad.

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Adam McDaniel is a Linux GOD -- plus he's Canadian, so that's *two* points in his favour...

My kernel packages will deliver for you a Linux kernel with full wired, wireless, webcam, and sound card support via the latest drivers from various third parties, plus a few more extra optimizations.

If you're using a netbook and one of the many flavours of Ubuntu that are out there then you probably need Adam's custom kernel.

And now installing it is easier than ever!

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

I think Charlie Brooker is my new favourite tech writer.

At least the grinning dildos in the Windows video are fictional, whereas eerie replicant Mac monks really are everywhere, standing over your shoulder in their charcoal pullovers, smirking with amusement at your hopelessly inferior OS, knowing they're better than you because they use Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard.

Snow Leopard. SNOW LEOPARD.

I don't care if you're right. I just want you to die.

What to say about his assessment of the zombie Mac fanboy army...?

How about: "Nailed it!"

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Sunday, September 27, 2009

So we have until October 27th, it would seem...

I already saw a meteor Friday night -- some kind of divine prophecy is *obviously* in play here, right?


Posted via email from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Is Nokia becoming the Microsoft of Mobile?

According to sources, Nokia is in the process of bidding to take over Palm. The stocks of Palm gained more than 7% due to the rumoured fact that Nokia is planning to take ownership over it.

Gobbling up Palm makes absolutely no sense from where I'm sitting... They've already got S40, S60 and Maemo -- that's three mobile OSes!

Why on earth would they want another?

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Holy crap, I think I'm one of the lucky few to have seen a ginormous meteor last night!

Residents across the GTA spotted a burning, bright light in the sky Friday night, prompting astronomers to suggest it was a meteor entering the area’s atmosphere.

This is (the description, not the stock photo) exactly what I saw blaze across the sky for maybe a second and a half at 9pm last night -- I remember the time specifically because I could hear the clock tower bells at Old City Hall.

Pretty freaking cool!

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Jolicloud brings the stupidity of web apps to Linux netbooks.

There may well be something I'm not getting here, but I honestly can't see what the big deal is about this new Jolicloud distro.

I should point out that my experience was with an installation of Jolicloud within Easy Peasy, another netbook Linux with Ubuntu Netbook Remix. But I did try out Jolicloud proper on a previous occasion, and it didn't seem any different...

Jolicloud Apps

If bookmarking a site in your web browser sounds like rocket science to you then you're probably the perfect candidate for Jolicloud, which dumps a bunch of shortcuts for social networking sites and such onto your netbook screen.

Facebook on Jolicloud

Here's what my Facebook page looks like using the Jolicloud Facebook "app". Zomg, it's just like Firefox, but with ads!

Facebook on Firefox

And here's the same page viewed in Firefox. Zomg, it's just like Jolicloud, but with proper browser buttons and AdBlock Plus! No wai!!1!

UNR Borked by Jolicloud

If it seems like I'm being especially hard on Jolicloud, it's becuase the specific version I tried completely borked my desktop display. Even worse, uninstalling it also removed some critical components of my OS -- though the instructions I got for removal it might well be to blame for that.

I'm guessing that Jolicloud is designed so that notifications for Facebook, Twitter et al would show up on your Jolicloud desktop, but it never worked for me. Unless there are users out there who only go to social networking sites... You know what? Scratch that -- I'm sure there are users who only go to social networking sites. Jolicloud has its place, I guess.

But something about a distro whose killer feature is shortcuts to web pages kind of irritates me...

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Pancakes & peanut butter?!1! Yah, they go together... Srsly.

Okay, so maybe you can't even see the pancakes for all that melted peanut butter, but it doesn't really matter -- it was delicious.

Sustenance courtesy of my new favourite neighbourhood breakfast spot...

Posted via email from Andrew Currie on Posterous

App store smackdown and Nokia fanboy videos on The Phones Show Ep. 91

Would you video yourself wrapped in a cardboard box doing somersaults to win a free N97? That's what some dude did.

He didn't win.

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hear yours truly stump the IntoMobile crew at the end of their latest podcast...

My submitted question is read at the 37:35 mark. And if you haven't already seen it, here's what I'm talking about...

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

The Future of Media panel discussion in Toronto -- what was that all about?

The Future of Digital Media?

Thanks to a late-breaking tip on blogTO I coerced my friend Emily into going with me to the Drake Hotel last night to hear a panel discussion on The Future of Media.

Despite yours truly being the lucky recipient of a Digital Journal-branded Flip Minio HD camcorder both of us were left with more questions than answers once everything was said and done. Here are some of the specific thoughts I thumbed into my Nokia during the event -- I couldn't live blog it as there was no carrier signal in the Drake's basement venue.

The most interesting thing for me was seeing how organizations represented by the panelists were engaging with their audience -- specifically, whether or not they "get" new media:

  • Keith McArthur, senior director of social media for Rogers Communications - I guess his gig in customer relations on Twitter could be called new media, but it's a bit of stretch, ain't it?
  • Tim Shore, founder of blogTO - every bit the media maverick you would expect him to be, but his rather unsubtle "new media vs. old" jabs weren't always appropriate to the discussion.
  • Rachel Nixon, director of digital media at CBC News - gave the consistent impression that CBC knows what they're doing in the new media space.
  • Richard Mcilveen, producer of CTV's “Webmania” - a direct quote from my notes: "Doesn't know shit about anything."
  • Chris Hogg, CEO of - gave me the uneasy feeling that this event's hidden agenda was to prop of the street cred of Digital Journal, which I had never heard of prior to last night and which honestly didn't impress me much when I came home and checked it out.

For me, the evening could be best summed up by this unfortunately irony:

After criticizing CNN's iReport for siloing off user-generated content in a site separate from the producers of this panel discussion did the exact same thing by segregating audience participation into the standard Q&A block at the end of the evening.

But hey, thanks for the camcorder!

Indie filmmaker frustrated with foreign distributor says: "Please pirate my movie!"

If you live outside the US and are desperate to see the movie and can’t find the release date in your country, then just pirate the movie and watch it online. I am serious. I have no issue with that.

Of course, the filmmaker in question is some drunken fratboy who calls himself Tucker Max but still, I appreciate the sentiment.

Big media could learn a thing or two from the easy and efficient worldwide distribution made possible by P2P. But like the saying goes, you can't teach an old dog...

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Eldar the magnificent scoops everyone again with an exhaustive look at Nokia's E72.

On balance, the Nokia E72 is a very appealing phone - being an update of the E71 it packs in a plethora of enhancements and improvements of most core features, and if you can't decide which one to choose, definitely go for the E72, unless you're in the market for a cheaper solution.

Props to Al Pavangkanan for bringing this to my attention; according to him the brown model looks hot -- not sure if I agree, but there's certainly nothing wrong with choice!

Possibly missing from this killer Eseries device are (1) Carl Zeiss optics and (2) an on-board podcasting client... Can anyone confirm or deny this?

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Poken attempts to bridge the gap between virtual friends and that other kind.

Users who want to connect online can whip out their poken keyrings and 'high five' them. Details are transferred between the RFID chips, ready to be uploaded to a user's profile when the poken is plugged into a USB port.
If these 1st-gen keyrings are too cutesy for you the company has just released the more traditional-looking PULSE.
In case you're wondering, the company behind this idea is actually not Japanese, but Swiss -- although Poken has just been launched in Japan (that's how I found out about it).
And wouldn't you know it, some savvy folks in Vancouver have opened an online shop for Canadians, though $34.95 CAD for a Poken PULSE ain't exactly cheap...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is it just me or does the logo for Canada's upstart wireless carrier look like a sphincter about to push out a turd?

Join the conversation.

We're bringing change to the Canadian wireless industry and we want your input. Tell us how we can make things better.

Sorry to be crass, but... I calls 'em as I sees 'em.

Oh, and the company name doesn't really help matters much, either -- that's "WIND" as in "blows like the..."

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Requiem for an E61i, my first S60 smartphone.

As I Tweeted earlier, I gave away my E61i to a worthy friend over lunch today.

This was not only my first Eseries, but my first S60 device; and though I've moved on to to other handsets since, I've remained faithful to Nokia's smartphone OS.

What I'll miss:

And not so much:

  • The complete absence of a lanyard loop. Tsk tsk, Nokia.
  • The $100 USD I wasted on that stupid Vaja case...

Posted via email from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Make your children do their own damn quarterly financial statements with OOo4kids.

If you would like to try it out, check the page:

Some more info from the authors:

  • Dedicated to 7-12 years
  • With specific adaptations to the world of education
  • Who works everywhere (Linux, Mac OS X, Windows)
  • International / Multilingual

    Looks like another worthy project from the open-source community!

  • Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    I've tested five hot netbook Linux distros on two Eee PCs so you don't have to.

    Seeing how I spent an entire afternoon distro-hopping recently the least I can is share my results with you...

    1. Jolicloud (tested on Eee PC 901)

    Without support for the kernel I couldn't connect to my home WiFi network, and thus try out the social networking features of this otherwise very unremarkable UNR-based distro. Note that you can also add Jolicloud to an existing Easy Peasy install.

    2. Live Android (tested on Eee PC 900)

    Wouldn't launch from my SD card. Moving on...

    3. Lubuntu (Eee PC 901)

    No kernel. Pass.

    4. Moblin (Eee PC 900)

    I honestly don't see what the big deal here is -- Moblin has a horrible interface, IMHO. Plus the WiFi wouldn't work.

    5. Sugar on a Stick (Eee PC 900)

    I really, really like this idea -- especially for kids -- but files aren't being saved to my USB stick for some reason. At least the WiFi works...

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    This is how easy it is to send postcards from your Nokia with Touchnote.

    I think these screen grabs speak for themselves...
    I'm assuming that once the free trial has been used up you're supposed to re-download Touchnote and pre-pay for the number of cards you'd like to send.
    More details are available at at the Ovi Store or the company's site.

    See and download the full gallery on posterous

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Elton John thinks the shit songs he wrote for Disney films are worth paying for, apparently.

    After copyright hypocrite Lily Allen attacked a group of artists who opposed the Government’s disconnection plans, a whole slew of musicians came out of the closet backing tougher anti-piracy legislation. Sir Elton John is one of the latest to join.

    "Who's Elton John," you ask? Precisely...

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Ghost in the Machine? Something's up with my fresh install of Easy Peasy 1.5

    Ghost in the Machine

    There are actually a bunch of issues with this latest release of Easy Peasy, but I don't think this particular one has been documented yet.

    Basically what's going on here is that icons from the other tabs of my Ubuntu Netbook Remix display are "ghosting through", as you can see in the screen grab above.

    I'll be reporting this issue in the Easy Peasy Forums straightaway and will give you more info as it develops. If you're interested in Easy Peasy I'd stick with v1.1 for now, if you can find it -- and if you can't, hit me up for a copy!

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    A quick visual tour of Gnome 3, a brand-new desktop for the next version of Ubuntu.

    Gnome 3, which will be available to install in Ubuntu 10.04, will mark the first radical change to the Gnome Desktop since it's inception, thanks to it’s “new” interface ‘Gnome-Shell’.

    Props to the watchful eyes at the Linux Outlaws Forums for bringing this to my attention.

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Howard Chui interviews upstart Canadian carrier CEO from a respectful distance.

    You gotta love the fact that the guy who runs the world's largest online community for mobile phone users is also quite possibly the shyest human being IRL...

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Five handy tips to get your expectations in line with Ubuntu.

    1. Don't expect it to be a free version of Windows or Mac
    2. Expect looking for alternative programs
    3. Expect a different look
    4. Expect things to be done differently
    5. Expect a different community

    I've spent enough time dabbling in Ubuntu-based netbook distros that I more or less know what to expect when I boot up something new.

    For those who haven't yet had the pleasure, maybe these tips will help you get in the right mindset for your first Ubuntu (or other Linux) install...

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Neil Patrick Harris plays Nero to big media's Rome.

    Harris, while lauding the Internet as the “future of home entertainment”, mocks small screen sizes and the familiar “buffering” message.

    Zing! Take that, Internet...

    Oh, a couple of things:


    1. Computer monitors are plenty big these days,
    2. YouTube is not the only way to watch new media,
    3. The Internet is largely responsible for your success of late, so show it a little respect, ok?


    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Sunday, September 20, 2009

    This kind of Sugar is actually *good* for kids... Put an OLPC in your pocket with Sugar on a Stick.

    The Sugar on a Stick project gives children access to their Sugar on any computer in their environment with just a USB memory stick.
    A buddy of mine purchased an OLPC when they were first released. He wasn't impressed with it, but I can't say the same... Sugar on a Stick runs great on my old Eee PC 900, and is a lot more intuitive than you'd think, even for a grup!

    There's a list of bundled apps -- sorry, activities on the Sugar on a Stick Wiki. I was impressed most with the fact that I could connect to my WPA-encrypted home WiFi network on the first try -- that's more than you can say for a lot of Linux distros...

    My first month with Posterous.


    If you had told me a year ago that I would soon be composing the bulk of my blog posts in a lowly bookmarklet I'd have never believed you -- yet with a few notable exceptions this is exactly what I've been doing since mid-August.

    Early on I wrote in defence of my auto-posting from Posterous. Today I'm here with a progress report.

    In terms of hits, my blog of three years averages a very respectable 300 page views per day, thank-you very much -- at least, according to the built-in statistical tools there. About the same number of readers see my stuff on Posterous each day, although I've no idea how this number is conjured up -- does it include the auto-posts to other blogging engines?

    About the multiple blogs, neither my Blogger or Tumblr sites seem to be getting any more traffic than they did before, but I'm keeping both for now -- Blogger because I can export my content from there, and Tumblr for its support of Disqus, the external commenting service.

    That's currently my biggest gripe with Posterous... I don't mind that my content is locked up there, because with auto-posting to Blogger and it's really not. But the links auto-posted to Facebook, Twitter et al send people back right back here to Posterous, where they're most likely to comment and where I can't currently export those comments to reclaim as my own.

    Looking forward, the eventual business plan for Posterous seems fairly obvious -- despite the promise of providing more free storage as users need it, at some point they'll inevitably have to start charging for the necessary server space to host all those photos, videos, documents, etc.

    Nobody asked me but I think their best bet for the future is to add an email hosting service and become the next generation standard-bearer for web hosting companies. Once they free up the comments on my Posterous blog, of course...

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Saturday, September 19, 2009

    The pirates who failed to plunder.

    Like a good little Canadian copyright reformist I went to Toronto's Linux Caffe this afternoon, to meet members of the Pirate Party of Canada. But nobody else showed...

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Developers speak up on Android vs. Maemo.

    Android has better strategic position at the moment: Android devices will outnumber Maemo devices in the nearest future, it will also have more developers (better development platform + larger install base). Still, Maemo can win if it plays nicely with open-source community and utilizes its tremendous work.

    I have to admit that a lot of this stuff is over my head, but it's definitely a worthy read as the future of both platforms rests largely on the efforts of these clever folks.

    And don't forget to check out the comments for even more opinions!

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    American politics has rhetoric, Canadian politics has really bad puns.

    "Jack and Gilles have gone up the hill, and we know how that little fairy tale ends,” Mr. Ignatieff joked.

    If you're not familiar with Canadian political leaders you can click through to read more about Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe -- but after a groaner like this, really, why would you want to?

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    So what's the punishment for lying to the FCC? Looks like Apple's about to find out...

    Google was just trying to give Apple a chance to take the high road. Instead, Apple apparently lied through its teeth to the FCC.

    Yet another example of why closed systems don't work. You're welcome.

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Worst. Auto-Tune. Evar.

    I defy you to disagree...

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Apple execs are in dire need of a thesaurus or two.

    Just how many times do Apple’s execs describe their products as “amazing”, “awesome”, “incredible” and “really great”? Dozens of times per keynote, it turns out: and a YouTube user proved it this week by stitching together all those moments from the recent 'Rock and Roll' event into a 2 minute video.

    What an awesome video... Seriously, it's really, really great. ;)

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Thursday, September 17, 2009

    Now Kanye can ruin your website, just like he's ruined everything else.

    Let's hope all this is over soon...

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is in no way worth pirating -- but thanks for confiscating my Nokia anyway, jerks...

    Columbia Pictures’ and Sony Pictures Animation’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs will be the most delicious event since macaroni met cheese. Inspired by the beloved children’s book, the film focuses on a town where food falls from the sky like rain.

    I scored a free ticket for an advance screening of this absolutely unremarkable piece of Hollywood dreck courtesy of my friend Emily.

    Considering that this 3D feature film was adapted from a 20-page children's book I guess my expectations should have been lower. Even so, it was awful -- even the kids there thought so...

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Something about the colour scheme on Nokia's latest XpressMusic handset seems vaguely familiar...

    Nokia’s 5130 XpressMusic is available immediately in two color combinations — black/red and pear white/aqua. On a 2-year contract, it’ll run you $29.99 after a $20 mail-in rebate in stores and online.

    Pear white/aqua, you say? Not Bondi Blue...?

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    My cat and I... To quote Facebook: "It's complicated".

    Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

    CrunchEee — the bad-ass netbook Linux for snobs that doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether you like it or not.

    CrunchEee Desktop

    I stand firm in my belief that Easy Peasy remains the best choice for most users wishing to run Linux full-time on their sub-notebook, but if, like me, you’re not content with something that works perfectly well and seek instead something that makes you stand out in a crowd then you’ll definitely want to check out CrunchEee — a variant of CrunchBang Linux optimized for Eee PC netbooks.

    CrunchEee comes with the custom kernel built-in, so WPA-encypted WiFi and the unique ad-hoc connection of Joikuspot are supported on start-up. There’s also an Eee-specific panel that lets you manage Bluetooth connections, your webcam and also gives you some performance presets for your Asus machine.

    And… that’s about all you get. Seriously.

    CrunchEee flaunts the absence of features as much as anything else. Consider that there’s no office suite, games pack or — near as I can tell — a desktop file, even! Of course, apps are readily available via the standard Synaptic package manager, but the minimalism in CrunchEee goes well beyond its black colour scheme.

    Consider the complete absence of desktop icons… Clearly, n00bs aren’t welcome here, and l33t #! users will already know that a right-click of their mouse or trackpad will bring up a contextual menu of apps and such — though they’re just as likely to use keyboard shortcuts to get their haX0r party started.

    There are precious few GUI tools here, most of your CrunchEee customization will be done by cutting and pasting snippets of text — like this bit I needed to get the volume keys on my Eee PC 901 working.

    And no discussion of editing text files would be complete without bowing at the feet of the masterpiece of geekery that is Conky.

    Described by its makers as a “lightweight system monitor”, Conky’s appeal is that it is almost infinitley customizable — witness the endless galleries of Conky config files like the ones here and here. As for me, I’ve yet to memorize the “super” shortcut keys in my CrunchEee installation, so I’ll be keeping the default config for now.

    CrunchEee is based on the Ubuntu 8.10 kernel — there’s a new version of CrunchBang, with 9.04 but without the customization for my Eee’s WiFi needs. I tried to install the kernel myself once and it didn’t take. I guess I’m still a Linux n00b after all… Just don’t tell anyone, okay?