Monday, November 30, 2009

#ACRTW - Thip Samai, the best pad thai in Bangkok.

Thip Samai

You wouldn't think that a humble establishment like this would have their own website, but here it is...

I found out about Thip Samai while flipping through my copy of Time Out: Bangkok -- my one and only opportunity to eat there fell on the night before my departure for Singapore, and it was a tough call because at the time I was across town at a busy mall and facing a very long drive through legendary Bangkok traffic.

Fortunately Google Maps and a very adroit cabbie came to my rescue. And was it ever worth it!

Thip Samai Coconut Juice

I followed Time Out's instructions to the letter and started off with this delicious iced coconut juice, the perfect way to cool down on a typically hot Bangkok night.

Thip Samai Pad Thai

And here's the main event.

Thip Samai does pad thai a little differently, wrapping up the noodles in a layer of egg rather than chopping the egg up and mixing it in. Whatever, it was awesome.

The only possible smear on this authentic Thai experience was that I was sat at a table directly beside two other pasty white people, who had heard about Thip Samai on an Australian TV food show. They were friendly enough but I think both parties would have rather lived under the illusion that they were the only westerners ever to have set foot here. Hence, my terse Tweet from the scene...

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

#ACRTW - Obligatory Bangkok touristy shit -- Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha and Wat Arun.

I didn't hire a guide for any of these attractions as I was on high alert for scams and touts -- sure enough, someone had the balls to try the old "Grand Palace is closed for a Thai holiday but let me take you somewhere even better" routine, right in front of the clearly open main gate and two armed guards there! When in doubt, ask the guys with bayonets...

So much purple!

I suppose you could call this "ornate"...

I don't know what this is but it's awesome.

Just south of the Grand Palace lies (literally) the Reclining Buddha:


Big toes.

I don't know what this is either but it's also awesome.

And just across the river is Wat Arun.

Danger zone.

The top level of this structure was apparently closed to the public in 1998 after a tourist slipped and fell to their death -- now it's open again. The second level was plenty high enough for me.

Despite the crowds throughout the day my mind was still fairly blown by the physical manifestations of this exotic culture. It seems to me that in many ways Thailand is the realm of ghosts and demons who decided the fate of this world a long time ago...

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

#ACRTW - Bangkok by land and sea and land (YouTube vids).

For those who have been, Bangkok is probably about as famous for its congestion as anything else. Here are three quick videos showing the predominant modes of local transportation:

First up, the BTS SkyTrain -- coincidentally covered in advertising for Nokia's new N97 Mini.

Next, the Chao Phraya Express Boat -- the best way to get to touristy sites along the river.

And finally, what I just know you've been waiting for, a virtual tuk-tuk ride!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

#ACRTW - My gift to Nokia -- I'm fairly certain you won't find a photo like this anywhere else on the internets...

Okay Nokia, you can use this photo for free -- I'm thinking your campaign could be along the lines of: "The best camera to have is the one you have with you..."

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Monday, November 16, 2009

#ACRTW - Check out the crazy video zoom on the Nokia N86! Oh, and also the city of Bangkok.

Sorry that I don't have more to report, but shortly after I took this video I was sound asleep.

I meant to stay up a little longer, I really did. Al Pavangkanan, a fellow North American who's also in town, even offered to come downtown and show me around a bit. But after being homeless (ok, bed-less) for two days the allure of soft fluffy pillows proved too hard to resist.

But I'll make for it today. Just you wait...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

#ACRTW - Sunday brunch in London with friends.

Hey, isn't that Tom Hall, the dude who tirelessly collates all the goings-on in the Nokia-verse for Indeed it is -- he's seen here (photo #1) posing at the front door of 1000heads swanky new London HQ.

Tom graciously offered to babysit me during my day-long layover in and out of Heathrow, and he brought friends (photo #2). Even better, I got the okay to take one of them with me on my 'round the world tour!

But which one?

Well, the white N97 actually belongs to Tom so that's out. And truth be told only the N86 was earmarked for me, mostly because of its high-res camera but also because the other two technically haven't been released to the public yet. But you know what? I'm totally okay with that.

I know, you think I'm an idiot for not begging to take the N900 with me, especially being a Linux-loving freedom beard and all. But hear me out: Though Nokia's open-source behemoth has more raw horsepower than the other two, I've got some issues with it -- at least in regards to this particular trip:

  1. I'm going to be running around Bangkok, Singapore, Taipei & Tokyo documenting anything & everything I can, and I simply don't have the time to get fluent in Maemo right now.
  2. The QWERTY keypad on the N900 is good, but the one on the N97 is significantly better, IMHO. The keys are farther apart and have more travel, which makes thumb-typing more accurate -- at least for me.
  3. I can't put my finger on it (no pun intended) but even after a few minutes with it the N900 feels less like a phone and more like a really small computer. My netbook is already a fairly small computer, so what I need is a phone.
The N97 Mini might have gotten the nod (were it possible), but every single app I've currently got on my N79 is replicable on the N86. Give me an hour or two to set up the shortcut keys and I'm good to go.

And now, thanks to Tom and my other pals at WOM World, I'll have a high-functioning handest in Tokyo that's worthy of a Japanse keitai...

Arigato! m(_ _)m

Saturday, November 14, 2009

#ACRTW - the prologue.

The problem with Business Class -- at least on Air Canada -- is that there's nobody really interesting to chat with.

That first photo below is my lie-flat seat, number 2A on AC856 to LHR. The dude in 1A looked like he was gonna go all Sean Penn on me when I snapped it. Whatever. I'm here for the seat.

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Emo Reindeer is Emo.

So last night I dropped the boy off with very capable cat-sitters Sandy Chen and Ryan Lynch. To show my appreciation I took them for dinner at Square One -- where, lo and be-ho-ho-hold, TELUS Mobility had a cheesy photo stand set up to drive traffic to their store down the hall.

I'm pretty sure this photo was taken with some kind of BlackBerry, which explains the over-saturated colour and lack of focus. ; )

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Oh look, it's some clueless old men in suits... and also Michael Geist.


If you're pressed for time, scrub ahead and start watching at the 27:49 mark to see:
  • Ian Morrison proclaiming that there's insufficient bandwidth to watch television online. O RLY? Here, let me Google that for you...
  • Norm Bolen talk about increased ad revenues from US programming, like that's a good thing for Canadian content...?
  • (best of all) Norm's head on the verge of ass-ploding as #copyfight superstar Michael Geist talks about his own TV viewing habits.
If you're not familiar with the current fee-for-carriage war between cable companies and broadcasters in this country, this essay echoes my own feelings on the matter.
Anyway, another win for The Agenda!

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Here's a video demo of FishText, showing how you can circumvent your carrier's ridiculous charges for International SMS.

Considering that text messages cost my carrier absolutely nothing to provide, I find it a bit ridiculous that when abroad I have to pay an additional ¢75 per sent message, or purchase a temporary SMS travel package in advance.

Fortunately, there's another, better way. Check out the video above to see FishText in action. It's a Java app so it'll work on pretty much every handset out there, even your stupid iPhone -- and if you don't want to pay for data roaming it'll even work over WiFi.

How brilliant is that?

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

'Ink' is a feature film made outside the Hollywood system. You need to see it because it's awesome, and important.

Hollywood has claimed that they don’t know how to market the film or that it doesn’t have an audience, and what BitTorrent has done in the last four days is prove, unequivocally, that Hollywood is wrong.

First thing, here's the direct link to the BitTorrent file so you can start downloading your own copy now. If you don't know how BitTorrent works, call me up and I will burn a disc of the film and walk it over to you.

It's that good.

Furthermore, it stands to be the first major success of BitTorrent as a distribution model. It's not the first -- Nasty Old People will go in the record books for that -- but with upwards of half a million downloads it's now one of the top 20 feature releases in the world. And all without Hollywood's help.

At this point the filmmakers no longer need Hollywood. Instead, they're appealing directly to their audience to monetize their efforts:

We’re not looking to get rich, but would like to pay back our investors and the enormous amount of personal debt we’ve gone into making the film. We’re also not looking to make Hollywood films (Jamin has had several opportunities) and plan on continuing the march of making fiercely independent films. In order to do that we have to count on the power of the people, eyeballs all over the world and torrenters to throw our film a few bucks apiece. It’s the indie film model of the future and we appreciate each and every person who takes the time to watch our film. It appears we’re all rebels here… so let’s wave that flag proud.

This is the second reason why you need to see this film. The first is because it's fucking fantastic!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hanging with teh l33ts at HackLabTO.

The mind-blowing CupCake 3D printer...

Walking into something like HackLabTO can a little intimidating for a n00b like yours truly, but man, am I glad I went!

Highlights include:

  • My first successful lock-picking (hi mom!);
  • A future promise of playing with an OpenMoko FreeRunner handset, courtesy of Mike from Germany;
  • Knowing that the future is in good hands with dedicated young journalists like Luke and Steph from Ryerson, and their MakerCulture blog.

Many thanks to my new friend Jaya for insisting that I attend. And in case you missed it, here's a Qik video tour I took on-site:

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nokia's Linux phone -- the N900 -- has started shipping today. Here's an ad for it that you won't see on TV anytime soon.

Contrary to what you might think Nokia does indeed spend great gobs of money on marketing -- they just do it largely on the interwebs, where it's often harder to get noticed.

It may or may not help matters that the N900's key features aren't spelled out for you like you're some kind of mouth-breathing idiot, but rather embedded in a dramatic scenario that would be right at home in an episode of LOST.

So what do you think? Does this ad make the N900 a must-have, or does it just confuse the hell out of you?

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Search Engine ep. 17, wherein our hero Jesse Brown demands answers from Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement on ACTA.

ACTA: WTF? (.mp3)

Between secret talks and leaked docs, word has spread that U.S.-made copyright laws are headed to Canada through the back door. Is it true? A call for answers.

If you meet any of the following requirements -- i.e. you:

  1. Live in Canada;
  2. Care about copyright reform;
  3. Want to keep our Internet open.
Then you must subscribe to this podcast now. End of story.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Playback Magazine discovers new media, and my pal Emily gets the cover!

Kudos to Emily Afan for finding extra time over and above her day gig at Kidscreen to pen no less than the cover story for the latest issue of Playback magazine.

Because it's an industry insider thing you'll have to pay for the privilege of reading it online, but if you live in Canada you can at least buy an olde tyme paper copy at your local newsstand.

Could this be a sign that Canada's old media guard is finally catching a clue about -- you know -- what citizens are actually doing with their leisure time? Dare to dream...

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Episode 56 of DyscultureD is now live -- hear yours truly weigh in on the ACTA leak, Facebook movie and moar!!1!

I seem to be loosening up a bit more with each new episode, but feedback is always appreciated as this is my first foray into "serious" (i.e. non-parody) podcasting. For the parody stuff set your wayback machine to 2005 and check this out.

I also didn't realize that I dropped the word jewfro twice. Please understand that I've nothing but respect for the tribe, but that hairstyle? Oy vey...

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

TELUS makes the triumvirate complete: Canada is no longer in the dark ages of mobile.

(Check out the exclusive-to-TELUS "Canada Red" version of the Nokia E71... Beauty, eh?)

So today TELUS Mobility has also joined the HSPA party with their own SIM card (and therefore unlocked handset) friendly network. Earlier this week Simon Sage snuck me into a special preview of the new toys -- behind the velvet ropes I was surprised to see my pal Hilen Wong, who had let me have a play with the then-secret HTC Hero at a dinner party a few weeks ago. Sometime that same afternoon, no less than Howard Chui got Hilen to demo the Hero and the new LG Chocolate for him:

TELUS has also stepped up to the plate with a very reasonable $10 CAD SIM card -- for a new customer with their own unlocked handset that's an absolute steal when compared to the $40 that Rogers charges for the same thing. More importantly, Canada finally has a level playing field for competition, though one or two additional options certainly couldn't hurt...

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A great day for Canada -- monopoly becomes duopoly as Bell goes 3G.

Yeah, it's still the usual suspects -- Bell Canada, Rogers and even (ugh) the iPhone -- but at the very least Bell has finally broken the stranglehold that Rogers has had on GSM-based services in this country since they gobbled up Fido in 2004.

Staying true to the carrier spirit of rate obfuscation Bell has chosen to release different plans to different device platforms, because surfing the web on an iPhone is entirely different than doing the same thing on a Palm Pre -- just like it is on Windows vs. Mac vs. Linux (not). Oh, and you'll also be ponying up an additional $6.95 for the bullshit system access fee.

Still, as a whole the rates aren't disastrously bad, and special offers are surely on the way as we get closer to the holiday season and Telus launches an HSPA network of their own. Personally I'm waiting for someone to step up and offer a contract term more reasonable than three years.

Any takers?

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Dutch DRM-breaker turns himself in to test the limits of fair use. This should be interesting...

"In my media center I have digital copies of my legally purchased DVD movies,” he writes in his confession. “Overall, I suppose I’ve made digital copies of approx. 100 films and 10 seasons of TV series,” he added.

It's always heartening to see everyday folks like you and me stand up to big media.

Not to diminish Mr. Andersen's bravery or anything, but he does at least have his country's copyright law on his side... kinda. Read on for this sordid tale of Danish bureaucracy. Maybe it rings true for your government as well?

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Damn, somebody beat me to it... A first look at KDE's Plasma netbook UI.

No menu exists, and what looks like the taskbar, the context menu tells you, is actually an activity bar. In other words, instead of displaying applications, the activity bar lists what KDE developers call 'containments' -- workspaces that define how widgets are arranged on the screen. The activity bar is a mechanism for switching between activities.

I've been meaning to write up my own first impressions from scratch but honestly, in the half-hour or so that I played around with Plasma I couldn't find a screen-grabbing app show you what it looks like.

As you'd expect with any KDE-based distribution, Plasma is fairly heavy on the eye candy -- despite this it seemed to run reasonably quick on my aging Eee PC 901. My biggest hurdle with it was that I wanted to quit the "Newspaper" containment thingy to free up space on my screen, but um... couldn't figure out how.

I'm all for innovation in small-screen user interfaces, so it's definitely worth booting up Plasma from a live USB stick and having a play. You can download your complimentary copy right here!

Posted via web from Andrew Currie on Posterous

Monday, November 02, 2009

Finding my (podcast) voice: DyscultureD ep #55 -- seeking your feedback re: my performance.

Download Episode

I took a long, hard listen to my DyscultureD début in episode #54, and I'm hoping that my contribution to this week's show comes off as a bit more spirited and less dry -- what do you think?

It's an odd thing that a comedian of some ten years has the tendency to go almost completely monotone when talking about technology, despite said comedian finding said technology quite interesting.

If you've the time to listen to (or scrub through parts of) it you can hear my views on:

... And if you've got any feedback on my delivery (or the content), by all means let me have it!

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Massive security hole discovered in Linux! ... Or not? There's a lesson to be learned here, I think.

A security hole in Gnome allows anyone to see your keyring passwords without needing to enter so much as a password. Despite needing to enter your root password to alter such basic things as CPU Scaling, you are not once prompted to enter it to access the Passwords and Encryption Keyring.

Here's what's going on if you don't quite understand the quote above. GNOME, the default window manager in Ubuntu, comes bundled with this thing called the GNOME Keyring -- basically a password manager that lets the user manage their various logins with a single, "global" one. The post I've quoted above details how it's possible to reveal secure information in the GNOME Keyring without a master password.

But there's some faulty logic here. Consider the first required step in revealing this massive security fail:

1. Restart your computer and login.

Um, that usually requires a password, don't it?

True, some folks have their user accounts set to automatically login on startup (bad idea), so this "hole" does have some merit. But let's look at some of the comments following the post...

From Jacopo:

You can right-click on the login folder and then click on "Block" -- if you want to see passwords, you have to unblock it and therefore give login password.

From bhm:

When you have physical access to PC, hands down, there's no barriers.

And finally, from Miquel:

If you login, you unlock all your personal data on the computer. If people don't understand this, then they have an IT education or comprehension problem which is bigger than revealing a few IM passwords.

So to sum up, at some point it falls upon the user to recognize how and when their computer and personal information are vulnerable, and take appropriate steps to minimize the risk to both.

Seems like common sense to me...

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

The dangers of Twitter Lists. If you're reading this on Twitter, please Retweet!

I have the ability, with no accountability, to categorize anyone as anything and make that categorization public and attached to that person, like a scarlet letter. Because all lists are treated equally, my categorization doesn't get marginalized or ignored.

A big thanks to Vlad Bobleanta for bringing this to my attention -- scary stuff!

I guess it's a testament to the Twitter community that lists there have yet to be exploited in any of the ways that Mark describes in his post. Or maybe they have?

If you've heard of any such occurrence please share it below...

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