Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bach in action

Recently, kickstarter has been in the news.  Group funded startups and projects such as the pebble and what have you.

Now there's classical music funded by kickstarter, available for free under a creative commons license that is essentially public domain. 

It's available at  in Flac or MP3.  No need to worry about the RIAA or MPAA suing you for sharing this torrent.   

It's an interesting premise.  We're bound to see more and more free culture funded this way.  Could be a good trend for the future of art and culture. 

As someone who has used Linux for years, the idea of software piracy is odd to me.  Why would anyone pirate software when so much free software is available? 

Imagining a world where the same can be said for popular music and movies.. that'd sure be nice.  A world where culture isn't locked up by a few mega-corporations and watered down and ruined for profit. 

I'm excited by the possibilities. 

It's amusing to see animation done with the free blender software is often used to show the capabilities of LCD screens and hardware graphics processors.  Video Editing software is not quite there for free software, but its only a matter of time.  And the next version of the Gnu Image Manipulation Project (GIMP) has single window mode and CMYK.   The tools are almost there.  The funding is there.  The method of distribution is there. 

Sooner or later the media oligopolies should be scared.  The biggest threat to them isn't piracy, it's competition.   I think they know it. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Best to not buy into this scam

 I don't remember entering into a contest for, but I received the following text message today:

"Congratulations, your mobile number has made you a winner! Goto to claim your prize! You have 24 hours to claim your prize."
If it sounds too good to be true? It probably is.  Look at this phishing web site URL closely.  Look closelier.  NOW you see it. is not, it's, which is clearly a scam website.  I think they text you and call at the same time.  The text came from 1-347-821-8805, which says is sketchy and used for other things as well.  Do not believe this.  scam. 

Maybe an hour later I received a phone call from 1-866-858-7429, which seems to want to pretend to be shaw cable.  Which it probably isn't.  Said the call originated in the USA, which I found odd but could just be my cell phone's configuration.

 For more infocheck out   Don't get tricked.  Basically, if they have an Indian accent, they're totally scammers.
If you ever find a phishing website and wish to report it to google, check out and  The scammers are getting slightly less incompetent so be vigilant!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Give it an Everest.

I was listening to cbc radio this morning and there was a segment about a woman who recently died climbing Everest and what's being done to make it more safe.  MORE safe?  It's not supposed to be safe.  That's the point.  You take safety precautions and make sure you're skilled enough to do it, don't insult the mountain.  Don't mock nature. 

William Shatner explains it all in his music video "Shatner on the mount" available on YouTube.

Everest is very safe.  For the largest mountain on earth anyways. If you're competent at mountaineering risks should be  minimal.. but you'renever going to eliminate the risk factor.  Nor should you. 

The same can be said for children's playgrounds .  Safety is artificial and goes against human nature.  If something is too safe, people will seek out their adrenaline rush some other way.

Monday, May 21, 2012

History of Victoria Day

A True and completely unfabricated nor photoshopped history of Victoria Day.

 by Reed Solomon

Today is Victoria Day, named for one of the greatest Queens of Canada's history.  Queen Victoria, who invented many great inventions, including the rocket car, electric guitar, and chunky soup,  was born on this day, and we continue to celebrate her birthday and also the day she died in her honour.  

One day, Queen Victoria pondered about a holiday to kick off summer.  Before Victoria day, nobody knew when summer officially began.  In the USA, they still wait until Independence Day, the day they betrayed Queen Victoria, but we get to start summer early in Canada because we're so lucky.
 Queen Victoria thinking about the invention 
of a new holiday

Eventually, the brilliant idea of celebrating her birthday as a holiday hit her.  She rounded up all of the people of Canada and told them that there would be a holiday, and everyone in Canada thought it would become a most splendid tradition. But they didn't say anything because they were afraid of her because when she got angry she shot lasers from her eyes.  True story. 

 Queen being unsatisfied.

But the Queen was not satisfied.  Something was missing from her holiday.  She called her royal attendants and such and told them they were going to have a brainstorming session, and that nobody would get their bonuses until they came up with a way to make celebrating her birthday more specialler. 

Queen Victoria about to hit someone with a fan for being an idiot

Queen Victoria eventually came up with the idea of everybody getting drunk and going to the cabin or lake for Victoria Day.  Everyone in Canada thought it was brilliant, and that is why we celebrate Victoria day because everyone wants to drink and celebrate the brave Queen who said everyone has to drink on her birthday, even babies.  Especially dogs and cats.  Also anyone who chose to abstain was shot as a traitor to the commonwealth, which existed at the time, but was called a Dominion.  Later Dominion became a grocery chain.

Queen Victoria celebrating the Victoria Day holiday minutes before her death from fox attack.  Fox hunting has been a royal duty ever since.  In revenge for their regicide. 
So when you light up your fireworks or drink a whole case of beer or lounge around at your cabin while eating hawkins cheezies (also invented by Queen Victoria), remember this great and important monarch who accomplished so much and is still taught about in Canadian schools to this day perhaps.  

Victoria Day is celebrated in other countries.  In Australia it's known as Kangaroo appreciation day, in Jamaica it's known as Monday, and in China it's known as  我不能相信你把這種通過谷歌翻譯日 day.  In Japan, they celebrate ビールが好きな親切な老婦人 day, and in the Philippines they celebrate lasing nangangamoy Lola araw.

For more information you could go to Wikipedia's web page about the history of Victoria Day.  I didn't, because Wikipedia is full of liars and deletionists, but I think I was pretty accurate.  Nothing seems incorrect. 


Friday, May 11, 2012

We should build this in Winnipeg

Monument to electricity proposed in the 1920's.  That's awesome.  Why not!  I say put it across the street from the Human Rights museum.  Maybe put a ferris wheel in the turbine.  Operate it year round.  The Powerhouse could be a hotel.  It's genius.  Who wouldn't want to put it across the street from the Human Rights Museum?  Who needs a water park!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Home made

Whenever I see a restaurant advertising their food as home made, It just bothers me.  It's not home made.  You made it at the restaurant.  It's restaurant made.   I can understand that they're saying it's not produced in some sort of factory, but still.  If you had meat and buns from McDonalds and cooked them on your bbq would you call that home made?  What is the definition?  This keeps me up at night.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Happy 25th Birthday, Loonie

Today is the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Loonie one dollar coin. It's nice to think that in 25 years it's actually worth something. Thinking about that made me think of the day the GST came out. I went to buy a Slurpee at 7-Eleven, and the price went up! How did that make sense! Price went up, plus there was a TAX on top of everything. What the hell. That was the day I learned about how economics works. Everything went up in price by 7%. I can't remember a single store that lowered the price of their product due to the fact that the hidden sales tax came off and was replaced by a value added tax. I suppose the price of conversion convinced retailers that it was better for them to just increase inflation that year than to play fair, but still, that's why I dislike the GST. But I guess I'm used to it now, as we all are. Good ol' stockholm syndrome.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Step Right Up! Everyone's an AllWinner!

Recently my interest has been piqued by open hardware platforms, more specifically, arm based open hardware.  If you've been following the saga of the educationally directed Raspberry Pi computer device, you'll understand where I'm going with this.

Personally, the Raspberry Pi does not meet my requirements.  It is interesting, and cheap, and offers a lot of options to many people, but it is neither open enough nor feature filled enough for me.

Still, I've been keeping abreast of various happenings in the embedded Linux and Android spaces.   Android of course, is Google's Linux powered OS.  And there are a lot of Android phones and tablets out there.  Many of the cheaper (price and/or quality) variety.  There are also a plethora of TV/Media devices out there.  They use a variety of different chips and configurations.

Now my ideal solution at the moment is an arm based computer capable of running at 1 gHz or higher.  Paired with a graphics processing and decoding chip that was fully supported by Linux without resorting to the use of binary blobs.  I'd want VGA and HDMI output, and of course the ability to bring my own linux distro (Arm compiled of course).  Gigabit ethernet, bluetooth, and 5GHZ capable 802.11N wireless would be my preference but not deal breakers.   Aside from my wireless preferences, the Allwinner A10 chip offers most of those features already and is already available at ridiculously low prices.

Most interestingly, it is available in the $100 Mele A100 media center.   Which can be hacked rather easily to run Ubuntu ... I don't much care for the design of the device, I'd prefer if it was in a similar form factor as my current living room device, and I'm certain sooner or later someone will release a device to my specifications.  The sooner, the better.

Currently I have a Pivos media player in my living room.  It is satisfactory, but I would love to have an XBMC based Arm device there instead.  I'd even pay a premium if I knew purchasing it helped support the XBMC development team.  Now, on its own, the Allwinner A10 can't be expected to drive an XBMC environment.. but paired with the recently reverse engineered and thus open hardware Mali400 GPU, which it frequently is, the AllWinner A10 could be an excellent option for an XBMC based media device  You could also use some other decoding chip like a broadcom crystalHD, .  Heck, it'd make a decent cheap computer terminal in general for people.  Have a widescreen TV?  Plug in the device to the HDMI, connect to the internet, and voila.  Pair it with a Flymouse of some kind with a built in keyboard, and you're set. Here's a mockup of what I think it'd be cool to see visually.

(click to embiggen)
Could Ubuntu or some other Linux distributer brand their own Mac Mini style arm devices and sell them on their website?  Sure they could.  Anyone can.  Get them built to your preferences, and you can call them whatever you want.  I think they'll be everywhere within a year.  And Microsoft probably knows as well.  Hence their secureboot initiative not allowing their own arm devices to run competing software.  They're scared, I think this is going to be huge.

Aside from the Chinese manufacturers, theres Rhombus-Tech, who have been on top of this for a while now.  They have their own plans which are also interesting.  They plan to re-purpose the original PCMCIA slot architecture as a replaceable hardware slot.  You could then have generic netbooks, tablets, or other devices, plug in the EOMA-68 (their designation for this card), and have yourself a fully working easily upgradeable device.  That's also pretty cool.

Heres the thread on xbmc's forums discussing the possibility.  (for the A10 in particular, there are other threads related to Arm devices in general)

Heres some people on the SA forums discussing it.

Heres some french guys surrending to the idea of this device talking in frenchHeres a google translationHeres a google translation to English.

Heres an interesting article on a debian mailing list.

Do a google search for Linux or XBMC +Allwinner A10 for more info.  This is going to be an interesting year for Linux based devices.

*note, as of today, 8.20.2012, there are significant hurdles in the Allwinner A10 GPU running XBMC.   Not the least of which is the seeming uncooperativeness of Allwinner themselves with the XBMC team.  If you want a well supported XBMC device, get the PIVOS XIOS.