not a blogger

So atypical.net’s front page has proudly displayed my blog as the “main attraction” for a while now…but perhaps this isn’t quite right.

I write in my blog only every week or two, and only when I have something to say – I’m not going for volume or website hits, just to show who I am and what I’m thinking about. As time passes, some things stick out in my mind – creative writing, for instance, or personal story. I generally link to those on the sidebar and pull them out into real articles, whith WordPress handles quite nicely. Focusing on the change and the scroll is less useful than having a good information architecture, and while tagging is nice, how many people have actually gone back and read everything I’ve ever posted, other than you stalkers?

Then, I just think about how much of a hassle it’ll be to rearchitect my site, again. Maybe I just need to make the navigation easier, and make it clearer what I have to offer. Stuff like my Voyetra 8 site is some of the most interesting concent I produce, yet it’s buried at the bottom of the list. You wouldn’t think it’s the most important thing I do outside of work and school, would you? (For those of you paying attention, there is V8 stuff coming. RSN. I promise.)

header art

I never did get to write about the header art issue, and I’ve only recently learned that it’s been a bone of contention between those who love blogs, and usually have it — and those who think it’s perhaps a waste of space.

My header art is a photograph of a subterranean tunnel in Tokyo, I believe underneath Shinjuku station, heading out towards Studio Alta on the northeast side of the station. I learned this part of the city well; rather than meet my first Japanese girlfriend in dizzying Shibuya, or the awkward Harajuku, we most often met early on right in front of Studio Alta. It was easy to find, and she was easy to spot there.

Exploring the tunnels underneath there, I was always amazed by their twists and turns, and how eminently sensibly they were designed, unlike how many subterranean passages of that time turned out. People still get lost at Shinjuku station, but I never did.

I rotated the photo 90 degrees to make it look a bit like you’re on a circular space station platform; after all, Japan still looks way more modern than North America, and probably will for a while to come yet.

I might not think “header art” is where it’s at – my previous header art was fonts from divide by zero fonts, done by a graduate of my alma mater – but it adds, for me, a different way of thinking about the world. When I look at it, I feel like I’m half on a carousel, and half in a futuristic society. That’s pretty much how I feel every day – and when I remember to sit back, enjoy the ride, and marvel at the wonders I see, I have a great time.

st. bernard parish update

St. Bernard Parish, the location of what I consider my “family home,” has been devastated by multiple floods, starting with Katrina and ending only after Rita. For those of you who are long-time readers, you may remember me describing how difficult it was for my grandfather to receive appropriate care and treatment with the flood coming.

I bring you a few selected updates linked by the St. Bernard Parish official website:

  • This Herald Today article summarizes St. Bernard Parish’s problems and history well. Pay special attention to the text from “In 1927…” forward. Mr. Colten is accurate: “There has been resentment from St. Bernard to New Orleans ever since.”
  • Care for pictures? Don McClosky got the real scoop.
  • The Times-Picayune reports that Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MR-GO) must go. America knew this for decades – did we have to wait until we had the empirical evidence to prove it?

Many times in the past month I’ve considered returning to St. Bernard Parish, helping to rebuild, and remaining there once it’s rebuilt. Sadly, I just don’t know anyone there anymore, and as I get older, I’m realizing that having friends all over the world isn’t enough – I need local friends. Still, who knows what the future holds?

shells, side 1

Just before my grandmother died last year, I went to visit her. On the way, I started to get into knitting, more seriously than I had just when I’d made my first scarf. I started on a pattern from Rowan called “Shells,” out of the “Cotton Tape Collection” book of patterns. It’s in Shadow, a now-discontinued but FABULOUS yarn that looks green in sunlight, but brown inside. (Must be due to some fluorescent pigment — anyone know if any other yarns have this effect now that Rowan doesn’t do this one anymore?)

Well, I got stuck, stuck, stuck when I got to the armhole decreases, and put it away for a very long time. But my good friend Monica came over for an evening of food recently, and she helped me figure out where I’d gotten stuck. Tonight, I finally finished half the garment:

\"Shells\", Rowan Cotton Tape, in Shadow, Side 1

Tonight I made this!

Mmmmm!

Yummy! And it made me realize I don’t have a “cooking” category. WTF was I thinking. Anyone who knows me knows I love to cook….so. Hooray!

lilac

dys4iK‘s Lilac (256k VBR mp3, 1:21:32, ~120MB)

_Set List_

Stama & Nick Proteus – People and Places from the Past (Original Mix)
Soul Tan and Tone Depth feat. Heroic – Back to You (Original Mix)
West London Deep – Inside my Head
Piece Process – Synthsations (Luke Fair Remix)
Piece Process – New Driver
Distance – Vertigo (HedStatic Remix)
Chus & Cebalos vs Tedd Patterson – In Stereo (Mucho Dub Mix)
The Funky Badgers – Funky Tramp (TFB Original Mix)
Smokin’ Jo & Washington present The Black Europeans – State of Mind (D-formation Remix)
Chris Cargo – Saddle Funk (Graeme L. Remix)
Mateo Murphy – Contact
Christian Varela – Carlos Duran (Christian Varela Remix)
Mateo Murphy – Meltdown
Ant – The Tempest
Kristoff – Digital Degenerate (Original Mix)

Engineered by Wohali. Produced by Psykotic Productions.

[EDIT: Link changed to one with unlimited bandwidth.]

more detail

OK, I’m still being somewhat hyperbolic. I just think that “everything digital” is just as stupid as “everything analogue.” All of these technologies have their place. I am unconvinced that digital is always better than analogue, nor do I feel that digital technology is as tangible of a concept to intuit as analogue technology. I posit, though I have not yet really tried to prove, that as the world itself is approached mostly analogue by the human brain, that an analogue means of interaction makes more sense. This is regardless of the fact that, at some low level, reality is quantized. That said, we still have a wave function that makes sense, and interpretation of that falls back on some generally accepted macroscopic principles that are easily grasped without the use of math. Digital, beyond a few bits, becomes exceedingly complex to explain in plain language.

Bah, this argument is still really ill-formed and not well thought out. Maybe I shouldn’t post when I’m sleepy.

analog everything

Curse the digital world. Curse it all to hell.

I was re-researching SCA broadcasts, and finally read up on all of this IBOC HD Radio digital broadcast stuff. And I read back on an older Motorola technology called Symphony. It really looked like Motorola’s effort was all we needed. Digital-quality broadcasts in analog, with multipath resolved and dynamics concerns virtually eradicated. Symphony looked like the way to go. But digital broadcasts are winning out anyway, and I can’t figure out why.

And yet all we end up with is digital everything, presumably because people like zeros and ones better. And, they prefer telling you whether you’re allowed to make a copy of a specific sequence of zeroes and ones or not. Grrr. There’s so many interesting things that can be done with analogue signals in general. And our technology has clearly caught up without having to redo everything as digital. The days of just rigging up a simple AM radio out of parts you have lying around your basement are going fast…

I’m angry again. There is a better way, I’m sure of it. We can fix this. Even if I have to have classes and classes of Grade 3 kids building AM transmitters and receivers, just to prove it can be done.

oise

Last week I started work towards my second Masters degree, this time in Education at University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). I am not surprised, though I’m still dismayed, at how little representation there is of math and science curricula in the student population, and even more so at the general lack of competency in basic information system skills amongst today’s teachers.

But, then again, perhaps my happiness about my own ability to stay abreast of information is all for nought. If I’m to believe this report, reading email can lower your IQ worse than smoking cannabis regularly.

The Register’s article also linked to another article, this one focused on how computers are lowering the intelligence level of our children, primarily because they can be so gosh darn fun and distracting. The article makes a point I’ve been making for years and years now:

“The pervasive use of advanced technologies and their low cost have reduced hands-on experiences for children, including the simple but overwhelmingly rewarding experience of taking things apart and putting them back together. Without this, technology becomes a mystery, leading to a perspective that might well be called ‘magic consciousness’,” observe the Alliance for Childhood authors.

We have been able to produce simple enough computing systems that can be disassembled and understood by children since the 1970s; we have easily been at the point of making these affordable to all but the poorest of social strata since the 1990s. And, yet, all we can do as business owners is keep pushing the absolute latest and greatest technologies, completely unqualified, into schools at exorbitant cost – only to have those very same machines resold back to the public years later, for a fraction of the original value. The complaint? The machines turned out to be a major waste of effort, because no one knew exactly how to use them.

At the middle school where I volunteered recently, every classroom had an original iMac (in the fruity colours), and yet they mostly went unused – and I know the Toronto District School Board worked hard to try and make good software available on each of them. Heck, I could make use of an Apple ][+ in every classroom to enrich, but perhaps it’s unfair – I could program them to do what I want. Macs with System 8.5 or 9 can do incredible things; my high school made a point of teaching everyone HyperCard, and instructing folks in doing various presentations with this technology. Logo was another popular computing attempt, one that seems to have lost a lot of momentum after the TI-99/4A dropped off the market (it had a fantastic Logo + sprites implementation).

I’m gonna stop here before I get too frustrated to be coherent.

goodbye neon

From Hobart: The Dodge Neon is being phased out.

17:42 <@Hobart> "hi"
17:42 <@Hobart> I guess if it launched 10 years later, the Neon would drive up 
to the screen and say    a/s/l ?
17:44 <@Hobart> hm, coworker suggested "OMG"

I think it’d say LOLLERZ. What do you think it’d say?