Atwood backs Bloc on arts defence | Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Gilles Duceppe's defence of arts and culture has gained him a new fan — CanLit Queen Margaret Atwood.

Atwood said she went to hear the Bloc Québécois leader speak at a Bay Street business luncheon Friday because of his strong endorsement for the arts.

"I'm here because Mr. Duceppe understands the contribution that culture makes to our economy," she told CBC News at Toronto's Economic Club.

Asked whether she would vote for the Bloc if she lived in Quebec, Atwood gave a resounding: "Yes, absolutely. What is the alternative?"


Panel at CCA today | Saturday, September 27th, 2008

This evening at 16:30, I'll be at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (map) as a panelist for a session along with Evan Prodromou, Véronique Boisjoly, Michel Hellman, and Christine Préfontaine.

The session, which will focus on use of online media as a means of expression and activism, will be animated by Mouna Andraos and Fady Atallah.

The event is being held to mark 'the opening of the Shaughnessy House's hang out area at the CCA'.

Blog CCA event logo


Concordia shuts down wired Facebook access | Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Facebook access at Concordia available on wireless network only

Starting September 2008, access to the social networking service Facebook will be available only on Concordia’s wireless network.

The service will no longer be accessible from desktop computers with only a wired connection to the Concordia University network.

[...]

Concordia’s network administrators are not trying to block access to Facebook, but to manage the manner in which the Concordia community accesses the service.

The university has decided to implement the restriction because of concerns that the continuing reliability of the Concordia wired network could be compromised because of spam, viruses and leaks of confidential information related to use of the social networking site.

I'll admit that the given reasons behind the restrictions are obviously bullshit / filler text (spam and viruses aren't any more likely to come from Facebook than from other web service that users are allowed to access). The real reasons behind this change are somewhat more political and pragmatic: control the amount of time that students, staff and faculty spend wasting their working hours on Facebook. If they've made this change there probably was already a problem with users using Facebook in excessive or inappropriate ways (which, of course, Facebook is designed to encourage).

Indeed, pretty much everyone I know who uses Facebook in any useful way has become less productive than they were before joining Facebook. Either way, Concordia is to be commended for stepping in and making what may well be a very unpopular decision for reasons that those without all the facts may not fully understand yet - this is, in essence, one of the principle roles of any government.

I try to steer clear of statements like "the ends justify the means", but I think it might very well apply here.

(via Christine)


Compiz Cylinder Effect, more OS fanboying | Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Years ago, when I made the permanent switch from Apple OS X to Ubuntu Linux, the most difficult part was living without two of the tools (non-Apple ones) that made using a Mac so much more tolerable: Quicksilver and Growl. Now that their equivalents on Linux have reached a point of relative maturity that makes that easier to bear, I realize that there are many, many, many more tools on Linux that I just couldn't live without, if I ever had to switch back (at gunpoint).

Virtual Desktops in Cylinder

The most pervasive of these in my everyday workflow is Compiz-Fusion, which is not only the sexiest eye-candy available on any OS, but has single-handedly changed the way I manage the workflow on my computer. The new cylinder-desktop plugin only pushes the boundaries further.


Breakfast In America | Friday, August 15th, 2008

I like trains. Well, not the trains themselves, maybe - but the idea of trains. Things on rails don't really ever get lost. And it's not that I'm worried about getting lost; some of my best memories are from places I'd never thought I'd find myself in. Rather, I'm fascinated by the idea of the tracks themselves - they are unidimensional. They have a start and an end, and everything in between is unyielding. Someone long ago decided that "this is where the first station will be, and the last will be over there." Entire nations have been built on this concept, trading posts and villages sprouting up like daisies along where the tracks briefly slide into a train station, only to disappear again into the distance. The rails are a work of art, like a sculpture designed long ago by some artist who would never have guessed that thousands upon thousands of people would one day be sliding back and forth in air-conditioned, web-enabled little cars. In my case, I was sliding towards the Hudson valley, across northern New York State, in this, the first part of a multi-leg trip across the United States.


Apple Fascism: Culture Of Secrecy | Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Joe Nocera from the NYTimes:

“Apple simply can’t be trusted to tell the truth[...]. Under Mr. Jobs, Apple has created a culture of secrecy that has served it well in many ways — the speculation over which products Apple will unveil at the annual MacWorld conference has been one of the company’s best marketing tools. But that same culture poisons its corporate governance. Apple tells analysts far less about its operations than most companies do. It turns low-level decisions into state secrets. Directors are often left out of the loop. And it dissembles with impunity.”

Jobs' retort:

“This is Steve Jobs,” he began. “You think I’m an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he’s above the law, and I think you’re a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.”

Charming.

Enjoy your iPhones! :D

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