Friday, July 27, 2007

tekArtist has moved to a new host

tekArtist has moved. Please update your bookmarks to
You can find more details about the move in the related blog post. The FeedBurner feed that was and still is associated with the present pages has been updated to point to the new site location, and is therefore accurate.

I do not intend to delete my blogger account, or remove the pages in this blog, as external sites are pointing to some of the entries and I quite believe in permalinks. So, the pages will be up as long as Blogger doesn't decide to purge them from their DB. :)

Cheers, and here's to seeing you on the other side.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sand, sun and RFID?

From the source article, via Slashdot:

Ocean City, New Jersey is a nice, family-oriented beach that will apparently soon be the high-tech model for seashore lovers and now perhaps geeks everywhere. The city has on its plate a $3 million variety of public services on tap featuring Internet access and radio-frequency identification chips (RFID) and Wi-Fi wireless technology.

Usually, when I go to the beach, it's not to be "in range"... Although, for those whose offices are in walking distance of the beach, it's a dream come true! Nothing than a good old cantenna couldn't achieve before, in the latter context, but even better.

On a related note, here is the definition of self-control: seeing your neighbours discarding a portable satellite dish, picking it up to convert it in a wi-fi extender, then putting it back because you just know you don't actually need it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

OpenMoko teaser video

See embedded video below for a teaser of the FIC Neo 1973 running OpenMoko.

I even like the soundtrack they chose, and they also have more OpenMoko related videos on their dedicated Youtube account. Must... Fight... Urge... And wait until October for the consumer version. Not enough time on my hands to involve myself as a developer unfortunately, but once again, it wouldn't be the first time I say this and fall for it later on. ;)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Oh my, that's a lot of porn accounts...

Since I was addressing poor online business ethics in my last post, I might as well touch the following, as it came up while I was browsing the upcoming security stories thread on Digg.

I was googling my online trail recently, and was quite stirred that the nickname I use on a lot of online communities started showing up as a registered user of a number of social-networking-flavoured porn sites. Most of them pumping out (pardon the analogy) long lists of sites and videos one allegedly features on their profile as interesting, à la Digg et al.

I thought someone else was simply using the same moniker, but the following article and its author might just have provided me with some valuable insight: Why are my picture and name showing up on porn sites without my permission?

Thankfully, this seems limited to the user name for now, and my real name isn't returning such search results. But it is definitely of interest to me professionally, since McGill does have, and is looking forward to further develop, people pages. We will definitely have to take this trend in consideration in the upcoming incarnation of the software and content.

First Facebook worm[-ish behaviour]?

A friend of mine supposedly sent me a Facebook-based invite for an FB app called Advanced Wall. It came as a notification in FB and prompted me to retrieve a message from my contact by adding the app to my profile.

'k, I bite, since I'm in Facebook-API-craze mode for work and fun anyway and get the following, as allegedly written by my friend:

Check this out!

It's an Advanced Wall!

You can change colors, sizes, fonts, add smilies, pictures, videos and a lot more...


Odd.. Especially from the supposed author...

First, I was just curious to know if they are using tinyMCE for the advanced editor, like WordPress and co. Evidently, I dig a bit deeper, and fire up Firebug, which as a complete aside is the most amazing piece of software. I use it everyday, and am still baffled by how efficient and powerful it all is.

So, the Javascript doesn't look familiar and the editor's iframe goes to, a domain which strangely enough doesn't respond under or, and just redirects to the app's description inside FB (as of 2007-07-22, ~1 AM).


Head off the the terminal: whois tells me the domain is registered to a more than likely fine fellow from the Russian Federation, which in and of itself doesn't really imply anything.

But that's when I start noticing the ads in multiple locations around the Advanced Wall's WYSIWYG editor. Text ads, subtly placed in the telling Facebook colour scheme. Blockbuster, icon sets, the usual.

So on to my friend's profile I go, and what do you know? What do I see on his wall, with no other message than:

Check this out!

It's an Advanced Wall!

You can change colors, sizes, fonts, add smilies, pictures, videos and a lot more...


Really? And it's coming from someone else in my contact's own friend list...

Next: Facebook » Profile » Applications » Edit » Remove


This all said, I haven't gotten a reply from my friend yet on if he actually sent the invite in the first place (it's late, and the invite was sent at 11:59pm), so maybe I'm just seeing things and outta get to bed. I'll post an update here when I know more. Call me traumatized by another friend's experience. ;P See update below.

Personally, I'm not sure I'm willing to go for this one anyway. Best case scenario, it's gonna be MySpace all over again...

And if by any chance you receive an invite for Advanced Wall from me, you'll at least know how it did not get there: Not-by-my-click.

Update (20:45): Well, it seems that my friend is a surprised as I was. Although he did see an option to invite his friends, he is fairly sure he canceled. Yet, the app seems to have propagated itself to his contact list. He also had the same reaction as I with the dubious first message template, and brought to light an error message he received from the app stating "there are still glitches we're working on with the facebook team". So worm[-ish]? Questionable interaction design? Buggy app? Plain old bad taste? I'm not a security expert by any stretch, so I'll hold off on the labeling, but as a software developer, I say: none for me, thanks.

Friday, July 20, 2007

We Should Not Bite the Hand that Diggs

I've been noticing that Digg has been getting a substantial amount of cr*p about things they've done on and with the site recently. Nothing new or exceptional, as every popular Web outfit gets the community treatment once in a while, but now that the dust settled a bit, I just wanted to express the following thoughts.

I had the pleasure to meet with some of the Digg crew in San Francisco last month, coincidentally hours before they released their new commenting system. What I saw was a group of people who, on top of being passionate about their respective vocations, actually believe in the product they bring us. This is a relatively rare and precious thing, and I think that as a community, we should nurture it as much as we can.

I'm definitely not saying we should just fall into blind fanboy-ism and idolize their every actions, but I do think that there's a [not so] fine line between constructive criticism, which is usually welcomed by any self-respecting professional, and plain old bashing, which can be the most depressing aspect of public releases. And it's not like they're not listening (1, 2).

Yes, I do think that a balance between surprise releases and usability testing could gain to be developed. And yes, I do understand that sudden changes to something you enjoy can be offsetting for users. But I also know that they're cultivating a tight-group/almost-family-like atmosphere amongst their ranks, and that the last thing I want is for the people behind the code to be nudged anywhere close to just being yet another bunch of salary makers, in yet another faceless corporation.

So I say, keep on guys, and thanks for your efforts. I'll happily keep on digging and watching the site evolve.

And no, I'm not going to submit my own post to Digg. ;)

A Swarm of Angels: Remixing Cinema

I found out about this open source movie project last winter, and am happy to see that they are so far reaching their set targets.

A groundbreaking project to create a £1 million film and give it away to over 1 million people using the Internet and a global community of members.
  • P2P-friendly: free to download and share
  • No DRM: watch on anything
  • Creative-Commons licensed: remixable
A fantastic initiative, in my humble opinion.

See also: Elephants Dream, by the Orange Open Movie Project.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

2007 World Gravity Sports Championship

On August 25th and 26th, Montreal will, for the 5th time, host the Top Challenge competition, featuring skateboarding, speedboarding, street luge, inline skating and inline boarding.

I know I'm shooting myself in the foot as a dad, but I'm definitely bringing my boys to see this. They surely would lynch me if I went by myself...

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I just have to let it all out: I love mootools!

I'm not going to get in a pi**ing match with prototype, jquery, dojo and company, since they're all truly neat little bundles of joy, but as a write-all-javascript-from-scratch kinda guy, I wasn't inclined on having to rely on such involved libraries in the past. Especially when coupling them with huge server-side code base that I must keep in mind might actually outlive me. Call it an ever-lasting "vendor" lock-in allergy.

Choosing the best contender to be included in the McGill web platform among the countless available options in the compact JS framework sphere was one of the most difficult tech decisions I've had to make in years. But so far, I sure am glad we opted for mootools. Bonus: I didn't even have to force it on anyone either, and adoption by different levels of developer has proven smoother than in tests involving other potential choices.

Great docs, tight syntax, (close to) worry free platform compatibility and a lively dev community are all among the many benefits we are so far enjoying.

But beware! I'd advise anyone going the framework way to:

  • Do a lot of research before committing to anything, to really gauge what is best for you and your team(s).
  • Not be afraid to write a slew of tests to be implemented in the selected top choices to right away define what has more potential in your very context.
  • And most importantly, not get too comfortable and devolve into a one-lib-only coder.
On this, I'm going back to milking it for all its worth.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Neo 1973 + OpenMoko: It's Out!

The first open mobile solution is out and available for purchase (developer preview).

Neo Base US$300
The Neo Base kit contains everything the mobile application developer needs to enjoy the benefits of the first freed phone, the Neo 1973.

Neo Advanced US$450
The Neo Advanced Kit everything the mobile device hacker wants to get down and dirty with the first freed phone, the Neo 1973.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Amstrad CPC 464

I was recently talking to someone about the first computer I owned: an Amstrad CPC 464 (@wikipedia). Attached is a nice flickr photo of the beast in all of its 64kb-RAM-and-tape-recorder glory.

Good times; good times indeed. I was 12 (1987) and saved my money for around two years to get one. It was my first major purchase on my own. The first computer I used was a Thomson TO 7, and its lovable turtles, at school.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Canada Day!

Oh, how I wish I was back in Vancouver, where people actually celebrate our country, instead of disguising the day as the province's official moving day...