Confession-looking through mirrors of the past | Friday, May 9th, 2008

Photographs are funny things. They tell us things that videos can't. I like the theory that at any single moment, there are an infinite number of possible next moments - the one that we move into is dependent on a multitude of factors, the most important of which is (I'm hoping) our own decision-making process, and that of all living things around us. It's the Butterfly Effect on steroids - the ultimate existentialist question for me.

Are there really an infinite number of realities, every moment multiplied by another infinite number of choices?

Doing some cleanup on one of my servers earlier today, I came across this photo; which was my 'corporate photo' for most of the time I ran The Strict Machine Foundation, which I had established over 5 years ago:

Steven and the Tiger

My hair was a longer, my glasses were hipsterer, my body frame was narrower, my swagger was haughtier and my sweaters were turtlenecker. In other words, I was your typical Mac user. :p Other than that, I don't really look all that different today.

COTD - Chat Of The Day: Jetpacks | Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

[12:17:33] Steven: I think i may have slightly hurt my back at the gym last night.
[12:17:43] mir: uh oh Steven...
[12:17:59] … you are going to need a bed on wheels to get around soon.
[12:18:08] Steven: Just a bit sore, not a pull or a disk or anything.
[12:18:20] … Bed on wheels? No, I want a jetpack.
[12:18:30] mir: Well they only give jetpacks to the able bodied.
[12:18:35] … sooo
[12:18:46] Steven: That's discrimination.

Write what you want. | Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Sometimes, you have lots you want to say, but no real way to say it. I'm not going to go into detail about 'why I haven't been writing as much lately'; I'll leave stuff that to the sensitive egos who think that the world stops when they're not blogging.

My work, meanwhile, is as interesting and as challenging as ever. I can't remember the last time I didn't like what I was doing, and the folks I'm working with are all people that I would also consider to be good friends. On the other hand, things are coming in faster than they're going out, and the to-do list keeps getting thicker no matter how fast I manage to thin it out. I have a couple of important tasks to finish that I should've done a couple months ago, and that's not a great feeling at all.

Nobody blogs about what they want to; this medium is not conducive to that. We all write about everything through the prism of how we want to be perceived. It's too easy to be misleading or dishonest about our intentions; there's no real reason to be straightforward about ourselves and our thoughts. I've met SUV owners who blog passionately about the environment, Apple users who act like experts about open source issues, Net Neutrality advocates who call Facebook a (gasp!) 'platform for social change', and other blatant examples of sheer lack of integrity. It's what I like to call "opinion roulette"; everyone has what they think is a 'winning' opinion and keeps throwing it out onto the table, until they get some kind of acknowledgement that their entire hypothetical construct is not completely retarded, or until they're intellectually bankrupt and just STFU.

The house usually wins.

Upcoming events section | Monday, April 7th, 2008

This is pretty long overdue, but I've finally put up a calendar section in the sidebar for my upcoming talks, events and conferences.

While I'm not yet quite hipster enough to post something like this, I've been enjoying the opportunity to discuss work-related topics with people other than techies and web gurus. It's far more gratifying to talk about policy, ethics and technology to students and community leaders than to people who already have a narrowly-defined view of the subject matter (academics / developers / UI folk).

I still have lots to add, but the next couple of upcoming publics events / appearances are listed here.

Tonight, I'm giving a small informal talk at University of the Streets. It's at the Atwater library (1200 Atwater).

Crossing the road in Medellin | Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

In case my previous post about Medellín wasn't lengthy enough for you, here's an entire post dedicated to the art of pedestrianism in Medellín.

Forget the Venezuelan tanks massing on Colombia's border, or Rafael Correa's General Hospital-ish scowl at accusations of ties to the FARC. The true threat to all of Antioquia's fine citizens comes from within.

In my travels as a mainly bike-riding, trail-hiking, city-walking spectre, I've come across more than my share of close calls with close cars. During my bicycle tour of Cuba in 2005, an oncoming, swerving 50s Chevy narrowly missed sending me into a drainage ditch at the side of the carretera central at 6am. In Budapest, for the World Science Forum last year, the narrow streets and confusing signage had me hugging the sidewalks more than usual, and I'm sure I've annoyed more than one London cab driver by not looking at the right side of the road while crossing, but instead trying to read the faded paint signage on the asphalt instructing me to ``Look Right ->''.

Ahh, London cabs. The kind of car that only looks cool if someone is leaning out the back window firing off a Tommy Gun. Otherwise, they're just lame. The identical-looking drivers who all dress like not-so-distance relatives of Mr. Peanut don't help.

Perhaps I'm just spoiled because I live in Quebec... home - along with the United States - to some of the most courteous drivers you've ever met. Or maybe there's something about the Colombian driving psyche that gets lost in translation when you try to understand why they speed up instead of slow down when a pedestrian appears on the horizon. Whatever it is, the fact of the matter is that your average Colombian driver makes a monster truck demolition derby look like a canine fashion show.

Podcast - Professional Melancholy | Monday, February 25th, 2008

Just because it's still that time of year.

If I had eyes in the back of my head, I would have told you that you looked good as I walked away.

Jack Johnson - If I Had Eyes

Blank stares at blank pages. No easy way to say this. You mean well, but you make this hard on me.

Sara Bareilles - Love Song

Medellin-The Good, The Bad, The Beautiful | Friday, February 1st, 2008

As per my usual modus operandi, I'm writing about Medellin after I've been back in Montreal for a few days. The various memories in the 16 or so months I spent on and off in The City Of Eternal Spring have had enough time to soak amongst the various synapses that connect them to each other. I'm going to write about some random, disjointed events I happen to remember from my trip, and then some overall impressions on the city and the country. I will limit my thoughts to those lucid enough to make sense when written down. This generally - but not always - excludes those wherein I'd already consumed a certain amount of Club Colombia or, more unfortunately, aguardiente.