Breaking: Facebook questioned by the ICO | Saturday, January 19th, 2008

All those complaints from us concerned web users about Facebook violating our privacy rights seem to finally be paying off:

Facebook is to be quizzed about its data protection policies by the Information Commissioner's Office.

The investigation follows a complaint by a user of the social network who was unable to fully delete their profile even after terminating their account.

This is, of course, a great first step to ensuring that the world's most powerful social networking organization realizes that its customers actually do care about how their personal information is used and how it's shared with other companies, partners, and government organizations.

No Snow Here. | Thursday, December 13th, 2007

A few days ago, we had some considerable snowfall in Montreal. It came down pretty hard and didn't let up for nearly three days. I probably ended up shoveling 4 or 5 normal snowfalls worth of snow, some light, some heavy.

As the first real snowstorm of the season, it was enough to shut down most schools and non-essential services. While this didn't affect me directly very much since I can work from home, the indirect effect turned out to be that I ran into lots of my neighbors who I hadn't seen in ages, shoveling the fronts of our homes together.

Facebook privacy debate round-up | Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

While I'm still getting comments on my post about How to Leave Facebook, around the web many more instances of discontent with Facebook's policies are rearing their heads.

First, it was comforting to know that I was not alone in the not-so-pleasurable experience of manually deleting all my Facebook content piecemeal. Kate Raynes-Goldie writes:

It took me just under four hours, sitting there clicking delete delete delete. It also didn't help that their software seems to get a bit screwy when you delete a lot of stuff fast. At one point I had left a bunch of groups, but it still had me listed as a member, but wouldn't let me leave again because I wasn't a member. Once you've had your hours of fun, you have to email Facebook again and ask them nicely to delete your account. I thought all of this was an insane requirement, so I emailed our friend Facebook Peter. The reply:

Welcome to Budapest | Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport, Montreal, Tuesday November 6th 13:30

Are plane seats getting smaller and smaller, or am I get bigger? I mean, I'm not a big person, but the width of my shoulders spills out past both edges of my seat. Sitting on a Delta Airlines flight from Montreal to New York - the first half of a trip to Budapest for the World Science Forum, thanks to of UNESCO and the World Academy of Young Scientists - I'm in a aisle seat (utterly necessary, as I get up as often as prescribed by my claustrophobia and small bladder), near the middle of the plane. Oddly, I'm in a very good mood, though I'm uncertain as to why exactly. I found a great power suit foraging through my Dad's old closet that turned out to be a perfect fit, the weather was beautiful, I'm looking rather dapper if I don't say so myself, and the very cute, latin-looking flight attendant keeps smiling at me. Preparing for takeoff, she approaches the people sitting a couple rows in front of me...

Slingshot Around Autumn. | Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Apologies for this slightly chaotic / 'en rafale' update...

You've gotta admit that we had a pretty great summer here. I was still ambulating around in a T-Shirt and shorts until just a couple days ago, and my sister was still swimming with my nephews in her backyard pool. Winter's right on our doorstep, and that's cool with me.

I've been enjoying all the work I'm doing right now; the projects I have lined up for the next few months are challenging, interesting, and promising. I long ago weened myself off my Drupal / Joomla / Wordpress dependency and the work I'm doing now reflects that evolution: more project management, more speaking, writing, more multimedia video / audio production, and less web stuff.

I also finally got my camera back from repair at Pentax Canada, and have been pretty shutter-happy as of late. I'm not posting many here, but there are some at the bottom of this entry. I'll hopefully also pick up a couple new lenses before embarking on some travel plans I'm making for November, December and January.

Other than that, I started watching, for the first time ever, japanese anime. I'd never been a fan of the form, but after reluctantly watching Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle (in English, so sue me!), I can really appreciate the genius that goes into Hayao Miyazaki's animation. There's something surreal about the artwork in these movies that I could never imagine being replicated using real-world or CGI effects, much like an oil-painting has a special quality that photographs can't match.

The other art form I've been getting back into (far too much, most likely) is gaming. I've realized that I'm a sucker for good interactive storytelling; as a kid I liked sitting around the campfire and listen to people take turns filling in part of a story, or reading fantasy or sci-fi novels and building worlds in my mind's eye with nothing more than the author's words to go on. In that sense, good games are closer to books than to movies – they all tell a story, but movies don't let you fill in the blanks yourself. They don't challenge or dare you to construct parts of the tale like books, or, more obviously, games do... but that will be a post in itself.

PC and console games are the new books.

Death From Above on Sherbrooke street | Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

(gah! it was Sherbrooke, not de maisonneuve)

On my semi-regular walk from Westmount Square to the Plateau today, I was walking towards St-Laurent street just as the police were closing off a section of Sherbrooke. There was a small crowd gathered talking about what had happened.

Apparently, moments before I came by, a window-cleaning scaffolding cable broke off and a window cleaner fell to his death some 150+ feet down the Holiday Inn.

People were pretty shocked, though I didn't see the victim or an ambulance nearby as the police were cordoning off the area.

I always have trouble just going on my merry way when I come across something like this. I want to know exactly what happened, who the person was, which cleaning company, who's at fault, etc. Maybe I should've been a crime scene investigator instead. Like CSI, but without the retarded.

As I leave the area the police are taping off the far side and redirecting traffic away. Some guy in an Audi with an expensive sports suit and designer glasses is yelling at the cop for not letting him through.

I laugh to myself as I imagine him being 5 minutes late for his pedicure / bikini wax / heroin session, then I put my camera away, put my headphones back on, and keep on Imagining.

The cable broke while the platform was much higher. More photos after the jump.

Taking back 'Chaos' | Monday, May 28th, 2007

Civilization is tidy. We like to keep things clean, organized, secure, predictable. We're taught to seek comfort for ourselves and our loved ones, whether it's on the couch watching '24' or in our SUV on the way to the supermarket. Law and Order, though often villified by the same society they protect, are credited with helping maintain this false appearance of normality.