Friday, December 29, 2006

Wireless Data $ervice

Ran across this article on the globe this morning, interesting look at the adoption rates of wireless data services in Canada (and North America in general) and some of the reasons why the numbers are where they're at.

It brings up a point I've heard a lot in various discussions, that more people would use wireless data if it was cheaper. While for some, that isn't the only issue (there are things like screen size, speed, sounds, etc.) that is a large one that would prohibit people from even being willing to overlook some of the other problems.

I'm a wannabe technophile (wannabe in the budget part of things, not the technophile side), but just can't afford to use a lot of this stuff because I can't justify the outrageous costs for wireless data. So basically I get my 250KB per month and use it to occasionally check the weather, a movie time, or a hockey score if I'm nowhere near a TV or computer.

So, what do you see as problems with wireless data? Is it too expensive, too slow, or what? And will the mobile companies start to bring rates down to drive a larger subscriber base? Post your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

An elected Senate?

The Globe and Mail had an interesting article online today about the modification of the Canadian Senate into an elected body through Bill C-43.

The article brings up issues regarding the original reason for an appointed Senate as opposed to an elected body. An appointed Senate is theoretically free from the political pressure of an elected body, and the best people for the job could be selected and could operate based on their abilities, not a party agenda.

However, the big problem with this is that the position is still political! Even though the senators are appointed, the positions are largely partisan and as a reward for past service to the party.

So will an elected Senate fix this problem? Not necessarily, instead we just have a quicker change of the makeup. What would fix it? I don't know, but its definitely an issue to consider.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Just wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday season. Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Happy Hannukah, and to everyone, a Happy New Year.

It'll probably be pretty quiet around MaAToD (If that's the acronym, might need to change the name of the blog . . . ) as tomorrow starts the 3-day mad dash for Christmas, and then back to work on Wednesday, but I hope every one has a safe and happy holiday.

Merry Christmas,


Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Photo Tips

from Digital Photography School via Lifehacker

For those of you who are looking to take a few photos over the holidays, Digital Photography School has a great list of tips. And as usual, there's probably sure to be some other good tips in the Lifehacker comments.

More Photography Terms for Beginners (Part 2)

A followup to yesterday's part one on terms useful for beginner photographers.

The only caveat is that the more common/basic terms are mixed in with some of the more advanced terms. Autofocus is right around anastigmat, etc. But if you go through the full list, its definitely helpful.

Look ma, no plugs!

via Engadget

Engadget posted a story regarding a new tech developed by the University of Tokyo. Basically, with the properly equipped piece of electronics hardware, instead of having to plug something into an outlet to recharge or draw power, you would just have to put this on a plastic mat! Nice way to clear up the desk.

I look at this as an even greater boon for business travellers. I'm supposed to go to Europe next month, and if I could just make sure my cell phone, iPod, laptop, etc. would be able to charge/draw power from a flat mat, and the hotel would provide said mat, wouldn't that be great? No longer having to worry about bringing 7 adapters for all your gadgets, and then having to get adapters to make sure they fit the local plugs. Seems like a definite bonus to me.

That's a little better . . .

Via Engadget Mobile

Well, hot on the heels of the previous . . . um . . . phone (?) Engagdet Mobile shows what creative people can do.

Now, might not be for everyone, but its definitely an interesting proposition, and that's far better.



Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wow . . .

No really, wow, that's all I can say. Nothing like spending $310K for something that looks like it came out of a gumball machine . . .

Virtual World Shrinks (not the size type)

Virtual World Experiments

Interesting article on CNET, regarding the use of virtual worlds to conduct psycological experiments that are not legal or ethical in the real world, and find that people will still behave in largely the same way.

So based on that, where will things continue to? Studying group dynamics in guilds in WoW? Probably reasonable, or at least interesting. Watching business dealings and the creative process in Second Life? Why not?

As virtual worlds grow, and become populated with a wider variety of people, it would seem that their usefulness as a test group also grows. And artifical environments are already used for a variety of other simulations, so why not this?


Photography Terminology for Beginners (Link)

For those who are interested in taking more photos, but don't really know a whole lot about the technical terms, or perhaps those that are looking to buy a gift for that photographer friend, here's Part 1 on some terminology for beginners.

Its a good list, though, I don't know if its all for beginners. Perhaps for the aspiring prosumer.



Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Outside looking in . . . Holiday Gifts

*Note - This is the first article in what I hope will be a series, looking at Canadian and North American culture through examining other cultures' traditions, actions, behaviours and events.

The Japanse are masters of gift giving. Whether it be a small gift presented when you are meeting someone or visiting someone or returning from a trip, in many ways, it has been broken down into a science.

At this time of year, another tradition arises: oseibo (Oh-say-bo). This is the traditional Japanese New Year's gift. Given to people you have interacted with over the previous year, its a way of thanking them, or to repay someone for their help throughout the year. This is also a way of showing how you value a relationship, and in the largely structured Japanese gift market, the value is easily calculated.

But this brings me a little closer to home. It seems to be more and more customary these days to give small gifts to people you work with, teachers, acquaintances, customers, suppliers, etc. as a way to show that you "value" the relationship.

This leads me to a question. Do gifts lose their meaning when they become standardized or expected as part of the relationship, or do they show the value of the relationship because you felt that you should have given a gift?

Maybe both?


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lingua Franca?

While a student, I had the opportunity to study in Japan for a year. I got to live with a Japanese family, learn the language, and attend a Japanese university for the third year of my degree, and it was definitely an interesting experience.

As a result, I've always found it interesting to see the interaction between the Japanese and English languages in Japan. For those of you who know about the language, Japanese has words known as "loan words." Basically, words from other languages that have been adopted into the Japanese language, and adapted to the Japanese phonetics. Whether this is apato (apartment building), depato (department store) or pan (bread, from the Portuguese), they've been modified from the original pronunciation. Hell, even McDonald's can be a mouthful (Makudonarudo).

So, seeing this article in the Daily Yomiuri, I found it an interesting look at the goals behind teaching English (or any foreign language).

I think the author is on to something. Unless you are a translator, learning a language should be about communication, not being able "to speak like a textbook."

This is something that isn't only present in Japan, but everywhere multiple languages might be used. I live in Ottawa, which has a large bilingual population, from both French and English backrounds. I hear stories of friends who speak French very well, but because they made a small error in their speaking (used the wrong term, or a slightly wrong verb conjugation) when dealing with a sales clerk, the clerk suddenly switches to English. Now, this isn't always a bad thing, if the clerk is happy to work in both languages, then great. However, some clerks almost seem to get angry about being "forced" to work in another language (which they also speak fluently).

Now, I'm coming to the kind of cliche question, why can't we all just get along? But seriously, if someone is trying to make an effort to communicate in a language, why don't people accept that effort and work with them. Why get mad at having to switch to another language just because they perhaps aren't fortunate enough to speak more than one language? Or why ignore their efforts just because its not perfect?

This is especially important for people who start learning languages later in life, or who may not have a chance to live in an immersive environment, or who may not have a natural aptitude for other languages. If one does understand multiple languages, why not try to communicate. I know I've had conversations in English, French, and Japanese where neither of us spoke the other's language fluently, but through meeting in the middle, we could communicate.

In summary, I guess it comes down to two points. For our language instructors, let's also make sure we're focusing on the day to day communications, not just conjugating verbs or using the past perfect tense, and for those of us who do speak more than one language, let's give people a chance, we could all use the practice!

I guess this post is part rant, part discussion. What do you all think? Chime in on the comments, let me know your thoughts regarding the end goal of language instruction/learning and multi-lingual communication.


Now its not Beta . . .

Wow, a Google product out of beta. And on the day I get into the beta. . .

Now in Beta . . .

Well, just a quick note, seems that after logging back in later in the afternoon, I did get the migration over to the Beta.

So labels it is . . .

Musical Cartography?

Browsing around today, I came accross an article from Discovery.

Basically, for those of you who didn't click through, there's a piece of software in development that analyses the music in a person's libary on a variety of traits, and then organizes it into a visual "map" of islands, based on these characteristics. Users could then navigate through their library based on these "islands" and hear music based on these criteria, rather than the usual playlist/album/etc. format. To sum it up, I'm picturing Pandora meets iTunes meets MS Flight Simulator.

Now, this is something I find interesting on its own, but also makes me think, what if instead of Pandora/iTunes meeting MSFS, what if it was something along the lines of Google Desktop Search (or Spotlight if you prefer) in this interface mash-up?

The data mined from these indexed search could be browsed visually. Or perhaps this is even a new way to view search results. Narrow down the field with a few keywords, and then your new Data Atlas takes shape, allowing you to (literally) come at a problem from a variety of directions.

For those interested in the various productivity methodologies, could this be a counterpart to the mind map? Not just an internal processing/brainstorming exercise, but finding a way to mine all your past data in new ways?

If anyone has any feedback, please, leave it in the comments!



Okay, Reboot Attempt 2

Well, this is something I've been meaning to do for a while, as can be seen by my previous attempt to restart blogging about 9 months ago. Well, here we go again. For the time being, I'll probably keep things fairly basic, as I still haven't gotten the invite for migrating over to the Blogger Beta, and I don't feel like making the jump to Wordpress at the moment, so we'll stick with plain vanilla Blogger.

Well, here goes attempt 3!