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Friday, November 4, 2011

Google Tweaks Search Algorithms To Be More Timely

Information travels across the wire so quickly these days that Google has decided to make some changes to it's search algorithms to place more relevance on more recent results.

“Given the incredibly fast pace at which information moves in today’s world, the most recent information can be from the last week, day or even minute, and depending on the search terms, the algorithm needs to be able to figure out if a result from a week ago about a TV show is recent, or if a result from a week ago about breaking news is too old,” said Amit Singhal, a software engineer who heads up Google’s search-ranking team.

One can assume that the move is an attempt to keep up with the pace of social sites, like twitter, which often produces news about global events while they are happening, and much sooner than traditional media channels. The big question is, as always, how trust worthy is the information and what weight will Google assign to which source in order to provide us with the best results.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Galaxy Nexus With Ice Cream Sandwich

Is it a pure coincidence that my first gen Android phone (htc dream / g1) is experiencing battery issues right now? I mean, I love this phone and while I know it's a bit old school right now, it has been 'old faithful'. Even given the opportunity to upgrade I choose to pass the Samsung Galaxy on to my wife while I hung on to my dream. Of late however, I've been experiencing some battery issues that have caused me to think that in the world of mobile 2+ years is a long time. And now this:

Coming to Rogers I hope!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Which geek among us hasn't been intrigued by the concept of levitation? I recall spending copious amounts of time as a child, attempting to cause one magnet to hover over another only to have one of them flip and smack into the other in a tight bond, or be propelled away wildly. I think that is partially why I find this video so fascinating:

Friday, September 30, 2011

I Didn't Know We Had A King

It's been a while since I went on a rant here, and while I am a bit lost for words these days I'd like to simply offer up these two videos for argument sake:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

YouTube in 3D

I hadn't realized this until seeing this YouTube API Blog post this morning, but YouTube has been working on 3D video with support for the LG Optimus 3D and NVIDIA 3D Vision, and now for Samsung 3D TVs. The technology allows you to view the content with support for red/blue glasses as well as the latest 3D televisions.

I've not yet invested in 3D TV myself, not sure I could get used to it, so I've not tried this yet but I do think there is a pair of those red/blue glasses around here somewhere! Here is a sample from YouTube, if you have the glasses let us know what you think! Is the quality worthy of investing in 3D? Is this what tips the market into buying into 3D?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Google Wallet

Being a huge Google fanboy and also a Seinfeld fan I just couldn't help but post this one.

Looking forward to seeing how Google Wallet works!
ps. hope to get back to a regular post regime soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Why You Need To Be Active On LinkedIn

My pal Pelpina Trip talks to Mike D. Merrill about LinkedIn and why it's important be on this social network - Webbeat.TV 157. Very informative interview!

Yet Another Meeting

I discovered a new web service recently via a clever YouTube video that was circulating via my Twitter pals. In all honesty I can't really tell you how it works just yet as I've only just signed up and it's tough to have a meeting by yourself. Yam, short for Yet Another Meeting, is a collaborative tool for conducting meetings and sharing notes and docs, similar I suppose to Basecamp or even Google docs and spreadsheets, but perhaps with a little more emphasis on the user experience.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Portal 2 Portrayed In Live Action

Came across this little gem via Google+ this morning. I'm a huge fan of the Portal franchise and this is a very well put together short film depicting the Portal theme. Check it out:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Motivation, In Someone Else's Words

Over a year ago I went on a rant about what motivates us and it felt really good to get that out there. I had just started a new job and was basking in the fulfillment I was getting from my new work place, and rallying my former work mates to open their eyes to what was happening around them. I'm very happy to say that I feel the same today, maybe more so, than I did then... I love my work.

So it is with great interest that I read this Fast Company blog post which reiterates some of what I was feeling, except mine was from the employees perspective, even if I didn't say it or didn't say it as eloquently. What I find really interesting is that the author viewed the same great RSA video as I had and that he has chosen to heed the advise found within. Kudos to you Harish!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Batman The Dark Knight Rises - Batwing Filming

Here is a short video of the filming of a chase scene between Batman, in his Batwing, in pursuit of a yet unknown (to me) bad guy! Interesting, one can assume that the scene will be accelerated and there will be a bunch of "touch ups" but it's pretty interesting to see the work in progress.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The End of Facebook?

Anonymous has posted an interesting message to the world that they plan to take down Facebook on November 5th, 2011.

Interestingly, November 5th is also Guy Fawkes Day. "Wintour introduced Fawkes to Robert Catesby, who planned to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne. The plotters secured the lease to an undercroft beneath the House of Lords, and Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder they stockpiled there. Prompted by the receipt of an anonymous letter, the authorities searched Westminster Palace during the early hours of 5 November, and found Fawkes guarding the explosives. Over the next few days, he was questioned and tortured, and eventually he broke. Immediately before his execution on 31 January, Fawkes jumped from the scaffold where he was to be hanged and broke his neck, thus avoiding the agony of the drawing and quartering that followed.

Fawkes became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, which has been commemorated in England since 5 November 1605. His effigy is burned on a bonfire, often accompanied by a firework display." (wikipedia)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is The Internet Changing Our Memory?

A recent study by Columbia University professor, Dr Betsy Sparrow, suggests that we are relying less on our memory of a subject and more on our memory of where to find the subject matter. "I don't think Google is making us stupid - we're just changing the way that we're remembering things... If you can find stuff online even while you're walking down the street these days, then the skill to have, the thing to remember, is where to go to find the information. It's just like it would be with people - the skill to have is to remember who to go see about [particular topics]." says Dr. Sparrow.

I'd argue that we've been doing this since we've been able to read and write. We may have faster access to information these days but prior to the internet there were libraries, filing cabinets, and subject matter experts. Don't you agree? Am I missing something here?


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Google+ Project - A Rival To Facebook?

Ever since Google announced that it was shutting down Wave there has been a lot of speculation over it's plans to release a Facebook rival. For a very lucky few, in Google tradition, the wait may be over.

Google has announced The Google+ project which aims to allow us to get social but in a more orderly fashion. Google+ seems to provide users with a mechanism for categorizing friends into logical groups via "circles". The idea being to put up walls, as we do in real life, and share certain information with certain groups (circles) of friends.

“In real life, we have walls and windows and I can speak to you knowing who’s in the room, but in the online world, you get to a ‘Share’ box and you share with the whole world,” Bradley Horowitz, a vice president for product management at Google is quoted as saying by the NYtimes.

There is a lot of "who cares?" discussion out there but this is one blogger who is anxiously awaiting a Facebook alternative. I've never really embraced Facebook, though I do have an account and have maintained a quiet presence there. Living a more controlled existence is very appealing to me. I've got better things to do than play Farmville or to know what achievement you've unlocked, thank you.

Anxiously awaiting my invite.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FBI Targets Hosting Company In Seizure

A hosting company based in Switzerland, with servers in Reston Virginia, found itself the target of an FBI seizure which left a number of clients looking for answers. According to a story in the NYtimes, DigitalOne's chief executive, Sergej Ostroumow, said in an email to one of it's clients that “This problem is caused by the F.B.I., not our company. In the night F.B.I. has taken 3 enclosures with equipment plugged into them, possibly including your server — we cannot check it.”

Speculation is that the seizure is in relationship to an investigation into the hacking group Lulzsec (Lulz Security group) but no one from the FBI would comment. Sites affected by the seizure include Curbed Network, bookmarking services Instapaper, and pinboard. There is no reason to believe that these sites where the target of the raid and Lockhart Steele, Curbed Networks' President told the news paper that “Our servers happened to be in with some naughty servers,”

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Google's Search By Image

Not too long ago I wrote a blog post for entitled Website of the day: Tineye which describes the service that allows you to provide an image or image url and tells you where else on the web the image is being used. Tineye will even detect altered images.

It appears as though Google has recently released a similar tool via it's Google Image search. If you navigate to you'll now see a camera icon in the search field, mouse over the image and the tooltip says "Search By Image". Clicking the icon provides a new search field with the options to upload your own image or provide an image url.

I'm a fan of the Tineye service though one has to believe that Google will quickly out perform Tineye with it's capability to crawl websites and gather data more quickly. In either case this is a very useful tool which I am apt to use frequently.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Steve Jobs Pitches Cupertino City Council Re: New Apple Campus

Here's a video shot yesterday (6/7/11) of Steve Jobs making a pitch to the City of Cupertino regarding Apple's desire / plans to build a new Apple Campus. The campus would occupy 150 acres and house 12,000 - 13,000 people in a single round building.

The Mothership has Landed

Sunday, June 5, 2011

McDonald's Creates Interactive Billboard Game

Using a large interactive billboard and patron's smartphones McDonald's Stockholm created a location based game of paddle ball called Pick n' Play that allowed users to choose a reward and play the game by logging into Steer the paddle on the digital display using your touch device, last 30 seconds, and the reward you chose was yours. The site provides winners with an e-coupon that was redeemable at McDonald's restaurants.

Expect to see more of this kind of marketing...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Google Serves Notice... Upgrade Your Browser

In order to push the agenda on HTML5 and cloud computing, Google has decided that it will no longer support older versions of your favourite browser, what ever that may be. In a statement on The Official gmail blog  at Google, said yesterday that "...Google Apps will only support modern browsers. Beginning August 1st, we’ll support the current and prior major release of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on a rolling basis."

This, in my opinion, is a good thing. Hopefully it will encourage internet users to stay up to date with their software updates and provide developers with a stable road map upon which to plan the development and support of their applications. Of course it also pushes the Google agenda but I've seen far to many users out there still running IE 6!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Google Helps Plan Your Flights

Google's Inside Search blog has revealed a new search feature that can help make your travel plans a whole lot easier. With Google's new flight schedule feature you need only enter your query into Google search and, if your airport is covered, will be rewarded with the available flights covering your departure and arrival locations. For example, enter "flights from Halifax to Boston" in the Google search field and you'll be presented with the following:

Expand the results and you'll see:

It works very well for major regional airports but less so for smaller local centers where there are fewer direct flights. I think the key here is that it is selecting nonstop flights and not considering connecting flights, at least at the moment. Even so, a quick search can provide you with a lot of visibility into what is available and a few queries strung together will likely give you what you need for planning purposes. Of course seat availability and pricing information is not provided but I'd suggest googling before you hit your favorite travel site so you'll at least know your options of times and carriers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Awesome Space Walk Photo

Here is a great photo taken at the end of the extra-vehicular activity spacewalk on Sunday. The photo is of  Endeavour's lead spacewalker Andrew Feustel entering the International Space Station (ISS) being outside for 8 hours and 7 minutes, the 6th longest spacewalk in history.

Credit: NASA (photo) | Discover Channel (story)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness

In the event of the impending doom that some are calling the rapture, but I'd to call the Zombie Apocalypse, there are a few things that you should know. As a public service the Center for Disease Control has published a helpful guide for dealing with my scenario and, as they claim, other natural disaster situations.

They suggest the following survival kit:

  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
  • Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
  • Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
  • Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
  • Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
  • Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
  • First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)
Get A Kit,    Make A Plan, Be Prepared.

This is all well and good in the event of your typical natural disaster but I think there are a few things missing and would like to consult Max Brooks Bestseller "The Zombie Survival Guide" for his top 10 lessons for surviving a zombie attack:
  1. Organize before they rise! (CDC's approach works well)
  2. They feel no fear, why should you?
  3. Use you head: cut off theirs.
  4. Blades don't need reloading.
  5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
  6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
  7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
  8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
  9. No place is safe, only safer.
  10. The zombie may be gone, but the treat lives on.

Good luck. My job here is done.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

How Do You Stop 1,000,000 Pounds At 200 mph?

Check out Boeings tests of the 747-8 emergency abort takeoff flight testing via

Here are some impressive stats:

  • They tested the 747-8 with a take off mass of 443,181 kg.
  • The 747 had a speed of 200 mph (320 kph) before using just the brakes to stop.
  • The brakes were 100% worn to simulate worst case scenario. 
  • The plane took about 200 meters to stop.
  • The brakes heated up to about 1400 degrees C.
Scary fun!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Google I/O Day 1 Keynote

In case you missed the keynote speech from Google I/O yesterday here is it's entirety. For those who are unsure what Google I/O is... in it's 4th year now, Google I/O is a conference held by Google to introduce to developers what the company has been focusing on and how these developers might take advantage of these products and services. Last year it was all about Android and this year Android will make it into more than phones and tablets, the cloud is more important than ever, plus near field technology, and more...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Slingshot Of Mass Destruction aka Slingshot Of Awesomeness

I'm not particularly a fan of weaponry, however I am a fan of DIY genious and I think that this fits into that category.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Google Brings Voice Recognition To Your Browser

If you are willing to give Google Chrome 11 beta release or the current version of Google Chrome Canary build a try you'll find an interesting little piece of functionality supported. Using either of these browsers, a microphone, and some html 5 code embedded in Google's translations page you can dictate the word(s) or phrase that you wish to be translated. No joke... it works well too!

Simply look for the microphone icon in the lower right side of the input text box and click on it, you must have your mic on of course and you are only afforded a few seconds to input your command. If you want to play around a bit you can also go to the sandbox app created by Google. A headset mic might work best but my testing with a desktop mic has produced good results.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Coca-Cola Goes To New Heights To Promote Friendship

I really like this campaign from a creative standpoint, but I'm a little concerned about what might have happened should someone have gotten hurt. Coca~Cola has always had great marketing but this one strikes me as an interesting one from a viral standpoint.

I'm all for anything that encourages team work, and the incentive here certainly seemed to do just that!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Is The Threat Of "Cyber War" Real Or Are We Being Scared Into Thinking So?

Ask anyone who knows me well and they'll tell you that I'm a sucker for a good conspiracy theory. No! That does not mean that I believe every crackpot idea that thrown out there, it just means that I find some of the arguments compelling enough to review the supposed evidence and form my own opinions. Call me crazy if you will but I don't take everything that is fed to us through the mainstream media as gospel, there are nearly always agendas at play, and we usually get a slightly biased side of the story, intensional or otherwise. It's just good practice in my opinion to raise a few good questions.

ars technica writer Mathew Lasar has published an interesting article which brings light to new working paper that suggest there is a real problem of "threat inflation" when it comes to the possibilities "Cyber War", according to the papers authors from the George Mason University Mercatus Center, researchers Jerry Brito and Tate Wakins. While there is always the chance that a dooms day plot exists where our vital infrastructure is at risk, how real is it? and in who's best interest is it for us to prepare for, or be worried about, one?

Love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Open Comes At A Price For Google And Android In China

Here is an interesting little article that I came across this morning. It seems that 80% of all Android based smart phones in China will be shipped with Baidu, and not Google, as their default search engine. Fact is that being an open platform allows manufacturers to make changes and in China that means no Google for you!

China is a huge market as we all know but it is also one that Google has had it's challenges with as government censorship and heavy handed policies have not been kind to the search giant. In fact, in March of 2010 (China) started to redirect all of it's search queries to (Hong Kong) after much debate over the blockage of YouTube and allegations of Chinese hacking. See Wikipedia's Google China page.

I wonder just how much business Apple does in China and what that represents when comparing authentic Apple product to counterfeits or knock-offs? 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

RockMelt - Everyones Favorite Social Browser Goes Mobile

The social web browser RockMelt, which is based on Google's Chromium engine, is extending it's reach with a real-time synced browser for the iPhone/iPad. TechCrunch's Eric Schonfeld speaks with RockMelt's Co-founder and CTO Tim Howes in the following video, explaining the features and benefits of the mobile app. 

Hey Tim... android please! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Portal 2 Releases With Even More GLaDOS Abuses

Though I've not yet played Portal 2, the much awaited and cleverly promoted sequel, I did run across a list of the top 5 GLaDOS insults courtesy of The Globe and Mail's Controller Freak (Chad Sapieha). As I understand it these are merely from the first six chapters, and so there are likely to be more AI generated abuses slung at you as you progress further into the games torturous mazes. Here they are as reported by Chad:

1. Science has now validated your birth mother’s decision to abandon you on a doorstep.
2. Well done. Here come the test results: “You are a horrible person.” That’s what it says. We weren’t even testing for that.
3. Remember before when I was talking about smelly garbage standing around being useless? That was a metaphor. I was actually talking about you. And I’m sorry. You didn’t react at the time so I was worried it sailed right over your head. That’s why I had to call you garbage a second time just now.
4. I honestly, truly didn’t think you’d fall for that trap. In fact, I designed a much more elaborate trap further ahead for when you got through with this easy one. If I’d known you’d let yourself get captured this easily, I’d have dangled a turkey leg on a rope from the ceiling.
5. He’s not just a regular moron. He’s the product of the greatest minds of a generation working together with the express purpose of building the dumbest moron who ever lived.
GLaDOS you are a riot! You've inspired me to resurrect an old AI project of mine... 

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Star Wars Band

I'm a sucker for Star Wars. Came across this video while surfing around the Staff picks channel on Vimeo and thought that you might like it as well.

star wars band: the Salteens from patsevc on Vimeo.

Well done Salteens!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Google Launches Messages For Japan Site To Convey Solidarity

Over the course of the past month since the massive earthquake and tsunami caused unthinkable damage, loss of life, and continued concern by the global community for the people of Japan, Google has bore witness to countless messages of hope and prayer for the residents of the battered island nation. In order to aid people of other nations in sending their condolences and support, Google has unveiled which will translate any language into Japanese, provides a single communication point, and an opportunity to aid in the rebuilding efforts through financial contributions.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Google Patent Bid Chosen By Nortel As Starting Point

Former Canadian Tech Giant Nortel, now in bankruptcy, has selected Google's $900 million bid for it's patent portfolio as the “stalking-horse bid," or the starting point at which other bids will be measured during the auction of the portfolio.

Kent Walker, Senior Vice President & General Counsel for Google posted on the Official Google Blog that the bid is an attempt by Google, "... a relatively young company..." to build it's patent portfolio because "... a company’s best defenses against this kind of litigation is (ironically) to have a formidable patent portfolio, as this helps maintain your freedom to develop new products and services."

Mr. Walker points to Google's stand on patent reform "...which we believe will benefit users and the U.S. economy as a whole."

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Heart Of The Dragon

Gmail Motion! Stay In Shape While Sending Email

It's time for Google to unveil another great new program, and what an awesome one it is! Check it out, now you can control gmail with your body:

Beyond the incredible technological advancements there are only a few easy moves required to learn and you'll have the side benefit of getting in shape while you send and read your mail. 

By the way Google, I'm still not happy about be overlooked for the Google Copernicus Hosting Environment and Experiment in Search Engineering (G.C.H.E.E.S.E.)  program in 2007!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Messenger Sends Back First Image of Mercury

NASA scientists have received their first images of the planet Mercury captured from the orbiting Messenger probe. Messenger is equipped with two cameras and other sensing equipment which is hoped to shed light on the planets make up and history. The first photo, number 1 of 7500 expected to be sent back to Earth over the coming year, makes Mercury appear as though it is our own moon; baron and pocked by many collisions.

The mission website provides a great deal of information regarding the mission, the scientific portion of which will begin on April 4th.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Challenges Of Being Social In A Time Of Unrest

What is a website to do when it's become a platform for public outcry and organized opposition? When you are a social site that is being used by both government supporters and reform activists alike you have some tough decisions to make.

Flickr, it seems, has found itself at the center of an ethical quandary. The photo sharing giant owned by Yahoo has taken down photographs uploaded by an Egyptian blogger and human rights activist because the photos violated their terms of service. It seems that  Hossam el-Hamalawy posted the head shots of Egyptian State Police officers to Flickr in the hopes of making his countrymen aware of their identities and keeping them out of the new post revolution government. The problem is that el-Hamalawy did not take the photos himself but rather gained them through a raid on a State Police headquarters by revolutionaries.  Flickr removed the photos saying that el-Hamalawy did not take them himself and was therefore not the rightful owner, this is a violation of their terms.

While I sympathize with the plight of the Egyptian people and understand fully what Mr el-Hamalawy was attempting to do in identifying figures known to be associated with a corrupt regime, I don't think it is Flickr's place to act as middle man in a political debate. They did the only thing that they could do, stick to their terms of service. Perhaps Wikileaks would have been a more appropriate platform for Mr. el-Hamalawy's cause.



Sunday, March 27, 2011

Listen To Biz Stone Explain How Twitter Was Named

Having an entrepreneurial side, I always love hearing how others founded their projects or the thinking behind their brands. While checking out a new service that I've discovered called Audioboo I came across this recording of Biz Stone talking about the naming of Twitter. Enjoy! 


More on audioboo later...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Don't Forget The Milk!

Here is a very cool web app that has a lot of potential in it's simplicity. Think about your "honey do" list or just simple notes that you no longer have to email to yourself from the office... I expect we'll see more features; perhaps secure logins?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sock Puppet Theatre

The is reporting that the US military has contracted a Californian corporation to create software which would allow military personnel to create and maintain multiple online persona, up to 10 identities each, based all over the globe. In other words a single person would maintain, monitor, and distribute comments to and from 10 online personalities, sock puppets, in order to spread propaganda misinformation.

Centcom spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said: "The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US." Claiming that none of the interventions would be conducted in English as it would be unlawful to "address US audiences" in such fashion. Interventions would be conducted in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto.

While it is very noble of them to strike English from their vocabulary, if you've followed any of the coverage coming out of the recent unrest abroad, you'll have undoubtedly noted that many if not all of the media outlets are heavily relying on Twitter and Facebook accounts of the situations on the ground to report the "news". What's to say that the news being reported to us is not coming from Centcom?

Interesting, scary, and not surprising all at the same time.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hacking Your Own Jumbotron

I'm thinking that I found myself a diy project! Junkyard Jumbotron is the brainchild of Rick Borovoy, Ph.D. and Brian Knep at MIT's Center for Future Civic Media. I do believe that I have all of the required parts and I'll post my own video if it all comes together. Check out the video below, all you need to know is there.

Junkyard Jumbotron from chris csik on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Warner Brothers Testing Movie Rental Market Via Facebook and App Store

Warner Brothers said on Tuesday that it would be making Heath Ledger's final film appearance, "The Dark Knight", available for rental via Facebook using Facebook Credits as the payment mechanism.

“This is definitely a test,” said Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Brothers Digital Distribution, in a telephone interview. 

Warner is also testing “App Editions” for “The Dark Knight” and “Inception.” Rather than gaining access through iTunes, consumers download a free app, which then allows them to buy the movies for unlimited streaming.  “This platform allows us to experiment with an early version of what you might call a ‘connected movie’ — the ability for us to offer new extras over time as updates,” Mr. Gewecke said. “We think that is a great way to add more value to the digital ownership experience,” he added.

Of note is the fact that 23 countries do not have access to the iTunes video store, so the App Editions provides Warner with a mechanism to sell it's films in those markets which include China and Russia.

Source: NYTimes

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gmail Bug A Good Lesson In Preparedness

Expect the unexpected... even if you are Google. Sometimes as software developers, regardless of how much you've done to mitigate risk, code goes out the door that has unexpected results. 

Over the weekend Google's Gmail team "...released a storage software update that introduced the unexpected bug, which caused 0.02% of Gmail users to temporarily lose access to their email." The trouble is that even with all of the redundancy built into their data centers, the bug deleted all online copies of the affected users data, which meant that the team was forced to restore from backup tapes. This is a time consuming process, especially when dealing with 0.02% of mail held by Gmail.

While those of us who have had to deal with these hair pulling ordeals can understand and sympathize with the development team, most users will not. Rest assured that the backup and recovery strategy has accomplished what it was intended to do. If anything, this is a valuable lesson in backing up data. What's your strategy? If your laptop took a tumble would you be able to recover?  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Canadian Cabinet Ministers Can Expense iPads

Even though Canadian Members of Parliament have taken a stance against the purchase of iPads, Treasury Board President Stockwell Day has allowed cabinet ministers and senior public servants to expense the cost of the devices. 

Day, an avid user of the iPad, says that a pilot project in his department has proven their cost effectiveness. “I just think they’re wrong on this one,” Mr. Day said in an interview. “MPs will account for the equipment that they buy.… They need to look at it again from the point of view of efficiency and cost saving.”

According to the Globe and Mail, Mr. Day's pilot project came at a cost of $20,530.69. 

NDP MP Pat Martin is quoted as: “Why are we forced to use a horse and buggy when everybody else has got state-of-the-art equipment?” he asked. “I kind of resent that. If it’s good enough for cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats, it’s good enough for MPs.”   

BTW: According to the article, Stockwell Day has admitted to playing the odd game of Angry Birds on his iPad. I wonder if the tax payers covered the download costs? Then again, I can't disagree with his logic as I have all but abandoned paper in favor of my iPad as well.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Demo Slam Finalists

Last fall Google asked it's users to use Google products in creative ways and to submit there projects in video format for a contest known as Demo Slam. Today Google has launched to allow you to view and vote on entries by comparing 2 at a time in pools of 16. It's a single elimination type event and there are some very creative people out there who have gone to great lengths to prove they're the best. How do you get Maria Sharapova to make an appearance in your slam anyway?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Experiment That Has Never Ended

With IP addresses becoming more and more precious, as we reach the 4.3 billion network address limit, Vint Cerf the man in charge of making the decision 30 years ago says “We had no idea it would turn into the world’s global communications network.”

“It was 1977,” Mr. Cerf said, in an interview last week. “We thought we were doing an experiment.”
“The problem was, the experiment never ended,” 
At current estimates we will run out of IP addresses within the next 12 to 18 months  and the transition to the new system, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), is well under way. However, the current IPv4 and the new IPv6 are incompatible and there is some concern over how to transition from one to the next. In response Yahoo, Google and Facebook, whose combined traffic is more than a billion visits a day, have agreed to participate in a trial run on June 8, named World IPv6 Day. The participants are hoping that this experiment will shed some light on potential gotchas. 
“I almost wish we could train the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to come to people’s houses to help out with this,” said Mr. Cerf, now chief Internet evangelist at Google. “This is not just about adding extra numbers,” he said. “It’s a different system.”
Sounds like June 6th is a day to circle on your calendar, or perhaps June 7th...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Building A Database For The Robots

European scientists have taken it upon themselves to create a network of databases that future robots will use to  to share information about the world... our world... their world? According to "They will, if all goes as planned, use the network to store and retrieve information about objects, locations (including maps), and instructions about completing activities. Robots will be both the contributors and the editors of the repository."

The EU-funded RoboEarth project will ensure that each robot's experiences are saved and made available to the others to search and expand upon in a communal learning experience similar to what we humans know as the internet. May I just say that I love robots!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Google, Facebook, and Others Rumored To Be Shopping For Twitter

According to the Globe and Mail, Google Inc., Facebook Inc., and other interested parties are conducting low level talks with Twitter regarding an acquisition. These talks are said to give Twitter a street value of about $10-billion, nearly 3 times the valuation placed on the company when it raised $200-million in investor capital in December.

Citing a Wall Street Journal report the Globe and Mail say: 
Despite the valuation, the report said Twitter’s executives and board were working on building a large, independent company.
“People familiar with the situation said the company believes it can grow into a $100-billion company,” the WSJ said.
Regardless of the valuation I'd rather see Twitter go solo, or at least not sell out to Facebook! Unfortunately I don't have any say in the matter, and the guys with the money will usually come out on top in these things.

Monday, February 7, 2011

US Military Capable Of Restoring Internet Access

If a government intent on thwarting a social uprising of it's populous choses to cut communications, such as Egypt's early response to the recent demonstrations, the U.S. military could conceivably restore services in order to maintain internet access an inviolable human right

John Arquilla, a leading military futurist tells Wired that while it might not be that difficult of a challenge technically for the U.S. military which "has a great deal of expertise on rebuilding communications network, but that's ... very different when the government is interested in resisting," Arquilla says. "This is far less an engineering problem and far more a political one." 

It makes total sense that a country facing internal strife might consider such an action as a hostile act, especially if perpetrated by a foreign power. I guess it really should not surprise anyone that the technology already exists, and as an average citizen I am finding some comfort in the fact that does. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Joining The Livid Lobster Blog Team

I am very pleased to announce that I have been accepted to be a blogger for Livid Lobster. Specifically I am  writing for but may also appear in or If you are unfamiliar with these sites, I encourage you to check them out now. The mere fact that you've found my blog indicates that you have an interest in the type of content that you'll find at these sites. WebBeat and GeekBeat also, and more importantly, have video shows associated with them and hosted by the wonderful duo of Cali Lewis (GeekBeat) and Pelpina Trip (WebBeat). Here is Pelpina's most recent show for your viewing pleasure:

Be sure to follow my posts there and please keep coming back to greatbiggeek! If you've got a story idea please email me or reach me via twitter @greatbiggeek.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Japanese Rap Duo

I've never been into gangsta rap, I think I was born a little too early to "appreciate" this style of music, but here is a trending YouTube video from Japan that made me sit back and realize just how small this world is becoming. I laughed a bit at the bubble wrap, the bling, the Marge Simpson hair, and Playboy bunny logos. What really bowled me over was the fact that no good gangsta rap video has ever been made with out at least the flash of a piece, er... gun, or whatever the kids are calling them these days, and this video takes the prize in that department. As a geek I did appreciate the iPhone and pimped out Segways :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Google Hotpot Unleashed World Wide

Google is bringing Hotpot, it's new recommendation service, to the world after a limited release back in November. Hotpot basically allows you to rate restaurants, cafes, hotels and the like so that when you or your friends are searching for such venues Google can provide "trusted" results. The Google special sauce is based on your likes, your friends likes or properties that are similar to those that you or your trusty friends like. Access to the service is made available via the web (, google maps (, or your android phone.

Keep an eye out for those Unicorns!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Egypt's Last ISP Goes Silent

Wired's Threat Level blog is reporting the last-standing Egyptian ISP has been shut down prior to today's million man march. "the Noor Group, believed to be the last Egyptian ISP in operation, had provided access to the aviation, banking and financial sectors — including the Egyptian stock market."

“They are completely unavailable at present,” security research firm Renesys wrote of the ISP.

The question now becomes is the efforts of the Mubarak regime to silence communication due to it's desire to stop an organized opposition or is it aimed at stopping news from getting out of the country? Let's hope that this does not breakout into wide spread bloodshed. I hope that neither side sees violence as the solution to this situation.

The question, in this geek's mind, is whether or not we have a basic human right to these services that we've come to enjoy and rely on? Is what Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak doing by cutting off access to these services any different from what the White House might do in a similar situation given the fact that there has been talk of an Internet "Kill Switch" legislation for several years now, and which is apparently being reintroduced soon.