Friday, December 15, 2006


My iMac seemed to be acting a bit sluggish today, and I wanted to do something about it. I recalled a Call For Help episode that I saw a few weeks ago, where they featured a segment called A Healthy Mac is a Happy Mac, where they showed off how to perform maintenance tasks to keep your Mac running smoothly. One piece of software that they featured was OnyX, which does an amazing job at getting rid of the gunk on your Mac, too good a job in fact.

It accidentally deleted all my browsers' history, download cache, and recent searches in the process (luckily my saved passwords and cookies remained unscathed). ALL of them. Firefox, Safari, Camino, Flock, even Opera, completely wiped out. Six months' worth of internet exploration, now gone. Sure, I can remember the usual sites I visit (Gmail, upcoming,, bloglines, technorati, etc.), but when I want to recall that strange obscure YouTube video or blog post about a certain unix command, now I've got to rely on Google, and I don't even get purple links to tell me that I've been there before (although there is Google Search History, which does help, a bit). I can use my browsers' & bookmarks as a starting point to slowly rebuild my history.

OnyX Internet Cleaning settings

But the thing is, I explicitly told OnyX not to mess with my Internet settings (save Browsers' Cache). There might have been some other options that had overrid this somewhere (perhaps "Application Caches"), but they were not apparent to me. The bottom line is, if you tell a piece of software to do (or not do) something, it should do it (or not do it, in this case). Users shouldn't have to second-guess what they thought they told a program to do, and then find out it did the exact opposite happened.

On a good note, I did manage to find a library of practically all the Simpsons songs ever (which makes an excellent supplement to my copy of Songs in the Key of Springfield).

Update: It's been five days since this happened, and I've got about 30% back. Although I'll probably only be able to recover 90-95% at best, I'm further along than I was five days ago.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"We're Off to see the Wizard, The wonderful of GTD!"

I know Merlin Mann probably hates it when people compare him to the great wizard Merlin (not to mention improperly combining movie references with ancient wizardry), but I just can't help the fact that in a matter of hours, I will meet Merlin, along with Amber MacArthur and podcast-of -the-year winner Leo Laporte, and GeekBrief's Cali Lewis & Neal Campbell who're all getting together tonight @ 6:30 at No Regrets to record a special live episode of Inside the Net.

My only concern is that I don't know what to get for him. At first I thought I'd get a Moleskine, but that seemed too ordinary for someone like Merlin. There's gotta be something better... Well, I've got a couple hours until it starts. Hopefully by then I'll come up with something. Merlin, if you're reading this and you've got a suggestion, feel free to help me out in the ideas department. Thanks.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Not quite ready yet

I know it's been almost three weeks since my promises of a better-looking site, but I've decided to hold off on it for a bit longer to work on some updates to the interface; I'm not quite satisfied with it so I'll need some more time to improve the design. Hopefully you'll understand. However I will post later tonight on some thoughts I've had lately, so hopefully that'll keep you from mauling me for my unkept promises.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Maybe Tomorrow

I know I promised a new template for this blog tonight, but right now I'm really tired and don't have the alertness to plug in Blogger's special tags into my template to make it work. I promise I'll have it for tomorrow, if not the day after.

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Time For A Fresh New Look

As you may have already noticed, there's a big orange starburst at the top of this blog saying "New Site Coming Soon". That's right, now that I finally bought my own domain name(s), I think it's time to move on to bigger and better things, Drupal being one of them. Although, since Drupal 5.0 isn't slated for release for at least another two months at the earliest, and I really want to use have the powerful abilities of AJAX and jQuery, I may stick around here for a wee bit longer, but, for all those people who want a preview, I'll roll out the new template later on tonight here, which is a whole lot better because it'll actually validate, unlike the mess it is now from adding snippets of code from who knows where and messing everything up (and it'll look prettier, too =) ).

And, as always, there's a plethora of things that I need to catch up on to blog. Particularly, the great times I've had these past few days: meeting David Gray, CEO and founder of XPlane, the visual thinking company, and Tim Sanders, Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo! and author of the uber-cool networking book, Love is the Killer App (which I highly recommend), and even got him to sign it for me!

Even though I'd love to continue blogging tonight, I've really got to get back to work right about now. I'll post more soon.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Happy Birthday Flash (FLASH PARTY)!

In celebration of Flash’s 10th anniversary, FlashinTO (the Toronto Flash User Group) is holding a Flash PARTY tonight at Resistor Gallery! While Shawn Pucknell (who is also the director of FITC) has already gone ahead and made all the plans, I’ve also devised some unofficial “rules” (you can think of them as some unwritten guidelines for tonight’s festivities):

  • only Flash photography will be allowed
  • Music selection will be limited to the musical works of Grandmaster Flash, Flash. Bat, and Flash (particularly tracks featured of the album "In the Can"), and any other artist who has the word “flash” in his name
  • Clips from the old “Flash Gordon” serial will be projected on the main screen
  • Anyone who admits to having seen the 1997 film Flash and liked it will get a prize
  • somebody will incidentally flash someone
  • all Flash Lite-enabled cell phones will be illuminated with a flashlight
  • There will be copies of the Flash comic book available for reading at your leisure
  • A flash mob will spontaneously gather outside Resistor Gallery at 08:30:06 PM tonight (Aug. 30, 2006) and experience/discuss flashbacks
  • Flash memory will be the only type of digital storage media allowed in the vicinity. If someone has a digital storage device that does not use flash memory, the item must be publicly identified as such and held out
  • there will be a karaoke showdown to see who is able to sing the 1980 song “Flash” by Queen the best
  • At least two people will spend half the night competing for the title of the ultimate master of Flash Flash Revolution

Those of you coming out tonight, I'm looking forward to seeing you there. Those who are not: come on, it'll be a Blast (radius)! (as in Blast Radius' Brendan Lynch, as well as Tom Green, and Kevin Towes. You're also not gonna want to miss the 10pm Retro Flash Showcase that's going down!)

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

That was when I used to like JavaScript

There was a time, not too long ago, when I used to adore JavaScript. I would use it superfluously in web application development, from the fun transitional effects of Rico and jQuery, to the powerful and seamless abilities of XMLHTTPRequest. But then, people discovered that JavaScript could be used for evil. Router ports could be opened and closed, firewalls disabled; network security was essentially compromised.

Because of this, more and more people are disabling javascript in their browsers, which means that they can't use many of the rich features that web apps offer, even in some cases rendering the sites completely useless (which really shouldn't happen, because we should be designing with accessibility in mind, right developers?). That number has now grown to over 10% of all internet users, according to the W3C, which is a real shame because most people use JavaScript in their sites to enhance the user experience, but if your users' browsers don't meet your site's requirements to view it properly, then they can't really get the most out of your site.

When did JavaScript become so malicious? Can't we go back to a time when none of this extra blather was added and just have a simple client-side programming language? Is that really too much to ask for?

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Sacha!

I believe I am the first in the blogosphere to wish Sacha Chua a very happy birthday. She is 23 years old as of 23 minutes ago. And later today at around 3 o'clock I will be meeting her and 23 of her friends (myself included) for a Merienda to celebrate.

Sacha, being the classic, sort of old-fashioned way that she is (writing things down on paper (in her database of a Moleskine), using a fountain pen, etc.), asked that, instead of bringing her gifts, wants a letter. Nothing more than a simple handwritten letter, with the following as suggested topics:

  • Something you wish you knew when you were 23 (or for the young ones, something you hope to have figured out)
  • Something you like about me (the spiritual equivalent of the chocolate stash I keep for emergencies.)
  • A story that shows me something about you that I didn't know =)

And Sacha, i wouldn't mind you CCing my letter (I recommend by-nc-sa/2.5/canada). In fact I advocate it. I think everything (well, almost everything was CC). That would make me very happy :).

So, I guess I've got to get to writing that letter then. I wonder if I have any parchment paper left over...

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Good times, and not so good times (to put put it lightly)

Last night, thanks to an invitation from Sacha Chua, I had a great time at Simon Ditner's potluck party. I met a ton of interesting people, and had a ton of interesting conversations. One of the topics that came up was pivotal moments in our lives. Everyone had a story to share, except me, as I claimed I was "too young" to have a pivotal story, trying to get out of telling a story. I promised I'd make it up for next time with a better story, but it seems that "next time" came sooner than expected, as recounted in this text message to Sacha:

Hi Sacha. Great time tonight. Speaking of near death experiences, I just had one. It's 5:19 am [it was actually more like 5:15 when this happened] on sat morning. i'm at yonge & steeles, just got off the blue night yonge bus going home. Standing at the SE corner of the intersection, where the 53 stop usually is. I check the map, and it shows the Steeles blue night stop is actually a little bit east of where i was standing. I begin to walk over there. Not 30 seconds from leaving, I hear a loud noise behind me [actually a series of two loud noises]. I turn around and duck, thinking it may be a gunshot. next all i see is a white van smashing into the bus shelter I had been right next to, even in at one point, almost exactly like someone knocking out the two pillar cards in a three-card house of cards with one swift blow, the shelter roof gliding off onto the road, and dragging to a halt in the middle of the east side of the intersection, its front side completely totaled from the crash, not 30 20 feet away from me. 'Fuck!', I thought to myself (excuse the language). Had I still been standing in that spot (which I would have been had the TTC not chosen to have a different end stop for their night buses as their days buses), I very well may have been dead. Wow...

I would have taken a picture of it but I was too stunned to do so.

I see the 353 Bus arrive, so i scurry over to there, not knowing what else to do. I board the bus and take a seat, and then once settled [I] begin composing this text message to you. I guess this is what I meant when i said (or meant to say), 'my story is yet to come'. How's that for a life-altering story? Hope you got home more safely than i did. Have a good weekend :) -g

That is harsh. I think part of City Optical got messed up as well, judging from the sounds of the crash (I don't know for sure, I didn't stick around). I mean, something like this can seriously affect someone's life. For the remainder of my commute home, I was very wary, even paranoid, about even walking on the sidewalks down Warden Avenue. I kept looking around at the cars on the road, making sure they weren't too close to me. I was relieved when I got home, knowing that I was indoors where no off-trajectory vehicles were likely to crash into me, even then still a bit nerve-wracked about the whole thing. I'm just glad I was able to get home in one piece. I still can't believe what happened...

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Does it count as Web 2.0?

I've been doing a bit of thinking, and I was wondering, is it still Web 2.0 if a web app doesn't use Ajax or Rails or XmlHTTPRequests? I mean, Goowy is entirely flash-based, and it's still considered Web 2.0, right? So what's the big deal about making a "Web 2.0" app that's built on a different platform? If I were to build a web app made entirely with flash, but still had the underlying principles of Web 2.0 (social aspects, tagging, etc.), is still classified as Web 2.0 even though technically it isn't? Kevin Kynch says Flash in your friend in web 2.0, but it seems he refers to when it's integrated as elements of web pages (like in Flickr and MeasureMap) as opposed to being used exclusively. It's things like this that boggle the mind. Have we developed a Web 2.0 prejudice, where we only accept apps as Web 2.0 that use cool Ajaxy effects.

Or, maybe, I'm just imagining all this and it only exists in my head.

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Friday, July 28, 2006


Apperently this blog seems to has fallen off of Google's radar. As far as I can remember, I didn't set my robots meta tag to noindex, so I guess Google doesn't think this page is important anymore. To compensate, I shall be posting more entries later on today, as well as investigating this peculiar situation...

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Podcasting School

New Summer Courses at Centennial College If you're interested in starting a podcast but not quite sure how to do it, Centennial College's Centre for Creative Communications is offering two week-long workshops, Podcasting: Beyond Browsing and Podcasting in Business. If you live in Toronto, this is definitely something you should check out.

On a related note, Centennial College also has a podcast they run. They've got great coverage of this year's Hotdocs festival. Go have a look! You can subscribe to the video feed that's chock full of great footage (iTunes) or just the audio version if you feel like it (iTunes).

As it turns out, I may be the one redesigning their site (it could use an update). However, I've already got a lot on my plate (manco, userlab, odsp action, ToRCHI, [the accordion guy podcast], not to mention my own portfolio site) so I may be pushing it just a bit. At least I'm keeping busy :)

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Coming soon...!

I've been quite swamped with work so I haven't really been able to do that much blogging lately.

Fortunately, today I've freed up just enough of my schedule to catch up on this long overdue amount of blogging. Here's a taste of what you'll be hearing about in the coming hours (in chronological order):

I'll be blogging all these and more soon so stay tuned! Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in a couple posts onto my Creativity blog as well.

Monday, May 15, 2006

mesh is only hours away

mesh is less than 8 hours away and I can hardly wait. There'll be a ton of great speakers will be there: Steve Rubel, David Crow, Om Malik, and the very beautiful and talented Amber MacArthur (whom I've met before at the Tech TV Holiday Meetup)...just thinking about it is overwhelming.

I really wanna meet the meshies too - Rob, Mark, Mathew, Michael, and Stuart - and thank and congratulate them for putting together such a great (un)conference. Without them there would be no mesh so they really deserve a big thanks. Well, I should probably get to sleep now so I can wake up bright and early and see what great discussions will arise at mesh. :)

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Delicious Adds Even More Updates

Social networking site has decided to make their service a little more, well, social. They've now added a "your network" section, which essentially is just all the user subscriptions that used to be in your inbox and put them in a section all by themselves.

del.icio.usThis can be seen as both a good and a bad thing: It is good because it gives you a place exclusively for you to see what your contacts have been bookmarking, like Digg's friends page. For some people, that may be all they want, which is good... for them.

However, there are some people, myself included, who would be a bit irritated about this change, considering the fact that they now have to go to two seperate places to view their subscriptions. I myself for one was perfectly content with all my subscriptions aggregated together into one happy lump of bookmarks. I mean, they don't even give you an option to go back to the old way. They must keep in mind that not everyone adapts as easily to change as others. Forcing them to use the network inbox in addition to the standard inbox is just not right. Say you had a dozen email addresses. Would you use check each of your dozen email addresses invidually or would you set them up so they would forward incoming mail to the one you use the most? This is essentially the same thing. Allowing users to kill two birds with one stone both saves their time and minimizes the number of clicks the user has to make to get where they want to be.

I'm not bashing' network functionality, I think it's great. Splitting them up even made it easier for me to figure out how I was going to implement the Greasemonkey script I'm working on. But the main point here is, when introducing something new that everyone might not react to positively, make sure to have a way to let the user to back to the way it used to be.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

A burst of Technology

I had just gone to get my old cellphone from my closet to retrieve an untransferred number. However, it was as if that phone was completely unfamiliar to me. It had only been five months since I last used it before getting my new phone, and I was already forgetting to how to perform the simplest functions. I had become so used to my new cell phone (the Motorola V551) that I found it difficult to perform even the simplest tasks such as accessing the address book and the SMS screen. I had become so used to the Motorola's menu-based navigation that I instantly scoured my old phone's main menu in search of the SMS Centre, and only after failing in my search did I remember that my old phone had a softkey-based primary navigation.

Firstly, when I first flipped open the phone my eyes glazed over trying to read faded black text on a blue backlight. I preferred the crisp, clear colour display that I had come to know and love about the v551.

When I first bought my old phone (the Audiovox CDM-8500), I wanted to get the smallest, most compact device available. I did, however, now I realize that, as Fitts' Law states, bigger is better, and not just for web. Larger buttons means having more space to maneuver your thumbs, and a smaller chance of accidentally pressing the wrong key. This makes using the product a much better experience for the user. :)

Also, here's a neat little tip for those of you sporting the Motorola V551 (I believe other Motorola models, such as the RAZR, have this feature as well): If you're serially text-messaging back and forth with a friend and are getting annoyed by constant new message alerts, when you're viewing a received text message, press the [Menu] button and select "Chat." This will enable Chat Mode, which will allow you to view any future incoming and outgoing messages to and from that contact in an IM-style display. And the best part, no more annoying pop-up alerts!

I discovered this neat little hack when I accidentally pressed the [Menu] key instead of the "Reply" key I didn't even know such a feature existed! I guess I should have read the manual first. You know, 95% of North Americans don't bother to read the manuals for their electronic devices. It's true. That's why Japan is so reluctant to offer new gadgets to the West. Because we try to use something before we even know what it does. If we stopped being so careless and actually spent 20 minutes to read it proper usage instructions, maybe they'd consider sharing fun, new toys with us like this or this...

It's amazing how much technology has evolved over the past few years, and I expect to see far greater developments in the future. I mean, they've already got smartphones out like the Palm Treo and the Blackberry, and those haven't even begun to scratch the surface yet. Imagine what they'd be replaced with five years from now..

Update: I just finished reading the manual (yes, I actually did), and there's no mention of the SMS Chat anywhere. I guess I found an Easter Egg, and on Easter Day too! What luck!

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Mesh: Canada's Web 2.0 Conference

mesh - Canada's Web 2.0 ConferenceRob Hyndman just recently posted a piece of code on his blog for this image. As a web (and multimedia) developer, I'll be there I'm I'm sure it will be a blast. Check out his post for more info. Get the code.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Firefox 2.0 Woes

After reading a post on TechCrunch about the release of Firefox 2.0 Alpha, I thought I'd check it out. No harm in testing a developer's release, right? Or so I thought. It turned out that it was only compatible with 1 of my 39 extensions (as of 1:00 PM EST today, excluding the DOM Inspector), that being BugMeNot, which is especially unuseful compared to some of my more vital extensions. So I decided that it would be best for me to wait for the final release. I go to uninstall it from the Add/Remove Programs utility, and apparently there's some misconfigured registry key or something that's preventing me from uninstalling it.

So, using System Restore, I revert my system to the squeaky-clean, un-Firefox2.0a'd way it was last night. Everything seems to be in order.

So, I'm finally back into But when I launch the browser, none of my extensions are working! The extensions probably still think that it's using 2.0 and are therefore incompatible even though I'm actually using 1.5.

So after 3 1/2 hours, unnecessary stress, and tons of aggravation, I finally realize that from the downgrade back to, the extensions were left disabled (!), which is why they weren't working. This is terrible usability practice and something I hope they fix in the upcoming and future versions. It just goes to show you that all developers -- myself included -- should always make sure that the experience for their users is a positive one, otherwise users will become frustrated and dislike, or even distrust your product, even if it was unintentional on your part. Always make sure you follow good usability guidelines! :)

After re-enabling them all everything was (thankfully) back to the way it used to be.

Usability Links:

Jakob Nielsen's Website - Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Creativity Blog is Live

I didn't want to post this until I had some content posted up yet, but I guess it'll survive, plus I'll also be posting in it more often so it's a good idea to put it out in the open where everyone can see it.

So, as part of my Exploring Creativity course, I am required to keep a creativity journal. This journal can be anything, from a composition book to a 3-ring binder to a pad of post-it notes. However I've decided to use a blog as my record of ideas and inspiration, mainly for two reasons: firstly, I'm almost always near a computer, which makes posting my thoughts easily accessible; and secondly, the internet is such a great medium. It's so rich and free, and it in itself is a byproduct of creativity, so why not?

You can find my creativity journal at I've decided to use Wordpress because it's a lot cleaner in terms of templates, navigation, etc., and I like its overall structure. Sure I can't hack the template or anything (yet), but I'd say it serves its purpose, so why bother? Don't fix what ain't broken. ...If I gets any better over there I may even have to move this blog over there. It's a lot nicer over there, and since Blogger's a novice's tool (no offense) and doesn't really offer that many features, I'm sort of considering it, but not until they let me hack the template ;p (or some other really good reason), but I still think Movable Type's the best out of all of them since it's the most versatile and hackable.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Past Due: Tech TV Holiday Meetup

I know this is way overdue but please forgive me. I promise to post more often in the future and from now on.

The Tech TV Holiday Meetup was a blast! I finally had a chance to meet with my favourite TechTV and IPTV hosts, including Leo Laporte and Andy Walker. among others [PHOTO]. And I'm a really huge fan of Call For Help and TWiT, you could probably imagine how excited I was. :D

Here are some photos along with links to more of them.

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