Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

I wascleaning up the area around my desk the other night and I came across a napkin on which I had scribbled down my New Years resolutions for ’07:

New Years’ Resolutions 2007:

  • Get Website launched this’ll happen eventually…
  • Lose weight
  • Fix up portfolio pieces ugh… still in progress…
  • get a job Formerly at TSOT, now back to working for myself (although, Kris has hinted that he might want me back in the spring—fingers crossed!)
  • check back with Phil. That wasn’t really a resolution, but rather a task that needed to be done around the end of the year.
  • Go to Web Directions North, Vancouver, Feb 6-10
  • SXSW, March

So, it’s only fitting I make one for this year as well, scribbled in TextMate instead of on the back of a napkin this time. First, the carry-overs from last year:

  • Get Website launched. OK, I guess I’ve waited too long by now. It’s just that every time I look back at my designs, I always find something I don’t like about it and end up creating a new design from scratch each time. I guess I still haven't learned yet
  • Lose weight. Should start going to the gym this week.
  • Fix up portfolio pieces. Ties in with previous resolution.
  • Go to Web Directions North. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it this year unfortunately :(, seeing as I’m going to be really busy with other things during that time (including moving out), so I probably won’t be able to afford flying out to the left coast this February. This really saddens me as I really wanted to be a part of and meet the rest of the Canadian web design community (and I might enjoy the more intimate setting better than a huge event like SXSW), especially since I’ve got a couple friends in Vancouver, too.
  • Go to SXSW. Everything’s bigger in Texas, they say, and conferences are no exception. My only exposure to SXSW is virtually through the podcasts they put out (I love when conferences do that!), and I’d love to go down to Austin and see and meet everyone in person (ideally, I’d want to go to every web conference out there in existence, but that’s not realistically possible for someone in my position.). Plus, it really is the ultimate geek gathering, with people coming in from all across the globe. Hopefully I'll be able to make it this year.

And now the rest:

  • Get GTD system down and working. I’m really adamant about this one. I’ve always had a half-assed idea about what Getting Things Done was all about before Joey lent me his copy, but now I get the full picture. And with OmniFocus now, my productivity and organization has really improved!
  • Launch MOLECULE. MOLECULE is a side-project of mine I’ve been working on. It’s an outdoor, publicly-projected mobile-enabled (semi-)massively-multiplayer game / “art” installation. I was hoping to have it ready for Nuit Blanche in the fall, but other priorities came up and I wasn’t able to complete it. I’m in the process of rewriting it in hopes that it’ll be ready for Nuit Blanche 2008.
  • Become more socially active. I met Tom Williams of GiveMeaning a couple weeks ago (he’s a really amazing guy if you don’t already know him), and he sort of rekindled my spirit about this whole thing, so I think I’m going to try to become more involved with the Green Party again next year, which sort of (unintentionally) faded after I stopped working with them.

There’s probably more, but I can’t think of the rest right now, and besides, I really should be heading off to a NYE party pretty soon. Happy New Year!

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The So-Called "official" definition of "Web 3.0"

The Joy of Tech has posted a comic entitled The Definitive Guide to Future Web Versions, most likely inspired by Jason Calacanis' recent blog post where he gives us the "official" definition of Web 3.0. Joy of Tech's 'The Definitive Guide to Future Web Versions'

Needless to say, I don't agree with any of it. He's basically declaring that "Web 3.0" is Web 2.0 without the crap. Which is admirable, but completely wrong.

How many times must I say this? The Web is not something that is versioned. The Web isn't a piece of software. It is an ecosystem. And like other ecosystems, it changes and evolves over time, either by nature or by its inhabitants, who are constantly striving to create an optimal environment for them to dwell in—which is exactly what's been going on with the Web all these years. These past few, however, we have experienced an accelerated growth rate. So it's only natural that some noise has come in along with the signal.

By employing Semantic Web techniques, we're able to filter out the good, meaty data that we want without getting any crustiness that we don't want. Things like Microformats are definitely helping make this easier, and I've been a big promoter of 'em ever since I discovered them almost two years ago.

I really think this the next direction the Web will be taking in the coming years: Semantic data, Microformats, Open APIs—all this stuff that's making my mouth water—because as a developer, I can only imagine all the ways I can leverage this data. Sure, other things like better-quality content will come, too—probably even in parallel to the evolution of the Semantic Web—but you really need a solid foundation to build this content onto, otherwise it's just adding to the rest of the noise out there.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I wanna make a movie

I don't know what it is about me, but I've got the urge to go out and shoot a movie. Maybe it's because of the ScreenWriting bundle for TextMate I discovered today and wanna make use of it, maybe it's ‘cause I've been reading Kevin Smith's Wikipedia bio today (because, thanks to my friend Andrea, I'm gonna get to attend a live taping of The Hour, and tomorrow's show is featuring the ever-so-brilliant Kevin Smith, who I'm a huge fan of! I really hope I get to meet him!) and I yearn to do something like that (I used to do video stuff in high school, but after I left, the Web really took over my interests almost completely), or maybe I've gotten bored of what I'm doing now and feel like doing something new.

I don't know exactly what it'll be about, but I know it will have a video component. An installation of some sort, perhaps? Short film? Not really sure. I need to find out a *bit* more before I start it. Conveniently, Late Fragment is being shown this Saturday as part of Nuit Blanche, so maybe that'll help me better understand what I want. I've been wanting to do something like this for a while, and I think it's finally about time I did so. I'm sure my friends like Brian Hogg and Gabe Sawhney will be able to help me out in giving me advice on how to go about things, since they've got plenty more experience doing this sort of thing than I ever have. Although, someone once told me that passion is the most important thing to have in what you do, and I've got plenty of it. I do things because I like to do them; it doesn't feel like a chore to to me. I just need a clearer vision of what I want—something I seem to lack often times.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Lazyweb Request: What the heck is this thing called??!?!

Update: Thanks a bunch to Betsy Weber for solving this ever-so perplexing problem I had. As it turns out this shape is called a hypotrochoid (and the tool used to create it is a Spirograph.

Well, well. My first official LazyWeb-addressed post. Don’t I feel special…

I’m trying to simulate electrons orbiting around the nucleus of an atom. I remembered this stencil I got many years ago that draws shapes comparable to what I want the orbit path to look like. Now I need to find out if there’s an existing programmatical function out there on the Internets to replicate an object moving in this shape. But in order to do that, I need to find out what the heck this thing is called. I’ve searched for at least an hour online trying to think of possible names this shape might be called—ellipsogram, septellipse, gyrogram, parabolic septagram, hyperbolic septagram, etc. — and haven’t found anything even remotely close. The closest thing I could find that may or may not be on the right track is Euclidean Geometry (found by way of parabolic geometry), though I wouldn’t know, as advanced mathematics is far beyond by comprehension — I didn’t take Calculus or Finite Math in high school and haven’t had any formal education on the subject since.

What are these shapes called?

If I had to guess, I’d say the name for it begins with ‘gyro-’ (which means rotation in Greek), and it might have ‘hepta’ or ‘septa’ in the name too, to indicate the seven cusps it has, although this is complete speculation.

This shape appears to be made up of 7 identical parabolas (though technically I’m not sure if you could call them that because they start curving inwards at a certain point, and typically parabolas don’t do that).

What is this shape called?

Anyone have any idea what this seven-“pointed” flower/star-like shape are called? I’m sure there’re plenty of other people who know a lot more than me when it comes to this stuff, and have even formally studied it in University at one point or another.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Imperfect Flower – yellow flower with red center, some petals are missing from the left half of it

Things don't have to be perfect the first time around. They just have to be good enough at first, and then they can be improved in the next iteration.

This is not an easy concept to grasp for perfectionists like me. I had to learn the hard way. Many a time I've been faced with the situation that my deadline was too close and I knew I wasn't going to finish it in time, so instead of submitting what I had done at that point (or explain how I needed more time), I'd rather not submit anything at all and continue working on it until I get it done, and by that time it would've been too late for my work to be accepted.

But I'm slowly learning to accept that it's okay to be imperfect. Not everything I do is going in a museum for everyone to see (although I often treat it that way). Things can always be made better, and being imperfect really isn't as bad as it once seemed.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Interesting Similarities

Today I decided to check out Google Maps Street View, which is an awesome new service just recently released by Google. It's almost like having a virtual tour of anywhere in the world! Check out the video below:

Still frame of Ryan Germick from Google Maps Street View demo video

Interestingly, that first shot of Ryan Germick immediately reminded me of Dmitry Buterin during his DemoCamp8 presentation. (I unfortunately missed the demos, but I did catch the after-party that evening.)

Dmitry Buterin demoing Wild Apricot at DemoCamp8

It's because of the neon polyester, isn't it?

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A tribute to mesh

Mesh Conference

Mesh is a mere six three two one hour 5 minutes away (yes, I'm late. Grr last-minute client calls), and I'm really excited to see what new and exciting things I'll get to experience and what people I'll get to meet.

However, before I go on about the razzle and dazzle of what is to come over the next couple days, I'd like to take a step back and reflect what has happened over the past year.

Let's start at the beginning. Or rather, before the beginning. I first came across Rob Hyndman's blog via his Digg article that had gained a good deal of notoriety and controversy that day. Whilst browsing his site, I had found a little announcement about an up-and-coming Toronto "Web 2.0" conference, and being web "2.0" junkie that I am, I immediately subscribed to his blog so that I could get more details on the matter when they became available.

Because of mesh, I got a chance to meet with a whole bunch of people who I otherwise would not have met, and I'm quite glad I did, as many of these people have come to be my friends who I see on a regular basis at Torcamp events.

One of them was Sacha Chua, the most exuberant and enthusiastic person I've ever met. We kept running into each other at the conference, and it was a good thing we did. She graciously introduced me to the wonderful world of Moleskines. I think I might've got a bit carried a way with my conversation note-taking (à la Sacha) though, as some people might've found it a bit odd (and perhaps uncomfortable) to be documented as they were speaking in conversation, but I was Moleskine-happy that day and wasn't really paying too much attention to that.

I met Joey deVilla, the infamous "Accordion Guy", during Amber's How and Why To Podcast workshop (check out Amber's slides , mixed in with some videocast). Coincidentally, I caught his appearance on MTV the previous week. It was an amazing to meet a local celebrity like Joey for the first time. I was quite excited to get to meet him, and he's a really great guy. He even stopped to pose for a photo-op for me!

Many thanks as well to Pete Mosely, for organizing mush: among the people there were Stowe, Brent, Joey, Wendy, Leigh, and some more people who I can't seem to remember at this moment (my apologies) [I took some mush-y photos, too]. This year, it seems mush seems to be taking the form of a Facebook group.

There are countless others whom I can barely begin to name, so I apologize if I didn't mention you explicitly, but you know who you are, are I thank you all the same.

One really important person who I owe an enormous debt of gratitude is David Crow. Thanks to David, from whom I learned about BarCamps and DemoCamps (I originally wanted to attend BarCampTdot that took place the weekend before mesh, but I was already booked that weekend. If only I had found out earlier). I attended my first DemoCamp two weeks following mesh (kudos to Matthew Burpee for his kindness to me that day), and had a great time.

I would love to go on about these things, but it's already 6 7 9AM the day of, so I've got to try and cram in at least an hour of sleep (on the bus) before the conference. More to come in the future (and the update will be coming, too). To those of you who are coming out, see you at mesh [A quick sidenote: As I noted before, I'm quite glad to see that the "2.0" has been dropped from the conference's name this year (be it for legal reasons or otherwise). The web was never meant to be a versioned medium.].

So thanks again to Mathew, Mark, Mike, Stuart, and Rob for putting this all together and making this all possible! Without them I wouldn't have been privileged to know half the people I know today. See you there!

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Friday, May 18, 2007

No More Starburst

I've finally gotten rid of that retched-looking orange starburst that used to be on the top-left corner of this blog. I hated its look from the beginning, but at time I thought I could live with it as it was only supposed to be temporary, but because of certain delays and restrictions (*ahem*) I wasn't able to get my new site up (that, aside from me continuing to procrastinate on this. But I've recently signed up for a new hosting plan with a great web host, and I've resumed working on a new site interface (at second glance, the once I previously designed wasn't really what I wanted it to be like), so we should be starting to see some gradually improvements over the coming weeks (I've still got client work as well to deal with during this time period, so it's not like I've got nothing else to work on).

gabriel mansour's newmediarts logo

I've also been thinking about reworking my logo. Right now, this is my current logo, which originally spawned off from the title of this blog, .newmediarts | ::, which I truncated to .n|::, and then I played around a bit and attempted to abstract its shape & form (which gives the current result).

But the more I focus on the site, the more I notice how my logo doesn't quite represent what I want it to. It's not necessarily a bad-looking logo, but I can't help but feel there's something about it that's missing / lacking in it. Perhaps a human factor (as I pondered on twitter earlier)? After all, HCI & usability are among my many skills/interests that I'm really passionate about. (Sidenote: For those of you who don't know, Don Norman's coming to Toronto June 11—I highly recommend you go if you can make it.) Anyways, I'll see what becomes of this when I do some more work on it this weekend. Right now I need some sleep.

No, I'm not dead

Despite my blog inactivity for the past couple months, I am still alive and kicking. These past couple weeks have been hectic, but I promise to provide a more detailed report in the next couple days when things get easier to manage.

If you're impatient, you can always follow me on the Twitter (I've grown quite proficient at it. so proficient, in fact, that David Crow went so far as to call me a "twitter whore"—now Scoble's requesting it be on a t-shirt) or, if you prefer things of a more (or equally) random nature, there's this tumblog thing I started a few days ago. Enjoy!

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Saturday, March 03, 2007


After several months (just over a year, actually) of text messaging on my old Motorola V551, I've finally realized today that I've been miscounting the number of characters I'm able to send. In the 'create message' UI, there's a counter that shows how many more characters I'm able to type before reaching my limit. Good feature, except for some reason it starts counting down from 450 instead of the standard 160 we've all come to know and love (and hate, too, at times), and I don't think I'm able to change it.

Some time ago stuck it in my head that in order to stay below my 160 character limit, I shouldn't let the counter go below 340. This, as you (and I, regrettably) should know, is only 110 characters, restricting my content limit 50 characters short of its maximum length. Simple mistake: subtract the 100, but then subtracted the 60 from 400 instead of 350 (because I like thinking in terms of easy, rounded numbers). But this restriction hasn't really been too burdensome. In fact, it's helped improve my writing in many ways. Just because the space there, doesn't mean you have to use all of up. Why not make wiser use of those 160 units instead of filling it up with bagatelle

I find it gets my cerebellar juices flowing, try to condense my message to accommodate the shorter, making sentences sound better (I'm a bit of a spelling / grammar nut. And an major etymology geek. (I guess I almost qualify as a philologist, no?) So playing with words is fun for me). I often find myself expanding my sentences by cramming more words into them than need be, but I've found that the shorter they are, the better. They're more concise, and much more usable, especially since people don't really "read" text on the web, but rather skim. Less is more. It's amazing how much unnecessary, jargony crap can be taken out. Reading over and revising your text once you're done really helps improve quality, I find. Brushing up on my Elements of Style couldn't hurt, either ;).

Helpful software

Word Counter is a handy little app (essentially TextEdit with a counter, plus a few bonus features), and combined with BluePhoneElite to send SMS messages from my Mac via my cell phone using Bluetooth (almost as if it were like an IM client), I find it to be a godsend, especially when I'm trying to stay below that accursed 160-character limit. One small quirk I have in Word Counter though is that when I change my refresh rate preferences to "-1" (so that the counter updates instantly), it doesn't save my preferences after I've quit the application. But other that that, it's excellent.

*Note: I am aware that this post is this exact opposite of what I've been discussing, but I'm just using this as a place to put down my ideas, and I like getting as much out of my head and onto paper (well, sort of) as possible :).

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It's Nice to be Appreciated

I was at the Toronto Reference Library earlier today when I noticed that the gentleman sitting at the computer next to me was looking at the (recently re-launched) Green Party website, something I helped build! That brought a big smile to my face, knowing that people were actually using something I created. I silently watched him out of the corner of my eye for a good twenty minutes until he got up and left. It fascinates me to watch how users (or total stangers) use your site, seeing what elements can be changed or tweaked to make their experience better.

Which reminds me, there's still more work that needs to be done on the site, so I mustn't put it off any longer. Off to work!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Cory Doctorow in Toronto, February 1

Book cover of 'Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present' by Cory Doctorow

Blogger, journalist, sci-fi author, and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow is coming to Toronto for the launch of his new book entitled Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present this Thursday, February 1 at Bakka Books (697 Queen Street West), the world's oldest Science Fiction bookstore. He'll be there at 7:00 PM signing and reading books, so make sure to come on out!

I'm really excited about this. After all, it's not every day that Mr. Doctorow himself is in town. Hmm...I wonder if Joey'll be there... it'd be interesting to see him back with his old friend (and ex-boss) from OpenCola...and a little accordion rock-and-roll on Queen Street on a Thursday evening around an SF bookstore and a gathering of geeks couldn't hurt, too Winking Smiley face [ ;) ].

If you can't make it out Thursday but you still want a signed, personalized copy of Cory's book, you're in luck! You can get a signed copy shipped straight to your door! Just Bakka Books (Phone: 416-963-9993) and tell them what you want Cory to write in it. The only catch is you have to do this by February 1st.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Hide file extensions in URLs with .htaccess files

I was working on a (rather neglected, outdated) site I had previously done and decided it needed some (rather, a lot of) improvements. I was looking for a way to get rid of to clean up the URLs without having to remap my files. .htaccess to the rescue!

.htaccess files are a wonderful thing, and incredibly powerful, ignoring the bad experience I had with them on my current web host (fortunately, this project is hosted by another web host, and everything runs perfectly with them :)), and Apache's mod_rewrite module does exactly what we need.

There are a bunch of reasons you'd want to do this, mainly:

  • it looks cleaner and easier to read and remember
  • by using search-engine–friendly URLs, you're Google PageRank will increase and will increase your website's findability
  • it makes your website environment-independent, so if you ever decide to change the technology your site uses, everything would appear seamless to your visitors.

In this case, we're using PHP files, but you can change it to whatever type of file you're using, be it .html, .asp, .cfm, or anything else, as long as they're all the same type. (If you want to do this for multiple file types, just copy lines 2–4 and apply the same technique accordingly.)

Open your text editor and create a file called ".htaccess" with the following code in it, and upload it to your site's root directory (Note: On Unix and unix-like operating systems, files that start with a dot are hidden files, so you may not be able to see the file after you save it. To get around this, omit the preceding dot when naming the file, and then rename the file back to ".htaccess" after you have uploaded it to your webserver):

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME}\.php -f
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ $1.php

(adapted from the Apache mailing list)

Using this code, instead of having to type in, you only need to enter to access that page. And the best part is, you can still access the page with .php on the end of it, so no old incoming links or bookmarks become orphaned as a result of this, and everyone is happy.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Stuart MacDonald to be speaking at FITC Toronto 2007

I just got the latest FITC Newsletter in my inbox and noticed that Mr. Stuart MacDonald was on the list of presenters! If you don't know Stuart (shame on you), he's the one who is responsible for starting, and well as co-organizing the very successful mesh conference last May (as well as the upcoming one this May 30-31).

At first I was a bit surprised to see Stuart on the speaker list at a flash conference, but I'm assuming he's going to be talking about some of the business aspects. It'll be great to see one of my favourite mesh organizers speaking at two excellent events this spring (I'll be volunteering again, as I did last year), along with over 70 great speakers, among them flash guru Colin Moock and rock star flash designer Joshua Davis. No Dave Shea this year, though :( — looks like you'll have to go to Web Directions North or @media 2007 for that (and I really wanted to go see him, too...).

Shawn has left a comment saying that Stuart unfortunately won't be able to speak at FITC Toronto this year after all due to a scheduling conflict. Bummer :(

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Saturday, January 20, 2007


I just spent the last 4 hours trying to get my .htaccess files to work under my restrictive web host. I hope I don't have to go through anything as horrible as that ever again. It was like spending hours working on a jigsaw puzzle, only to find that you've got one missing piece that's preventing you from finishing what you need to do.

Let me explain: Apparently, they only allow a handful of directives to be used in .htaccess files, which to me sounds like only getting half a slice of pie instead of a full slice à la mode as you'd expect.

This reminds me of DRM in a way, crippling your use of their services, even though you're paying full price for what you'd expect to be everything you asked for.

And this isn't the only limitation their hosting plan offers: they only allow you to have 2 custom MX records, so when I wanted to use Gmail for your Domain, there was nothing I could do since Google needs you to set 6 of them in order for it to work properly. I was distraught, but I had the fallback option of using plain old Email Forwarding... or so I thought. So I set it up, and when I tried testing it to see if it would work, it didn't. I tried again days, weeks, months later, even just five minutes ago, and it still doesn't work. Sure, I could use one of their POP accounts, but the main reason I want to use email forwarding is because I prefer Gmail's user interface, and having to use a desktop client would completely defeat the purpose of what I want to do.

I've paid for the hosting already, so I guess I'm stuck with them for another 6 months, but after that I think I might sign up with another hosting company like Dreamhost, where they seem to be much more allowing of what you can do with your account, that is, unless Netfirms resolves all its problems. And the only reason I bought my Netfirms account was to support Amber, Jeff, Mikey, and Brian over at commandN (and because I needed a web host at that time). Ah, the deception of promotional discount codes...

And the worst part is, once I had figured out what was wrong in my .htaccess, I only needed to modify 1 line from the original file to make it work (if only I knew that from the beginning).

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Blogged with Flock

Friday, January 12, 2007

And another thing

And not to mention I've got to get my site's Unfailed Redesign launched before then. I've made a such mess of Doug Bowman's elegant designs & code. I should probably choose a new template so I can stop worrying about how many validation errors this site's got for now, even if it'll destroy all the hacks code injections superfluous crap customizations I've added. Luckily, Drupal 5 RC 2 was just announced, and as the final release date for Drupal 5.0 draws nearer and nearer, so does the day my new site will be launched. I'm working on it, along with a bevy of other things. It will come, soon enough.

Update: Well, I tried upgrading my blogger template to the new version, but upon passing it through the validator, it had 901 validation errors, a lot of them being false positives on the validator's part (it recognized Blogger's proprietary <Variable> tag when it was contained within CSS comments), and others being bad template coding decisions that have no clear way of modifying in the new template HTML editor (such as wrapping an extra paragraph tag around each blog post). Even though some template-updating features have been added to improve workflow, I think I'll stick with my old template for now until I finally migrate over (soon, I promise).

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Ask and you shall receive—almost

I was just in the middle of an email to a friend of mine about how I may not be able to attend Web Directions North in February last night (which is a real shame, I've been wanting to go ever since I found out about it in September), how the price was too high for me, and the affiliate badge I had put on my site had yet to yield any results. But last night as I was checking the WDN site to reference what presentation topics were being covered, I noticed a special announcement of a student scholarship program, where I'd be able to get a ticket for a much more affordable $195! It was as if my prayers had been answered! Quite a coincidence, I must say. For a while it made me forget about how crappy I was feeling from losing my iPod earlier that day. Thanks Dave, Derek, Maxine, and John!

Web Directions North

But alas, the Fates may have determined that this was not meant to be for me. As much as I've been yearning to go these past months, it simply may not be possible for me. Not for now, at least.

Also coming up soon is SXSW in March, which promises to be excellent week, and twice as costly.

Here are th Top 5 reasons I'd prefer attending WDN over SXSW:

  1. It's Canadian (comme je suis) ;).
  2. They've got an excellent speaker line-up. I was giddy with excitement just from reading the names of the presenters
  3. SXSW is huge. Maybe too huge for my first out-of-town web conference. I find the (relatively) smaller atmosphere more comfortable to be in.
  4. I've already met Joe Clark at a Toronto Interacts event he spoke at in November (my first time listening to a web guru live and in-person), and I'd really like to see him speak again, as well as to get a chance to hear all the other great speakers who, up until now, I've only had the pleasure of listening to via podcast.
  5. I've always wanted to go to Vancouver, but I've never been.

And being on a student budget doesn't help my situation much. I'd have to work twice as much to be able to go to both events, which might not be possible.

Pros for SXSW:

  • way more people will be there (and in turn more presentations with more prestigious speakers, more parties, etc.), therefore more opportunites to meet interesting people and web luminaries
  • 4-day event vs. 2 days for WDN


  • it'll cost nearly CAD$1500 for me to go to SXSWi. WDN would only cost half as much.
  • It's in the U.S., so I'd have to get my passport details sorted out before March (but I'd need to get that done eventually anyways)

Sigh... I really would like to be able to attend both, but sometimes things are not meant to be. However I'll be working hard to try to do everything in my power to get things sorted out soon and hopefully they'll still have a student ticket available for me by then *fingers-crossed*.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Lost iPod :(

I really wish I hadn't left my iPod by that computer in Room 243 earlier today between 1:25 PM and 2:00 PM GMT-05:00. If it hadn't been for me suddenly remembering to print that that 278-page 'CSS Hacks' e-book, I would've never gotten into this mess.

The fact that I've just lost a $250+ piece of electronic equipment isn't what's even bugging me the most; it's the fact that someone would actually Steal something that wasn't theirs to begin with. (Of course, it's not unlikely to imagine what a typical college student would do in that situation. Have these people no morals?)

'sad nano' taken by el frijole

Then again, that e-book I had printed wasn't exactly acquired lawfully. I've been known to use peer-to-peer software occasionally to acquire digital files, but that's not the same: digital files are easily reproduceable and the previous owner still has his orginal copy. And unless I had a molecular assembler, this isn't the case and now I don't have my iPod anymore. :'(. (As a result of this I've put a hold on using any P2P software on my computer.)

(I really should be more responsible with my valuables. Last year I lost a USB drive the same way.)

I really want my iPod back. Fortunately, most of my data on there is safe. All my music is in my iTunes Library, so I'm not so worried about that, and I can live with someone else knowing what my Calendars hold; as for my Notes, some of them had personal information of a friend, but knowing her and how open she is, I'm sure she wouldn't mind too much about it.

I've got bits and pieces backed up, as I've synced most of the older folders on there with my iMac individually, so I don't know exactly what I do or don't have copies of, and since I haven't used my nano to store any new files for the past couple months, I'm fairly confident in assuming that all I'm missing is maybe 5 or 10 files (possibly crucial; I haven't yet been able to recall what they were, hopefully nothing too important), plus the work I did today. It also had the Photoshop mockups of my site's new design (backed-up, thankfully), and a 2x5 sheet of my business cards, so that should provide him with my contact info and the ability to contact me.

I had my folder of unfinished, unpublished blog posts on there, too, as well as some other personal documents that I'd prefer others not to read, but I guess by having personal data on it (and assuming the looter goes through my files), he would be able to identify who originally owned this iPod, and make an effort to reunite the device with its rightful owner.

Advice on safeguarding your iPod from theft / how to increase the chances of getting it back:

  1. As a future precaution, I'm putting an 'OWNER'S CONTACT INFO' file with my phone number and email address onto each of my portable storage devices. I just hope the perp doesn't format it :( (when I left it, it was plugged into the computer via its USB cable, and that was gone when I came back for it, so he could potentially do anything with it).
  2. Register your iPod with Apple. Theoretically, if you've registered your iPod, Apple should be able to detect when the device connects to iTunes, along with the host computer's IP address and other potentially valuable information. If the perp signs into the iTunes Store with their Apple ID, then it is possible to cross-reference the IP addresses and match the Account Holder's name. (Although I'm not sure how helpful Apple would be in helping you recover your iPod; they'd want to get you to buy a new one instead. Their web site sure isn't any help.)
  3. My Apple ID and name are both stored in all files I've downloaded from the iTunes Store, as is everyone else's, respectively. The thief may try to play the songs on his home computer, but won't be able to because of FairPlay, and will most likely delete these files. Let's hope that doesn't happen, as this is one way that I'd be able to identify my iPod.

This loss has caused me to become very distraught and upset. I used to take my iPod wherever I went, listening to music while waiting for the bus or on the (often hour-plus) subway rides home. It even helped me out in a couple of times with its Notes on keeping track of locations of events when I had forgotten the addresses, and allowing me to remember the name of a specific product I wanted to buy from a certain chocolatier as a gift for someone's birthday. But now, I can't do any of that anymore. I just hope whoever picked it up has enough moral sense to turn it in.

I did have a folder with the same name as my domain, however, so if the thief is curious enough to try and access my site, he (or she) may be reading this right now. Improbable, but possible.

So, if you were the one who unplugged a black 2GB iPod Nano from the computer in Room 243 on Thursday, January 11, 2006 between 1:20PM and 2:00PM, i urge you to contact me at gabrielmansour[AT]gmail[DOT]com or turn it in at the security desk. I just want my iPod back. Is that too much to ask?

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