April 2006

A Blast from the Past with THOR!

by Joey deVilla on April 27, 2006

This is a priceless moment in Canadian rock history: John Mikl Thor, better known as “Thor”, performing on Merv Griffin’s show in 1976. Not only does he perform a number called backed by Merv’s band, but he also performs his trademark hot water bottle stunt. This is rock cheese at its best and worst.


Standing behind Thor is the Watermelon Jug Band, who must be thinking “The long nights rehearsing, the long days in the studio, the endless touring, the sacrifices…it’s all come to this.”

I caught Thor’s live show a couple of years back; I wrote about him here.

(By the bye, I think that the number Thor performs, Everybody Wants a Piece of the Action, would make a terribly fitting anthem for ICT Toronto.)

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The Fuzzy Experiment

by Joey deVilla on April 26, 2006

Although I am Asian, a phenotype that often means less facial hair growth than caucasians, like my Dad, I’ve got the same beard power as “The Man”. Maybe it’s a fluke, or perhaps the goatee and splendiferous sideburns are my Irish-American great-grandfather’s gift to me. Either way, shaving is a daily ritual if I don’t want to look like a random thug from a Tony Jaa movie.

I’m going to see if we’re all being lied to by Big Foam. For the next month, I’m going to try shaving without shaving cream. I usually shave after coming out of the shower, and both McSweeney’s and an article on Lew Rockwell.com titled The Shaving Cream Racket suggest that in such situations, shaving cream is completely unnecessary. My skin’s pretty smooth, so the idea of shaving without a lubricating layer of cream doesn’t put icy daggers of fear into my heart.

Today is Day 2, and strangely enough, shaving sans foam seems to make no difference at all. Better still, it’s easier to navigate around the beard and ‘burns. I’ll keep you apprised of my progress.

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T Minus 999 Days and Lessons Learned

by Joey deVilla on April 26, 2006

If you missed last night’s Colbert Report, you might be unaware that as of today, there are 999 days left in the Bush administration. In honour of this event, here’s a pointer to a comic I found amusing: Everything I Know I Learned from the Bush Administration. Some samples…

I love the “comic book convention” joke:

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DemoCamp 5: Yet Another Hit!

by Joey deVilla on April 26, 2006

DemoCamp Toronto 2006 logo

Last night marked the fifth DemoCamp, Accordion City’s monthly gathering of the tech community where we show off our current projects to our peers. It took place at the University of Toronto’s Bahen Centre for Information Technology; use of the auditorium was arranged by Greg Wilson, whom I wish was my prof back when I was a computer science student at Crazy Go Nuts University. By Greg’s count, we had 141 attendees.


The crowd, with about 5 minutes before the start of the presentations. The place was packed by the time presentations began.

Greg expressed some concern at the small number of U of T students present. C’mon, kids — it’s almost summer, some of you a graduating, and right on campus was this great opportunity to see what’s going on in the working world and meet potential employers. Don’t blow opportunities like this!

The presentations were:

  • An announcement by David Crow that we’ve cut a deal with MaRS: they’re letting us use their amazing auditorium space (see the photos in this blog entry) for all future DempCamp gatherings. Three cheers for MaRS!
  • A quick announcement by Tucows’ own VP of Marketing, Ken Schafer, to talk about Interesting, a new feature at the Canadian Internet marketing blog, OneDegree.ca.
  • A Java-based online message board system for Bell Kids Help Phone, presented by U of T students Yang Lu, Jonathan Lung, Yimei Miao and Andrew Reynolds. This is an impressive 4th-year project — not only is it a true exercise in real-world software development, but it’ll also end up actually being used. I wish my 4th-year project was as “real” as this!
  • Super-prolific programmer Chris Nolan.ca (I think he should legally add the “.ca” to his last name) demonstrated RJS templates, a new feature added to Rails 1.1 that makes including client-side JavaScript in web pages easier by letting you code it server-side in Ruby. We had a little religious squabble when an angry Java developer in the audience started ranting about all the hype in Ruby. When the group was asked how many were experimenting with Ruby on Rails and over half the audience raised their hands, he asked “Yes, but are you fulfilled by Rails?” Those of you who aren’t programmers may be surprised to find that yes, we sometimes do get into knock-down, blood-and-guts arguments (and even fights) over programming languages and frameworks.
  • David Janes demonstrated BlogMatrix, his platform for structured blogging and microformats. He demo clearly showed the power of structured blogging and its ability to tie together disparate sources of information into something a little more cohesive and useful; I hope this sort of thing catches on. He also demonstrated a BlogMatrix site built for Toyota Canada proving that yes, DemoCamp projects do get actually paying customers — customers who pay well, in fact.
  • Local Ruby on Rails heroes Pete Forde and Ryan McMinn from Unspace demonstrated some nice Ajax-y Rails-powered UI: Liva Data Grid and Live Search. If you’re developing new-style web applications, you should give this stuff a look.
  • Avi Bryant and Andrew Catton demonstrated DabbleDB and the Seaside Framework for building web apps in Smalltalk. DabbleDB is very interesting to me: it takes spreadsheets misused as databases and converts them into proper database-driven applications. Very clever stuff. This project also deserves mention for being the first app presented at DemoCamp written in Smalltalk.
  • Adam Goucher presented Select Access, a website authentication and authorization package in use at Hewlett-Packard. This project also deserves mention for being the first “enterprise” application presented at DemoCamp.

After the presentations, a large number of the attendees converged on the upstairs bar at Molly Bloom’s for beer, wings and burgers. Greg, I owe you some money for my food and beer!

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Parallel Landing at Logan

by Joey deVilla on April 26, 2006

Here’s the view from the window on our flight to Boston last weekend, just before landing at Logan airport. We were neck-and-neck with the Song jet, which was also coming in for a landing, then pulled ahead. A little closer, and I would’ve been able to watch the in-flight movie on the other jet…

'Song' jet visible off the right wing of my Air canada flight landing at Logan

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"Ask Tucows" Chat: Tuesday, May 2nd

by Joey deVilla on April 25, 2006

We’re coming up on that time again: the next “Ask Tucows” online chat takes place in just one week — Tuesday, May 2nd.

The first chat was quite successful and went well over the “official” scheduled length. Based on the response and length of the conversation, I have decided to lengthen the “official” time of the chat; it will take place on May 2nd from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. EDT (that’s 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon Pacific, or 16:00 to 19:00 UTC).

I’m working out the last of the chat details right now; I’ll post them shortly.

If you missed the last “Ask Tucows” chat, a transcript is available online at Tucows Developer News.

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R.I.P. Jane Jacobs

by Joey deVilla on April 25, 2006

Jane Jacobs died today at the age of 89. Among other things, she was a champion of liveable cities, a citizen of Accordion City and the author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Robert Fulfold said of her: “Jacobs came down firmly on the side of spontaneous inventiveness of individuals, as against abstract plans imposed by governments and corporations. She was an unlikely intellectual warrior, a theorist who opposed most theories, a teacher with no teaching job and no university degree, a writer who wrote well but infrequently.” We all owe her a debt of gratitude.

Requiescat in pace, Jane.

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