Charles Basenga Kiyanda

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I keep complaining about every little thing around me whenever I travel by plane, but I think I secretly enjoy it. The long lines at security, the overpriced food, the delays (although this time, my first flight is on time), the multiple check points where you have to show every piece of ID you have. At least, the airline companies are slowly getting with the time and we now have wifi onboard. It was about time.

I thought about the topic of this particular post while I was waiting for my carry-on at the “security” check point. The guy operating the x-ray machine looked perplexed while looking at the pink and purple picture of my bag. Just for kicks, I thought I’d make the list of the items that I’ve tested and can make it through the Albuquerque check point:

  • a 2.5″ diameter cardboard tube (it has pictures rolled inside there, christmas present for my parents and in-laws who, hopefully, don’t read my blog yet)
  • a camera tripod (with the head unscrewed so it can fit in the carry-on. I guess that makes it just a really big metal stick.)
  • frozen green chili (wrapped up in plastic, then in paper and then in plastic again. To be fair, it is Albuquerque, so they may be very familiar with what green chili looks like under x-ray.)
  • a bunch of electronic things (ipod, fm transmitter, headphones) with all the cords mangled together.

and finally, the one which really surprises me

  • two home made fruit cakes (made by my wife I should mention so nobody thinks I can actually cook). This is my mom’s recipe which is as dense as steel and each cake is wrapped in gauze (and drenched in brandy, hmmmmmm), then wrapped in plastic foil and then wrapped in tin foil. I can’t believe that looks like anything intelligible on an x-ray.

Thank god for airport security keeping me and my holiday festivities safe!

I’m writing up

in the meanwhile,

itunes store killes? (maybe not, but alternatives probably)

reporting on statistics of physical and mental violence in heterosexual couples (in french) showing more men are victims of violence than women. This is specifically canadian data, although they do hint at US and new zealand data as well. I’ll have to search that stuff a bit more once I’m done.


Update: On the topic of violence in relationships, here’s arguments from the other side of the story. Maybe it’s really just a faulty diagnostic tool?


inspq2: critique de l’outil CTS

Always be careful with statistics…

Jamendo fun

I’ve been playing with Jamendo lately (anything not to write my thesis). Just found this today. A little bit of a strong autotune effect there and I can’t quite decide if that was intentional or not. Assuming it was, it’s an interesting sound. In the first song of the album “Broken Stereo”, the effect is varied throughout the song. I think I like it. And it’s all legally free, of course. 🙂

american healthcare debate

As a canadian citizen living in the US (and given the level of disinformation flying around), I feel it’s a public service to post a link to this blog post from an american woman living in the UK and telling her impression of the UK National Health Service.

Why consumers won’t buy Rafe’s argument about not buying tablets and will buy them anyway

Cnet’s Rafe Needleman has an opinion/analysis piece about the coming demise of the tablet computers, even before they hit mainstream release with the crunchpad and the rumored Apple tablet. For those of you who haven’t been following out there, the tablets are supposed to be a touchscreen sharing a case with all the computer bits. Tablets don’t have mice nor keyboard and are entirely actuated through the touchscreen. (At least until you plug in a usb keyboard.) The crunchpad, for example, was designed to boot an ultra slimmed down version of linux and go straight to a browser. I have no idea what nice gimmick the rumored apple tablet is supposed to do, but I’m sure it will sync with itunes, have a ubertouch force-feedback touchscreen and double as an espresso maker.

Needleman thinks tablets are doomed from the start and will quickly go the way of Microsoft Bob. A useless product that will never make it anywhere. If it does fail, I predict the soon to come tablets will more likely suffer the fate of the apple genius. A product ahead of its time that fails but will become the grandfather of a next generation of devicves. My point is quite simple.

Needleman’s point about the uselessness of tablet computers is that the exclusively touchscreen interaction is a) too clumsy to make it a work computer

And typing on the screen, even if you can do it, is an ergo disaster. Either you have to keep your hands up in the air (if the computer is mounted vertically in front of you) or you have to hunch over your screen to see it.

and b) too expensive to fit in a particular market niche

So as an accessory, tablets are too expensive. If Apple releases a tablet in the rumored $700 to $800 price range, it will die. Not because people won’t love it and lust for it, but because they won’t be able to justify it.

In a nutshell, that’s what the piece is about. I think Needleman is wrong in that he doesn’t consider all the new uses that such a tablet could provide and its timely apparition on the market. To be fair, people like Arrington envision the tablet as something that will be used to surf the web in the living room and I don’t think that’s entirely correct either. While surfing the web and sending short e-mails while watching the Sex and the city movie for the 7th time is an obvious use, one much more important use will probably be to control things.

Personally, I’m what I would call a “technological retard”. I bought my first mp3 player in 2005, my largest thumbdrive is 4GB and that’s only because my fiancĂ©e got me one for christmas, I don’t have an LCD TV yet, I have no TiVO-DVR-thingie and, in an effort to finally hop on a new technology early, I almost bought a HD-DVD player. I ended up sticking to DVDs to accompany my 20″ electron-cannon powered TV. Yet, despite my mental challenges when it comes to new technology, I have a router which can be controlled via a web interface, a file server in a closet which backs-up my files and is managed through a web interface. I have a blog which is updated and managed through a web interface. The future of tablets lies in controlling things. We have DVRs that go online to fetch show information, so really it wouldn’t be that hard to put a little http server in there so that I can control my dvr through a web browser. I hear TVs are soon to start plugging directly via ethernet as well, I’m guessing they might end up with a little http server in there as well so I can control and manage the TV via a web browser. In a nutshell, browser controlled devices are coming home.

To be fair, this first coming of the net enabled devices was predicted a while back already and my fridge still doesn’t have an ethernet jack. My guess is that, given a random appliance which can go online, I was being given nothing that could control it conveniently. I didn’t want to have to walk to my desktop in my office (which, let’s face it, was the most prevalent computer in houses not that long ago) just to tell my freezer to start making ice cubes again. Likewise, I wouldn’t want to have to walk over to my work laptop if that’s the one that happens to be opened, just so I can unblock the raunchy channels on the TV after the kids have gone to bed. If my stereo, my dvr, my TV, my router, my file server all had a web interface, though, I’d be willing to shell out 400$ for a gizmo that can let me control them all conveniently and also google random things so I can settle bets when I’m drunk at a party with friends.

In the house of the future, at least according to a very authoritative me, everything will be plugged into my network. My heating system will have a little http server in there so I can program it with that thing. The lighting system in the house, the AC, the TV, the DVR… We’ve dreamt of these network enabled houses before, but we’ve never built a general purpose remote before. Now, with the tablet, we’ve started to build the perfect house remote.

Now, we just waiti until the next Steve Jobs figures it out.

Linux and music production

An interesting article on an electronic musician, Kim Cascone, switching from Mac to Linux for his music production. I wonder how this guy’s installation compares from starting with Ubunu Studio. My understanding is that Ubuntu Studio is supposed to be tailored to audio/video/image production from the start. I’ve been meaning to try it for a while, yet never took the time.


The french-irish-ivorian electronic band is distributing a 7 song album for free with a creative commons license on jamendo. Haven’t listened to it yet, but I’ve been enjoying their boom boom ba song (which you quite happily buy on amazon for a dollar).

Personally, of the other two albums, “My Fault” (2001) and “Nomah’s Land” (2007), the only song I actually enjoyed was “Boom Boom Ba”. I’ll see about the free “Jeunesse” album. Maybe this group will appeal to you. Enjoy.

Old vs. New

I saw “Public Enemies” and I must admit that the only thing I could think of during the whole movie was “Was this entire movie shot in digital?”

The answer? It appears it was.

I’m not sure why I found the visual look of the film so disturbing. It kept distracting me. I guess, at the beginning of new technology, it takes time for people to adapt to the new look. I wonder how long it will be before young people prefer the crisp, flawless look of digital video to film grain. Sort of a reverse ipod-mp3 effect.

I guess I would have sided with those people who thought the speaking movies were going to kill culture.

codes in airports

I’m not talking about DaVinci style codes here (unfortunately, otherwise I’d be running around looking for antimatter right now), but rather a peculiar behaviour I noticed from an airline pilot (actually I thought it was a captain, but same thing to me).

I was waiting in line to go through the “security” check and saw the airline employee ahead of me in the queue to my left. As he shoved his belongings through the x-ray detector, he did something remarkable. He took one of these small, round, loose change trays and placed it, upside-down, on the conveyor belt first. You know which trays I’m talking about for sure. The little flat-bottomed, round, plastic pails that look like a slightly flattened and mishandled Charlie Chaplin hat. The airline pilot also placed one, upside-down, on the conveyor belt after his last item. It seemed obvious to me that this was to indicate to whoever was screening his belongings that he actually works here and he’s only going through the exercise because it’s the law and, you know, this is the US and for the safety of our children…

I must say I’m looking forward to my return trip from Nashville on friday. I’ll go out and buy myself a white, airline-looking shirt for the trip back. You bet I’m going to try that trick and see if anything happens or if I get in trouble. It can’t be illegal, really, can it? I’m simply tagging my personal belongings in the machine. Whatever the screener does is up to her/him, right? Exciting to get to probe the inner workings of airport security in a legal manner. 🙂

On an unrelated note, I’ve blogged before about the in-flight wifi service by delta. I’m in Denver now (which has free wifi) and it’s definitely slower than what I had in the plane. I can’t watch hulu here unfortunately, while I was able to stream shows semi-decently in the delta flight.

[Update: I stand corrected. The Denver wifi is fast enough for Hulu. It must have been just a temporary glitch. To be fair, this speed is somewhat annoying. The ads are choppy and I have to pause it after every ad to buffer a bit. Still, it’s usable. Am watching episode 8 of Kings right now. The camera with the naked pictures of the princess has been stolen. I can’t decide if what I like most about this show is the love story or the portrayal of a monarchal america.]

6 months music challenge: Coldplay giving away a free 9 song live album

Go there and download the 9 song live album leftrightleftrightleft from Coldplay.